I love saving money. Even saving a few cents here and there makes me giddy. Today, I went to the co-op and at least three of the items on my list (including Seventh Generation toilet paper) were on sale! And good sales at that.
The way I see it, every penny I save gives me more freedom to do the things I love and allows me to share my excess with those who do not have enough.
And a little goes such a long way!
- 1 penny = one pencil
- 2 pennies = one eraser
- 15 pennies = one notebook
- $2 or $3 = one teacher’s salary for one day
- $20 = one student’s school supplies for one year
- $600 = one teacher’s annual salary
This is just one example of how our seemingly insignificant savings can make a huge difference in the lives of others.
So how can you save money on a daily basis? Here is a good list to get you started:
1. Drive the Speed Limit
According to edmunds.com, you can save up to 14% by driving 65 mph instead of 75 mph on longer trips. This also reduces the likelihood of getting a speeding ticket! And do you know what will save you even more? Becoming a nice (non-aggressive) driver. Read the whole article to learn more fuel-saving tips.
2. Reuse Plastic Bags
I learned this one from my grandmother. She always had plastic bags drying on her drying rack. I make homemade bread and use Ziplock® freezer bags. They’re not cheap! However, if you use each bag 5-10 times, it’s not so bad.
3. Pack a Lunch
Eating lunch out every day adds up quickly (and it’s not good for you!). Pack a healthy lunch and bring with you to work. Yes, it takes a little bit of time and planning, but the savings are so great that it is totally worth it. Leftovers from dinner last night make a great lunch. If you bring sandwiches, consider getting a wrap-n-mat to save on bags.
4. Don’t Waste Food
According to various online sources, Americans waste close to 100 billion pounds of food each year. That’s more than 25% of our food. Think about it, how often do you throw out food that has gone bad or didn’t get eaten? I did it today! I had optimistically purchased a container of cottage cheese thinking that I could eat it in a week. Well, I didn’t and it spoiled. Read this post for tips on saving food.
5. Stop Buying Bottled Drinks
In most cities, the water coming from the tap is perfectly fine. If it doesn’t taste awesome, apply a filter. Buying water (or any of the many varieties of flavored water and electrolyte-infused water) in bottles is expensive and also terrible for the environment. For water on the go, invest in a Kleen Kanteen bottle. I have a small one that I clip onto my purse. It’s green and awesome.
6. Buy Only What You Need
This seems pretty obvious, but getting into this habit takes some practice. I started getting into this mindset two years ago and made a New Year’s resolution only to buy clothes I absolutely need. I ended up buying three or four items the entire year (mainly exercise clothes). This year I extended this concept to include all products (except food). I don’t miss shopping one bit! In fact, it’s liberating!!
7. Exchange Services (aka Bartering)
We have a wonderful Bichon Frisé named Sophie. She is full of personality and just as much part of the family as anybody else. Unfortunately, we are not always able to bring her along on trips. But rather than paying hundreds of dollars on boarding, we exchange dog sitting services with another family. Their dog, Gizmo, is actually spending the weekend with us right now! It’s a great way to save some money. This also works for babysitting, yard work, music lessons, haircuts, computer help, and almost any other service you can think of.
8. Swap Your Stuff
Do you have a stack of books or DVDs you know you’ll never use again? Add them to swap.com and get books and movies that you really want. There is a small fee involved and also shipping, but it’s way cheaper than buying a new item. I’ve swapped 15 items so far and it’s been a great experience.
9. Visit the Library
I love to read. Prior to 2010, I spent a lot of money on books. However, as part of my “don’t buy it if you don’t need it” journey, I felt compelled to apply this to books as well. It was a “getting back to my roots” experience. As a kid, I spent hours in the library, pouring over the latest arrivals in the youth section. I never dreamed of buying a book that I would only read once. In the past couple of years, I’ve re-discovered the library. It’s still free and it’s still wonderful.
Read the post, Borrow Books, Don’t Buy, for tips on how to get the books you need at the lowest possible cost. You can’t beat free!
10. Eat Out Less (and Cheaper)
One of the things we love to do as a family is to go out to a cozy restaurant, eat some good food, and talk about what’s going on in our lives. It’s important to us and it’s not something we want to give up. However, there are ways to put some boundaries around eating out and in turn save some money. For example, we only go out to eat as a family once per week, usually on Thursday or Friday night. Since we’ve been in “frugal mode,” we’ve been nixing the $15 – $20/person places and opting for the $7 – $12/per person spots. It makes a difference.
Save the really nice restaurants for special occasions. Otherwise, where are you going to go for your special occasion?
Bonus: Frugal Holiday Tips
Since ’tis the season, I thought I’d throw in a few ideas for saving money during the holidays:
- Check your supply of gift wrapping products before you go out and buy more. The only thing I had to buy this year was a few gift boxes. We had everything else: paper, ribbons, labels, and tape.
- Use old cereal boxes for gift boxes. If I had remembered this one a bit sooner, I wouldn’t have had to buy those gift boxes. Growing up, cereal boxes were the only gift boxes I knew!
- Send electronic greeting cards (or a newsletter). We’ve been doing this for years. It’s easier, it’s better for the environment, and it’s cheaper. (Of course, this year, I did order 50 cards because we finally had a family portrait done… However, this may be the last time I send snail mail cards. Ever.)
- Minimize your gift list. Make agreements with most of your family & friends not to exchange gifts. It will be a relief for everybody. Rather, suggest making donations to a charity or simply getting together to make cookies or go caroling.
- Make do with the decorations you have. A house filled with Christmas clutter is not very attractive. You probably have enough. You may have too much. Look at every piece and determine what it means to you. I picked out a few items this year that we had no emotional attachment to and dropped them off at Goodwill. Less is more.
Do you have a frugal tip to share? I would love to hear from you.