Rebecca Graf is a trained accountant who worked in the field for more than 20 years.
Saving money is something most people strive to do. It is good for rainy days, dire emergencies, or special purchases. Saving money gives you security and opportunities for extra fun. It also allows you not to worry as much about living paycheck-to-paycheck. So, how can you do that effectively? Here are a few simple ideas that have worked for me.
1. Use Fewer Lights
All the lights you turn on in your house can cost a pretty penny. If you have kids, you might see situations where lights are turned on and rarely turned off. This runs your electric bill up every second the lights are on. Use fewer lights!
We were struggling to make ends meet. In an effort to save money, I taped all the light switches so no one could use them. Then I used hurricane lamps for light that wasn't required for reading. The light from the lamps was more than enough to use to move about the house. Our electric bill plummeted.
Hurricane lamps can be found at a very reasonable cost at stores such as Wal-Mart. The oil costs about the same. For $50, you can get a lamp and oil to light your room for several months. That fifty dollars could save you hundreds.
2. Make Homemade Meals
Doing things yourself can save you a ton of money. That includes making your own meals. Remember that what you are paying for when you take out or bring in is the work done by those who prepared it. If you do the work, you save the money.
Homemade meals are better for your health and your pocketbook. You can choose what goes into the food you feed your family. You can make sure it is healthy. You can adjust the taste to your desires. Choose ingredients that can save you money. You don't have to let someone else choose which meat goes into your meals. You can pick the meat that is on sale. You make all the decisions.
Figure out how much you would spend if you went out to eat for the same meal you make at home. Put that money aside in a bowl or jar. Save it up and see how much more you save simply by making your own meals.
Don't throw something away just because you don't need it or it is broken. It can be re-purposed and save you some money.
Do you buy the bags of rags to use around the house/garage? You already have them in things you throw away. There are old towels that are stained or ripped. Old sheets and shirts can be used that are no longer useful in their original forms. My mother used to use my father's old underwear as the cloth used to clean her gardening tools.
Have leftover baked chicken? Don't throw it away and buy more. Use it in a homemade pot pie or chicken salad. Broken jewelry? You can make new jewelry from pieces. Before tossing something away, see how you can use it for something else. This will save you money as you won't be buying other things to fill the need existing items can accomplish.
Believe it or not, purging can help you save money. You get rid of items you don't need and that can cost you extra cash.
We have items that can cost us money simply by having them. Do you have a storage locker that you rarely visit? That is over a hundred dollars a month you are wasting. Go through the locker and purge. Sell items and make even more cash.
What do you have gathering dust? Sell them all and make extra cash. That includes clothes, books, and decor. You can sell them online, at local stores, or with your own rummage sale. Get rid of unneeded items and find extra cash.
5. Hand Wash Dishes
Your dishwasher uses up a lot of your cash. It takes energy to push that water with such power to take off that greasy chicken and the dried milk. That takes money to pay for the electricity. You don't realize how much you rack up in bills as you wash dishes. You can save money by washing them by hand. Put your own energy into the washing and save the money that is spent on the power of the wash.
6. Have Movie Nights
Don't go out to the movies. That can suck up a paycheck. Save money by watching movies at home. How many of us have access to all those movies on Amazon, Netflicks, or Hulu? So many of us have subscriptions to movies already. Why do you have to go out and spend a fortune for a couple of hours of entertainment?
Think of what you spend when you go out to a movie. There is the cost of tickets which can be as cheap as $5 on special nights or as high as $25 on regular nights. That doesn't include any food which we all seem to have to have when we go. Add those items and you are looking at another $20-$50 in addition to tickets. This could be a night of over $100 to see one movie. If you had stayed home, you could have spent $4 for the movie, $2 for popcorn, and $5 for drinks. That's a big difference and you get to sit around in your PJs as a bonus.
7. Stretch Out Your Meals
Being smart with your food can help you save a ton of money. We waste a lot of money on food (as well as food itself). Stretching out meals is a great way to save dollars.
While it saves money if you just don't eat out, sometimes you just have to. When you do, take advantage of it. Get the leftovers and have a few more meals for the week. There is one restaurant we frequent. For three extra dollars, I can get a larger portion. I take the extra home and stretch the meal out over two or three lunches. That saves me money in the long run. two to threemeals from $3 is a good deal since you were going to have to eat out anyway for that birthday party or some other occasion.
Make your own leftovers at home. Instead of making a dinner one night and tossing out the leftovers, use them to make future dinners or lunches. That can save you a lot of money. Let me give you an example. Instead of buying three individual meats for meals during the week, I bought one roasting chicken. The first night, I roasted the chicken with fresh vegetables. The next day, I chopped up a little bit to make chicken salad for lunch. The next dinner, I put the chicken in broth with vegetables and had a tasty soup. That became lunch as well. Then I used the remaining chicken to put in a casserole. One whole chicken made my family three dinners and multiple lunches. $7 worth of meat stretched very far and didn't make us feel deprived.
Fewer cars saves us a lot of money. With gas prices rising all the time, saving money by carpooling is becoming a great idea. My husband works a few miles past where I work during the day. Instead of taking two cars with one getting worse mileage than the other, we take the car that has the best MPG and save ourselves more than half of what we would have spent otherwise. Find someone to ride with and save yourself $50 or more a week.
9. Watch Less TV
Watching less TV can help you save money. Start by decreasing the number of channels you have or cancel cable and take up the Amazon Fire or other similar service for a fraction of the cost you are probably paying now.
Also, keep the TV off and do other things. You cut back on the electricity used, which will lower your electric bill. Take that time you previously used to watch TV and take a walk, play a game, or just have quality time. Watching less TV is great for you and your family all the way around.
10. Make Handmade Gifts
Making your own gifts usually saves you some money. When you purchase gifts, you are usually paying more for labor. Make them yourself and save money.
Go on Pinterest and other websites. Check out ideas for homemade gifts. Making cookies can cost you a couple of dollars and you can gift them to multiple people. Crochet or knit gifts with the yarn you have on hand. That doesn't require any extra expenses. You will be surprised at the wonderful gift ideas that can be found and cost you little more than your creativity and personal touch. Holiday gift-giving can be a fraction of the cost.
Carrie Lee Night from Northeast United States on August 24, 2018:
Great ideas. Anything to save a buck !! : )
Anusha Jain from Delhi, India on August 22, 2018:
Some great ideas you have collated here. Handmade gifts are something which can really save a lot for us I think. They also add more emotions and as you said hone our creativity too. Again, great Hub!