The following sections show some of my secrets to doing many things around the house. The best part is that you probably have most of the items at home already, saving you money!
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For a spray freshener, dilute citrus of lavender oil in water and place in a spray bottle with a fine mist setting. Lightly mist the air, but avoid wetting fabrics and upholstery or to create the warm cinnamon smell of popular air fresher and candles, mix 1/2 cup of applesauce with 1/4 cup of cinnamon. Roll out onto wax paper to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into small squares of with miniature cookie cutters. Air dry until hardened. This is a particularly moist mixture, but dries out nicely. If desired, place dried pieces in a bowl or jar, mixed with marbles or river rock for color.
The estimated average weekly grocery bill for an American household is $90, according to the Food Marketing Institute, a food retailer and wholesaler trade association in Washington, D.C. By using a store’s discount card, you can shave about 18 percent off that cost.
Another way to keep the register from ringing: Don’t bring the kids, who may ask for treats you weren’t planning on buying. You can also save by stocking up on coupons. www.couponcart.com or CoolSavings (www.coolsavings.com), and shop on double-coupon days if your grocer has them.
Avoid buying prepared and packaged goods. For example, Consumer Reports found that two pounds of carrots cost $1.29, compared with $7.16 for the same amount of precut carrot sticks. Finally, stock up on freezable foods after their peak times. Gary Foreman, publisher of the Dollar Stretcher website (www.thedollarstretcher.com), notes that prices for turkeys are slashed after Thanksgiving and Christmas
Make sure your pantry has a supply of:
- canned beans
- diced tomatoes, tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce
- chicken or tuna
- condensed soup
- chicken and beef broth or bouillon
- dried pasta, rice couscous
- flavored vinegars
- instant biscuit and cornbread mixes
- Bagged vegetables
- Ravioli or tortellini
- Boneless or bone-in chicken
- Prepared pizza crusts
- Pie crusts
- You don’t save money when you buy something you don’t need, no matter how little you pay for it. Give yourself “credit” for putting the item back.
- Lose the “it’s only a dollar” mentality. If you save only one dollar but do it 99 more times you have $100; 999 more times you have $1,000, and so on.
- Ask 5 dollar-stretching questions: 1. Do I really need this? 2. Could I get it for less?
- Be wise and wait- To avoid impulse buys, stick to a written list. When tempted by something not on the list, finish shopping, and take your purchases to the car. Then, decide if it’s worth going back for the item. Usually it is not!
- Avoid temptation- remove your name from catalog mailing lists.
- Make a “Mobile Snack Supply” for the car for times when you anticipate being out at mealtime. I keep packs of crackers, water, nuts to stave off hunger until we can get back home. This will keep you from eating fast food and is much healthier, too.
- Slash your phone bills- do you really need call waiting? Every little bit helps toward your budget
- Every year or two reevaluate your service plans. Call the phone company, power company, credit cards, etc. and tell them you are “shopping around” to lower your bill. Almost always, they will find a way to help you lower your bill or change something.
- Do the math- before you leave the store (especially grocery stores) check your receipt for the correct charges. Many, many times something will ring up at regular instead of sale price. This saves you much time and hassle to do it then instead of making another trip back to the store after you return home. Trust me, make this a ritual!
- Position yourself at the register and watch your items ring up. This saves hassle and money.
- If you enjoy eating out, change the time from dinner to lunch. This is a big money saver since dinners are so much more expensive. Also, you can dine at off-peak dinner times, frequently called the early bird hour. Most of the time they have an “early bird special”.
- Visit public libraries to rent DVDs and videos, games and books. You can make a special request for the ‘best seller” books. If they don’t have them at your library, they will purchase it or transfer the book from another library in just a few days and all for free.
- Go potluck- start a potluck group with friends as a way of socializing instead of going out to eat. It is fun, different and you don’t have to tip.
- Start a baby-sitting co-op- families can earn an spend points by sitting for one another’s children. This can save big bucks in baby-sitting costs.
- Express love for less-to prevent present-buying stress and strain on your wallet, consider suggesting that everyone draw names for one another or only buying for the kids. The holidays could be saner, calmer, thriftier and more joyous for all.
- No public events scheduled.