Extreme ways to save money might sound difficult, but it has more to do with thinking outside the box than relying on special skills like, for example, hunting for your own food.
As you go through the list, you might begin to see a pattern. Strip away the facade of everyday products and services to get to what’s important. None of these tips are difficult, which means anyone can do them. See how many you can incorporate into your life.
• Take shorter showers. I love long showers, especially if muscles are sore, but you can take a short shower then quickly get into warm, comfy clothes (straight out of the dryer) for the same effect. It’s the warmth that’s soothing.
• Use less shampoo and toothpaste. Have you ever read the instructions or watched the commercials about how much product to use? It’s ridiculous and unnecessary. A quarter to half of the product is all you need in most cases.
• Cut your own hair. I haven’t been to a hair stylist in years. I trim my hair–or ask Greg to do it. As long as it’s not in my eyes, I’m not that fussy.
• Shave your head. Greg does this. He doesn’t feel he has enough hair to warrant a visit to the barber, so he shaves his head quarterly. I don’t like it, but he does and that’s all that matters.
• Use less electricity. In the days before electricity, most people worked according to the amount of daylight. While we might not live like pre-industrial folk, we can reduce our energy intake substantially by thinking like them.
• Negotiate. I love the story Greg told me about his father the day he bought him a top of the line 5-speed bike. He walked into a retail store and asked the clerk how much he wanted for this $89 bike. God love my father in law, because he haggled with him until they reached a price he wanted. While I probably wouldn’t haggle for a bike, big ticket items are most assuredly negotiable. Do your research and then you can negotiate from a position of strength.
• Have a No-Spend Month or Week. There are people who will not spend ANY money during a spending moratorium which takes an enormous amount of planning. I limit my spending to essentials only.
• Walk or bike ride to your destinations. It’s a little hard for us since we live miles from any store or restaurant, but if you live in the city, it’s definitely doable. Limit your shopping to your immediate neighborhood.
• Carpool. This is handy if you have a coworker (you like) that lives nearby.
• Combine your errands. If you run all your errands on one day you’ll save fuel, time, and resist the urge to buy more than you need.
• Eat at home. This one’s a no-brainer. Eating at home is always cheaper than eating out.
• Entertain at home. Instead of going out with friends for expensive drinks and dinner, invite them to your home. Ask each person to bring a bottle or appetizer while you provide the ambiance and a clean bathroom. 🙂
• Free eats. Sign up for restaurants’ mailing lists to get included for free birthday meals and other specials. If you must eat out, you might as well get something free out of it.
• Save your take-out extras. While I don’t normally use ketchup and mustard packages, we do use soy sauce and the extra napkins that come in our take-out bags.
• Reuse your empties. Take-out boxes/bowls, and empty jars can have an extended life. I never toss them out without using them at least one more time for leftovers, freezer containers, or craft projects. Receptacles with good seals and sturdy walls (like glass jars) can be used almost indefinitely.
• Free groceries. Many big chain grocery stores have store loyalty cards that offer digital coupons, including free items every week.
• Dry your clothes on the line. Dryers are one of the biggest energy wasters. If you can line dry at least some of your clothes, you’re ahead of the curve.
• Collect rainwater. Greg just shakes his head at me for this, but even though I don’t have a rain barrel, I put out buckets and wheelbarrows out when I know there’s a big rain coming. I use this water for my plants.
• Haunt the alleys before trash pickup. They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and there are no truer words. Driving past homes after their garage sales can also reap benefits.
• Look for spare change. It’s everywhere. Seriously. I’ve found loads of change on the sidewalk, especially in parking lots where people probably lose them while they’re digging for their keys.
• Barter. I love the concept of barter, but I think this is one of those that’s harder than it looks. You just have to keep looking for someone who has something you want, who also happens to want something you have in return.
Have you ever bartered for something? Do you use as much shampoo and toothpaste as they show on the commercials?
Do you pick up loose change in the parking lot? Have you ever cut your own hair?