These may not seem like rocket science tips, but we implemented them in our household and over time, the savings do add up. Some savings were realized instantaneously, while others took some time to achieve.
#1 – Stop buying bottled water. Okay, so I’m a bottled water snob. Fiji water is my favorite. Goes down like air. Let’s just say we could’ve financed a few families in financial distress with the expense of bottled water we were spending every month. I went and bought us some BPA free, reusable water bottles with filter included, plus a Brita pitcher for our refrigerator. We now have 4 personal bottles (I keep one by my bed and one travels with me every day). HUGE cost savings! I also don’t mind the taste of the reusable water bottles. I do have to change out the filter cartridge every couple of months but that cost is almost negligible compared to the THOUSANDS of dollars a year we were spending on bottled water!!
#2 – Make your own laundry detergent. This one was a little intimidating to me because it had ingredients that seemed harmless but I had no idea where to find them. I did some online research and wanted to make the least toxic detergent in powder form. I ended up using a recipe I found on another website that had just a few ingredients. (I will update with a link to the site when I track it down). Cost for all the ingredients did add up to $55, however, the cost per load is 10 CENTS – that’s right – TEN CENTS! We’re empty nesters so we only have 3-5 loads of laundry a week max (his, hers, towels, sheets, misc.) and the savings is still noticeable. PLUS we aren’t putting toxins into our bodies via store bought bottled detergent. Also better for the environment J Lots of wins for this one! Since the recipe I used made a LARGE batch, I keep it in a large plastic container and put smaller quantities in a glass jar – we use a tablespoon to scoop out of the smaller jar into another jar where I add a little bit of water, put the lid on the jar, swish it around, and then pour into the HE washing machine liquid detergent dispenser. Some recipes make liquid laundry detergent and that would definitely eliminate my “add water and swish” step, but I liked the powder recipe. Again HUGE cost savings more easily identified over time for us. If you have kids, this savings would be recognized much sooner because you’re probably doing at least 10 loads of laundry a week. Just think you’d be doing those 10 loads for just a $1…can’t beat that!
#3 – Eliminate dryer sheets. Again, this was a “remove toxins” decision. We already had to use the fragrance free sheets because of my uber sensitive nose. The manufacturers put so many sheets into a box that you purchase, it doesn’t seem like a big cost savings, but for me, it was a toxin decision. I purchased dryer balls at a local store and a box of cheap aluminum foil. The dryer balls stay in the dryer and I add to each load a crumpled up ball of aluminum foil about the size of my palm. Eliminates static and I throw out the foil along with the lint from the lint trap after each load. My goal is to remember to add clear white vinegar to the washing machine load and there won’t be any need for the aluminum foil – little steps sometimes J Cost savings to me is another HUGE win. The dryer balls last about 6 months so two sets of those, plus cheap foil OR vinegar is still a toxin and $ savings. To us, the elimination of toxins for both our wash and drying cycles was the key driver for this budget item.
#4 – Make your own bread. This one came about quite unexpectedly for our family of two. Hubs and I prefer organic whenever possible and financially feasible. Well, the locally purchased organic bread is usually from Whole Foods and they are not about saving you money, in my humble opinion. Organic bread can run from $4 and up per loaf. It was delicious but $4/week adds up to $200+ a year. I was in a budget slashing mindset and declared that we were not buying bread from the store anymore (along with the no more bottled water declaration). I went onto Craigslist and found a bread maker machine for $30. Not used much (that’s the sad truth about the bread maker machine fad – lots of machines sitting around gathering dust), and included the directions and recipe book. I bought it! Then hubs bought all the ingredients for the bread – all organic except for yeast which I don’t think the food industry has figured out how to make that GMO yet – and our cost per loaf runs about $.50 – that’s FIFTY CENTS! That’s a savings of $182 a year! That’s HUGE in my book! The additional “neato” factor is that hubs has enjoyed experimenting with bread recipes and has made loaves to give away as gifts to family and friends. An added bonus to our budget J
#5 – Get rid of cable / dish TV. GASP!!! HORROR! We did that 4 years ago. We needed to purchase a 3rd car for our family. We had the money for most of the expense of buying the car, but knew we would have a small monthly payment. So we looked at where we had an expense that equaled what we anticipated our car payment to be and it was the satellite TV bill. We got rid of it. Instead, we started watching TV programs via our laptops (smart TVs weren’t out yet). We subscribed to Netflix. Then when Hulu came out, we subscribed to it. Then Amazon Prime. Two years ago we got a Roku. And last year we got a SmartTV. Our monthly costs run us $25/month. That’s it. We can watch most of the shows we want to watch – we may just have to wait a day or two for them to be available (network websites sometimes have faster viewing availability time). Considering we were paying almost $200 month, we have saved over $8,000 in four years. That’s some serious savings! And the 3rd car was paid off in less than 3 years.
Hopefully these few tips will help you in saving money for your family. Every time we use our own laundry detergent, make a loaf of bread, reuse our water bottles or watch a program via one of the apps/device we use, we are reminded about our conscious decision to save our family money and make better choices.