I have three children and seven grandchildren. I worked full time while raising my family. I have been there.
Money Does Not Grow on Trees
Nor does it grow in a garden. Thinking you can plant and grow the money you need to pay your bills means you will be broke for the rest of your life. However, by following the ten steps below, you will learn to save money using things you already have in your home. You will also build a better you and maybe a better world in the process.
1. The Sun
Winter heating costs have skyrocketed in recent years making it harder and harder to keep up. One way to keep costs down is to use the sun. When the sun shines into your windows, it heats the area where it is shining. Let the sun in during the winter to keep heating costs down. Using the technique in a different way, remember to block the sun with blinds in the summer. This will make your home darker, but it will also make it cooler; a kind of shade without a tree.
For savings in lighting, open up your curtains and blinds when the sun is shining. This will provide light that is brighter than most light bulbs and is free. If you are worried about added heat in the house, try using frost on the windows so that light comes in but the heat does not. There are many ways to frost a window; try checking the internet or your favorite DIY center for ideas.
The Sun's Healthy Side
We have all heard the warnings of too much sun causing cancer, and that is correct; but did you know it also provides the body with a large source of vitamin D? We can’t sit in the sun for hours because we now know that it can be dangerous, but we can sit there for a short time and we can also sit in a sunny window for a quick boost. According to the WebMD site, vitamin D helps the body absorb the calcium needed for strong bones. To get some of that vitamin into your body, try hanging your clothes on a clothesline to dry. The sun, and wind, can dry your clothes without the expense of running your dryer and it gives you the vitamin boost at the same time.
2. Light a Fire
All right, so the fire is not just there for the taking, but how hard is it to light a match? Use a fire to help warm your space in the winter. A fireplace not only looks pretty, but it can also heat up any space. You can close off the rest of the house and just use the fire to heat the room you are in or use it as a second source of heat. If you want to heat a room that has a fireplace without sending the heat to the rest of the house close the other rooms off (if the room doesn’t have a door, a blanket does the trick) and turn down your thermostat so the furnace doesn’t keep trying to warm the rooms. The fire will light up the room as it crackles and the ashes can be used as a fertilizer for your garden.
The flame of a candle is a viable substitute for light especially when you are romantic, watching TV, or just sitting with friends. By using the candles, you are saving a great deal of money on your electric bill. Candles are cheap and burn for a long time. Candles were the only source of light for our ancestors so why shouldn’t we use them again. If you wish to use candles as a light source be sure to keep them away from combustible items.
It isn’t necessary to shred paperwork if you can burn it instead. Burning the papers means no one can put it back together and learn the information. Be careful though, not all fireplaces and fire pits can safely burn paper, and not all regions allow outside burning.
3. Blankets Are Not Just for Covering Up
Blankets can be used as, well, blankets. Curling up on a favorite chair or couch to watch the rest of your movie, for example, can mean that you will not be producing a lot of your own energy. This will make you feel colder than if you were moving around. Rather than turning up the thermostat, cover up with a blanket (or sweater, coat, socks, etc.).
Blankets can be used to block the heat from certain areas if you do not have a door. Just hook the blanket to the wall on either side of the door. The blanket should be long enough to cover the entire doorway, however, even a short one can block some of the heat. Remember that heat rises so put the blanket high on the doorway.
Blankets can be used as insulation by hanging the blankets on your walls in the winter, this will help because it takes less energy to heat the room. A good way to recycle is to use old blankets that are worn in places. Put them behind furniture to insulate better. If the wall has a heater, keep the furniture away from the wall about three inches and don’t let the blanket touch the heater.
Blankets can be used as makeshift tents. Why make a tent in a house with heat? Well, putting the blankets on chairs or a table and then crowding in underneath means the body heat is contained by the blankets. The more blankets you use, and the more people you have, the more heat that is trapped. Plus the kids will have a ball ‘camping’ in the living room while watching their favorite show.
4. Light Bulbs
Sure, light bulbs create light, but did you know they also created heat? By reducing the number of lamps that are on, you not only save electricity, you also save additional cooling expenses in the summer. During the summer heat, try not to use light bulbs at all. During the day, that will be easy, but at night it can be hard. Try a battery-operated light that doesn’t create much heat, or go to bed early.
Light bulbs are also in your refrigerator, your lamps, your microwave, your oven, and so many other things. There are several ways you can reduce what light bulbs eat for energy. First, get energy-efficient bulbs; they last longer and use less electricity. Then try to turn off lights and equipment that is not being used. Just turning off the lights in one room regularly can drop your electric bill by enough for you to see the difference in your bill. Try it just for kicks I think you might be amazed when your next bill comes in. Maybe it’s not Fort Knox, but every penny counts.
Putting on a light means the area immediately around the light is easily seen. But just a few feet away it is still dark. Try using a mirror or aluminum foil to reflect the light. It will seem to grow brighter before your very eyes. That will mean fewer lights have to be on for you to ‘see’ what you are doing.
5. Water: A Wet Solution
Water is a great way to hydrate especially on hot days when you sweat and dry out in the sun. However, it is also a great way to cool off. But many of us don't have and/or can't afford a pool. Solution: Fill a tub with cool water and settle in, or set the kids in it with bathing suits on and you have a small pool for them to play in (I always filled the tub a few inches and remained with the kids at all times). A towel dipped in cool water and then rung out can be set on the neck for a cooling effect. Ice cubes can cool you down as well. Try freezing juice with the water for the kids to suck on during those hot summer days. Fill a spray bottle with water and spray yourself now and then.
In the winter, water can be used to melt the ice on your car. Just heat it up and take it out (don’t get the water too hot or your windows might crack). Hot water can be used to melt thick ice so you can scrap it off of sidewalks or walkways (add a little salt or alcohol to keep it from refreezing). And hot water can be used to make a soothing tea for those cold winter nights when you curl up with a favorite book or TV series. A hot bath with baking soda or Epsom salt and lavender can soothe that dry cracked skin we all get from the dry heat in the winter. And using cool water to rinse dishes reduces the amount of electricity that is used to heat the hot water.
6. Furniture. Yes, I Said Furniture
Large bulky furniture set close to heater vents can block the heat and cause the heating system to run hotter in order to heat the room. Since the thermostat is not behind the furniture, it doesn’t read the higher temps. Pull furniture away from heating vents and be sure there is enough space between furniture pieces for the heat to circulate.
Furniture can do the opposite of blocking your heat. It can help insulate from the summer heat by placing large bulky furniture right up against the wall. Of course, don’t do this if it will block your cooling vents, but if there are no vents there, the furniture can help to keep your home cooler.
The color black draws the sunlight just as white reflects the sunlight away. By putting black or dark furniture near the windows, you have created a small natural heater because the black will draw more of the sun’s heat inside. During the summer, you might want to put white or light pieces there to block as much of the sun as possible. Using colored curtains will work just as well. Or you can use aluminum foil—lay it on the bottom of the windows to reflect the sun in and cover the windows to reflect the sun out. Just be prepared for something the sun is famous for: color fading.
7. Electronics: We All Have Gadgets These Days
Electronics draw a lot of power in order to run and many electronics (a microwave for one) use electricity even when they are not turned on. By unplugging them from the power source, you stop the constant power drain; you can also use a surge suppressor that you turn off when you don’t need it. Everything in your house can be unplugged with the exception of your refrigerator because your food needs to stay cold.
Use smaller products to use less power. Your TV draws more power than your tablet does so use the tablet as much as possible or use your smartphone. Stream your TV favorites and watch them on the smaller screen to save electricity. Just remember that the battery still needs to be charged and that takes electricity.
Try charging your smaller electronics in your vehicle while going to work or running errands. You would be running the vehicle anyway so why not harness the power to charge your stuff. This reduces the amount of electricity you will use in the house. Another good way to do this is to keep a charged portable battery on hand. Then use it when you are in the house rather than electricity. Universal car chargers make it easy to harness the power of your vehicle without a lot of cost.
8. Use the Library
Most libraries have computers that you can use to create and/or print items without using your own supplies. You can make copies and check out the book that has the info you need. You can save on electricity, save on heat management and get a bit healthier by walking to and around the library.
Many libraries have internet that you can use (so you don't have to pay for it). Granted, the use is limited a bit because it is a library, but there are still many things available that you can access, read, or print out (be careful to honor copyright laws).
Libraries also have many programs for the different things you might need. You can create graphs to show profits or loss of a small business or print out a homework assignment. With the programs available you can also make bulletins, banners, and signs. You might want to ask before you tackle a large project, though, just to make sure the library has the resources.
9. Hobbies Can Save You Money and Relieve Stress
Hobbies can reduce stress by taking your mind off of the things that were bothering you, at least for a moment or two. Hobbies can also make valuable items that you can give as gifts. Crochet a blanket or make a plastic canvas box. Decorate an ornament for the tree or knit a pair of socks for your spouse. Woodworking means chairs, armoires, or rocking horses to give out. It doesn’t matter if you don’t do it perfectly because of the fact that you made it will count more than if you bought the item.
How else can hobbies help you save money even though they take money to do? Well, you save on medications to reduce blood pressure and stress which costs a lot more than the supplies you will need to make a simple blanket, especially since you will make the blanket once but have to purchase the medication every thirty days.
Hobbies can become a money maker. Take your hobby to the next level. Sell what you make online or in a store. Consignment shops are great places to sell your handmade items, as are craft shows and fairs. Make a lot of items all year long and then you will have a huge variety to sell when the time comes. There are also stores out there that only sell handmade items so be sure to check for them.
10. Exercise . . . Wait, Hear Me Out Before You Click Away
Exercise gets your blood flowing and better circulation means warmer bodies and less vein blockage. You will feel better and more energized as the blood brings oxygen and energy to your organs and outer extremities. You will also be warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer because your body will be able to better regulate your temperature.
Can’t get to sleep? Do a few bend and stretch exercises (but nothing heavy). They will help the blood to flow through your brain better so your body creates the melatonin needed for sleep. You can also set up a routine of exercise and before bed preparation (such as reading) so your body knows it will soon be heading for a little shut-eye.
Exercise can give you an energy boost. Forget the protein powder and expensive shakes, just exercise for your energy boost. The more intense the exercise routine, the more energized you will be. More importantly, though, is the fact you will have better memory abilities as well as be more alert and better able to cope with stressful situations. So take the few extra minutes to use the stairs instead of the elevator, or walk around the building during your lunch break. Your boss and your body will thank you. Oh, I almost forgot—you will also save a lot of money in doctor's visits.
How Can Any of This Be Considered Easy Cost Saving?
- The energy/information source is already there, no purchase necessary so you save immediately even if you don't see it right away.
- You are doing things to make you feel better without the cost of gyms or special drinks.
- You are doing things that make you happy which lowers stress and blood pressure (among other things).
- Energy savings is a big way to save no matter where you are: the sun, the wind, water and fire can save big if you use it correctly.
- You already have most of the items you need to save, so why not put them to more than one use?
- These suggestions take little energy but save a lot of energy, and costs.
These simple, easy ideas can help you save big with little effort and little cost. In some cases, no costs at all. Take just a quick moment to use some of these ideas and watch your energy bills take a nose-dive!
More Ways to Save Money
- Couponing: Saves money on products you will already buy.
- Pet Care: Stress relieving and companionship.
- Volunteering: Gives you a sense of belonging, company, and a feeling of being needed.
- "You" Time: Take the time for you so you look and feel better.
- Home Cooking: Cheaper than eating fast food or at restaurants.
- Microwaving in the Summer: Uses less power and produces less heat.
- Cooking in the Oven During the Winter: heats the house up and fills it with good scents.
- Fans That Direct the Heat or Cold Air: You want them to direct air into another space or room instead of another heater or air conditioner.
- Flash Drives: Oh, now I am pushing it, right? Well, no, see it is much cheaper to use a flash drive for all your files because it keeps your computer hard drive free of added storage and you can take the information anywhere (like the library). What are the savings? Your computer runs faster and works better without a professional having to clear up hard drive space.
- Freebies: There are so many freebies out there that you simply have to take advantage at least once in a while-search on-line for ideas and check out special deals at stores and restaurants.
© 2017 Cheryl Simonds