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When you live a fair distance from town, you have to learn how to make do and you have to learn to do things many different ways. With today’s economy and gas prices, it doesn’t seem to matter where you live, everyone could us fresh ideas on how to conserve their cash! Leave a comment on the ways you have learned to save on everyday items/services. We could all use a little inspiration!
Make Your Own Cleaners
You can make your own laundry soap, all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, you name it! For less than .70c a bottle, I can make an all-purpose, natural cleaner that cuts through grease, disinfects and cleans glass. (The isopropyl alcohol is optional, but I usually include it in my mixture.)
1 Cup White Vinegar
1/4 Cup Isopropyl Alcohol
2 Cups Water
15 Drops of Lemon Essential Oil or a Tablespoon of Lemon Juice
Grow Your Own Food
Of course, during the summertime this is always a hot topic. It’s a great time to grow fruits and vegetables, harvest and process for storage so you can still be enjoying the results well into the Winter. I have always found that I benefited more than it cost me to grow my own food and whatever excess I have, I can give away, trade or sell to help pay for next year’s seeds. If you aren’t able to plant this year, start planning for next year’s garden. Check out this method of gardening and get a jump start on better self-sufficiency for next year. In the meantime, check out this post about five crops you can plant today and harvest before the first frost.
Hang Your Clothes
This literally saves me $50 per month! If you can do this, I HIGHLY recommend you do. There are retractable clotheslines that are only up when in use and clothes drying racks that you can put inside or outside. We don’t have a fancy clothesline, but I can get about 3 loads on it at a time.
Pro Tips for Softer Results:
My sister recommends drying the load for about 10 minutes with a dryer sheet before hanging it out to finish drying on the line.
If you can, leave the clothes on the line overnight and take them off first thing in the morning. This always produces a less scratchy towel.
Or, you can always say what my best friend said, It’s good for exfoliating!
If you’re in town, check with your city ordinances to make sure it’s legal for you to have them first.
Chickens are easy to keep and relatively inexpensive. Two young chickens will produce about a dozen eggs a week. They will live on bugs, forage and kitchen scraps and the occasional bag of chicken feed. Hens are almost always friendly and fun to watch. Think “therapy: barnyard style”! You could keep four chickens and reasonably expect a dozen eggs for your table and a dozen to sell per week. The quality of eggs produced at your own home is comparable to eggs that are priced $3.50 and up per dozen in the grocery store.
You have something someone else wants. You do! You have a talent, time or item that someone is willing to either pay for outright or trade something for. I’ve been paid for produce that I’ve grown, but I’ve also traded produce or eggs for bread, house cleaning or lessons for my kids. Get together with your friends and do a clothing swap. This would be great for kids’ clothes, too! Also, look around for the things that are no longer useful to you that you can sell. Yard sales are pretty labor intensive but selling a few things here and there on your local Facebook Marketplace page or Craigslist is a lot more cost-effective and has the added bonus of helping you get cleaned up, cleared out and organized. Make a list of what you have and what you need and ask around! Be creative! Always be fair and equitable.
Learn a New Skill
Thankfully, there are lots of skills that will help you save money or even make a little extra cash!
Sewing and Crafting. I sew buttons, work pants and seams. I can sew blankets and make clothes. Being able to mend your clothes helps you get more wear out of them, for sure! I can make homemade gifts, too. I’ve made curtains and pillowcases. As a matter of fact, sewing a pillowcase is a really great project for your kiddo and with a fun fabric, they can even make them as gifts! As a matter of fact, Pinterest is loaded with ideas on how to craft almost anything! Homemade gifts are always fun to give and receive.
Cooking and Baking. There was a time that my husband and I owned our own business, and we worked 12-hour days, 6 days a week. At the end of the day, we just wanted someone else to make dinner! That got expensive fast! We bought heat-and-eat foods and that became a really unhealthy way to eat considering how often we were having that versus a from scratch meal. Making your own from scratch meals is always more economical. Planning ahead makes this job way easier, trust me. Same with baked goods. I can bake bread at home for about half the cost of store-bought. Check out my no-fail bread recipe here.
Gardening, Foraging and Food Preservation. My grandparents used to live on our little farm when I was growing up. Three generations meant we had a good-sized garden. The berry patches were at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, but the vegetable garden was at ours. My Mom and Grandmother would spend hours cultivating, weeding and tending their gardens and then preserving their harvest. These tasks took time, it’s true, but what we got in return was less expensive than what we could buy in the store. And that goes double for any berries, mushrooms or wild herbs we were able to forage from the woods or mountain.
Grow and Dry Your Own Herbs
I just started making a real effort toward an herb harvest this year. So far, I have been able to use fresh herbs in my cooking and dry some for future use. I’ve done this plenty of times with mint for tea. Check your local garden center for close-out herb plants this time of year, too. Being purposeful about harvesting and drying is the key, I think. You harvest a small amount each time, so it takes very little time overall. A jar of my home-grown organic herbs is far less expensive than the same that I could buy from the grocery store. Remember to always check your prices. Whenever possible, quality counts!
At Home Dates
Nothing fills my cup more than sitting across from my husband in a restaurant! I have his undivided attention and someone else is doing the cooking and cleaning! What could be better? Unfortunately, dinner out isn’t always possible on a tight budget. We have found some alternatives! A glass of wine or hot cup of tea on the balcony… no kids. Sitting in bed and watching a show together or taking a walk. If you have a hot tub, this has been one of my favorite date locations! No electronics, no distractions, just the stars and soothing jets. We have laughed, argued, cried, talked thru life and about Jesus on those at home dates and those have carried us thru some rough patches, for sure! The point is to take what you have, keep it simple and make it alone time for you and your spouse. Kid dates? Nothing fills their cup better than having my one-on-one attention for a couple of hours even just once a month. THAT’S what they’re looking for! Not an expensive dinner or outing, just you all to themselves. Get creative!
Pack Your Lunch (and breakfast!)
Now that you’re growing your own food and making your own bread… Pack your lunch!
My husband has to have the equivalent of a cold lunch every day. He works outside and, on the road, so he needs a variety of foods. He also needs extra food just in case he gets stuck working overtime hours. He gets fruit, homemade jerky (find that recipe here), chips/crackers, leftovers, sandwiches and dessert. I also make him breakfast every morning. By making sure he leaves the house with everything he needs, I save about $8 per day. Added up over the month, that’s about $176! Aside from that, the food he gets from home is healthier and he gets a lot more of it than if he were buying fast food for his breakfast and lunch! As an added bonus, it helps us use our resources more wisely as we find ourselves throwing out fewer leftovers. He uses thermoses for soups and even oatmeal! And he uses this heated lunchbox almost every day. It’s become a total lifesaver!
Are you still doing cable or satellite? Ok, if you’re doing using these services, you’re paying a ton of money, but you probably are already aware that this is a major area you could save. The average cost of cable is about $60 per month while the average cost of satellite is $100. Discovery Plus? $6.99. Netflix? $8.99. Hulu? $6.99. So, even if you got all three of these streaming channels, you would still only be paying $22.97 per month. Kind of a no-brainer, right?
My husband works for a company that gets a 20% discount with Verizon Wireless. When we started this plan 16 years ago, we had two basic phones and one smart phone. Our bill was $120 per month and that was WITH the discount! Over time, it crept up to $140 per month! As our kids were getting older and we were needing more and more of us to switch over to smart phones, we knew we were going to have to make a change. Having a reliable network was paramount because my husband travels a lot so that was number one on our list and so should be for you. No sense in paying for a phone service you can’t use, after all. We changed over to Total Wireless and were able to either bring our phones with us or purchase reasonably priced phones to use with their 4-line family plan. We now pay $97 per month for 4 smart phones and more data than we can use in a full month! Check out your options!
Low Cost/No Cost Entertainment
We talked earlier about date night and one on one time, but let’s talk about whole family entertainment! We love to be outdoors so that tends to be where we gravitate when we’re looking for something fun to do most months out of the year.
Camping, fishing, swimming, hiking and kayaking. I LOVE to kayak! Put me on the lake in a kayak and I’m in my happy place. The boys love fishing and camping and hiking. I love watching them do it! Although camping takes a fair amount of work, it also costs less than $50 for three nights! I love staying in a great vacation rental home, but when I need to go on the cheap, camping fits the bill. And the boys are in heaven doing what they love together. We kayak mostly at a local lake and have swum in the creek, the river or the lake. We have hiked numerous times right off our property because we border acres of mountain rangeland.
Campfires and S’mores. Almost everyone I know has a backyard fire pit of some sort! My friend, Jackie, even has a propane one! Spring, Summer and Fall were meant for evenings by the campfire. Even during fire season, backyard firepits seem to be the last restriction to be taken away so there is lots of opportunity to make a campfire memory. Dinner is hot dogs roasted on the fire or dessert is s’mores. Watching the stars as the fire dies down, talking and seeing who can tell the scariest campfire story… these will be highlights that your kids will remember, for sure!
Movie night. Years ago, we bought a secondhand projector from a friend, and we have had many movie nights outside during the summer. Just hang a white sheet on a curtain rod and set up the chairs and you’re in for a movie experience! Cooler months of the year, it typically costs less than $5 to rent a movie on Prime Video or YouTube. Make it an event with popcorn and cocoa and everyone snuggled together in their pajamas on the couch!
Game Night. My son bought a poker set and he and his brother and best friend can be found talkin’ smack and playing cards on nights spent on the Farm! There are lots of card games to learn or you can play UNO to include kids of all ages. Throw a puzzle on the table and start working it. The kids in my house are immediately drawn to it. I even have one kiddo who will get obsessed with finishing it! Board games, video games, there is no wrong way to do this in-house form of entertainment.
I know this time in our nation and in our economy is tight and tumultuous at best. Thru it all, I am reminding myself daily that God is my provider. He is my rock and the steady that I need to cling to. Keeping my focus on priorities and leaving the results to Him is my daily struggle and my daily prayer. I hope you’re encouraged today. Definitely drop your best cost saving ideas in the comment section so you can encourage or help others as well.
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19