The economy remains in a slump and everyone is cutting back on expenses. Before you drain your savings to support your current lifestyle, consider cutting your costs. There are obvious measures such as turning off your cable or dropping a newspaper subscription, but there are many other easy things you can do as well. Here are a few that you can incorporate into your daily routine painlessly.
1. Wash in Cold Water
There isn’t much you can do about the need to do laundry, especially if you have kids. You can reduce some of your laundry by letting clothes that still appear clean air out for a couple of days before wearing them again, but using cold water rather than warm or hot will save you about $200 a year. Keep the hotter water for things which are very soiled, greasy or likely to be filled with bacteria.
2. Buy Cheaper Meat
Meatless meals are fine, and you really don’t need to eat meat every day, but when you do purchase meat you have two strategies. First, pick cheaper cuts. These cuts are ideal for slow cooking in a crock pot and you can find a nearly limitless number of recipes online. After 8 hours of cooking even a cheap roast is succulent and fork tender. Second, buy in bulk and on sale. If you belong to a warehouse club, start there, otherwise wait for sales and stock up. You will cut your meat bill in half in no time.
3. Make Your Own Coffee Drinks
It is odd that people who are desperate to save money can’t seem to give up their $5 lattes, but that caffeine fix is a powerful draw. You can make the same drinks you purchase at the coffee shop at home and save about 90%. Buy your favorite syrups and creamers and brew your coffee at home. It may not be exactly the same, but saving $4.50 on a cup of Joe is a powerful incentive.
4. Trade Magazines
If you know several people with the same interest, for example crafting, create a magazine co-op. It is certainly cheaper to subscribe to a magazine than to purchase it one copy at a time, but splitting the costs amongst 3 or 4 friends is cheaper still. You can even scan in pages you want to keep when it is your turn and create a permanent file of ideas you like.
5. Use the Library
Your local library is one of your best sources of books, magazines, movies and music around. You may have to wait a bit to get a new release, but the price can’t be beat. As long as you return materials on time the loan is free. If you must purchase books, wait until the library sells off older materials. You can pick up well kept books for as little as $0.25 a piece.
6. Learn to DIY
When you go to the library, check out the DIY section. Most household repairs require little technical knowledge and much of that can be found in books. Things like fixing a hole in a wall or door, grouting, caulking, painting, gardening and hanging fixtures are simple and quick. If you are engaged in a new task, read up on it and give it a try. The more you can handle yourself, the less you need to pay someone else for. Save the handyman for those projects you just can’t handle.
Louise Greenway is a mother of four and is always looking to save on costs. She loves to take small family vacations and has been able to do just that by saving money on her home equity mortgage.