What are some easy ways to save money every day?
- Turn off lights when you're not using them.
- Finally sort out your thermostat's timer settings, and don't air-condition the house every day while everyone's at work.
- Don't leave the faucet running while washing hands and brushing teeth. Turn it off, and then back on when you need it.
- Do not put a brick in your toilet tank. Many conservationists will tell you that this conserves water. It doesn't. Although it displaces a brick's worth of water every time you flush, you generally have to flush two or three times to do it successfully. And that defeats the purpose. You may be able to bend the floater rod in your tank down just a little, to reduce the amount of water that fills up each time until it's at the ideal level - and you can always bend it back as necessary.
- Plan your meals in advance. People pay enormous prices for convenience fees of pre-prepared foods, and not only are they also less healthy for you, they don't even taste as good. Each weekend, plan what you would actually enjoy eating, and prepare it. Take the leftovers with you the next day for lunch... mmm, fresh homemade lasagna for lunch!
- Discover quinoa ("KEEN-wah") at your local health food store. It's a grainlike cereal staple sold in bulk, and has 12%-18% of protein, extraordinarily complete and digestable. You can eliminate meat from your grocery budget, saving money and your conscience at the same time. You just soak it twice for a couple of hours and cook it up just like rice, anywhere you'd usually use rice. Just the thing for a cheap, nutritious, yummy stir-fry. Check the Wiki link or Google quinoa for more info.
- Never underestimate the value of a crock-pot. You can pick one up cheap at a thrift store. With it, you can buy lots of cheap produce when you do your grocery shopping, cut them up and toss them in in the morning, and they'll slow-cook all day for you. This not only works for soups and rich, hearty stews, it's also great for sumptuous meals like corned beef and cabbage. Lots of totally easy, thoroughly-delicious crock-pot recipes can be quickly found online, and crock-pots are coming back! People are beginning to go back to "slow food" because it's the exact opposite of "fast food", and it's not only cheap and delicious, but extremely healthy too.
- Don't forget to try steaming your vegetables, too. It's quick and easy, and it's the healthiest way to prepare them because it keeps the most nutrients in them. You can use the steam from the other food you're cooking to steam them and save money, by putting the steamer above another pot and steaming your veggies with the same heat you're already using. You can do the same thing to prepare delicious, fresh fish. So healthy!
- If you go the veggie route, consider growing stuff you'll eat regularly - carrots, celery, potatos, and so on, in a small garden. This will offset your grocery budget even further, and you'll be eating essentially for free. You can also grow herbs for your soups and seasonings. Grow them in a planterbox by your kitchen window, both to protect them from the elements and to bring the outdoors - and nice fresh herbal scents - into your life.
- If you have or start a garden, you can use a lot of your plate scrapings and other food-related trash in a compost heap. This will return value back to you, by bringing those nutrients back into your food in the form of healthy, yummy vegetables. (It will also usually bring down your trash bill.)
- Speaking of reducing your trash bill - are you recycling? How much of what you throw out could be recycled for cash instead? It's not only better for the environment, it will save you money on your trash pickup and make you money at the recycling center. If your city picks up recycling along with its trash pickup and doesn't credit you for it, consider taking it in yourself and getting the money. Until they start crediting it to your account, or you can charge taxes yourself, you need that money more than they need it.
- When grocery shopping, take the couple of seconds to compare prices. It adds up. Don't immediately grab what's at eye-level, that's where they put the most expensive labels of the product so you'll see it first. Check near the bottom shelf, or at the top first.
- Learn to cook. It's a lost art, but few things are as delicious, healthy and cheap as a homemade stir-fry on a bed of savory rice. Mycookbook.com and the like can give you plenty of delicious, cheap recipes.
- Avoid impulse shopping. Do you really need that soda for a buck or two while you're shopping? Will it actually make you happy? Consider how long it took you to earn that money and what you had to go through to get it. And then don't fall for what pop trend watcher Faith Popcorn calls Small Indulgence Syndrome. When you're independantly wealthy, then you can spend money on things that don't make you any happier. Until then, you need it for more important things.
- If you make coffee every day, consider getting a permanent coffee filter that can be washed and reused, rather than paper filters you'll have to keep buying. And if you can't find a permanent coffee filter the right size for your coffee maker, a swatch of nylon from stockings works just as well. (submitted by Erin McCormick. Thanks Erin!)
- Americans spend one third of their money paying federal income taxes to support things like human torture, war atrocities, warrantless wiretapping, and governmental treason and corruption in many other forms. Ask yourself whether you're making the right choice. Then take the time to learn the law and determine for yourself whether or not you are actually required to.
- Don't drive when you can walk - or surf the internet instead. It does no good to put anti-oil bumper stickers on your SUV if you're just going to drive all over town, and you probably can't afford it anyway.
- Examine your recreation and entertainment expenses, and determine whether you're getting your money's - not to mention your time's! - worth. You may have a state-of-the-art entertainment center, but when is the last time it actually brought you state-of-the-art entertainment? It does no good having the hardware if there's nothing of value being shown on it. We've got 5,000 channels, and nothing's on. Consider whether you'd get more value selling it and using the money for other things. Your own internet startup company, for example.
- If you shave regularly, consider for a moment how expensive buying replacement blades are. You can save a lot of money by investing in an electric shaver. If electric shavers don't give you a close enough shave, consider going the old-fashioned route. Go to an antique store and pick up an antique shaving razor (they're usually about $10) and order a strop online to keep it sharp. Then all you have to pay for when you shave is the shaving cream. (And in a pinch, you can substitute liquid hand soap.)
- Keep your eyes open for unconventional opportunities that might otherwise pass you by. Shopping at thrift stores for kitchen appliances, for example, could not only save you money but might also reveal, say, an antique sewing machine amid all of that cheap 70's furniture. Someone on eBay would love that!
- Look for opportunities to give value to people in ways that cost you nothing. When you invest in others, the world sees you as someone with something of value - namely, your choices. It will learn to compensate you appropriately, whether immediately or in the long-term. And you'll respect yourself more for the quality of your choices, too.
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