Frugal living seems to have gotten a foothold into our lives and it’s here to stay. "They" keep telling us it's getting better all the time, but is it really? We’ve been told the Recession ended 18 months ago. Did it really? Unemployment hovers near 10%, in some localities it’s as high as 15%. It seems more people are losing their jobs each day.
It's scary out there and we're all looking for ways to save more and spend less money. A lot of families are living paycheck to paycheck. It’s time to start reducing, reusing and recycling. Maybe you already employ many of these strategies to save money, maybe you don’t. The purpose of this article is to make you rethink how you spend and save, and how you can do less of the former and more of the latter.
- Make a household budget and stick to it. There a dozens, if not hundreds of websites to get you started. Some of my favorites are: Stretcher.com - Starting a Budget, MSN Money - How to Build Your First Budget and Betterbudgeting.com - Living Paycheck to Paycheck
- When you go grocery shopping, date your canned goods and non-perishables right on the box. Each item may have a date on it, but you can't always read it quickly. Writing the date you bought it right on the front of the package, or on the top of the can, will save you time when rotating items in your pantry.
- Keep a list on the inside of your cupboard or pantry of each item and how many you have. For instance, if you have 10 cans of cream of chicken soup, list that on your pantry list. Each time you use one, cross it off. This will help you save money because you'll know what you have on hand and won't duplicate buy items you do not need.
- Don't overstock your pantry, but keep a good supply. If you overstock your pantry you run the risk of things expiring before you can use them up. Not sure how to start building your pantry or what you really need? Here's a Pantry Basics list that's a good starting point.
- Plan your menus for dinner in advance. Start small with a couple of days at a time, then expand it by adding a day or two. When you feel comfortable, plan menus out a week or two or even a month ahead of time. Read my article for more tips on Menu Planning 101
- Plan your lunch menus around whatever you have leftover from dinner the night before. Keep breakfast simple. Oatmeal with fruit is a nourishing and inexpensive breakfast, as are eggs and fruit, or fruit and yogurt. See my article on taming the breakfast budget.
- If you sew, make clothes for you and your family. If you knit or crochet, make hats, scarves, mittens, afghans, etc. Turn your hobby into a small business, if you feel ambitious. Check out other types of services to see what they charge and set your prices accordingly. For information on how to start a business, check out the SBA website.
- Try container gardening. There are many good groups on Yahoo to help you get started, here are two that I like: Container Gardening and Edible Container Gardens. There are also a lot of great websites to help you get started. A couple of my favorites are: Container Gardening 101 from About.com, Vegetables Herbs & Edible Flowers from About.com and Vegetable Container Gardening 101 from About.com. Container gardening is also a great way to get out of the house, into the fresh air and get a little exercise. Container gardening can be enjoyed by all, even families or individuals with limited growing space in apartments.
- Go over all your insurances policies and call the companies and see if you are missing any discounts. They won't tell you easily either, you have to push. There are a lot of ways to save on vehicle and home insurance. Contact your broker or call a representative at the company directly. Tell them you've been shopping around (which you should do on a yearly basis) and tell them other quotes you've gotten for the same coverage. Ask them to match the price.
- Go through your clothing and see if you can take anything to a consignment shop, especially if you have a lot of good children's clothing. De-clutter and plan to have at least one garage sale a year, and start marking things and putting them aside now. It will be so much easier when the time comes. Or if you don't like garage sales, try craigslist or your local paper, or a local yahoo group. Sell the things that you don't use or don't need any more. Whatever you cannot sell, give away on your local freecycle yahoogroup or craigslist. Having less stuff saves you money, because it saves you time. If you don't have to clean it, dust it, vacuum it, wind it, buy a battery for it, etc., you save!