People have been struggling to make ends meet, and have been for a while now. Many people are upside down on their mortgages, while jobs are scarce and wages are stagnant. Even with some promising signs with the markets, it has taught me one important lesson…it’s hard to save for the future, when you barely have enough for the present.
Fortunately, there are ways to really cut down on costs to help improve the budget. In fact, it really shouldn’t matter what the economic climate is, it just makes sense to cut cost when you can. If for no other reason, you never know when the economy will tank again.
But, there are other reasons. Having a little put aside for retirement is vital, as is having a ‘rainy day’ savings account for the unexpected crunches that can happen such as a broken down car, flooded basement, or …anything, basically. And, the economy we have been experiencing changes the importance of it.
So, I am going to share some basic tips and ways you can cut cost, and put that unspent money away for the future. Even if times are still difficult for you and your family, the savings can ease that burden a little.
As a bonus, it will also allow for your home to transition into a green home. Saving money. Saving the planet.
1. Food for Thought
If your household is like mine, it probably seems like you spend a fortune each week feeding your family. Perhaps that’s because we do spend a small fortune on food. I read a 2008 report from the U.S. Department of Labor that for a family of 4, the average weekly bill is 163.47. That is about $8,500 annually on food alone. Fortunately, there are ways to save money on food.
We have all heard about coupons, but if we don’t clip them AND turn them in at the store, they are useless. However, I take a step further and use coupons, combined with what is on sale. Also, make sure you check the price of that brand, compared to another that might be cheaper without a sale or coupon.
Another thing to check is the amount of product you receive for the price. At the store the other day, a box of instant oatmeal was cheaper than the well-known brand. But, I noticed that the packages were smaller than the higher cost brand. So, it was a wash at that point.
Another way is to buy in bulk, when it makes sense. Non-perishable items can easily be purchased in bulk, if the price is right. You might spend a little more at the moment, but over the month or year, you can save some money.
Get creative with leftovers to help save money, as will making food stretch. Here are some ideas:
- Chili – use what is left of your latest batch to make chili dogs.
- Meats – turn leftover meats into soups, using ingredients in the pantry and fridge
- Broccoli stalks – shred the stalks to make a broccoli slaw
- Celery leaves – rather than tossing them, add them to soups and stews for flavor
- Stale bread – turn them into croutons
- Cheese – leftover sliced cheese from a party would make a wonderful homemade mac ‘n cheese dinner
One thing I have also done in the past is to buy whole milk, which is the same price as 2% or skim. I use it in its whole form for certain things such as creamy mashed potatoes, but water it down for most other uses such as drinking, cereals, and more. Sound weird? It did to me at first too, but what is skim milk? I save money because the milk lasts far longer when adding water. Not to mention, it saves room in the fridge.
2. Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder
Skin and hair products can be expensive, if you choose to buy the products at a spa or salon. I like to take care of my skin and hair. So, the lure of these spa and salon products was tempting for years. The ads were wonderful and encouraging for obtaining the beautiful skin we all deserve, right?
However, times are changing. We, as a community, are thinking of more than just our skin and hair. Saving money, as well as the planet, tends to make us stop and think. Thankfully, the Internet has been a blessing for both.
I have found sensible, inexpensive, and safe skin care products right online. Typically, when a company is selling exclusively online, they can keep the cost down on their products, because they don’t have an elaborate spa with massive overhead to maintain.
Many of these products are also friendly to the environment and considered organic, which is great for the skin and environment.
3. Money Laundering
As you can see above, I am addressing areas in our life that yes, can be expensive, but also are unavoidable. We all have to shower and use products for our hair and skin, even if they are very basic. And, we all certainly need to eat. Laundry is another area we can’t avoid…even if we want to at times.
I recently came upon an innovative product when surfing the Internet, which will help a family save money on their laundering bills, and help the environment at the same time. It’s a laundry ball, called Smartklean.
This ball is filled with ceramic beads, 4 different types, which contain a variety of minerals to produce oxygenated water when they get wet. I don’t want to get all scientific on you…mainly because I’m not a scientist. So, I’m just going to suggest you look the product up to learn more about how it works, as well as the reviews.
The bottom line here is that it helps save the family money, because you would no longer have to purchase laundry detergent. Only you know how much that is, because the dynamics in each family vary. For example, if you are a retired couple, then the savings will be less than a family with 3 teens playing sports.
But, it also helps to protect the environment, by not placing these harsh detergents back into the earth…because it has to drain somewhere, right? So, if you are thinking of going green in your home, this is a quick and easy start.
I just gave you some easy tips to save some money. As a bonus, they will also help you in a transition in going green in the home.
Kathy Barber is a freelance writer who often finds inspiration for projects while surfing the Internet. In fact, when looking for skincare products on www.mysensitiveskincare.com, she thought of writing a series on saving money for the home. Kathy also writes on topics such as health, entertaining, and online business. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son. Residing in Michigan, they often camp, attend sporting events, visit the beaches, and entertain.