Having a cash crunch? It happens to most of us occasionally. A couple things I’ve realized are 1) Worry doesn’t change a thing, and 2) It’s unlikely I’ll win the lottery. I’ve also learned that there are a few things I can do to ease the problem.
Hanging laundry. Yes, it’s time-consuming if you work full-time, and some places don’t have a place for a clothesline (or don’t allow one). If you can’t have a clothesline, do you have shower rods? In bad weather I hang shirts and dresses on clothes hangers and hook them over the shower rods. I also use my clothespins to hang socks and underwear on wire clothes hangers. Clothes racks are also available at many stores and take up little room. This helps eliminate using the dryer so much. If you like, when the hung clothes are almost dry you can throw them in the dryer to finish drying, de-wrinkle and soften.
Another laundry tip: Cut your dryer sheets in half. Half a sheet is adequate to soften a dryer load, and it doubles the amount of dryer sheets in a box.
Use lower wattage light bulbs. Unless you do close, detailed work, you don’t need 100 watt bulbs. Paying more for fluorescent or energy-saving bulbs will help in the long run, but not for faster savings.
Shop around for the best deals on phones, cable or satellite TV, Internet, and car and house insurance. Sometimes you can save a lot by changing the plan, or changing companies.
Take lunch to work instead of eating out. Sometimes employees will order food delivered to the workplace. Remember your goals and just say, “No, thanks”.
Combine errands to save gas. For instance, I pass the bank, phone company, courthouse, water department, and the Dollar Store on my way to work. I can leave a few minutes early to stop and tend to business as needed.
This is touchy with some folks, but if you smoke, quit. Cigarettes are terribly expensive and cause a lot of health problems. Ask yourself which you’d rather have: bills paid off or emphysema.
Eliminate junk food. Chips, soda, and cookies are not healthy and are expensive. Also, reduce convenience foods. These are the prepared or semi-prepared foods that are boxed, frozen, or canned. Practice cooking more items from scratch. Crock pots are great for working moms. The Internet is loaded with recipes.
When you go shopping, always make a list of what you need. Then stick to it. Impulse buying is a no-no. Make a meal plan ahead of time so you know what you will need. Make a list for the non-food items as well.
Visit thrift stores like Goodwill or The Salvation Army. Yard sales, garage sales, and flea markets have some really good bargains. Just remember, don’t buy something you don’t need just because it’s a bargain.
Visit frugal sites on the Internet for good tips on saving time and money. Just Google the words “frugal living”.
Following these tips won’t make you rich, but you will notice a change in your finances. Look for other ways to save. There are a lot of things we could really do without or can cut back on. Some people cancel cable TV for a few months to catch up on bills. Others have garage sales to earn a little extra. Personally, I like to make a game of it. How little can I get the electric and water bills? How long can I make a tank of gas last?
If the cash crunch isn’t disastrous, cutting back on a few things for a short time will help. If you’re on the brink of ruin, more drastic measures may be necessary.
A good source of money-saving tips is The Tightwad Gazette, available in most public libraries.