Shave and Save
On the road to financial freedom, it is pretty common to start looking at ways to shave money from expenses. But frugality is already a part of my life. I told you, my parents lived through the Depression and definitely imprinted the “use it up, wear it out, make it do , or do without” philosophy on their children. But I will share some ways to stretch that already-earned dollar:
- Dump the cable. You hear this all the time, but have you tried it? Really, cut the cord. Switch off that box full of “reality” and sign up for Netflix. Or one of the other streaming networks (I only have Netflix so I can’t comment on others). Personally, I think blitz-watching a television series rocks.
- Stop buying paper towels. Are you surprised that I mentioned such a seemingly insignificant item? Well, instead of handing you that “stop drinking the latte” tip, I’m telling you to put a big pile of rags or no-longer useful towels in the kitchen for people to use instead. I haven’t bought a paper towel in years. If you use one roll of paper towels every week, you could save from $50 to $100 per year. You will also save on the amount of garbage you tote to the curb every week (and why are you not putting them in the compost bin?). Not to mention doing good for the planet.
- Lights out. “The couch doesn’t need a reading light,” my dad would say that to us when we left a light on in the living room. Turn off lights when you leave a room. Switch out those bulbs to LEDs. Yes, they are more expensive to buy, but it will save you money in the long run. Just start with one bulb in the most used lamp in your home.
- Pull the plug on appliances. Those little toasters are notorious for using energy and boosting your bill. So are blow dryers. Unplug the appliances that are quietly using energy.
- Circle the station wagon. Plan your task route before pulling out of the driveway, and try not to drive unnecessary miles. You can save on gas and time by combining your errands into one, circular journey.
- Cut the cheese instead of the meat. Instead of making the meat the leading role in a meal, make it an extra. Mix a smaller amount of ground or shredded meat into pasta or rice, or use cheese as your protein base. Have a meatless meal once or twice a week. If you removed one pound of meat from your diet per week (let’s say, it is locally raised chicken breast at $8 per pound), you could save $416 per year. When you look at it that way, rice and beans suddenly taste better.
- I’m not into soda pop or fancy beverages, but I know it is a sticking point with some. So instead of going cold turkey, why not cut out one or two per week? Or commit to changing one soda per day with homemade iced tea (costing pennies per glass!) or water with lemon. Walk away from the vending machine at work just once a day, and you could save $325 per year.
- Switch to budget billing. Most utilities companies offer a same-amount billing based on your last twelve months of usage. You will know how much you owe the company every month, making your budget more streamlined.
- To give or not to give. Be honest with friends or family and state your new financial purpose. Explain that you can no longer pick up the tab, and would be cutting back on giving to school fundraisers, etc. Put away 10% of your earnings for giving to the project of your choice – it’s right and kind. But do not overspend – when the money in that fund is gone, it is gone. When you have reached financial freedom, you will be able to share so much more. The Budget Bloggess explains her outlook on giving while budgeting here.
budget and expense portfolio image courtesy Stuart Miles of freedigitalphotos.net