As the days get shorter and more time is spent indoors, it’s a great time to make sure your home is ready for winter. Even if you live in a temperate climate, it’s never a bad idea to go through the house and make sure everything is in place to create the best use of space, energy, and function. There are usually ways to save money in every room of the house.
The kitchen, in my opinion, is where monthly savings balances can be made or broken. Fortunately, there are tons of ways to lower spending on food and preparation.
Take a pantry challenge
Vow to skip the grocery for a week or at least avoid buying anything non-perishable. Challenge yourself and your family to come up with recipes to make use of what is already on hand.
Cook enough food for leftovers
On days when you cook, make enough to use for leftovers or lunches throughout the week.
Avoid food waste
Americans waste about 20 pounds of food per person in a month! Don’t contribute to that statistic.
Eat food that is getting close to its expiration dates first. If you aren’t in the mood for what’s on hand, go ahead and freeze it or make it into meals that can be frozen and eaten later.
Eat less meat
Not all meat is expensive, but the healthier varieties are almost never cheap. Try eating a few meatless meals per week or use meat as a side dish or garnish rather than a main course.
Cut back on water usage
I love a good shower as much as anyone, but try cutting shower time by a few minutes each day. Installing low flow shower heads and aerators can also conserve water.
Remember not to use the toilet as a waste basket. I’m guilty of flushing dead bugs down the toilet instead of putting them in the trash. While it makes them disappear quickly, I’m also wasting a few gallons of water for every dead fly or spider.
Use towels more than once
Unless you get really dirty or have bad allergies, try to hang towels up after each use instead of washing them every day. Obviously, you don’t want to go for weeks without washing linens, but there is a happy medium in there somewhere.
Declutter bathroom cabinets and drawers
There’s nothing worse than buying health and beauty products to find that you already had those supplies at home. Make sure all products have a place and check to see what’s on hand before heading out to the store.
Lower the thermostat at night
Add a few blankets to the bed rather than cranking up the heat on cold nights.
Check for leaky windows and doors
Adding some insulation strips or cauking can do wonders for keeping the cold out. Last year, I also added some Socket Sealers behind the plugs on outside walls. It’s amazing how much cold air can come through an unused outlet.
Cancel cable or satellite TV
I’ve come to accept that my family can’t do away with TV completely, but we’ve been more than happy with Amazon Prime and Netflix since cutting the cord.
Redecorate on the cheap
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to buy a new couch over the past few years, but until our kid isn’t so messy, it makes no sense. When I get tired of our current furniture, I try to paint one of the walls or change out the pictures on the mantle. Even buying a new accessory is way less expensive than updating the furniture. Try to make a small, inexpensive change rather than breaking the bank on a complete remodel.
Garage or Closets
Clean out one closet or garage section
Many people treat their garage or closets like dumping grounds. Out of sight might be out of mind, but that doesn’t mean it’s good to leave clutter taking up all your storage space.
Instead of getting overwhelmed, declutter one area at a time and get rid of things you don’t need by selling or donating them.
- Consider replacing incandescent lights with CFL or LED light bulbs.
- Use powerstrips for electronics and turn them off when not in use.
- Turn off lights when leaving a room.
- Look for one item a month that can be sold for cash on Craigs List or eBay.
- Don’t run the clothes or dish washer until there is a full load.
- Use baking soda, vinegar, and good old fashioned soap and water instead of expensive cleaning products.
Even if small things don’t seem worth the effort, remember that it all adds up. I used to think my silly ideas didn’t do much to save money, but after a few years of making changes around the house, I notice the difference. Our electric bill is about $20 per month less. We also save about $60 per month on entertainment by streaming TV instead of having cable. We have way less food waste than we used to. That’s a few hundred dollars per year we can spend on travel, for savings, or use any way besides literally throwing it out the window or down the drain.
What are your favorite ways to save money around the house? What is your biggest household money waster?