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Easy Ways to Save $100: Five Simple Household Skills That Can Save You Big Money Every Month
Five Simple Skills At a Glance
- Simple sewing and mending.
- Shine your shoes.
- Prepare simple meals at home.
- Unclog your drain or toilet.
- Change your furnace filter.
Have you ever thrown away a pair of pants because it popped a button, or taken in your vacuum cleaner for a $50 "tune up"? The simple household skills that follow can help some of the investments in your home continue working properly and even save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, in unnecessary repairs or replacement costs.
Mend and Sew Clothing for Longer Wear
You don't have to be able to make your own clothes to save hundreds of dollars a year using some simple sewing and mending skills. Mending can include sewing on a shirt button or patching the knees of a child's pants. If you can sew a straight stitch on a sewing machine, you can cut off a pair of frayed pants at the knees and turn them into a fashionable and functional pair of shorts or capri pants, extending the wear of the pants and eliminating the need to buy an additional summer wardrobe. Multiply the savings by the number of children you have, and the dollars really begin to add up! Extend the wear of your children's footie pajamas by cutting off the feet and pairing them up with a pair of warm cotton socks.
A mending kit need not be complicated or full of expensive supplies. Clip the buttons from shirts that are too stained or worn beyond repair, then toss the clothing in a rag bag for some funky crafting. What to do with old shirt or clothing that can't be reworked?
Items to Keep Handy In a Mending Kit
Mending Kit Items
How They Are Used
One-time purchase, essential for cutting clean, straight lines on fabric. Helpful for cutting off jeans and other pants for turning into shorts and capris.
Use to hold fabric into place when turning up the cuff in a pair of pants.
Keep a supply of shirt buttons on hand for quickie repairs.
No-sew patches can extend the life of your children's play clothes and reinforce knees for active children.
A small supply of needles in your mending kit is essential for sewing on buttons.
See-through nylon thread
Most mending projects can be completed with this useful, all-purpose thread.
Polish Boots and Shoes
Investing in high-quality shoes and keeping them looking brand new makes sense for the adults in the family, but it is also a useful skill for hand-me-down shoes that children inherit from sibilings, friends, and cousins. One school of thought on shoes is that children should never wear hand-me-downs, but coming from a large family, I know this isn't always a practical solution for the family's budget.
Cleaning and polishing shoes can keep them looking newer longer. For your polishing kit you will want to have a soft cotton cloth, clear saddle soap or leather cleaner, shoe polish in the same color as your shoes, and a soft-bristled brush for shining your shoes. Store all of these away from small children and pets in a plastic shoebox or sturdy drawstring bag. Note that shoe polish, when it gets old, will get hard and caked, but saddle soap will keep almost indefinitely with little effect on its usability.
Items to Keep Handy in a Shoe Shine Kit
Soft cotton cloth
A 100% cotton t-shirt that has outgrown its usefulness will work perfectly. Use the cloth for applying saddle soap or shoe polish. More than one cloth is nice to have for using different colors of shoe polish.
A shoe-shine brush with soft bristles
These are available for purchase in the shoe polish section of your store.
Saddle soap is a leather cleaner. It comes in a paste form that can be applied with a soft cloth to shoes. Shoes should be cleaned with saddle soap or leather cleaner before you apply a colored shoe polish.
I like Kiwi brand shoe polish that is sold in a cake-like format. You will want black, brown, and clear. I don't like liquid shoe polish that is applied with a sponge-tipped applicator. These are extra messy.
Prepare Simple Meals at Home
You can save hundreds of dollars a month by preparing simple meals at home instead of eating out at fast food restaurants. My family of two adults and four children can easily spend $25.00 per meal on the "convenience of fast food," and eating in is an excellent way to trim our grocery budget.
You don't have to be Julia Child to prepare simple meals at home. If what you really need is simplicity and convenience, a jar or prepared spaghetti sauce served over noodles, rice, or even quinoa will provide a quick, easy, and even nutritious fix. Amplify the nutrional value of prepared sauces by adding veggies like carrots, peppers, onions, fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, and olives. I like to keep on hand simple foods that can be served straight to the table, such as raw baby carrots, snap peas, cut veggies, and frozen blueberries, sliced watermelon, strawberries rinsed and served fresh, and when they are in season, table grapes. These are simple to fix and serve alternatives to any fast food menu. These simple food items are packed with nutrition and require almost no preparation.
Other simple home-cooked meals include baked potatoes, soups, chili, summer salads, and on evenings when I have time to cook, a more elaborate dish such as homemade pizza or calzones from a favorite cookbook such as the classic Moosewood Cookbook or the Bread and Soup Cookbook by Crescent Dragonwagon.
To instantly save even more on your grocery bill, reduce your consumption of cold cereal at breakfast and instead eat oatmeal, pancakes, eggs, or even leftovers from the night before. Eggs, fruit, and a piece of whole wheat toast, with a small glass of milk is a filling alternative to high-cost processed foods.
Learn to Unclog a Drain or Toilet
Although unclogging a drain or toilet can be an unpleasant job, it doesn't have to be difficult. Make sure you own a high-quality plunger, and for the occasional plumbing emergency, make sure you also own a toilet auger. Both of these tools can save you a fortune in plumbers fees if you learn to use these tools properly. In a moment of need, you will be prepared. Several excellent videos are available free on the internet which give detailed descriptions of using these tools.
Change Your Furnace Filter Every Month
Changing a furnace filter is a very simple task that can save you thousands of dollars in repairs on your furnace. Dirty furnace filters cause more wear and tear on furnaces, causing them to wear out more quickly than a furnace that is maintained with this one simple step. Furnaces with clean filters heat and cool more efficiently, and blow far less dust out of vents or heat registers. In comparison to the cost of a new furnace, the cost of 12 mid to high-grade furnace filters per year will save you far more than you will pay to replace them.
If you wish, you can purchase washable filters that can be sprayed with the nozzle attachment from a garden hose, then left to dry before replacing in the furnace.
Once a year, have your air conditioning unit inspected by a professional, especially in warm-climate areas where high heat can place a lot of stress on your air conditioner. Once you have made a habit of replacing furnace filters every month, you might even see a drop of as much as $30 a month in your heating and cooling bills.
An added benefit: your home will be noticeably less dusty!
Plumbing Links on HubPages
- How to unclog a toilet quickly
Unclogging a toilet is not easy but can be done. One step in learning to be your own handyman is learning how to unclog a toilet. Plumbers are great, but keep use them for more complicated plumbing needs. ...
- The DIY Plumber - Unclog with a Toilet Auger
The Home Fixers Under most circumstances, a clogged toilet can be cleared with a standard toilet plunger (thats the one shaped like a dome with an extended collar that fits into the hole in the toilet,...
Best Performing Vacuum
Tune Up Your Vacuum Yourself
Many vacuums regularly lose their suction power as their rotors catch pieces of lint and thread, and wrap around the brush that spins inside the vacuum. You can restore an older vacuum's performance to its peak capacity by simply changing the vacuum bag, removing obstructions from the vacuum's intake areas, cleaning or replacing HEPA filters as needed, and removing thread wrapped around the vacuum's roller brush.
Vacuum maintenance is a skill that even young teens can learn. If you are unsure where to begin, check the manual that came with your vacuum, or find a handy friend or neighbor who is willing to walk you through the easy steps involved with maintaining this machine. Just remember to unplug your vacuum before you begin taking it apart.