Ten ways to save money around the home

As a single-income family, frugal living is essential for us.

Here are ten ways I have learnt to keep costs down:

  • Dump the dryer!  It is widely known that tumble dryers eat up energy, and thus, money. I’ve been tumble dryer-free for about two years now, and it really is easy.  In good weather I hang the clothes outside, and in bad weather I make use of radiators, clothes drying racks, backs of chairs, stair banisters, and just about anything else I find to ‘hang’ on.  [EDIT: Please note that drying clothes indoors can contribute to damp and mold. We usually keep our windows open at least a crack all year round and this has not been a problem for us. However, mold is very damaging to health so use this tip at your own discretion.]
  • Learn to love white vinegar!  At just 9p/100 ml this wonder-product is a real bargain, and is much used in our house.  It’s a mould-killer, fabric softener, dishwasher rinse-aid, pesticide remover, and general all-purpose cleaner.

    My mother-in-law taught me the delight of a washing line full of clothes, blowing in the sunshiny breeze!

    My mother-in-law taught me the delight of a washing line full of clothes, blowing in the sunshiny breeze!

  • Drink water!  I’ve mentioned this in a previous budget post, but it really is a big one. Drinking water is cheap, healthy, and mess-free. It is very rare I spend money on any other drink (milk excepted), which frees up my grocery budget for more organic fruit and veg – yum! I also try to stick to a ‘drink water if you feel hungry between snack & meal times’ policy. Some days I’m better at this than others, but when we do it saves money on grazing our way through snacks, as well as being another healthy choice.
  • Eat your beans!  Organic beans are about half the price of organic beef. This is one of the reasons I rarely buy meat.  Instead I stock up on dried organic beans and lentils at our local ‘Taj the Grocerer’.  It has taken me years to get into the swing of remembering to soak the beans in advance, but I’m finally getting there.
  • Turn off lights!  My children know this is a bit of an obsession with me. I did some research on the idea that leaving a light on is more energy efficient than turning it off and on again, and found it is not really the case. Lights these days take only a small amount extra energy to switch on, so unless you are planning to return to the room in less than five minutes, then the best thing to do is turn it off. So we do.

    My little stash of beans - yum scrum!

    My little stash of beans – yum scrum!

  • Go eco!  This is not as simple as I would wish it to be, but overall we do find it saves money. When we returned to the UK from Canada we decided to invest in a hybrid car. The initial cost of this was more than other options, but we worked out the long-term costs and with reduced fuel bills and no car tax it works out better in the end. We are also blessed to have bought a house with solar panels and a solar water heater, so we carefully wait for the sun to come  out before putting on the dishwasher or washing machine, making the most of free electricity when it’s available. Even if you don’t have solar panels you might be able to switch to an energy tariff which gives you cheaper rates at night, and run your big appliances while you sleep! Buying eco-rated appliances and setting them on their most economical cycles is also helpful.
  • Don’t overcook!  This is not something I’ve measured in terms of savings, but is rather a common sense idea I had. Basically, the more I cook, the more gas/electricity I’m using. So I try to make quick-cooking meal choices. This is not always easy, and does not always happen. But I do try to be aware of the energy cost of the food we’re eating. Practically this means choices such as sandwiches more often that toast, pre-heating the oven for the bare minimum time, not over-cooking food (e.g. soups, curries, pasta), but turning them off as soon as they’re done.
  • Dress warm and keep moving! I really don’t like being cold. But instead of simply cranking up the heating we dress up in layers each day, and keep a chest full of snuggly blankets within easy reach. We also keep a basket of fresh slippers and socks to offer guests, so they don’t feel cold either. I also find that if I’m feeling cold, a little housework usually gets me warmed up rather efficiently 😉  For the kids, a quick game of ‘Simon Says’ involving lots of jumping, getting up and down and running on the spot warms them up fast, too.

    Blanket are so snuggly - and so are Princesses!

    Blanket are so snuggly – and so are Princesses!

  • Freecycle!  We are Freecycle lovers. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to do a quick bit of Googling to find out what it is, where your closest groups are, and how to sign up. We’ve been blessed with such a variety of Freecycle offering, from shower units to our lovely new bunny rabbits!
  • Say “no” to TV!  Saving money is just one of the reasons we choose not having a TV package at our house. Apart from saving money on the package itself, we also save on the TV licence. With online access to BBC iPlayer via the Wii (and ITV and Channel 4 via the laptop when we want to), we still get to watch many great programs on our TV screen, with the FANTASTIC added benefit of no adverts. Do you need any more convincing?! [Note: if you watch TV via the internet please check the laws regarding licences in your own area. In our case we never watch live programs as these require a licence, so we stick to catch-up only.]
Advertisements

Five a day: part 2, on a budget

The trouble with fruit and vegetables is that they are expensive. They are especially expensive if you like to buy organic… which I do! If you have money to spare, then I guess this isn’t a ‘trouble’ for you, but I find most people are like me – on a tight budget. So here are some of the ways I have found to save money and still eat healthily:

  • Set a budget and work to it.  To do this effectively I break it down. My budget is £250 per month. From this I make a rough weekly budget, which is £60. I also break that down to a daily budget, which is roughly £8 per day.

    Work out your budget right down to a daily amount.

    Doing these rough calculations helps me to stay on target. It means when I am out in town and tempted to buy a quick burger instead of going home for lunch, I can immediately see just how much extra that costs. £6 doesn’t sound like much on its own, but when compared to a total daily budget of £8 for the  whole family for the whole day, £6 on one meal suddenly seems huge!

    Breaking it down also helps me when I go grocery shopping. Instead of trying to estimate how much I need for a whole month, or how much I have already spent, I go knowing that if I just stick to my weekly budget then the whole month will balance. I use the handy calculator on my mobile phone to add up the cost of things as I go, aiming for no more than a £60 trolley load.

  • Eat less meat.  Fruit and veggies are expensive, but so is meat.  To allow extra money in my budget for fruit and veg, I cut down on meat.  We eat meat, on average, once a fortnight.  Instead, our main meals are mostly based on grains, veggies, eggs and fish (usually tinned, as fresh is too expensive).
  • Make your own.  While it is not always cheaper to make your own foods, it usually is. It is also almost always healthier. I love to make my own bread and my own hummous.
  • Stock up on eggs and bananas.  Both of these are cheap, healthy and filling. So we buy LOTS.  I took my brother with me to the grocery store one time, and he was shocked to find me buying 45 eggs at a time! To be fair, though, that was actually for two weeks 😉
  • Eat less.  Probably the best grocery money-saving tip ever! We don’t go hungry, but on the other hand we don’t (or at least TRY not to) eat more than we need. The principle ‘eat only until you are full’ helps both your waistline and your purse.
  • Drink water.  I guess this is easy for me, since water is my favourite drink! But even if you don’t much like it, I recommend you drink it almost exclusively. It’s much cheaper than buying drinks, and it’s super healthy too.
  • Look for deals. As I said, I like to buy organic where I can. I wish I could get everything organic, but I can’t. Instead I look at what organic produce is on sale each week, and get those. Then, if I have ‘spare’ money, I also buy a few select other things organic. When I do buy meat I almost only get organic (can’t bear the thought of eating growth hormones and antibiotics by the mouthful!). I also try to get fruit and veg with softer skins organic, as the pesticides are absorbed into the fruit more easily on these.I also look out for other kinds of deals and coupons. At Tesco right now they have a ‘spend £40 on this week’s shop for £5 off next week’s’, which is a great deal for me. I have also seen ‘get £10 off your first online shop’ promotions and things like that, which are good to take advantage of if you are eligible.

I hope these are helpful for you. So far, they have been working for me 🙂 Tomorrow I will share the last part of the Five a Day series, with some ideas for getting kids to eat your yummy, healthy, accurately budgeted food!

%d bloggers like this: