How to Save Money

It’s amazing how much money we can save on monitoring the little things.  Saving big on the little things is only part of the picture, though. It’s surprising, however, that the little things can add up to some of the larger things.  As much as $500 or more can be reaped easily in a year by a few small changes to our daily routines.  

The categories of little things can include: being frugal with daily activities, ways of spending less, and activities that increase revenue.  Being frugal with activities might include water conservation with a rock or half brick in the toilet tank, or switching to LED light bulbs.  Ways of spending less might be in reading the fine print on sale items at the grocery, buying in bulk or noticing the wrong price being rung up.  Increasing the revenue might be something like writing for Helium or selling craft or vintage items on Etsy dot com.

From groceries to utility usage, conserving on little expenses may also be good for the environment.  Think of where all those Styrofoam coffee cups and their plastic lids go or the resources to mass-produce them.  Substituting homemade for ready-made convenience can add up just as much as recouping cost on damaged items.

Prepackaged foods often end up getting chucked into the trash when it’s expired or damaged from the get-go.   It’s not illegal for grocery stores to sell expired items.  So, learn about expiration and best-by dates.   This could save about $20 to $35 a year if one is paying attention.

When the damage is a manufacturer’s issue, take time to call them.  Have the package handy for the bar code or any other data printed on it.  Be honest.  Only ask for the item to be replaced.  They might include additional coupons for future purchases (if they’re smart), but that’s entirely up to them.  This could save an average of $25 to $30 a year.

The wrong price at the register can also be a drain.  Be sure to read the self price tags carefully.  They may post the sale price under the variety of item that ISN’T on sale.  Sometimes the sales price just didn’t get scanned for the registers or there are stipulations on quantity before the sales price kicks in.  This might save $25 to $60 a year.

Canned goods typically have a long shelf life.  So, buying them when they are on sale is a great idea.  Write the date it was bought on the top or bottom of the can so that it can be used before later purchases.  Store them in a cool location.  Inspect before purchase for dents.  Dents could have micro-fractures that will result in spoiled food sooner than the expiration dates.  This could save $20 to $60 a year.

If we grab a coffee or water while on the run, we’re spending at least $130 to $160 dollars a year.  Making a habit out of cleaning out the thermos at the end of each day and toting that with us can save on gas, time and money. 

Water is another luxury that most of us take for granted.  Fixing a leaky faucet could save from $2 to $6 in a year.  It’s small, but it adds up.  Not running the water while brushing teeth or hand washing could save about $8 per person per year.  Not flushing pee every time could save around $10 per person per year.  An average cost per gallon in the US might be about .0036.  This will be higher in desert areas.  An average person easily uses at least 15 gallons a day.

Drinking Pitcher water filters are often a scam.  They don’t deliver a truly filtered product and the filters can cost from $6 to $8 each.  A Berkey water filter canister can take pond or rain water and deliver extremely clean water for a lot less.  Potential savings could easily be $90 to $110 per person per year

Cable or satellite TV can cost $50 to $80 per month.  Netflix costs under $20 per.  That’s $30 to $60 saved each month.  But, may involve Internet access for the instant view shows.  They’ve also recently made it so that one can opt for disc only at about $9 per month.  Internet service can cost $20 to $50 per month.  But, some McDonalds, public libraries and Internet Cafés in the US offer it for free or nearly so.

Property taxes in the US can be reduced if a portion of the home was built with recycled or reclaimed materials.  This might save around $200 per year.  If your tax rate was increased due to recent developments in your area and your home is less valuable for any reason, do research and contest the rate increase with a suggestion at a compromise.  

Auto use:  Don’t let the engine run any more than necessary.  Combine shopping chores on the same day or trip.  Try to reduce backtracking on those shopping trips by clustering shopping locations.

Food:  Cook two meals at the same time and freeze the 2nd one for next week.  Try to use the same skillet/burner for 2 or more foods.  Keep the fridge full to reduce space to be cooled.  Know what you want before opening the fridge door and don’t hang open the door for too long.  Keep extra ice bricks (cold packs for lunches) in the freezer.  Buy gum in multipacks.  Make it a rule that sweets and treats have to be handmade from scratch.  Shop where they double coupons.  Know the correct portion sizes and food exchange list and then adhere to them.  Cruise discounted or marked down baskets or isles for nice finds.

Clothes and/or water:  Wear some outer clothing items more than once.  Change out of nice clothes to grunge clothing when useful to reduce wear on the more expensive clothing.  Collect rainwater (where legal) to water plants, pets, and plants or to flush pee with.  Re-purpose old socks for skin protection while gardening.  Reclaim old and stained t-shirts for rags or quilt making.  Try to avoid fads or keeping up the neighbors or co-workers.  Create your own style instead.

Other purchases:  Trade, sell or buy from local trading sources (radio trading posts, garage sales, auctions, craft shows, Etsy/eBay, Facebook trading swap shops or ‘free’ pages).  Ask a sales person if there are any sales or coupons that you may have missed.  Take advantage of school tax holidays.  Opt for thrift store items when possible.  Some thrift stores offer discount coupons when one also donates something to them.  Customer loyalty rewards or punch cards can be money savers also.

Internet:  Shop online where there are no S&H charges (restrictions and quotas will exist).  Take advantage of cyber sales days since many items will be marked down in anticipation of greater sales.  If one has a smart phone and a PC/MAC, don’t also have a landline ISP service.   Make use of free Wi-Fi.  (Look into good virus programs and if firewalls can be used.)

Utilities:  Switch to LED light bulbs.  They will last 7 to 10 years and they don’t create dirty electricity like CF’s (compact fluorescent curly-cue).  Make use of natural light as much as possible.  Keep lights off when not in use.   Use major appliances during the lower rate period (evenings and nights if one’s electric company offers lower rated time periods). 

Use a wood-heating stove to supplement or replace gas heat.  (Pacific energy is a good stove brand.)  Close off remote or storage rooms partially to restrict heat use.  Weatherproof for winter.  Use foil of car sunshade for part or all of southern exposed windows in summer or install awnings for them.  Use heavy plastic and square hay bales (stacked like bricks 2 or 3 high) to surround the house in winter.

Wrap pipes from water heater to sinks with foam pipe covers to keep water from being wasted and to maintain heat longer.  Cover and insulate exterior spigots in winter or turn the water to them off to prevent damage costs.  Re-use drip water from A/C units in summer for watering plants.     

Making a regular habit of conserving, preventing damage and taking advantage of opportunities can make a huge impact on one’s budget.