Save Money & Live Simply
1. This year, learn one new hobby. Try to make it a time-honored craft, like knitting, crocheting, Artisan bread-making, rug-hooking, candy-making, or painting. (If you already are proficient at one of these, pass your knowledge on to another!) Your new skill should be personally entertaining, but it should also be something that you can utilize as a gift-giving source.
2. Make your own disinfecting cleaning wipes. Cut a roll of quality paper towel in half using a serrated knife. Insert half a roll of Bounty paper towels, cut side down, into a round Rubbermaid container. Pour 1/8 C. of cleaning solution, like Mr. Clean, right on top of the paper towel roll. Pour two cups of warm water on top of that. Wait ten minutes and remove the brown cardboard roll from the center, exposing the inner-most paper towel. Pull that towel out through the top of your container for easy dispensing. (1/2 Paper towel will run about 50 cents if purchased in package of 8 and 1/8 C Mr. Clean around 20 cents [total 80 cents]- a large container of store wipes will run $3-4.) Of course, if you always use a cloth and bucket, you are being an even better steward of your money and the environment, but if you use the store-bought variety, this is a definite save on both money and environment.
3. Analyze your television habits. Consider cutting out the movie channels. If possible, stop cable or dish service completely. (We watch EWTN and The Food Channel so much that basic service is merited, but we did cut about $30 per month off fees by dropping movie channels.)
4. Make your morning coffee at home and put it in a to-go cup. You’ll save money and a landfill deposit if you use a thermos and clean it daily. If that is too much trouble, consider buying to-go cups at your membership store (Sam’s or Costco). You’ll still save money even if you aren’t altering your impact on the environment.
5. Live like the poor. That sounds awful to Americans. We want to “live like the rich and famous.” But in Holy Scripture, we learn that the poor are blessed by God, beloved by God. Do one thing today to become more like the poor. Buy more staples and fewer prepared foods at the grocery store. Rice, flour, eggs, milk. Consider what you can make from scratch using these items.
6. Consider learning how to do something that you currently outsource, like how to change your own oil in your car.
7. If you love to eat out (like I do), then you really need to rethink how often you indulge. A family of four can easily eat at home for under $8. There will probably be leftovers as well. Eating out at almost any non-fastfood place will cost a family of four closer to fifty dollars – and that doesn’t count a tip. A reasonable tip (for that bill) will probably run about $8-10! That makes the tip more than the entire home-cooked meal.
8. Commit to hanging on to your vehicles until they are about ten years old. Be willing to do maintenance and occasionally replace parts. It’s worth it.
9. Invest in music lessons for your child/children. Piano is a particularly useful instrument to learn. The initial investment is costly ($60-100/month), but by the time your child is in high school, he/she can probably give younger children lessons. Now, you’ll be glad that lessons are so expensive! Talk about a great part-time job for your high school student!
10. Give up soda. If that is too much of a compromise, consider cutting back your soda intake to one a day. My husband and I calculated that we were spending about $40/week on diet soda (between cans at home, cans at work, and drinks in restaurants). Cutting back to one soda a day will reduce your monthly bill from $120 to $20.
Keep a log of your savings. Commit to giving a portion of your savings to charity. If you are in debt, use part of your savings to pay down that debt. Next year, you will be financially free to commit even more to charitable giving!