With the state of the economy, times are hard for everyone. Money does not hold the same value as it used to. More and more families are struggling to make ends meet. The cost of everyday living has increased, and workers pay has remained the same. The only people who have benefitted from this are big business. So let us take a step back and think about what the generations before us did to save some money. Maybe some of these suggestions may save you money. Let's see what people before us did to save money. These are the top suggestions I found.
DOUBLE-CHECK THOSE UTILITIES AND KEEP UP ON HOME REPAIRS
One way to save could be as easy as saving on electricity by shutting off the lights and unplugging small appliances not used at that time. I make it a habit now to shut lights off in empty rooms anytime I walk past. I also make sure that I keep anything not in use unplugged in the kitchen. Make it a point to check your faucets to prevent drips so your water bill stays down. Also, insulate around your windows and doors to prevent drafts and losing air conditioning or heating. Preventative home maintenance is the key to lowering your costs for the long term. When I was a first-time home buyer, money was tight, and this was also the time I learned that YouTube is your friend, and if you cannot afford to have someone come in and it's a simple fix, learn how to do it yourself.
Have you ever gone for a drive the night before garbage day and seen people put their trash outside? All that garbage makes you think, How many of those items could have been given away or donated to charity? When I started as a new homeowner, I would go around before garbage day or big item garbage day and see if I could find furniture to bring back to life or repurpose. Here are a few things that I feel would help you save some money and maybe save the world.
1. Old food containers- Seriously, the price of plastic containers at the store is insane. What if you have someone over for dinner and want to send them home with leftovers? Most of the time, you will never get that container back. My solution is to save my old food containers and lids instead of buying new ones.
The same goes for old Gatorade and sturdier drink bottles. My partner tends to lose or forget them. To keep me from nagging him, I decided to keep older Gatorade and drink bottles that are sturdy and clean them. That way, he doesn't have to worry about me complaining that I have to buy more, and I keep a few bottles out of the landfill.
When you think about these suggestions, we all have seen it. Grandma asks you to get the butter tub out of the refrigerator, and you go through 4 tubs before you find the actual butter. I do the same thing, and it saves on buying containers that will get lost or never returned.
2. Old jars- The same goes for old glass jars. Glass jars save cabinet space and are great for food storage. These jars are also great for crafting new items. I have seen YouTube videos with people who even can new food items with old glass jars and lids. Please watch a tutorial or two on how to do that as I have not used old jars yet to water bath can. Doing this is a canner-beware situation. Better safe than sorry.
However, I will use old jars I thoroughly cleaned to store grains, sugar, flour, and anything I might dehydrate. Storing in jars saves on your food getting bugs or humidity turning the product.
3. Old furniture- Have an old tall dresser missing drawers but no closet space? Create a hanging closet with a few cheap items and remove the drawer shelf. It is possible to transform many older pieces into something new by refurbishing them. You will only limited by your imagination.
GARDENING AND CANNING (DEHYDRATING)
1. If you have the space, start a garden. Having fresh produce is an economical way to stretch the food budget, and with rising food costs, a garden is a great way to offset the prices. If you do not have the space for a garden, some areas have community garden plots you can rent. I had my other half build gardening boxes for our tiny space, and we will add a few things to our pantry.
2. Can you find amazing deals on produce? Why not buy extra and can it for future use? I love to do this and have started experimenting with jams and jellies. I only do water bath canning as I am too scared to pressure can. Pressure canning is something I am slowly working on to increase what I can save for the future.
3. Dehydrating food is another way to give fruits, vegetables, and meats a longer shelf life. Dehydrators have become more reasonably priced now and are worth the investment. I picked my dehydrator up at a thrift store for a fraction of the cost, and I use it weekly if the produce stand has good deals going. I love making dried fruit and vegetables. If stored properly, the food can last years on your shelves or in your pantries.
COOKING AND BAKING AT HOME
1. Don't get me wrong, I love a good take-out meal just as much as the next person. However, prices have risen a lot in the restaurant industry lately, and the foods I usually purchase have increased 10-20 percent in price, and the larger the family, the higher the costs of getting a take-out meal. I have tried creating cost-saving meals that can stretch the food budget. Now, I will admit I have purchased some additional spices and glazes to become more creative, and I did get some of these at Dollar Tree and Walmart's $.98 bin. But with a few simple ingredients, you can make restaurant-inspired meals at home.
2. Try a cookbook challenge. I collect old cookbooks and will modify a recipe to use what I have on hand if needed. You never know what meals or desserts you may be able to create. Also, Don't be afraid to have a miss here or there. Making mistakes is part of the process of cooking and baking. If you make a mistake, don't worry about it. Learn from what you did wrong and try again.
3. Give baking a try and save money on what you would spend in-store. Are you nervous about terms in baking? You can watch some YouTube cooking videos that explain what the cooking terms mean and what you need to know. I have been trying to do more baking and learning to do more complicated items. I can make cookies from scratch, and I am good at that, But I am now branching off to learn how to make homemade cakes and bread. I am trying to create a great biscuit now. It's all trial and error, and learning new things keeps our brains active.
BARTERING WITH YOUR NEIGHBORS
Do you have a unique skill that can be useful? Offer to use that skill to help a neighbor in exchange for the help you need.
1. For example, does your neighbor know how to fix a washing machine in exchange for you fixing a computer issue they have? Why hire a professional for more money when you could save some money?
2. Or has your neighbor declared she cannot even make a cake from a box and needs cupcakes for her child's birthday, and she has a ton of produce in her garden? You could offer to make cupcakes from scratch in exchange for her extra produce.
I know many people who hate leftovers, but leftovers can be a time-saving tool that helps stretch your budget further.
1. For example, You make a whole roasted chicken dinner. Meal one would be your dinner. The next day you can have chicken sandwiches. Then, if you have anything left after making sandwiches, you can use what meat is left and make a chicken soup. Not to waste anything, you can also take the chicken caraccas and boil it out to make chicken stock to either can or keep in the refrigerator.
2. If you make a lot of plain rice to go with a meal. You can use the leftovers the following day to make fried rice. I usually load mine up with extra vegetables and fried eggs. Another quick meal completed with what you already had.
3. Another leftover is saving your vegetable scraps to make a vegetable stock. I will keep my vegetable scraps in a large zip lock bag in the freezer until I fill the bag, then will boil the vegetable scraps and add herbs to make a broth to can or freeze.
Reusing leftovers is only limited by your imagination. One meal can become three, with leftovers for lunch the following day, a great time and money saver.
SEWING AND REPAIRING CLOTHES, HAND ME DOWNS
Clothing is a necessity and a very expensive one. I have seen people throw out good shirts and pants due to a popped button. I could not believe how many pieces of clothing end up in a dumpster pile because people will not take the time to repair a button or rip. There are many tutorials on how to take care of your clothing and make creative and beautiful repairs.
What happens when you have clothes you want to get rid of? Well, you can either sell them or gift them as hand-me-downs. Have kids that sprouted over the summer? Pass them on to family members who have younger children. As a woman, did you get some new things? Maybe consider donating the clothes you're not keeping to a battered woman's shelter. If you have a husband who wants to get rid of clothes, why not donate them to your local Veterans Affairs Office or men's shelter? Help out the less fortunate.
Also, do you have a creative streak? Try repurposing those old clothes. There are many tutorials on how to repurpose a piece of clothing. You're limited only by your imagination.
Another great way to stretch your budget is to visit your local thrift stores. I love the deals you can get at thrift stores. I have purchased many kitchen items for a fraction of the cost. Of course, test any electronics and kitchen items before you leave the store. For example, I purchased a food dehydrator at a local charity thrift store, and if new, this item was $80.00, and I purchased this item slightly used for $15.00. I use the dehydrator constantly and have never had any problems with it. I also get books and clothes in good condition for a fraction of the cost. The only thing I will advise if shopping at a thrift store is don't be afraid to go through bins or take your time browsing as items can buried. It is almost like your own personal treasure hunt.
Back in the early years, stores had stamp redemption programs. These programs would earn you books of stamps that you could redeem for household items. Now, most stores have loyalty programs that you can earn points and keep track of on your phone or the web to use towards discounts or free items. I signed up for many of these rewards programs because even a few dollars saved or the coupons are worth putting in your phone number or providing an email address. Many people will say I do not want to give my personal information or I get too many emails. I have a dummy email account just for sites or rewards programs that I rarely look at except to delete once a week or grab any online receipts. Besides, as someone who used to work retail, employers hound employees to get people to sign up. Be the hero and save the employee the headache.
TAKING CARE OF WHAT YOU HAVE
Upkeep and maintenance on items you own will keep them from being replaced often. Let this be a good reminder if you own or rent your house. Keeping up means doing what you can to ensure your appliances are cleaned, oiled, and properly running. Make sure you have your vehicle maintained as well to try to avoid future problems. If you use an item actively, ensure you're what you are using, or it will have to be replaced sooner outside of normal wear and tear.
Do you have any other suggestions on how to save money in the long run? The world is becoming a crazy place, and with the cost of living rising and pay staying the same, we all need to find a way to save extra money. Please post any further suggestions in the comment section below.