If we can’t eat it—We don’t need it! This may be the mantra for some American families, but in a modern world even the most budget conscious individuals have needs that go beyond the bare bones basics. Healthcare, utilities, education and entertainment are all part of the big financial picture for most of us.
10 budget friendly solutions help save money in both the short term and the long run.
Community College Daycare Programs—Can’t afford to send your child to preschool? Consider enrolling yourself in an exercise or enrichment class a couple of days a week. Many community colleges are inexpensive and offer on-site childcare while you’re on campus. Tuition and daycare programs are often available on a sliding fee scale, so you’ll get time to exercise or learn something new, while your toddler gets important social and environmental stimulation.
Baby/Children’s Clothing Exchange—These businesses allow you to trade gently worn children’s clothing or equipment for points or merchandise within the store. Car seats, strollers, high chairs, and bicycle carriers are among the most popular items available.
Utilize Heavy-duty Foil and Zip locking Bags—Shop for meat, vegetables, pasta, rice and beans, and cook a few days worth of each. Freeze dinner size portions of items in zip locking bags. Before work, or early in the day, line a slow cooker crock with heavy-duty foil and dump in ingredients for dinner recipes. As long as foil does not tear, there should be little, if any clean up involved. By shopping when foods are on sale and storing in usable quantities, you’ll save both money and time.
Cosmetology School Haircut/Nails—If you’re attending a special event or just need haircuts for the whole family, many cosmetology schools offer no, or low cost hair and nail services. Students train under teachers or supervisors as they work toward certification.
Download Free Books—Dozens of Internet sites offer free book downloads for consumers. While you might have to deal with ad pop-ups, limited trial offers, or occasional solicitations for donations, free books save money up front for many readers.
Dental School Check Up—Many individuals and families can’t afford adequate dental care or costly dental insurance. Most dental schools offer low cost check ups and cleanings, as well as reduced cost dental procedures.
Help with Vet Bills—Many organizations throughout the nation offer low cost clinics, reduced cost mobile vet services, or payment assistance programs to help support pet owners with limited means. Some veterinarians work with clients by structuring payment plans and reducing fees as well.
Cold Water Washing—Laundering clothes in hot water, with a warm water rinse takes several kilowatt-hours of energy per load. By both washing and rinsing clothes in cold water, you’ll reduce spending from roughly.68/load to .04/load.
Say “No” to Paper—While most of us prefer the convenience of disposable paper goods, these throw away products end up costing big bucks over time. Paper towels, napkins, plates and cups can all be replaced with cloth towels and dishes. The water and detergent it takes to wash these isn’t nearly as costly as the price you’ll pay for convenience.
Low Flow Showerheads—According to the EPA, nearly one-fifth of household water use is dedicated to bathing and showering. Showerheads manufactured before 1992 allow more than twice the amount of water (5.5 gallons per minute) to flow than newer, low flow heads that limit use to 2.5 gpm. This alone can save 27,000 gallons of water per year for a family of four.
Every time we pay too much or overspend for products, procedures or services we add a little more stress to our financial house, whether we realize it or not. Finding creative ways to cut the budget frees up our finances for other purchases, and the things we really want to do!