Cheap… this seems like such a dirty word. Frugal though, is a different story, or even thrifty.
There are so many ways that people waste money… not all of us, but many of us. Without even realizing it, we are throwing money away, most of the time it’s on items we subconsciously believe to be necessary. To let you in on how we live a more frugal lifestyle, I have decided to create a 3 part series listing out some ways that we either:
Have been saving
New things we are trying out to save
Things we plan to change in the future to save
This is just going to be a bullet point of examples, but feel free to message us with any ideas you may have that can help us save more – or if you want to know more about how you can save using some of these ideas.
How we have been saving:
First – Paper Towels
To me, this was by far the easiest change we made, and it is a super saver!
On average, we use 2 rolls of paper towels each week. Even if we buy the less costly paper towels, Great Value from Wal-Mart in this example, that still comes to $72.80 - $147 a year.
Instead, we have moved to using wash clothes (Wal-Mart / Mainstays brand), which in our house are aptly named “Kitchen Clothes”
~ 18 cloths for $3.97 comes out to 0.22 cents a piece
~ They are more absorbent
~ They are more durable
~ You are likely to only grab one (whereas many people grab 3-4 paper towels to clean up a small spill)
~ They don’t take up really any extra room in the wash when added to your weekly towel load.
~ We keep two little wire baskets on our counter. One for clean and one for dirties. Of course, you can keep them however you like – but my thought is, if I’m reaching to grab one, there is a chance something may be on my hands so I don’t want all over a drawer pull.
Second – Cleaning Supplies
There are three things most of us buy that I consider the most money draining when going to the store: Meat, Cereal, and Cleaning Supplies
We all know that most things can be cleaned with either white vinegar, alcohol, water, soap, and a little elbow grease (or a mix of some of those). We have become so dependent on specialty cleaners that don’t do anything extra other than take up more space in the landfills, drain your pocketbook, and clutter up your cabinets. Many items, such as “degreaser” and “all-purpose cleaner” do the exact same things, yet many people have both. Instead, we make our own cleaning products for a lot less cost:
~ This one is easy: White vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and water. I know what you’re thinking… “But you don’t use paper towels, do you use your kitchen clothes?”
~ Nope, newspaper. I learned this from my mother. When we lived in Post housing overseas (yep, I’m an Army brat), and this is what most people used. Works great, leaves a streak free shine, AND it’s biodegradable.
· Savings: Assuming you buy the cheapest glass cleaner – Great Value / Wal-Mart, this will run you $1.86 for 32 oz which should last about 3 months.
· My recipe costs about 0.32 cents for the same amount.
· Granted, that is only a savings of $6.16 in a year – but the savings to the environment is 4 less plastic bottles from one household alone.
~ There are over 127 million households in the USA. If only .05% stopped buying and then discarding their plastic window cleaner bottles – that saves the environment over 250 thousand bottles in our landfills!
~ Let’s not forget about the chemicals used to create these cleaners. It seems that we don’t pay attention to what we are spraying and inhaling daily. Granted, we don’t want to inhale vinegar, alcohol, or even water… but you get my point.
Multi-Surface (including stoves and your bath):
~ Again, easy: soap and elbow grease.
No - not liquid, store bought, chemical inundated soap. Just regular bar soap (homemade of course – but yours doesn’t need to be. Since I am a soap maker, we typically have a large supply).
~ Just wet a sponge (or, in our case a homegrown loofah sponge) and rub on the bar. Scrub away!
· The natural fibers of a loofah won’t scratch delicate surfaces such as glass stove tops.
~ Need a little extra scrubbing power? Add a little baking soda to your sponge – careful though, even though I’m told it won’t scratch a glass stove top… it can, and I speak from experience (a bit too much elbow grease I guess), but works great for a tub!
· Savings: This one is a bit tricky to figure out, and it really all depends on your household and what all chemicals you typically purchase.
· For arguments sake, we’ll say ¼ box of baking soda and one bar of soap every month to cover everything from cleanser or scrubbing bubbles, multi-surface spray or degreaser and glass stove top cleaner.
o Cleanser (Comet) - $2.08
o All Purpose (Great Value) - $1.97
o Glass & Ceramic cooktop cleaner - $6.93
· Those three items could last your house 2 months, so that comes to $65.88 for the year. With baking soda only 0.46 cents a box and soap (let’s just say you buy the cheapest out there from a dollar store) $1.00 each – that comes to $13.44 for the year, or a savings of $52.44.
· Again, I know this doesn’t seem like big bucks, but it really does add up. Also, again – let’s not forget about the savings to the environment.
o If you typically purchase liquid cleanser, that is 3 bottles every two months; 18 plastic bottles per year; and using our same calculations with .05% of American households making the change, that’s 1.1 million bottles that would not go into our landfills.
Third – Out-to-Eat
Easy… we don’t. Well, we do splurge sometimes as a treat, but for the most part we don’t go out to eat.
We pack our own lunches for work and if we get a hankering for out-to-eat food, we consider what we want and make it at home ourselves (Taco Tuesdays are the best).
· So, now it’s math time again:
o Let’s say going out to eat on the cheap costs $10 per person. For a family of four, that’s forty dollars (I like easy math!)
o Going out to eat once per week, will bring that total to over $2000 a year!!! And keep in mind, I said only once a week, and on the cheap – I know some families that eat out 3-4 times each week and spend closer to $15 per person – that can easily total over $12 thousand a year!!
Fourth – the little things
There are other things we do that have helped save a little here and there, and in an effort to not bore you to death, here is a quick list.
We don’t make extra trips in the car (gas is expensive!) – we wait until we have several things to do, and make all our trips on one day if we can.
If we are out of ketchup, well… we are out. Everyone will have to wait until we go shopping. I’m not spending extra gas and time (time=money) for a bottle of ketchup!
We only go grocery shopping once per week, so we save that for the last trip of our “running around” day.
Pre-ordering groceries, and anything else that has curbside delivery.
~ If you don’t have the time to walk around and search for every mark down, clearance, and roll-back price – then don’t!
~ If you know what you need, and you have your grocery list, sit down and order your items online for curbside delivery.
~ Not only will this save you time, but you would be surprised how much money it will save you by not letting you get those “impulse” buys that definitely were not on your list.
We use solar power as much as possible, and we plan to expanding this – but I will save more details on that for a future post.
We grow some of our own vegetables, but not all. This will be expanding as well.
We do not have a gym membership… there is plenty to do in the yard and around the house that can give us all the work-out we need.
We are firm believers in the concept of "phantom" electricity, so we do unplug almost everything when not in use (yes - this works).
When we need things, we check at second hand stores first - especially Goodwill since they use the proceeds to help others find work. You can find great stuff there!
Certainly, none of the figures I used are exact, and of course may be different for your household. Take the time to figure up your own possible savings – it may not be worth it to you, or you may find that you are spending a lot more than necessary.
This isn’t for everyone, for example, you are super careful and you rarely touch a paper towel, and you may only go through a roll every couple of weeks. In this case, it may not seem necessary to make any change. However, if you have a family with four adolescents – in which case you probably add a new roll of paper towels to the holder each time you enter the kitchen – this savings can be much greater than ours.
I hope this has helped some, and we look forward to any and all comments you may have for how you have saved.