I was raised by a frugal mother. When I was growing up, I sometimes felt like the things my mom did were “weird.” None of the other moms saved cereal bags or wrapped gifts in funny papers. But you know what? Now I find myself saving box liners and wrapping gifts in funny paper…and LOVING IT.
I now realize my mom wasn’t being “weird.” She was being smart – making do with what she had. I am very blessed. And now I hope to pass on the same knowledge to my daughter.
Let me set your mind at ease – being frugal is a state of mind. You are not born frugal. You learn to be frugal – it takes effort, my friend. So, today I’m going to share 15 very easy ways to cut back on your household bills – to get you started on your life of frugality, or to give you an extra boost if you’re already there.
15 Easy Ways to Save Money On Your Household Bills
1. Buy in Bulk – the savings for buying in bulk are usually very high, especially on things like beans, rice, and flour. Instead of buying two bags of flour, why not buy 50 pounds at once? This is a gradual process and not one you should tackle in one month. If you wonder how to make your budget stretch for this to happen, check out this great bulk buying tutorial from Penniless Parenting
2. Use Coupons – I am a self professed Coupon Queen who has turned into a Frugal Healthy Housewife . I don’t use many coupons anymore because I find myself buying scratch ingredients and making my own household products . However, there are savings to be had with coupons – just don’t go overboard and buy a bunch of junk. Save coupons for the toilet paper, man. For great tutorials and lessons on how to coupon, check out Southern Savers.
3. Use Space Heaters – In the winter, we find ourselves cutting our heat pump down to around 65-68 degrees…sometimes even less than that because I’m tighter than Dick’s hat band. Then, if we get cold we use a space heater to only heat the room that we’re in. Wonder what the cost savings on using space heaters is? Check out this breakdown from The Simple Dollar .
4. Open Windows in the Summer – On the flip side of saving on heating, in the summer we try not to use our cooling pump much either. I do the same thing my mom did to keep the house cool (my parents didn’t have an air conditioner until I was in college). In the late evening after the heat of the day, open all the windows in the house – leave them open overnight if possible, to cool the house down. Make sure to leave them open all morning as well, taking note of the temperature outside. When it starts to rise and it’s the same temperature inside and outside, close all the windows and blinds. You’ll find that it will take a LOT longer for the cooling pump to turn on this way and it will save you a LOT of money.
5. Line Dry – I’m a huge fan of drying my clothes outside, even though I live in a townhouse. In the summer, hang clothes to dry and you’ll save on your electric bill. In the winter, dry your clothes on a drying rack inside. Will this always work? No – sometimes you’ll need that pair of underwear before it can dry. In that case, use the dryer. Amen.
6. Telephones – Several months ago we got rid of our land line at the house. We both had cell phones and it seemed an extra expense to have the other phone at home. Do you use your land line enough to make it worth it? How much could you save if you just got rid of it and used only cell phones? Points to ponder. I hate talking on the phone anyway, so it was an easy decision for me.
7. Bye-Bye Cable Television – We once had cable television…and that was because it was cheaper to have it. Cable service, combined with internet and phone was cheaper than only having the two. When we got rid of the land line, we got rid of the cable. Do we miss it? Not a bit. Most of it is trash anyway. Bye-bye trash! Now we watch things on Netflix instead, which is much cheaper for us.
8. Lights Out! – This is pretty self explanatory. If you’re not in the room, don’t have the lights on. If it is still light outside, open the blinds for Pete’s sake. Use the natural light God gave you. This is something I’ve had to learn…and I still sometimes have issues. My husband is the light police though. “Are you trying to light the entire neighborhood??” Save a few pennies on your electric bill – and don’t scoff at pennies…they make dollars.
9. Cook from Scratch – How about trying to make things at home instead of buying them at the store? For the most part, making something from scratch will save you tons of money. Take bread for instance – it is WAY cheaper to make your own. Our family scarfs down my Honey Oat Bread. If you’ve never made bread before, try that recipe. It’s easy and delicious. Are all things cheaper to make at home? Probably not. And you also have to pick your battles. You can’t cook it all. Leave high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and food colors at the store…leave the cart at the store too; you’re not supposed to bring it home.
10. Use CASH – This is a tip most people don’t think about. Did you know that if you use cash instead of a debit card (we are anti-credit card) that you’ll use LESS? It’s true. We live on a cash basis, except for those bills we can pay online. When you have a $50 bill it’s really hard to part with – he’s a family member. Don’t just give him away! It will really make you rethink those purchases. Are they a need or just a want?
11. DIY – Try making that gift yourself. Read up online and figure out how to fix your washer. Don’t just run out and buy something new or hire someone if it is something you can do yourself. I’m blessed with a very handy husband. We always try to fix things ourselves first. If it doesn’t work out, THEN we call in the help. By trying first yourself, you haven’t really lost anything – unless you break it beyond repair…..not that I’ve done that or anything. *Cough*
12. Buy Used – This is one of my favorite philosophies of the Duggars. For the most part, we try to buy used instead of buying new: used computers, used furniture, used appliances, etc. The savings are HUGE! “Yes, but Stacy you don’t get a warranty.” That’s okay with me. If I’m paying half the price and it works for at least half the time of the brand new item, I’m golden. So far, we’ve never had a problem with anything we’ve bought used. Check out Craigslist.org. Embrace it my friends. It’s a beautiful thing.
13. Cut Your Own Hair – Okay, let me clear the air here a minute – I do not cut my own hair. I am the Queen of Crooked. So, my friend Heather cuts my hair but sometimes we try to barter things so I get a free hair cut and she gets some free stuff. It works out great. BUT, Barry does cut his hair and I help cut the back (he can’t see it so he can’t tell it’s crooked). And my mom helps me cut Annie’s hair. Do you know how much it costs to visit the hair dresser repeatedly? YIPES!
14. Pack Your Lunch – I always pack Barry’s lunch at night after dinner. I try to make enough each night for dinner so that we also have enough the next day for lunch. A lot of Barry’s co-workers go out to eat every day. I cannot begin to imagine how much they’re shelling out. Even if you eat on the Dollar Menu, dollars add up. I’ll keep my dollar, thank you. This also applies to me. If I’m going to be out during the day, I usually pack a small lunch for Annie and keep it in the car in a lunch box. That lets us skip eating out…unless I get a Chick-Fil-A craving. 😉
15. Make Homemade Cleaners – I’m still astounded at how much I save by making homemade cleaners. I also avoid worrying that Annie will turn into a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle by breathing in bleach fumes. My homemade laundry detergent saves us a bundle! Check out Andrea’s recipes for toilet bowl cleaner and soap scum spray . Embrace white vinegar and baking soda. They are your friends.
By now you’re thinking, “Man, that Stacy is a total bore. I bet she just sits around and watches grass grow for fun.” But no. I assure you, I’m as fun as a barrel of monkeys!
Now It’s Your Turn
Daily Goal: Pick ONE thing from this list that you can implement to start saving some extra cash and let us know in the comments and/or in the forum what you’re going to tackle.
Connect With The Community: Take a few minutes and head over to the forum. Share your “Frugal Living Daily Goal“, encourage, and support one another.