Frugal, Personal Finance, Saving Money

How to Save When There’s No Money Left

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?

11 thoughts on “How to Save When There’s No Money Left

  1. Free samples are available many times online. I’ve gotten shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion, razors, popcorn, granola, cereal, drink mixes, laundry detergent, facial creams, cookies, etc. Of course, one little sample isn’t much, but if I just set them aside for the year instead of using them right away, I would not be surprised to fill a nice sized box with these things. Real handy to keep for when you are running low to save a trip to the store.

    My other fits in with some of what you’ve said above, adding water to ranch salad dressing. Not only do I add it to the end of the bottle to get the last, but as I go along, I use a smaller amount of dressing on the salad, and add a tablespoon or so of water to the salad when I mix it up. It stretches the amount, plus makes it my version of a light dressing.

  2. Walk. The less you use the car, the more you save in gas, wear and tear, and you get exercise.

    This one’s a Christmas, moving, or mailing tip – if you shred paper, use the shreds as packing material.

  3. Very well laid out post. Nicely done. It’s nice to see good writers in PF these days.

    It really is just like a diet in that it is a slow accumulative process whereby every little bit ads up to a lot.

    8 years ago I vowed to save $300 dollars a month no matter what the other monthly expenses were or the level of my CCs and my LOCs. Wow….it sure added up and I did manage to keep the debts under control.

  4. Great article. Thanks for the ideas. Its true that when you have children it is even more difficult to save. I am always tempted to buy the pretty dress for my daughter when we are out shopping or whatever toy she picks but I remind myself how much toys and dresses she already has. And of course it also comes to disciplining my child that she can’t always get what she wants 🙂

  5. Hunt. 🙂 My hubby is a hunter/fisherman, and I have learned to (sort of) like deer meat (working on learning to *LOVE* it). He has filled our freezer this year with deer meat that was *almost* free and provide our protein for a whole year, and what’s more, its organic. He fishes every other week so we’ll have fish also. Our plan is to buy one organic chicken a month just for something different; I can make four meals out of one chicken.

  6. I think you have some great ideas here – my Future Husband and I are trying to save money by carpooling and simply going out less. It’s amazing what you save when you do more cooking at home. And honestly? The food just tastes better.

  7. WOW. This is a great and easy to follow practical advice, using baby steps and accessible resources. I will commit it to my memory immediately, next time I contemplate buying paper towels!
    I have acquired recent experience in plumbing. I poured bleach (you can choose other chemicals) down my bathtub drain just after using water before bedtime. In the morning, I poured a huge pot of boiling water and it broke through the clog! May not work in all cases.
    Also, using hydrogen peroxide on rust stains is excellent; it works within minutes.
    I dry some sweaters and pants halfway and let them hang-dry in my bathroom overnight. Also, I enjoy using my dishwasher as a huge drying rack. I just fill up a pot with soapy water and wash everything, then use spray attachment to rinse everything away.

  8. Some tips I have used over the years:

    1) Crockpots – they are a godsend and a timesaver. I find that whatever I cook in them comes out delicious and requires little work on my part.

    2) Cooking a lot at home – I find if we forget to run the dishwasher or thaw something out to eat, we have to go out. So we make a point to do this everyday, saving us lots of money.

    3) Shopping at Big Lots, Dollar General, and Dollar Tree. I know about the reputation these types of stores have, but I find that whatever I buy there is just as good and cost at least 1/2 as much as anywhere else. The only things they don’t have are like eggs and fresh meat.

    4) Stocking up on canned goods, toiletries, etc. This can help you get through a hard month if the utility bills are extraordinarily high or something like that.

    5) For doing laundry, we use Arm and Hammer washing soda and white vinegar. These two things get our laundry very clean and make the white much less dingy. We have found that using vinegar on darks results in them smelling funny, though. We don’t know why.

    6) Drinking more water and tea and no soda. I used to drink a couple of gallons of soda a day, making me very sick. I keep a thermal mug at work and make hot tea there every morning. The water costs me nothing and I can buy organic tea bag at Big Lots for about $2.00 a box. I also drink a lot of filtered water, keeping my asthma under control.

  9. Come on these are old ideas. I am on social security. I have done these for years and still do. Besides dumpster diving there has to be better ideas out there.!!!

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