Life isn’t cheap, but there are ways you can save on everything — even those necessities that we often take for granted.
We all know that we can watch out wallets by cutting back on eating out, entertainment, and other indulgences, but what about those items we use on daily or weekly basis?
I’ve compiled a list of eight simple things that are crucial for most of us — items we can’t live without in some cases — to let you know how you might be wasting them and how can save.
Let’s get this one out of the way first, because I’m guilty of wasting milk. Where am I wasting most of my milk money? In my morning cereal. I often pour more milk into my cereal than I intend to use. I’ll drink the milk out of the bowl when the cereal is gone if the cereal is sugarless, but leftover milk from sugared or colored cold cereal disgusts me so I end up dumping it. To eliminate this problem, I’ve learned to be conscious of how much milk I’m pouring into my cereal. If it’s a sugared or colored cereal, I try to pour just enough milk so that when I’m finished there’s barely a drop left in the bowl. It’s a hard skill to master, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be pleased that you’re no longer pouring money down the drain.
We all know we can preserve water by taking shorter showers and turning off the faucet while we’re brushing our teeth instead of letting it run, but do you think about the other ways you waste water? How about by washing dishes? Does your dishwasher need to run on its highest setting? Probably not. How about your clothes washer? Choose a smaller setting if you’re not washing an entire load (although you should be washing an entire load) and use the cold cycle if possible to reduce the energy bill in the process (the hot water has to get hot somehow, after all). Here are extra ways to specifically save on washing clothes). If you have a sprinkler system, set it to every other day instead of every day. Water is relatively inexpensive, but there are ways you can cut back on it.
Petrol is a huge expense for many of us and there’s no way to avoid it. But you can keep more money in your wallet by using the lower grade at the pump, not letting your car run unnecessarily (like not letting it warm up in the winter or letting it run while you run into a store), avoid turning on the climate control unless you absolutely need it, and driving slower. You would think that the faster you get somewhere the less fuel you’d consume, but that assumption is incorrect. You car will have to work harder the faster you go — so slow down out there.
Turning off the lights when leaving a room is just the tip of the money-saving iceberg when it comes to electricity. My husband is guilty as charged for constantly leaving at least one TV on in our house (sometimes multiple TVs!), which annoys me to no end. Otherwise, unplug devices and appliances while they’re not in use so they’re not sucking up energy all the time, and only turn on the heat and air conditioning if you need it. I rarely turn my heat on in the winter, but if it gets too cold for my liking I’ll put on extra layers and pull out more blankets around the house. As for the air conditioning, I can’t live without it, but I only turn on my units while I’m home. If no one is home to enjoy the crisp, cool air in the summertime, it’s a waste of money.
Only making enough food that you plan to eat is one way to cut back on food expenses — so there’s no waste — but saving on food starts at the grocery store. Try not to buy on impulse, and don’t use coupons you don’t need — you can actually end up spending more money that way. Always come prepared with a list and stick to it. Throwing away food that you bought that went bad because you didn’t eat it is literally like tossing cash in the trash.
I’m a clotheshorse, for sure. I love buying new tops, pants, shoes, accessories, anything really. But I save where I can by turning old clothes into new clothes (think pants to shorts), scouting sales to get the deepest discounts I can, using club cards and coupons, and visiting thrift shops, and putting old items on eBay or in consignment shops in hopes of making money back so I can buy something new.
Earlier I mentioned about saving on water while you wash your clothes, but there are other money-saving tips you can employ in the laundry department. First of all, you don’t need to wash everything (like jeans) after every use if they’re still clean. Cut back on the amount of detergent you’re using and perhaps switch to an even lower-priced brand (soap is soap in my opinion). When it comes time to tumble dry, think about hanging the clothes to dry in the bathroom, on the radiator, or outside. It requires a bit more work and time, but it’s worth it if you’re saving dough.
Do you hire people to do things for you — like mow the lawn or trim your hedges — that you can do yourself? If you’re capable of doing the services that you hire others to do for you, cut them loose, especially if you’re pinching pennies. There are lots of odd jobs that we hire people to do because we think we’re not qualified (which we may be) or because we’re lazy (most likely the case). If you’re not qualified, maybe it’s a skill you can learn that will not only save you money but also make you money if you’re ambitious enough to market those side skills.
Have any other money wasters and tips on how to cut back? Let us know in the comments below.