Life is full of rewards and certainly worth living, but it can get pretty expensive pretty quickly. With wages stagnant, the cost of living up, and housing at historic highs, it makes perfect sense if you’re finding it a little difficult to not feel broke all the time. You could ask for a raise or find a new job, but in the short term it might be time for a little belt tightening. Fortunately, when it comes to cost cutting, the little things make a big difference. Here are some quick and painless ways you can pump money back into your budget, and into your pocket where it belongs.
Shopping in the Information Age
If you’re like most people, when you need something you run to the store, and it’s as simple as that. The grocery store is definitely convenient, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way to go about doing things. Increasingly, online shopping is becoming the norm, and for good reason. Local chain stores to worry about price overheads for things like facility costs, maintenance, and the paychecks for their employees. Online stores like Amazon cut out the middle man, and get you in touch directly with the distributor saving you money in the process.
Head to Amazon, sign up for a Prime account, and start raking in the benefits. Items that you know you’ll always need (laundry detergent, toilet paper, etc…) you should buy in bulk to further add to the savings. You could even schedule the items to be automatically purchased and delivered without ever having to lift a finger. Pay special attention to generic items which will be cheaper than the needlessly costly brands. Also, with a Prime account, you’ll never have to worry about shipping fees. While you can save considerably by purchasing local goods from local vendors directly—farm stands are a great example—if you’re buying mass produced goods from big businesses, why not get the best price?
Low Cost Cleaning
We all spend far too much money on things that we could easily make at home, or for services that we could easily handle ourselves. Dry cleaning is a good example. The cleaner isn’t cheap, but doing it yourself definitely is. There is a range of do it yourself kits for home dry cleaning, and most of them are far less expensive than your typical service.
You could also replace a chunk of cleaning products you’re used to purchasing with one that you can make in seconds. A cup of white vinegar, water, and a spray bottle is all you need for an all-purpose cleaner that disinfects and gets the job done. If you’re worried about the odor, know that it vanishes once it dries. Also, try buying a few reusable microfiber cloths that you can reuse and keep in the kitchen and the bathroom instead of paper towels, which are an unnecessary expense. Always look for opportunities to reuse and repurpose items. Those used dryer sheets make excellent furniture dusters!
What are some of your favorite snacks and treats? Though there might not be any true replacement for the goodness that is an Oreo or a bag of Doritos, that still shouldn’t stop you from trying your hand at a few DIY hacks. If you find yourself buying flavored water or sports drinks, just take a few moments and make your own. It’s as simple as adding a sliced lemon, orange, cucumber, or mint to a pitcher of water that you can keep in the fridge. Get yourself a water bottle, and fill it up with that before you go about your day. It’s better for your body, and better for your wallet. Craving something a little more substantial? How about this quick and effortless cheddar crisp recipe?
Speaking of saving money with food, it should go without saying that cooking yourself is always cheaper than eating out, but it’s worth noting just how much those savings are. If you bring your own lunch to work just twice a week, you’re going to save an average of at least $13. That’s a cool $52 a month. Brown bag it a few more days, and that number goes up exponentially. If you start to get more comfortable in the kitchen, you could always whip up some quick and simple meals for dinner, and plan to make enough for lunch leftovers the next day. Reheated Lasagna beats the fast food counter every day of the week.
The utility bill is no joke when it comes to monthly expenditures. But, unlike your car payments or loans, it’s something you have direct control over. Did you know you can save 3% on the heating bill for every degree you turn it down? You can also save money by turning down the temp on the hot water heater. Meanwhile, going easy on the AC during the hot months isn’t a tall order if you’ve got the right amount of fans circulating air through open windows. While you’re at it, consider long term investments like low flow toilets or energy efficient windows which translate to huge savings. Cutting your heating and power bill down by 50 or 60 bucks a month translates to a over $700 or so in savings within a year’s time, and that’s certainly nothing to scoff at.