As the recession stretches its claws across the country and around the globe, everyone is feeling the pinch. So now’s the time to get frugal and figure out how to do more with less. Fortunately, it’s easier than you think to save money every day. And don’t look for the standard advice here – we know you’ve already stopped the Starbucks and switched to store brands. We’ve got five real tips for you here – five ways your family can really save money every week.
1. Shop smarter
Would it surprise you to hear I haven’t paid for shampoo, toothpaste, or soap in over two months? And yet every week, I come home from the store with at least $20 worth of those products. You can too, if you know how and where to shop. If you have a national chain drug store nearby – CVS, Rite-Aid, or Walgreens – you’re in luck. Google “CVS extra care bucks” also try “Walgreens register rewards” or “Rite-Aid rebates” and start reading. These stores have fantastic deals week after week, and you will quickly see a big difference in your bottom line.
2. Bake your bread – and more
Take a look at what a loaf of bread costs these days. Then, if you’re still standing, stroll over to the cookie aisle and check out the prices there. Painful, isn’t it? What if you set aside three hours a week for baking? If you have a bread machine, it’s truly a no brainer – use the dough setting, then put the dough into loaf pans to rise and bake. While the dough is rising, make a few batches of basic cookies. Dress them up with mini chocolates and other goodies. Divvy them into zip top bags and freeze any extras.
3. Grow a garden
If you cook with herbs, you have no excuse for not planting them. Herbs can grow indoors or out and require very little work. You can get seeds on sale for pennies – the stores will often sell 5 packets for $1. Get a bag of potting soil and some containers from the dollar store, and you’re set. I haven’t purchased basil, cilantro, chives, or mint in years. And once you try gardening, you can branch out (sorry!) to tomatoes, cucumbers, and anything else your family enjoys.
4. Toss the towels
This is one of those tips that seems nuts at first, but quickly makes sense – and cents. Stop buying paper towels. Just stop. Start a rag stash – old t-shirts, old towels, old cloth diapers, and actual rags are all fine. Store them in baskets in all the same places you use paper towels. Use them, wash them, and reuse them. You will be stunned at how simple it is, and you will save a fortune.
5. Cough up the cash
Forget debit cards, and cut up your credit cards. Use cash for your purchases. You will find yourself spending less almost immediately. For us, we borrowed a little bit of money from our savings to start our weekly cash allowances. We’ve reduced our spending by about 20% in just two months, and we expect to realize even more savings as we learn to cut more fat from our budget.
Tough times mean making tough decisions, but these are five fairy simple ways you can make a real difference in your bottom line.