You would really love to put aside some savings for a rainy day, but that rainy day is now. It seems like every penny earned is spent before it hits the bank. Saving money is becoming harder for a lot of folks. Some people are so strapped that they have never been able to save a dime.
Not so long ago, I was a single parent, I often worked two jobs and still had to go couch-diving at the end of the month to find change to buy a gallon of milk. Every penny counted. It was a big deal to save enough change to get a few rolls of quarters.
I wasn’t quite as financially savvy back then, but I learned a lot about squeezing out the very last drop of value. I have a few pointers that I can pass on to those who are struggling now.
The place I saved the most was in the area of waste. We are a wasteful nation of people. Everything is throwaway and buy another. The day I woke up and realized this, I started saving money. Waste is easy to eliminate with conscious effort.
- Stop buying paper towels and use washable towels.
- Turn old clothes into rags.
- Use the last bit of liquid soap, shampoo, conditioner, etc. by adding a bit of water and shaking.
- Ditto with food items like ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce etc.
- Recycle junk mail and envelopes into note paper.
- Use both sides of paper to print on.
- Use newspaper in place of paper towels for dirty jobs, great for cleaning windows and chrome.
- Cook once, eat twice.
- Make extra biscuits for breakfast and have them for dinner too.
- Plan local trips.
- If you need to go to the store, make the trip count and do all your errands on the same day.
- Eliminate the need to run to the store for just a gallon of milk. You will nearly always buy something else you don’t really need.
- Rinse and reuse everything – milk cartons, tin cans, plastic utensils from the fast food place, foam plates, Styrofoam cups, tin foil, bread bags and the list goes on and on.
- Use plastic bags from the store for garbage bags. This one item saves quite a bit of pocket change since garbage bags are getting more expensive.
- Turn off lights and line dry clothes whenever possible.
- Air dry the dishes in your dishwasher.
I’m sure that you have a list of things that you do to eliminate waste. These are all common sense things, but if you make a habit of doing them, then they become a part of your lifestyle. The pennies that you accumulate will help you squeeze out more into your savings.
I have always hated to spend money for household cleaners. My grandmother used bleach, ammonia and elbow grease, all of which are cheap. But while I have plenty of elbow grease to go around, ammonia and bleach are tough on my skin and sinuses. So I needed to find alternatives. My cleaning staples are a gallon of white vinegar and a large box of baking soda.
- Use baking soda as a scrub similar to Comet or Bon Ami. Works on many things from pots to the bathtub to counter tops to the sink.
- Pour baking soda down a slow running drain and follow with a good dose of vinegar. The foaming action helps clear the drain.
- Vinegar is great for windows and any kind of glass.
- Vinegar cleans lime deposits from shower heads and coffee pots.
- I use plain old Joy dish soap to mop my floors and follow with a mild vinegar rinse for really clean floors.
There are many things that you do that can be adjusted to help you save money. Take getting a haircut. Instead of getting your hair cut every six weeks, try waiting eight weeks or even longer. Instead of using an expensive contract cell phone, try switching to a Trak Phone and only pay for the minutes you need. Cut back on cable TV, just order the basics. Have a friend or relative tape movies for you. Squeeze the last drop out of the toothpaste. Choose shorter showers over a long bath. Save bath soap slivers in the toe of an old pair of nylons. When you get enough, use it for a bath scrubby/sponge.
There are a million different methods to cut back and save pennies. But you have to be willing to save those pennies and not spend them. Anyone can save, even if it’s just a small amount. Small amounts add up too.
What are some of the things that you do to save money when money is tight?