I was just washing dishes and, as usual, doing a mindless chore is the time I use to think deeper thoughts. I’m not talking about thoughts on string theory, or how the universe works. Where my thoughts were at is how to do things more economically now that we are in a recession. I understand it’s bad for the economy to not spend money, but hey, if you’ve had your hours cut, or worse, then there won’t be any more spending until a new job is on the horizon. At our home, no one’s been laid off. In fact, my husband has his own computer programming business, and he’s the boss, of course, but still, business for him is at a lull right now, too. Companies can afford the luxury of purchasing custom programming when it’s in the corporate budget to do so. Unfortunately, not many companies feel they can afford programming services right now, at least for a while. That being said, I, too, am feeling the pinch and want to do as much as I can to conserve money, and spend as little as I can, but still have fun and enjoy life.
I thought of some suggestions we can all use. I’m sure you’ve thought of some of these before, so forgive me for being redundant, but maybe for some of you, these ideas might be something you’d consider having not thought of them before.
Here’s my list of some ways to save money and live more simply which reflects the economic times:
1. Instead of going out to a restaurant or to an expensive 1st run movie, get a group of friends together and host at eachother’s homes once or twice a month. The host can make a home cooked meal, and rent the newest movie on DVD. You can play cards, or board games. By doing this, you can still have the feel of going out, enjoy the fellowship of friends and save money at the same time. Help the hostess out by bringing a small dish or dessert.
2. Instead of buying books, make friends with your local library. Spend time browsing the library and start checking out books. Usually you can keep them for 3 weeks. If you don’t do it already, bring your kids and make it a special treat to go to the library. Let them pick out their own titles and by doing this, you teach them there is more to do when you’re a kid in the 21st century besides play on the computer. There’s reading to do! If there’s a book hot off the press you are dying to get your hands on, check the library to see when they’ll be getting a fresh copy in. Usually it’s within 3 weeks of release. Check with the librarian. Maybe they can get it sooner if you request it. The same goes for DVD’s and music CD’s. Check them out for free and enjoy them. Your tax money pays for this. You might as well take advantage of it.
3. Do you enjoy your specialty coffee which tends to cost you $3 or $4? Lower your standards and purchase some pricier, gourmet coffee at the grocery store (believe me, worlds cheaper than Starbucks per cup, and still tastes expensive). Buy some aerosol whipped cream and some flavored creamers and you can almost replicate costly restaurant cups.
Take advantage of Free Coffee Monday at McDonalds. Go through the drive up and hit every McDonalds in your town till your’e satisfied. Sounds cheap, but hey, why not? If you’re out on Mondays doing your errands (which you should be because, afterall, it’s Free Coffee Mondays!), then it makes going much more convenient because you are already out.
4. Think of fun things you can do at home for enjoyment. If you are an artist, or have artistic tendencies, pull out your art supplies and make art on a daily basis. Art journals are a wonderful way to make a quick, less than an hour project.
b. Read more. See #2
c. Play board games, have card game nights, or enjoy a game of Mah Jong on your computer.
5. Turn your thermostat down to 68 and wear a sweater. Throw an extra blanket on your bed at night.
6. Quit your costly gym membership. Take the money you’d spend in one month on your membership and buy yourself a few dumbells, an exercise ball or a mini trampoline and workout at home. OR, just start walking. If you have a dog, bring the dog, too. It’s a free activity and the best form of exercise you can do. And you know how I know that? The Hulk guy who works at the gym told me so. (I quit the gym…so I can give you this advise.)
7. When the warm weather comes, use your bike to do small errands or just use the bike as another form of exercise.
8. Now is a good time to cancel your landline and just pay for the cell phone.
9. Cancel your newspaper subscriptions and read the paper online.
10. Shop thrift shops for clothing and household items. Goodwill and Salvation Army get Target clearance castoffs on a weekly basis. If you go to your junk store regularly, you can find new Target items for a song. (I found Shabby Chic bedding brand new there. You can too.) While you’re there, check the toy aisle for board games. Most junk stores sell games and usually they have all the pieces. It’s so much cheaper than buying them new.
11. Now is a time to go through your cabinets both in the kitchen and bathroom and use up all the stuff you have. If you’re like me, you probably have 10 bottles of lotion, 6 bottles of conditioner and about 20 bars of soap. Make it a promise to yourself and your wallet that you will not buy anything you have an excess of at home. Use it up, and wear it out. Last summer I did just this. I went through my bathroom cabinets and found excesses of lotions and conditioners. I told my kids to not dare by any of these two items until we’ve used up what we already bought.
Same goes for the pantry. If you have lots of one item, either canned goods or whatever, find some recipes that use those food items. Use it up, before it’s too gross to eat. If you really won’t use those items, take them over to a food pantry and dontate them while they are still edible. In these tough economic times, there will surely be more families taking advantage of food pantrys and your donations will help.
Take inventory of your freezer. Dig out that pot roast that’s been at the bottom of the bin for 6 months. Thaw it out and cook it.
12. Do you enjoy being cultured and have a difficult time giving it up? You don’t have to. If you live near a city with a museum, check and see if they have a free day. Here in Chicago, most of our museums do. The Art Institute has a free Thursday. Save even more money by taking public transportation instead of driving. You won’t have to pay for the gas, or the parking and you get an added bonus-you can walk and see the city all while exercising.
13. Drink green tea and water, take your vitamins, your baby asprin and exercise. Stay healthy to avoid the doctor or hospital. Do what you can to keep yourself well.
14. Don’t buy anything you don’t need. Get the necessities, but conserve your dough till the economy looks like it’s improving. Then buy yourself a slab of marble and roll it out!
15. Don’t quit paying the internet bill….how else can you read my blog! Some things are just necessities. I know you are probably like me…or almost there. I wouldn’t want to give up the internet. I’d give up TV and cable before I’d give up online access.
These are just a few things I can think of off the top of my head. If you have a suggestion I haven’t touched upon, please leave a comment stating your idea. I’m sure we all will enjoy reading about another way to save money!