Today is the final day in this 5 day series. I hope that the last few days have been helpful and given you some ideas of ways that you can cut your expenses. Today we are wrapping up this series with some other miscellaneous ways to cut your expenses that didn’t fit into the other categories.
- Plan your errands so that you get them all done at the same time. Not only will you save time, you also save gas and wear and tear on your vehicle. I’d rather spend a few hours or a day getting everything done at once so I can stay home the rest of the week. If you find you forget something and need it picked up from the store, call someone who can pick it up for you instead of making an extra trip. My husband is my go to person for this. Usually once a week he usually gets a text asking if he can pick something up on his way home from work. Yesterday it was canning lids and half pint canning jars.
- Carpool if you can. Get to know co-workers that live near you and carpool together. It cuts the gas cost and wear and tear on your cars. You can alternate driving however you want. It’s also nice to have someone to talk to during your commute. You can also carpool with other parents for activities your kids do. Maybe one afternoon a week you drive other kids home from a sports practice and then your child is driven home the other days. Coordinate food shopping with a neighbor or friend so you both save on driving to the store.
- Keep birthdays simple. Especially for kids. It is more common now for people (mostly kids) to be having themed birthday parties. Parents go all out with decorations, food, entertainment and goody bags. Because our kids are exposed to this, and because we live in a society where we feel the need to keep up with everyone else, we get sucked into doing the same for our kids. Don’t let it happen to you! Keep it simple. I guarentee you the kids will still have fun! Balloons, crepe paper, banners, cake and ice cream, maybe pizza or hot dogs, and no goody bags. Since when did things get so turned around that a kid going to someone else’s party is expecting to go home with a gift?
- Don’t ever pay full price for holiday items. I can’t tell you the last time I paid full price for wrapping paper. I stock up on Christmas wrap, tags, and bags after Christmas when they are on clearance. I also scored some foil patterned paper this past year that isn’t holiday themed at all and I used it for birthday gifts! The same goes for every single other holiday. I will buy the following after holidays: baking items like cupcake liners, cookie cutters, sprinkles, plastic Easter eggs, egg dying kits, Easter baskets (if needed since my kids reuse baskets every year), New Year’s Eve hats and noise makers, Halloween decorations, holiday paper plates and napkins, and more. I always try to go the day after the holiday to walk through the markdowns. And as always, don’t buy it just because it’s on sale. Make sure it is something you will use. Granted I don’t need decorations and holiday paper plates, but with young kids they enjoy it so I like to do something special to see those smiles.
- Keep up with maintenance. It is less expensive to keep things maintained, than to pay for a repair or replacement. For your vehicle its oil changes, tire rotations, making sure the air pressure is at the correct level, and any other scheduled maintenance. In the early spring have your air conditioning unit serviced, and in the late summer have your furnace and/or chimney serviced. This will help them operate the best they can and they will be more efficient. Clean out you dryers lint trap regularly and have the duct cleaned once a year. Even though there is a lint trap, it can get through and clog up the duct which causes the dryer to not work as well.
- Wash clothes with cold water. I wash everything with cold water. The only time I use warm water is if I’m dealing with bodily fluids (leaked diapers, sheets that someone got sick on, etc) or giving sheets and towels a good wash after a sickness has passed through our house. Otherwise, I save the hot water.
- If you use dryer sheets, cut them in half and use each half 2-3 times.
- Wear clothing more than once before washing. Obviously, if you sweat like crazy, or spill something on it, wash it. We have a rule in this house that jeans are worn at least twice before getting washed, pjs 2-3 times, and hoodies/sweaters 2-3 times before washing as well. In addition, if you work outside with animals (like my husband here on the deer farm) wear clothes 3-4 times in a row while outside working in the dirt before washing them. If your “outside” clothes are going to get dirty, wear them to work outside, take them off and put them aside for the next day.
- Take advantage of programs you qualify for based on your income. I’m not saying “take advantage” meaning to cheat on the paperwork and so on. If you qualify for something, use it. This is the time to put your pride aside. There is a reason for those programs. WIC, food stamps, reduced or free school lunch and breakfast, child care assistance, food pantries, etc. If you meet the qualifications and need the help, use it. Once you are in a position where you don’t need it anymore, then you stop using it. We’ve all been in sticky spots. Don’t ever feel embarrassed for using the help that is out there.
- Stock up on office supplies during back to school sales. Every couple years I buy a box of those $0.25 notebooks. Along with pens, crayons, glue, dry erase markers, highlighters, and so on. Not only do I buy what’s on my child’s school supply list, I buy extra because I know they will need something in the second half of the school year. I’d rather have extra in a box in my closet, than have to buy it at full price.
- Use a mail order service for prescription medication. You will pay less out of pocket for a 3 month supply through mail order compared to paying at the pharmacy.
- DIY whenever possible! You’d be amazed at the instructions you can find online for doing or making things yourself. From baby wipes, to building a bookshelf, the possibilities are endless! Just be sure you compare the cost of buying vs making it yourself. It’s not always cheaper to do it yourself, but the majority of the time it is.
- Declutter and simplify. By having less, and having the things you do have organized, you are less likely to buy things you don’t need. How many times have you bought something you need because you can’t find the one that you already own? Or, how many times have you bought something only to find you already own it, but it got buried behind something else?
I will continue to add things to this list as I come across them so please check back from time to time for updates.