What do you want to save for? What thing do you love to do but there’s never any money leftover for? Having a hard time whittling down debt? Is there anyone out there that wouldn’t want thousands of extra dollars a year to do something better with? I’m pretty frugal/thrifty/cheap by nature but I also give a whole lot of craps about the environment too! So yeah I’ll take ten minutes out of my day a few times a week to save a few CO2 tonnes or dollars a year. If one thing is the exact same as another thing why wouldn’t I save a bit on it? Very rarely in my life do I ever NEED the newest version best of anything! The fastest carbon fiber bike, the most powerful Mac or the highest end professional quality makeup are all things I can’t even use to their full potential. I do surprisingly also subscribe to the you can’t take it with you and the coffin doesn’t come with a trailer approach to life. I just think there are so many better places to spend your money in life than stuff and utilities. For some its a better education for the kids, living mortgage free, retirement savings, seeing the world or getting a dream kitchen whatever your thing is that’s just great. For me it’s more time to do all the things I love.
Things as simple as having time to run, bike, swim and paddle most days because time does cost money and is really the only thing you can’t get more of. Every hour does have a cost and a potential reward. Some of those rewards go way, way beyond dollars. Personally I’d rather have a life experience like an amazing race I never thought I could do, gardening or even making my partner super happy chasing tiny trucks in the woods for a day. All of that is way more important to me than brand name mustard and a couple more hours at work! Sure saving money does take some time and effort and a lot of the time it is slightly easier to just pay extra for it. So when I’m doing my best to save a few bucks I try to think of the other cooler things I’ll be doing later. Here are my top tips for saving money at home but you might have to change some of your thinking for a few of these ideas.
- Buy generic wherever you can at the grocery store, food and cleaning products add up -$750
- Do some of your errands or visiting using active transport like biking or walking it can easily add up to a couple of tanks of gas a year – $ 75+
- Grow some of you own food either on containers on your balcony, convert a small flower garden or go all out – $20 – $200
- Shovel your own walkway – $225
- Switch to cold water washing – $70
- Hang all your clothes to dry a drying rack and a retractable clothesline means you can handle 2 loads at a time inside including sheets -$90
- Thrift shop at least some of your clothes – $200+
- Cut old clothes and towels into rags and skip the paper towels -$ 300
- Change your own oil – $ 240
- Do batch cooking and freeze individual portions of meals when you have leftovers or for busy nights to avoid getting takeout – $250 ++
- Generally get into the habit of eating at home – $ almost unlimited
- Mow your own lawn $ 1500
- Invest in low flow plumbing fixtures, low water landscaping and be generally water conscious -$ 150
- Skip fancy cleansers and shampoos and go for a no frills option instead, chemically all soaps are just SDS – $260
- Give up a gym membership you don’t use or get outside when you can say for 6 months of the year -$ 600 – 1000 (you can buy a lot of used equipment for that)
- Buy a used car instead of new – $ 1000 per year, per car)
- Switch to LED bulbs in 15 fixtures – $ 106
- Mount your winter tires on rims -$ 50 5886 so far we’re up to a weeklong vacation for 4
- Go meatless on Mondays -$ 475
- Drink tap water – $300 – 600
- Get a heat pump – $1500
- Turn down the AC, plant deciduous shade trees or open windows instead -$ 240
- Get programable thermostats – $ 180
- Skip unneeded home decor $400
- Fix clothes that are otherwise fine like torn seams, stretched bras and the like -$260
- Actually redeem your own recyclables -$ 240 Now we’re up to $9481 (That’s a mortgage for the year)
- Find a replacement for shopping as a hobby – $ virtually unlimited
- Pick a free family outing once a month -$ 480
- Look to the used market for larger purchases like tech, specialty sports equipment or furniture – $250+
- Paint your own nails -$600
- Switch to biweekly mortgage payments – $ 700 on a 15 year 200 000 mortgage
- Cut the cable, honestly why are you still paying for this? – $1200+
- Drop the landline – $400
- Make coffee at home three days a week -$720
- Take advantage of free rewards programs like air miles and PC optimum -$200+
- Take 15 minutes a week to review flyers and maximize said rewards, go to the cheaper store it’s all the same! – $600
- Come up with a fun, cheap go to stay in night with friends, games, comedy shows or whatever -$500
- Insulate! Long Before your solar panels, new windows or heat pump pays you back your attic insulation will plus you get the blower for free when you buy the material and it’s a DIY, go for R50 -$300
- Skip the fancy ingredients and the recipes that come with them, there are lots of yummy stuff you can make with the basics -$300
- If you have a storage unit you have too much stuff for your life right now have a short term plan to get rid of it -$700
- Have an emergency fund even if all you can afford is spare change. – save lots of stress
- Do a grocery spend cleanse. Find a way to use up all that food while you aim to spend (almost) nothing on groceries. That freezer burnt stuff is great in tomato sauce and getting creative for a few weeks can save you from throwing out a lot of money. -$300 per cleanse
- Cut back on the party, drink one less bottle of wine a month, skip a few tokes on the devil’s lettuce you get the idea -$400
- Take other’s free junk. Seriously people would rather see you use it than gather dust at their house just make sure to do something nice for them -$250
- Learn how to evaluate a need vs. a want and try as much as possible to hang out in the first category!
All that adds up to … $17 081, What would just a portion of that money mean to you every year? PS that’s a brand new Honda every single year or a full habitat for humanity house every third year!
Let’s be realistic though
First of all I’m not perfect I don’t do all of that stuff on the list I pay someone to change my oil and we eat out almost every day at least once. And there are other things on this list I would never dream of doing in the first place at least at this stage of my life like paying some one to do my mowing, shoveling, joining a gym or getting manicures. But most of that is stuff I already do and that all adds up to, drum roll please $7446! That’s even only taking into account the minimum cost savings on things. Other stuff I take to the next level like going meatless all the time but that might not be realistic for everyone. Still other stuff doesn’t apply like we don’t pay for water. No one says that you have to do all the things on this list but pick a few and the savings do add up.
If you do these things there will be a couple of side benefits namely the environment. Skipping meat, saving power and water and consuming less overall all help lessen our impact on the environment. Actually looking back at this list most of the ideas lower your environmental footprint while saving you money. Even if you don’t care all that much you’ll probably feel pretty good about it at least sometimes.
There’s another benefit to all this though, things like buying used cars, secondhand stuff and thrifting also let you bow out of some of that consumer culture that can get oh so toxic. I put home decor on there in particular because I’ve noticed that we’re starting to treat the stuff we have in our homes like seasonal clothes or makeup colors. It’s just so much more expensive. There’s no reason to swap out what’s on your living room shelves twice a year. Personally I’d rather have books or things that really mean something to me and usually those don’t come from a department store. Books I love, things I’ve collected from friends and family and pictures from special moments cost virtually nothing and I don’t see them as summer or winter items. Pintrest, home decor magazines and Instagram images all influence us to spend, spend, spend. Did you know that you can even buy a curated collection of books, all different vintages, that make you look smart on wayfair now? Isn’t that just the picture of consumer culture?
If you look at your own spending habits critically with an eye to saving money it might just help get you off that treadmill in a big way. My home might not be perfectly staged but it’s full of objects we love that have a story behind them that I’ll be happy to look at for years to come. Well mostly there is one cow skull we were gifted that we both agree the next person that says they like it can take it home! And save for the odd cow skull you end up with objects you actually like rather then things that were just on trend this year.
Saving money at home is the first, biggest and easiest place to start. What’s the number one thing on this list that might fit well into your life? If there are a few ideas how much will you be saving this year?
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