I know the month is almost half over as I’m posting this. However, I just had the desire to try a little harder for the rest of the month. I think this was brought on by my decision to create a meal plan for the rest of the month and shopping today (on the 13th) with no plans to shop the rest of the month for either groceries or household items. I will get another gallon of milk if needed but otherwise I do not think we will need anything else.
So with the grocery and household shopping completed for the month, and under budget too, I was looking for other ways to focus my time. (Shopping less saves a lot of time and effort I have found!) Hence the quick list of 10 ways we can save this month. Some of these we’re already doing, but I thought we could try even harder and really end June with extra funds to add to savings.
Please note the amount of savings is estimated with information and experience relevant to our situation.
These are the ways I came up with to save money this month:
1) Hang more laundry. I have weeks where I try harder to hang more loads out on the line and weeks where I use the dryer more. Sometimes it’s due to the weather, and sometimes it’s because I need to do 2 loads and my clothesline only holds 1 full load. If I go back to checking the laundry situation each day and doing a load as needed, then I won’t have the issue of too much laundry and not enough clothesline space. The weather is completely out of my control, but I can still pay more attention to the forecast and make sure I’m doing laundry on the nicer days.
2) Set the air conditioner temperature higher. We’ve been blessed this week to have cooler temperatures and a drying out from all of the rain we’ve had recently. The air conditioner hasn’t been on this week, but next week will be a different story. We have a window unit in the living room, which cools the biggest part of the house – the open living and kitchen area. The only other room that has a unit is one of our daughter’s rooms because she has a pet bunny and we have to keep her door closed due to our big dogs being much too excited around the bunny. The other 2 bedrooms are cooled adequately with fans. The unit in the living room is often set on 72 to 73 degrees. My plan is to bump this up to 78 and try to tolerate is as long as possible.
3) Making homemade yogurt. We actually haven’t been buying this because we’re trimming the grocery budget, but the girls are missing homemade smoothies! We buy yogurt at ALDI, which is where we do 95% of our grocery shopping, and while it’s reasonably priced, it’s still a significant part of the grocery budget with how much the girls will use for smoothies. So this month I bought an extra gallon of milk and will try a homemade yogurt. The good thing is if it’s used in smoothies, it’ll be ok if it doesn’t come out perfect the first time!
4) No food waste. I always try to use up every bit of food because I’m by nature a conservative person and it bothers me to waste food when it is such a gift. But I do get lazy or busy and have wasted my fair share of it. Since I am back to being a full-time homemaker, I have ample time to pay more attention and manage the food. I spent a full hour one day last week taking items out of the fridge and planning up how to use them. My younger daughter helped and we had a good conversation about how easy it is to waste food when people are so busy and how fortunate we are that I have time to do this. So I will try even harder to waste absolutely no bits of food at all this month.
5) Put a pause on yard sales. We love to shop the yard sales. There’s not much that is more fun than finding something you need (or want) at a fraction of the price of buying new. We’ve already been to many sales this season and have found some good stuff, including most of our 8th graders clothes for the next school year, as well as some household items that were on my yard sale list. However, our goal is to shovel money into savings for after the busy summer construction season slows down, so we are going to bypass yard sales the rest of this month and instead put that money into savings.
6) Think before buying. This is another thing we usually try to do but will take to the next level. If it’s a grocery item I’m adding to my shopping list, I don’t normally consider if we really need it. If it’s a household item, I will re-evaluate when I do a final check of the list before heading to the store. But lately I’ve been feeling really good when something on the list gets marked off because we either decided it’s not important or we’ve found a way to not need that particular item. So the questions I’ve been asking are
- Do we need it?
- Do we have something already that will serve the same purpose?
- Can it wait until later?
If it passed the first question of being a need versus a want then it goes to the second question. This is when my creativity sparks and I start to think of options for either a suitable substitute, such as in baking, or for a temporary or permanent workaround. An example of this would be the idea of using a lovely twin sized sheet set over the recliner rather than purchasing a slipcover.
With either needs or wants, if there is not really a substitute for the item, I then ask the third question. Most of the time it is something we’d like to have but it is rare that the purchase cannot be put off. I have a list in my handy homemaking notebook with a list of items to purchase later. I have found that by the time I get to the next month, many items on this list can be marked off.
7) Replace cotton balls with a green alternative. I have been very interested in conservation efforts my entire life. I guess I was just born an environmentalist! Lately I have been looking for ways to have a less detrimental effect on the earth and its resources and have been interested in replacing disposable products with reusable. Normally reusable items will require time and effort to maintain, which of course is why their disposable counterparts are so alluring. But I have the time and the desire to make the effort so I’m on the lookout for items to switch out.
I’ve also been reading loads of books and blog posts on frugal living, green living, homemaking, etc and came across an idea of replacing cotton balls with cut up rags. We happen to have a pile of t-shirts waiting to be chopped up for the rag basket so I’m going to use those to replace the cotton balls. This is happening now because we’re almost out of cotton balls. I have found it’s an easier transition to just do one replacement at a time and the natural time to do that is when the item being replaced is almost out! It seems to make it more of a painless transition.
So the t-shirts will be cut into smaller pieces and will be put in the jar that usually is filled with cotton balls. I will hang a mess bag in the laundry room for these small cloths to be put in when they’re dirty and just zip up the mesh bag and toss it into the washer when I wash towels.
8) Eat at home exclusively. We do really well not eating out, mostly because we are so rural and would have to drive a minimum of 12 miles one way to get any sort of restaurant or take-out meal. That makes it easier to eat at home consistently. Plus we keep a really well-stocked pantry and freezer so there’s really no excuse not to eat at home.
The harder part is not eating a snack or fast food when we go to town to run errands or for appointments. It’s so easy to go through McDonald’s for some breakfast because we left early to get the grocery shopping done. Or to grab a candy bar or soda at the checkout when we run into Walmart for our household items. It might only be $5 per week, but it adds up!
We’ve been very good about taking water with us every time we leave the house. Our 13-year-old daughter has even adopted this habit. However, we are taking it to the next level now. For the rest of the month (and hopefully as an ongoing lifetime habit), we will attempt to eat nothing away from home. Not a drink, a snack or a meal.
This will require continuing our water habit but also stepping it up and eating a meal if needed before we go, such as oatmeal or muffins before grocery shopping. We will also need to take a snack with us if we will be gone for a few hours or more. This will require a bit of planning ahead and preparing a snack for those days. We do not buy prepackaged snacks and no convenience foods (other than Kraft macaroni and cheese on occasion) so we don’t have stuff in the house that we can grab at the last minute without planning ahead. So this one will be a challenge!
9) Purchase no personal care items. One of the deep cleaning and decluttering projects we tackled earlier this month was cleaning out the bathroom vanity. This has space under the sink as well as 2 deep drawers that were all filled with a lot of items. We didn’t even know what we had! I knew there were products in there that needed to be tossed out, but I also knew there were probably multiples of some products that we could use up.
After digging it all out and sorting it, we tossed out just a few items and then grouped and reorganized the rest. Now we know exactly what we have and we have a plan to use it all up. We don’t need to buy shampoo, conditioner, razors, lotion, sunscreen, or soap for at least a month and perhaps longer. And now that it’s all organized neatly, I can easily see when we do need to add something to our household list.
10) Make Father’s Day frugal! How fun to have a holiday this month. We actually have 2 holidays this month since my mom’s birthday is after Father’s Day, but since I don’t know what I’m doing to celebrate her special day, I will focus on Father’s Day here.
I find it very fun to make a holiday special with spending as little as possible. Using what we have or making a special meal or even a homemade gift is so fun and old-fashioned that I totally dig it. And that’s exactly what I plan to do with this holiday.
We keep a stash of cards that I add to as I come across cute cheaper ones, and sometimes people even give them to me. I actually found 2 Father’s Day cards in it, one for my husband and one for his dad. Score!
For gifts, the girls and I are getting my husband some much needed clothing items. He doesn’t shop ever for clothes so it’s up to us to clothe him. He is in need of underwear and t-shirts, as well as comfortable shorts to wear at home and a belt. His slippers are also in need of replacing, but those may have to wait for his birthday in August.
Today while at the thrift store, my daughter and I specifically looked at belts in hopes of finding one for him, and we did! It’s brand new and only cost $1. The belts at Walmart were $14.96. This is why I adore secondhand shopping.
We did have to pay regular price for the underwear at Walmart, but spent a few extra minutes comparing all of the options and chose the one that was the most affordable with the highest quantity. The ones we chose also appear to have the most comfortable looking waistband so that will be a nice bonus. We may get a pair of shorts we looked at, but if not, my husband will be very pleased with the belt and underwear. (We aren’t big holiday shoppers so simple, useful gifts always please us!)
For the meal, my mom bought ribs for my husband’s gift, and his dad will put them on the smoker for a super yummy meal. I will make homemade baked beans, which are ridiculously cheap, as well as potato salad, also affordable. I plan to make Grandma’s homemade rolls too. We did splurge and buy the boxed mix for German chocolate cake and the coconut pecan frosting. This is actually cheaper than making it homemade with the recipes I have found. This is my husband’s favorite cake so he’ll feel special.
Affordable useful gifts and a yummy but frugal meal will make for a special holiday.
So those are the ways we plan to escalate our frugal ways this month in order to put more money into savings. I always enjoy it more when I turn it into a challenge or game and when there is a tangible goal. I’m also hoping by being more intentional with these 10 actions, it will encourage habits and creativity for other ways to save and be green! Plus, assuming my estimates are anywhere near accurate, we can add $172 to savings at the end of this month. (And that is over $2,000 per year if these things were done consistently!)
What ways do you plan to save money this month?