Being frugal doesn’t mean having to live a meager lifestyle you don’t enjoy. Homemakers have many opportunities to reduce expenses without sacrificing quality. Creating a budget and identifying money-saving areas helps you spend your cash where you need it most, while still being able to meet your other financial goals.
Reduce Your Weekly Expenses
List your weekly expenses using last year’s checkbook, credit card statements and bank account documents. Identify which expenses you can decrease or eliminate. For example, while groceries are a necessary expense, you can reduce your costs by using coupons, buying fewer prepared foods and starting a garden to save on produce items. Avoid buying items you normally wouldn’t just because they are on sale. Reduce by at least 25% the number of times you dine out or order carry-out food. Do the same thing with the number of times you go out to the movies or meet friends out for drinks. You'll still allow yourself occasions to do all of these things, only on a lesser scale. If you commute long distances to work, look into carpooling or using public transit to save on gasoline costs. Some employers even have programs that let workers set aside pre-tax money to pay for public transportation, so see if your employer does the same thing.
Decrease Heating and Cooling Costs
Lower your thermostat in the winter and raise it in the summer to use less gas and electricity. Lowering the heat while you’re asleep, under warm covers, lets you save money one-third of the time you’re home in the winter. Reduce the temperature on your water heater to save significant money each year. Buy a programmable thermostat that raises and lowers your home temperature while you’re away. Open curtains during winter days to let sunlight warm your house and seal windows during the winter to prevent cold air from coming in and warm air from escaping.
Check the benefits of low-flow toilet. Compare the short-term expense of buying one against the longer-term benefits of water savings, including any rebates or tax credits available from your municipal water department. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority estimates a family of four will save close to $80 per year with a low-flow toilet, which can pay for the toilet's purchase price in less than three years. Place a liter soda or juice bottle filled with water in the tank of a regular toilet to decrease water use. Wash clothes in cold water as often as possible and only do full loads. Water your lawn no more than once a week, and to a depth of 1 to 1.5 inches. Place a soup or tuna can in the center of the lawn when you water. When the depth is 1 to 1.5 inches, turn off the water. Place buckets below your gutter spouts to collect rainwater, then use the rainwater to water your gardens.
Bargain Hunt for Clothes and Household Items
Visit thrift stores and yard sales for bargains on clothing or household items. Look for charity thrift stores, which often have the best deals. Sell or trade your used clothing for new items at thrift stores. Check the classified ads in your local paper as well as websites like Craigslist to find out where yard sales and garage sales take place. You can find many gently-used clothing items for a fraction of the cost of buying them new at apparel retailers.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.