Simple Ways to Save Money (That You Might Not Have Considered)

How You Can Save Money Every Month

Jul 20, 2018
Cutting Hair to Save Money

Share: 

Rate this Post: 

Average: 4.4 (15 votes)

Budgets are tight for many of us. If you’ve squeezed and squeezed and squeezed yours again, maybe these few tips can help you squeeze some more—and have a little creative fun along the way.

Cut your own hair

If you adopt a simple hairdo, you can easily learn to cut and trim your own hair (and beards, for men). Online and beauty-supply stores sell precision hair-cutting scissors and trimming appliances.

I’ve cut my own hair since I was I took over from my mom while I was in high school. Over the decades, I’ve had long hair that needed only occasional trimming; short pixie cuts I had to spike every couple of weeks, and various mid-length ’do’s. I’ve cut a lot of men’s and children’s hair, too.

We calculate that do-it-ourselves cuts and trims saves our two-person household about $600 a year.

cutting_hair_px_full_width.jpg

Generate Less Trash

I think of the Depression-era slogan “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” as a good way to increase my “disposable” income.

Reducing the trash that we generate and throw away saves money, energy, and the community (taxpayer) the costs of disposing of it. Here are a few ways to reduce your household trash.

  • The easiest and simplest: If you don’t need it, don’t buy it. What do we really need? Living in an advertising-saturated consumer society makes this psychologically difficult. I think of it as a spiritual discipline.
  • Patronize thrift stores and yard/rummage sales and accept hand-me-downs from friends, neighbors, and relatives. If you can use or repurpose things, you’ll have less need to buy new stuff and less stuff to throw away. (That being said, I never acquire a used or discarded mattress or piece of upholstered furniture. There’s too much possibility of bedbug infestation, and these critters are notoriously difficult and expensive to eradicate once they’ve established themselves in your home.)

flea_market_rocks3_gettyimages_full_width.jpg
Flea markets rock!  Credit: Getty Images

  • Buy in bulk whenever possible: grains, beans, nuts and other dried foods; soap; lightbulbs. You’ll produce less packaging trash and benefit from the lower per-unit cost.
  • Buy the most durable products that you can afford and keep using them, even if they go out of style. I think that we should start a movement to make sturdiness and durability the epitome of high style.
  • Choose cheap, safe, at-hand household cleaning supplies to eliminate the need for expensive commercial formulations. A lot of these products—baking soda, vinegar, borax, oatmeal, olive oil—do double or triple duty as articles of health, beauty, and/or hygiene.

natural_cleaners_eskaylim_gettyimages_full_width.jpg
Natural cleaners. Credit: Getty Images

  • If you have a garden, repurpose newspaper, cardboard, worn rugs, and worn-out clothing as weed-suppressing, water-conserving mulch. Top it off with a little hay, straw, pine needles, or lawn clippings to improve the aesthetics. Recycle your kitchen and yard wastes into a compost pile.
  • Host a neighborhood paint-trading (tool-trading, etc.) party. The idea? Everyone arrives with leftover paint, stain, varnish, and similar products that they don’t need. Set all of the articles on tables and let people walk around and choose products that they’d like to take home and use. The rules: Each item should be in its original container, tightly closed, and should bear a tag with the original owner’s name and telephone number. People must agree to take home the products that they brought if no one else wants them.

paint-cans_px_full_width.jpg

Depending on how vigorously you pursue these suggestions, you could save hundreds of dollars a year!

Eliminate “phantom loads”

Also called “vampires of the household,” “phantom loads” refer to the electricity used by appliances and electronic devices after you’ve turned them off or left them in standby mode.

Electronic devices that are notorious current-sucking vampires include home-entertainment devices with remote controls, appliances with digital clocks, electronics that use a power adaptor (or wall cube). You can put these devices on power strips that you turn off when you aren’t using them. “Smart” power strips cost a bit more, but allow you to shut off some devices and leave others on standby. Eliminating these phantoms can save as much as 10 percent of your electric bill.

The red LED lights you see glowing at night will remind you that these appliances are using electricity even after you’ve turned them off.

Now look around for power adaptors, also called “wall cubes,” “wall warts,” and “power bricks,” which are used with devices such as hair dryers and cell-phone chargers. These are typically warm to the touch and drawing power. Unplug these when not in use.

If your electric bill is $100 a month,  you could save about $120 a year by reducing phantom loads.

Power Yourself

We usually think of walking, jogging, and bicycle riding as good forms of exercise, and they are.

But what if you changed your frame of reference and began thinking of leg power as basic transportation, ways to get to and from errands?

Commute on foot or by bicycle to work, to the library or post office, to the grocery store, to visit friends? Why not? Advanced thinking by the Danes have given rise to a new concept designed to encourage citizens to bike more miles, generate less carbon, and get fit in the process: the bicycle superhighway.

How much can you save? Given the lack of attention to biking and walking thoroughfares most of the nation, probably not that much on gas and car maintenance (since most people probably won’t dare to commute to work), but I guarantee you’ll improve your health and emotional resiliency—a huge bonus that will save big bucks in health (and drug-related) costs and make your life much less stressful.

But do you want to get in shape? Here are 10 tips to help you get started exercising.

About This Blog

"Living Naturally" is all about living a naturally healthy lifestyle. Margaret Boyles covers health tips, ways to avoid illness, natural remedies, food that's good for body and soul, recipes for homemade beauty products, and ideas to make your home a healthy, safe haven. Our goal is also to encourage self-sufficiency, whether it's re-learning some age-old skills or getting informed on modern improvements that help us live better healthier lives.

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

Natural Beauty

Women would do well to put down the make-up products. I have never liked make-up so my skin looks good compared to those who have worn a ton of it and then they use the harsh chemical removers to get it off. The pictures I see of women today caked in make-up I can't believe they think they look better like that than a natural beauty. Make-up covered women, it's ok to stop, men in the real world actually don't like that fake Kardashian look.

Some more small ways to save

If you use a coffeemaker, when the coffee is finished brewing immediately pour it into a thermos (which will keep it hot for hours) and unplug the 1200-watt coffeemaker instead of leaving the pot on the heating element until you have drank it all. The minutes add up.
If you're not going to use your range or stove much in the summer, shut it off at the breaker box. If appliances draw 40% of their power while off, 40% of a 220-volt stove is a lot more than what the 13-watt electronics draw. Besides cutting your/family's hair, wash your car yourself using a bucket or two. Don't mow your lawn--let the wildflowers come up for the bees--save on all the lawn expenses. If you live in a cold climate, shut your refrigerator in the winter and use the natural coldness. Use the sun for drying clothes. If you live in the Pacific Northwest where it is too rainy and damp to dry clothes in the winter, consider hanging them in a closet and running a dehumidifier in the closet. It uses much less electricity than an electric clothes dryer. Or hang them inside by your woodburning stove, if you have one. And, my last suggestion for now (I could go on and on) is if you don't need to put a light on every time you walk into a room, keep it off. You should know your home well enough by now to get around it, and rooms usually aren't pitch black. (Last suggestion was inspired by my blind friends who know where everything is in their homes. If they can do it, so can we.)

If you are in need of any big

If you are in need of any big ticket services, ask for references from customers then get quotes from at least 3 vendors. This goes for home or auto repairs as well as medical and dental. Question them on why their solution is the correct one and what are the long-term pros and cons. Ask what is your recourse if something goes wrong. Will the person stand behind their work and their solution?

I learned the hard way by not asking.

FREE BEGINNERS GARDEN GUIDE!

+ a 4-season guide to raising chickens!

You will also be subscribed to our Almanac Companion Newsletter

The Almanac Webcam

Chosen for You from The Old Farmer's Store