Frugal living tips for times of crisis
In this time and age, with the economic crisis that we are experiencing and with the prospect of getting worse rather than better, we really have to consider every possible way to save money, because it is much easier to save money than to earn it.
And the best way to do this is in our homes, changing a bit our way of living. We can do that without losing quality, we just have to be creative.
There are so many things where we spend money and we don’t need to, we just never consider doing things differently, not worse, just different. For instance, How to clean your house - Tricks and Tips – talks about going back to the way our grandmothers cleaned their houses, using such simple products like lemon or vinegar or salt, very cheap and very effective products. So not worse, just different. The ideas on that hub are a start if you want to save some money in cleaning products, you will be really amazed.
But that is just the tip of the iceberg, there are so many other ways you can save money in your home, you will be verfy surprised.
First of all create an excel sheet with all the items in which you spend money in columns and a line for each day of the month and then, each day, write down what you are spending. It can be just a cup of tea and a cupcake at the cafeteria, it can be how much you spent on groceries, how much you spent on a present, and so on and so forth. No matter the expense, you must write it down. This may seem silly, but it is actually a very good way to check if you are spending too much or not and probably will show in which areas you can cut down. Don’t give it up after the first month, you really need to have this going on for some time to find whatever patterns are relevant.
One of the things we all spend a lot of money on is food, but what can we do? We definitely have to eat, so…But there are a few things we can do:
- Make a list of what you need before leaving the house to go shopping (that way you won’t stray and you won’t have to come back a second time, because you forgot something);
- Avoid buying pre-cooked meals, pre-baked cakes and the likes. Besides being much better for our health if we cook them ourselves, it will save us quite some money and it actually doesn’t take that long to make. There are wonderful meals and cakes that are quite easy and quick and it will taste much, much better;
- Avoid buying vegetables and fruits out of season, for they are more expensive and also they don’t taste so good. For fruits and vegetables I would advise you to check out your local market;
- On Sunday night, each week, plan the meals for the whole week: check out what’s in the fridge and freezer and decide what you are going to cook. This will avoid the daily stress of having to figure out at the last minute what you are going to cook, will allow you to defrost at room temperature whichever ingredient you need, thus saving energy, since you won’t be using last minute technics like the micro-wave or running hot water and, again, it tastes better. Finally, there is an ultimate, valid reason for this weekly planning, it will definitely avoid the temptation of calling the take-away restaurant.
CHANGE YOUR WAYS
We all have bad habits around our home. How many times do you forget the lights on and move on to another room of the house? How many times do you open and shut the fridge door while you are cooking? There are a few things we can teach ourselves to do differently and it’s just a matter of getting used to them, because it’s nothing much and in the end you are saving money:
- Turn off the lights whenever you leave a room;
- Change your regular lamps for CFL's or LED lamps;
- Turn off your boiler/water heater when you are not using for some time, for instance, during the night;
- Really turn off your domestic appliances, such as TV, VCR, DVD player, etc, by turning off the stand-by;
- When you are buying new domestic appliances choose those with a better rating, energy efficiency wise;
- After charging equipment, such as cell phones, lap top or ipad, take the charger off the socket, otherwise it will still be spending energy;
- Don’t leave the water running while you wash your hands or wash your teeth, instead open and close as needed and don’t forget to check for dripping taps, because that wastes a lot of water;
- Make sure you know everything that you need from the fridge before you open it, so that you take everything at once, avoiding opening and closing it a lot;
- Start growing fruits and vegetables in your backyard, it's a hobby, quite a relaxing one, as a matter of fact, and if it's your first time, don't worry, it's easy to learn. Grow whatever you use more, such as an orange tree, a lemon tree, an apple tree, some herbs, and also some peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, well, actually whatever you like. This will save you a lot of money and everything will taste much better.
There are also some improvements you can do at home to save money. To begin with, obviously, you will have to spend money, but in the end you will get the money you invested back and from that moment on you will be saving money. Anyway, to do this you really need to have some money saved, but these home improvements actually allow you to reduce your energy expenditure.
-Install a solar water heater system – check out how to best choose one here: How to Get Started with Solar Water Heater system;
-Think about installing blinds, caulk and seal doors and windows, add insulation to your home or others, like mentioned in the following hub 5 Important Home Maintenance Projects for Energy Efficiency;
-Think about upgrading your windows, for instance upgrade to double glazing - double or triple glass window panes separated by an air or other gas filled space;
-Install a condensing boiler, check this hub to learn more on how to choose one: Best condensing boiler.
MAINTENANCE AND RECYCLING
So far, we have lived in a time and in places, fortunatelly, of great abundance, therefore we have lost some of our parents and grandparents habits. Instead of maintaining what we have, instead of giving new uses to the old, instead of repairing what is broken, we simply put it aside and buy new ones, after all it's not all that expensive...but then again, nowadays, it actually is.
Well, it's time to rethink our stance and to go back to the old ways: take care of our things a little better, recycle everything in our home and repair what's broken.
Wooden furniture will last longer and with less damages by being polished every week. Also, we can take of our furniture by using coasters, by using actual linen tablecloths at mealtime and don't forget to protect your wooden furniture from direct sunlight.
The DVD player is broken, well, don't go to the store just yet to buy a new one. Try to repair it yourself or, if you can't, just take it to a repair shop and ask how much it costs to repair, if it's less than a new one, it's worth it.
There are so many things in a home we can recycle, from old boxes, to old furniture, vases and even clothes. Be sure to pass on the clothes and toys of one child to the next, not just between brothers, but also cousins and other people in the family. It's a great way to save money and really what are you going to do with all the toys in the house? But it's not just that, old boxes, for instance, can be used to store other things. Just look around the house for things you have no more use for or that you are thinking of throwing away and then think about your needs and see if anything can be changed into whatever else you need.
Finally, if you have some things which you really have no use for, try to sell them (that won't save you money, but it will make you money - so, equally good), try ebay, garage sale or whatever other. What may be nothing for you, may be worth something to someone else.
So, it's a new age, one which requires us to learn and adapt to live with less money and, at the same time, still save some.
These tips will allow to do just that, without major changes in your life, you will start spending less and less, the cost with food will go down, expenditures with energy also and in the meantime, in luck, you'll find a new hobby.
There is also one other thing that may come of these changes, probably you'll have much more time together as a family, so get the whole family involved with saving, have your kids help decide the weekly plan for meals, or even, invite them to help prepare the meals and in the weekend why not try a little gardening with everyone.
And the best is there are so many more things you can do to save money around the house, just look around and be creative.
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© 2012 Joana e Bruno
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