photo credit: Matt McGee
Let’s face it times are tough economically, and we could all use ways to save a little green, giving us a little wiggle room in our budgets. As a long time keeper of the budget, I have always looked for ways to tweak my budget and use it to my advantage. The following are just a few of those ways, hopefully you too can make them them work for you as well.
1. Clip Coupons. Clipping coupons truly can save you cash, especially when matched with the weekly sales.
2. Don’t be brand loyal. When you are willing to buy store brands or other brands you may not prefer because it is on sale and you have a coupon you’re more likely to save money.
3. Turn off your land phone line. Ridding yourself of this added expense can be positive on your budget as most of us are mobile these days and use our cellular phones much more frequently.
4. Have an errand day. Making multiple trips to the grocery store, post office and to pay bills can eat up gas in your vehicle quickly, not to mention that the more you go, the more money that you spend.
5. Use your real plates. Paper plates may be more convenient, but they are also more costly. You can wash the real thing for much cheaper.
6. Eat leftovers. Whether you take them for lunch the next day or serve them in a bit of a variation the next night leftovers are a money saving idea for sure.
7. Be a one car family. While this may not be possible for every family, it can truly save you money, just think, less spent on insurance, gas, and other auto maintenance.
8. Stay home. it is just a fact that the more on the go you are the more you tend to spend as a result. Staying home can save you money day after day.
9. Comparison shop. Don’t always assume the sale you find is the very best deal to be found. Comparison shop online or through store fliers to truly find the best deals out there.
10. Cook from scratch. It is just a fact that cooking from scratch can save you a load of money. Those boxed meals may be convenient, but they definitely cost you more green. Plus scratch cooking is oh so goo.
11. Be a do it yourselfer. From cutting the grass to fixing the sink those who do it themselves whether than getting hired labor can save themselves a great deal of money.
12. Don’t buy dry clean only. Though the dry clean only clothes may look nice and appeal to your sense of style they will begin to put a dent in your wallet as you have to have them professionally cleaned so look for wash and wear styles that are similar to save you this expense.
13. Use vinegar. Vinegar has so many uses that many people are not aware of, from cleaning floors to placing in your dishwasher as a rinse agent it can be an inexpensive alternative to many things.
14. Just use cash. It just seems inevitable that if you shop with cash you spend less. After all once it is gone, it’s gone and we know that so we act accordingly.
15. Pack your lunch. Maybe the leftovers mentioned earlier or a sandwich or other favorite meal. Packing a lunch saves big bucks after you think about the money you’ve spent eating out day in and day out.
16. Find free entertainment. We all like to be entertained, but it can often be pricey. So, as an alternative find free entertainment that the whole family can enjoy, whether you rent movies from your local library for free, or go out in the great outdoors for a cost-less outing it’s a great way to save.
17. Take advantage of store discount cards. Many drug and grocery stores now offer discount cards that will help you to save a little extra when shopping with them. They are free to apply for and can get your some great store deals.
18. Keep a spending spreadsheet. Keeping up with your spending on a spreadsheet for example can help you to realize what you spend money on month after month and as a result of your awareness you will most likely see where you can begin to cut back.
19. Use a programmable thermostat. It gives you the ability to bump up the heat so that it doesn’t run all day when you’re not at home or the air doesn’t cool an empty house in the summer, it can save you more than you might expect over time.
20. Pay on time. Being late on bills can often result in a late fee that you could avoid by simply paying on time or ahead of time.
21. Buy used. We all like to get new things, whether it be a new car, new furniture or new clothes, but with almost everything you buy there is the option to buy used and it can be a great one.
22. Use energy efficient appliances, light bulbs and the like. Saving energy saves you money, it is as simple as that.
23. Replace your air filters often. A dirty filter can cause your air conditioner to have work harder, which makes it more costly to operate. Changing the filter often can deter that.
24. Stay on budget. Why create a budget if you’re not going to try and stick to it. Budgeting can save money if it is stuck to. It may take some time to get a budget that works for you but don’t give up.
25. Always be aware of your spending. Spending is one thing that you must stay up on and never let it slip your mind, alwasy being aware of where your dollars are going can help you to be ready and willing ot do what you can to save.
I’m sure you have noticed the high price of herbs at the grocery store; a small bottle can sometimes run $4 or $5 or more. Why not save some money and grow your own? It’s simple, provided you have a sunny area to grow them.
How to Grow Them
To grow herbs, all you need is a sunny area, fertile soil and a little of your time. If your soil is clay or sandy, you will need to add organic material such as compost or manure to get the best results. Once your herbs are planted, make sure they get at least an inch of water each week and keep the area weeded. If you have added plenty of organic material to the soil prior to planting, you probably won’t have to worry about feeding the plants for a while. All I do is work in a layer of compost around the plants each season and my herbs grow fine.
If you don’t have a whole area to devote to herbs, that’s okay, you can squeeze them into your flower beds or vegetable garden. Herbs make a pretty combination to flowering plants and some will actually benefit nearby plants by repelling insects. Just be sure the area gets plenty of sun and the soil is fertile and weeded.
You can also grow them in containers provided they get enough sun. If you do this, you will have to water on a daily and sometimes twice daily basis. Be sure to check the soil often to see if it is drying out. You will also have to fertilize the plants often because as you water, the nutrients get leached out of the soil.
What it Will Cost You
An herb plant at the local nursery will cost you between 99 cents and $5 depending on the size of the herb. I usually purchase the smallest size to save money because I usually don’t need a huge amount right away. If this herb is a perennial, it’s going to be there year after year supplying you with fresh leaves for cooking and will be growing bigger each year which will allow you to propagate plants by division, cuttings or seed which means more herb! If the herb you purchased is an annual, that’s okay because it will supply you with enough herb to still make it worth the purchase. You can also propagate annual herbs by collecting the seeds or by taking cuttings. If you’d like to save more money yet, you can start the herbs from seed or get a division or cutting from a friend, neighbor or relative.
How to Use Herbs
Through the growing season, you can use the herb fresh. If your recipe calls for one teaspoon of dried herb, substitute one tablespoon of freshly chopped herb.
Drying and Storing
You can dry your herbs for winter use or convenience. To dry them, cut them early on a dry day after the dew is gone. Bundle 8-10 stems of the herb with a rubber band at the cut end and hang them upside down in a well-circulated area out of direct sunlight.
I have a piece of lattice hanging on one of my kitchen walls for this purpose and I also use a pegged, wooden coffee cup holder which is made to hang on a wall. They both make pretty decorations with all the herbs and flowers hanging from them drying.
In about a week or so (or less if weather is hot and dry), check the leaves to see if they are crispy to the touch and no moisture remains. If so, remove the leaves from the stem, crush and put into a lidded container, label and store out of direct sunlight. When removing the leaves, it helps to do it over a piece of paper so you can catch any fallen leaves.
Growing my own herbs has saved me a bundle of money and has provided an enjoyable hobby, fresh taste and something to offer my friends and family. You can even make your own herb seasoning mixes to bottle in pretty jars to give as gifts as an additional way to save money. I’m sure you’ll find it worth the small effort too.
About the Author: Monica Resinger is the creator of ‘Homemaker’s Journal E-Publications’ where you will find many fun and informative home and garden related e-books, tip sheets and how to sign up for her FREE home and garden newsletter! Click here to visit: http://homemakersjournal.com/