It’s a beautiful summer day here in Western Pennsylvania, the kind of day that inspires and encourages. As I reflect on my week so far, I am thankful for many things, like my family and the opportunity to do what I really love, which is write and edit.
Last week, I went to the grocery store for my weekly dose of sticker shock. The price of food continues in its steady path upward, and I find it distressing how big the weekly increases are. A major priority for everyone these days, IS cutting costs in these days of inflation while maintaining quality of life, inexpensively. As I start up my blog again, finances seem to be on everyone’s minds, so we will discuss that, first. Since our family has already heeded the advice of cutting cable television, not going to Starbucks, and grouping our errands to save gas, I am trying to find additional micro ways to save pennies and dimes, and thus dollars. Small ways seem less painful, easier to accomplish and easier to continue.
Here are some of my top eleven small ways for saving money:
1) Avoid Disposables. We recently went on a trip to the South. Cloth napkins were used at the bed and breakfast where we stayed and the owner had a ready supply of cloth napkins for us to use at mealtime. I thought it was a charming idea. I remembered that I have quite a collection of napkins that were my mother’s and I also my own collection. By using cloth napkins, my meals, however they taste, look more appealing and dressed up! I also use cloth towels instead of paper towels to clean up messes. There is a small load to wash but it is cheaper than buying paper products all the time and it creates less waste in the garbage. I try to think of what I buy that is disposable and I try to substitute. I use regular plates and cups for small to medium sized dinner parties. I use plastic or glass food containers rather than sandwich bags.
2) Cut back on meat and portions. There are many ways to eat protein, such as nuts and yogurt rather than meat. It is also possible to eat smaller or fewer meals. My husband and I realized what massive portions we are used to, in restaurants and at home. When eating out, eat half of your meal and bring the rest home. We really don’t need that much to be healthy and your stomach will get the message.
3) DYI: I wince when I think of all the times I have bought convenience food. Part of the reason was because I either didn’t have time or didn’t feel confident that it would turn out well. Time is a commodity, too. The next time you need barbecue, get a couple of pork loins and make it. A birthday cake? Create it. Crave some spanakopita? Learn how to make it. That is what I am learning to do and the results haven’t been too bad! Besides the yummy result, you get a feeling of accomplishment!
4) Go to thrift stores and yard sales. My husband and I have gotten first rate cookware, art and beautiful lamps. You never know what someone may be getting rid of. Make a shopping list for these times, just as you would if you were going to a retail store. Also, thrift stores like Goodwill and Facebook Marketplace are excellent if you want to try a new activity, like golf and dread spending the money. If you are not sure you will like the sport or hobby, the used route is best.
5. Split bulk food with friends. For instance, The Peach Truck recently came to our city and we split a box with a friend, since we both have small families. It was quite a treat having delicious peaches from Georgia and the cost was reasonable. Find local farm co-ops and share your portions.
6. Close and open your curtains. Close on extremely hot and cold days. Open on sunny winter days. I have found that just doing this really keeps the power bill low and keeps the heating/ air conditioning from having to work so hard. You actually can stay comfortable and save money!
7. Evaluate costs. See what you are wasting, whether it is gas, food or money. Do an energy analysis on your home, as they are offered by most local power companies. My son made a food inventory app for our home to see what food we were wasting or throwing out. It was really eye-opening to see how much food we were actually using or buying in excessive amounts. We also buy ice cream and alcohol to consume at home, rather than going out. We do support local restaurants but also have a budget limit for our eating out.
8. Find an App. My husband and I have the Drive Safe and Save™ app from State Farm on our phone. It saves money on our premiums and has also saved us money on gas by making us mindful of our driving habits. It gives us a score of how we are doing, by evaluating our braking, cornering, accelerating, speeding or phone distractions. More about money-saving apps later.
9. Go shopping at home. Sometimes the best place to look for a new home décor is right in your own closet. You may have put an item away but you should think about why you kept it the first place. It may have some sentimental value. I just upcycled a big family picnic basket as a small table. This basket reminded me of some wonderful summers while I was growing up. I have found items at home that I had forgotten about that I put back into use. The purpose of interior design is to have things around that make you happy. Clothing and design have cycles and your closet may have just what you were looking for.
10. Grow plants on the cheap. Starting your own seeds is not that hard. It only take a tabletop, a warming trays and or growth lights and some potting soil and you can save money that you would have spent in bedding plants, for both flowers and vegetables. Also, check out the reduced plant section at Lowe’s or Home Depot. We have bought perennials for half price and they have come back to life and lived many more years.
11. Barter for services. Everyone has a talent with which to barter. Ability can be used in place of cash. Babysitting or pet-sitting for tree cutting. Cooking for IT work. So many options!
As Red Green used to say at the end of his television show, “We’re all in this together!” I would love for you to share your ideas about how you are saving money or cutting costs. Please contact me here on the website or at my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
He who buys what he does not need, steals from himself. – Swedish Proverb