Saving Money Around the House

Frugality is a weird word, in my house we call the practice survival. We raised a total of 6 kids, and there’s no way you can survive this unless you learn a thing or two about cutting corners and pinching pennies! Everyone makes an issue about turning lights off, cutting down the wattage of bulbs, switching over to fluorescent, and all these tips do save money. But studies have proven this really only saves you around two dollars a year. If you want to see a more measurable savings, combine these things with well placed lighting.

What good does it do to switch all your bulbs to 60 watts, when you have to turn on 10 of them to see? Study your room, it’s size and shape, and the areas within the room that require quality lightâÂ?¦ such as reading areas, and desks. Instead of using the main light fixture in the ceiling that has several bulbs and attempts to light the entire room, use smaller free standing light fixtures in your areas that require quality light. You’ll probably find that you stop using the over head all together. Well placed lighting in places where it’s actually needed, will usually adequately illuminate the remaining areas that require less. I also suggest at least one motion or sound activated lamp in these rooms, to avoid the urge to flip on the over head as you enter the dark room.

Don’t forget your washing machine has more than the HOT setting! (This applies to you guys more than galsâÂ?¦ I’ve yet to meet a man that thinks cold water will work as well as hot.) Towels, linens, shirts, practically anything not heavily stained or overly thick like denim can be washed in cold water equally as well as it can in hot. Now some people would argue that you can wash jeans in cold too, but denim is one fabric that I personally believe responds best to warm water. (I have kids – boys – they like dirt – a lot)

As cheap as I am, this may sound like a contradictionâÂ?¦ but don’t buy cheap washing powder! It does not work as well. For years I bounced from one soap to the next, whatever was on sale. All the while thinking I was so smart, and frugal. What I was actually doing was wasting more stain remover and pre-soaking longer, using warm water more often, using more soap, and sometimes even running clothes through twice. Even if it costs a few extra dollars, buy the better quality product that works the first time, every time. Remember – your time is worth something too! You’ve got to look at it frugally as well. In the long run, you will save not only money – but your valuable time!

Toilet paper debate – quilted, triple ply, big rollsâÂ?¦ which is better? Have you ever really squeezed the Charmin? You need to. Seriously. You’re probably paying extra for air, thinking you’re getting softness and absorbency. Think about it guysâÂ?¦ newspaper is absorbent. Softness has zip to do with absorbency. If it’s paper, it’s going soak up moisture. The softness of toilet paper isn’t based on the amount of “fluff” between the plys eitherâÂ?¦ it’s based on the size and density of the fiber content. Big fibers are rougher than small fibers, common sense, it’s not rocket science. Use your eyes, which paper looks softer? You could mash a small fiber piece of tissue as flat as a pancake and it will be softer than the fluffiest large fiber paper.

Example: the facial tissue in most chain hotels and a box of Kleenex tissue. World of difference! Is a Kleenex full of “quilted” air pockets and fluffed a mile high? No. But is it ever soft! Why? Kleenex processes their paper to such an extreme that the fibers are near microscopic. So are you buying soft tissue or being duped by thin air? Squeeze itâÂ?¦ you decide. When you smash it flat, how much actual paper do you have there? Now pick up a competitors brand and squeeze it flatâÂ?¦ how much paper do you have there? Buy the one that has the most actual paperâÂ?¦ because otherwise – you’re buying air. The same is true of paper towels, squeeze them, get the most paper for your money. But this doesn’t apply to facial tissue, all of it is pretty much airless.

Some frugality sources really stress using coupons. But how many times have you been tempted into buying something you otherwise wouldn’t have – because you had a coupon? It seems to work better for me if I write my grocery list out first – then go in search of matching coupons. If I see the coupons first, somehow that item always makes it to my list. It takes discipline, and willpower, but it will save you money if you avoid this temptation.

Something my own Mother was famous for was driving miles for sales. This woman would drive for 50 miles to save 10 cents on cans of corn. Again, I remind you, your time is valuable too, you must learn to use it frugally as well! And with the ever increasing prices of gasâÂ?¦ do the mathâÂ?¦ is it really worth it? And what always happens when you take a little day trip? You want something to drink – so you blow a buck on a convenience store beverage. Maybe you get hungry, so you blow 5 bucks on fast food. So where’s the savings?

Many sources promote buying in bulk. This only saves you money if you actually use it all. Many times I’ve ended up giving the remaining item away because my family was burned out on it. Most recently this happened with Jalapeno cheese spread. My kids went thru a phase of just loving nachos. So, I bought cheese in gallon size cans, saving that money! The first can was great, I think someone even licked it to get the last dollop. The second canâÂ?¦ not so much. I ended up freezing some of it to use in cooking later on and giving the rest away. Unless you can store it in some manner and use it later, I wouldn’t suggest buying in bulk on things your family might tire of.

In the 50’s some people built bomb shelters and stored mass quantities of dried and canned foods and no one really thought it that crazy. However, in today’s society, they’ll assume you’re a separatist in a non-governmentally approved militia. However, I do encourage staying a “step ahead”. My family has a rule of always having at least “one more” on hand. Why? Because if I run out of ketchup this week – it might not be on sale at the grocery store. But if I have “one more”, I have time to shop and find a good price. When I find that good price, I buy more than one. You’d be amazed at what this system can save you in the course of a year! By sticking to it, you’ll rarely be caught in the position of having to pay full (non-sale) prices.

Lay-A-Way is a wonderful thing! How many times have you been in a store that was having a fantastic sale – and you were broke? Ask if they have Lay-A-Way! Snag those bargains, pay a small percentage of the price (usually 20%) and go back and “bail them out” when you have more money! There may be a small interest fee applied, but when you’re talking a 75% off sale – who cares?!

Most sources suggest buying “off season” when things go on clearance. Yes, this is a great idea. But it works better in theory than it does in life on some items – especially clothing. If your kids are anything like mine, what’s “to die for” this year they won’t “be caught dead” in next year. And if you’ll notice, it’s never mainstays and staples that go on clearance – it’s always that years “faddish” items. The stores aren’t stupidâÂ?¦ they do this because they don’t want stuck with inventory that won’t sell the next year. Now some items, such as holiday decorations – are always a good “off season” buy. I haven’t bought a single string of Christmas tree lights before Christmas in 20 yearsâÂ?¦ I usually buy them the day after Christmas when everything is marked down. However this trick doesn’t work on children’s Valentine’s Day cards! No, no, no! These are some of the most “faddish” items on the planet! Whatever movie or cartoon that is “in” that year is the cards your child will want. If temptation over takes you and you just can’t turn down such a great price as a quarter a box – stick to the old favorites that never go out of style like classic cartoon characters.

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