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10 Ways to Save Money at Home

ID-100250603After nearly two years of working to detect the budget leaks in our house, one thing we’ve found is that there are many ways to save money at home.

Since being at home doesn’t seem like it could be a budget buster (after all, you’re not going out and purposely spending cash), people often don’t see the many ways we waste money at home.  Of course, doing so will sort of defeat the purpose of trying to save money in the first place. 🙂

 

Different Ways to Save Money at Home

If you’re looking to trim your budget and wanting to save money at home, try some of these tips to keep more money in your pocket each month:

1. Make Your Own.  Laundry detergent, window cleaner, dishwasher soap: many of the things we automatically buy at the store can be made at home for huge money savings.  The homemade laundry detergent we use costs us about $5 for a 9 month supply, as opposed to the store bought price of roughly $7 a month that we used to spend.  Search online for handmade recipes to replace your spendy store-bought stuff.

2.  Cut Down on Food Waste.  The average family wastes at least 25% of the food they bring into their home.  If you’re an “average” grocery spender this means you are throwing between $1800 and $3600 of food (and money) in the garbage.  Learn to minimize food waste and maximize savings by making only what you need, re-purposing leftovers and simply by buying less.

3. Learn to Do it Yourself.  When our garage heater broke down last year, we were certain we’d be dealing with a repair bill to the tune of several hundred dollars.  However, a quick Internet search by the hubby on the symptoms our heater was experiencing led to a diagnosis of the issue, and after another search for a company in the area that carried the repair parts, he had fixed the issue himself for about $50.  Last year, I gave our son (with the help of a Youtube video) speech therapy lessons on my own, curing him of his incorrect way of saying his R’s.  Everything that needs to be done in our house, with our cars, etc., we do a thorough search to see if we can make it a DIY project before calling out a professional.  I have no doubt that, over the years, we’ve saved in the tens of thousands of dollars range by learning to simply do things ourselves.

4.  Adopt a Minimalist View.  Not only will this save you money by selling things you no longer need, it will also save money at home because you’ll be more choosy about what you replace.  When something breaks, ask yourself: “Do I really need to replace this item?”  For instance, if you have six serving spoons, and one breaks, do you really need to go out and replace it, or will five serving spoons suffice?

5.  Look for Hidden Ways to Reduce Electricity Usage Line dry your clothes.  Unplug appliances that are not in use.  Keep your computer in sleep mode if you’re not using it.  Turn off the lights.  Set your air conditioning a few degrees higher and  your heat a few degrees lower.  Choose to run the TV for an hour less each day, and go for a walk, play games or read. Cook your pizza in a toaster oven instead of a traditional oven.

6.  Use Less.  There are countless ways to save money at home by using less.  Use less shampoo, a bit less toothpaste, and less soap for dishes and clothes washing.  Eat a little bit less with each meal, and save the rest for lunch tomorrow at work.  Wear your clothes twice so you won’t have to wash them as often.  Use less milk, oil or butter in recipes, adding water to make up for any dryness. Learn to look at everything you do and use and think “Is there a way I can use less?”

7.  Do Homemade.  Make breads, biscuits, pancakes and baked goods from scratch.  Instead of buying the box of cheddar garlic biscuit mix, make homemade biscuits and add fresh pressed garlic and shredded cheddar cheese to them.  Avoid pre-made seasoning mixes such as taco seasoning and make your own.  Make homemade soups instead of buying canned.  Make homemade pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce and mac ‘n cheese.  The money savings are astronomical, not to mention likely going to be healthier to eat as they won’t be filled with preservatives.

8. Never Pay Full Price.  Do your best to anticipate long-term needs for food and other household items and stock up when there’s a sale.  Buy used, barter or look for freebies on Craigslist or at neighborhood businesses.  When we wanted pallets to stack our wood on for our wood-burning stove, we simply made a visit to a local construction business, who often has wood pallets out in front of their office building with a big sign that says “free”.  My brother, a garbage collector, often gets everything from electronics, to car parts, to household items on his route that people set aside next to their garbage cans, not knowing how or not wanting to fix them, or simply not wanting them anymore.  Many, many personal finance bloggers brag of free or cheap vacations taken with the advantage of travel rewards.  There’s no reason these days to pay full price for much of anything.

9.  Buy in Bulk.  We save a good 50% on our groceries by buying in bulk.  My favorite buy?  Beef straight from the farm.  We pay roughly $3.50 a pound for grass-fed, antibiotic and hormone free beef, because we buy a quarter to a half a cow at a time and store it in a deep freezer.  That’s $3.50 a pound for steaks, burger, roasts and ribs, and high-quality beef at that!  Spices are also a tremendous money savings when purchased in bulk.

10.  Look for Cheap Substitutes.  Try generic brands of your favorite foods.  Buy knock off brands of clothes and accessories.  Buy whole milk and mix it with water to produce a cheaper 1 or 2 percent milk.  Use the little plastic bags from Target or Walmart as trash bags for your smaller trash cans.  Buy pop in 2-liter bottles instead of cans.  Look at everything you consume and ask yourself “Is there a cheaper option?”

With a little forethought and ingenuity, saving money at home by using the tips above can add up to big cash over the long term, so start today!

 

What are your hidden tips for saving money at home?  What’s your biggest financial payoff in this area? Have you found that it’s difficult to save money at home, or do you easily get tempted to spend on things you may not need?

 

 

Photo courtesy of:  Free Digital Photos

 

 

*This post was featured on Momma Makes Cents and Aspiring Blogger.

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Laurie is a wife, mother to 4, and homesteader who blogs about personal finance, self-sufficiency and life in general over at The Frugal Farmer. Part witty, part introspective and part silly, her goal in blogging is to help others find their way to financial freedom, and to a simpler, more peaceful life

60 comments

  1. Food waste is a biggie for us. I’m trying desperately to get my kids to eat leftovers. For some reason, I’m the only one doing that. Then, after a few days, I even get sick of it and throw the food away. Maybe I need to be better at preparing meals to the right proportions so there are no leftovers. 🙂
    Brian @ Luke1428 recently posted…Confessing a Really Stupid Money MistakeMy Profile

    • That would really help, Brian! Another thing we do is to kind of “plan” for leftovers. For instance, if we have tacos one night, we’ll plan to use the leftover meat the next night and make Spanish rice, with the veggies on the side as a topping. That way everyone subconsciously assumes I’ve planned and am making a whole new meal. 🙂
      Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted…10 Ways to Save Money at HomeMy Profile

  2. I’ve adopted minimalism fairly recently. About twice a year I’ll do a full “purge” of my apartment, and I’m rarely tempted to buy anything in a retail environment anymore. I just think about how much work it’ll take to store and maintain.
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted…Couponing Like A New YorkerMy Profile

  3. I began taking Navy style showers a year ago. At first, it was a bit of an annoyance but now I even do it at hotels!

    If anyone doesn’t know, it’s where you shut off the water when you’re lathering up.

    It’s much more pleasant than trying to lather while the water is spraying all over the place. Plus, you use less soap because you have less water on your skin to dilute its power.

    I definitely recommend it.
    Will recently posted…Hate DIY but Love Saving Money? Here’s Your SolutionMy Profile

  4. These are great tips Laurie!! We have saved a bunch by adopting the minimalist mentality and doing more stuff ourselves whether it’s DIY projects around the home or making more homemade. It is really not difficult to do these things and I have been really proud of us for not only making these changes but doing things I never thought we would do in a million years like make our own tortillas.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Music Mondays – ForgivenessMy Profile

  5. #2 food waste is a killer in our house. We have tried to cut back on over buying during our shopping trips. Since we typically go to the store at least once a week no need to over buy, we also freeze fresh vegs and fruits for future use.
    Brian @ Debt Discipline recently posted…Week End Round Up #42My Profile

  6. These are all great tips. We switched to line drying our laundry this year, and I’m sure it’s helping to reduce our energy costs. I’ll be disappointed in the winter when I have to run the dryer!
    Lauren recently posted…How to Keep a Positive Attitude with a Negative Net WorthMy Profile

  7. Once again I am properly humbled by your detailed efforts to reduce costs and pay off debt. Our big thing lately is to keep old stuff. We have worn furniture in our family room, and although I’ve had to overcome some embarrassment at the increasingly threadbare look of it, we aren’t capitulating in the name of having “presentable” furniture. “Who am I trying to impress?” I have to ask myself. Real friends will take me with my worn furniture: ) I want to try this home made detergent thing. That’s a whole other level of cost savings!
    Prudence Debtfree recently posted…MMM’s Subculture of “Badassity”: Is It For Me?My Profile

  8. This is such a comprehensive list–love it! We’ve gotten pretty good about all of these except for #1. I just haven’t taken the plunge into homemaking our laundry detergent, etc. I need to learn, though!

    #4 made me laugh out loud–we definitely do this and consequently are down to 3 coffee mugs. We noticed a crack forming in one of the remaining mugs yesterday… but I think we can scrape by with 2 for awhile.
    Mrs. Frugalwoods recently posted…Travel Cheap By Being A Thanksgiving WeirdoMy Profile

  9. I love number 4 – adopt a minimalist view. Personally, I think that having a minimalist mindset will pay huge dividends because you will think differently about money. By wanting less you’ll spend less.
    Natalie @ Financegirl recently posted…The Difference Between ETFs and Mutual Funds: Investing For BeginnersMy Profile

  10. Those numbers on homemade laundry detergent are tempting! I may pick your brain about that ‘recipe’ someday.

    My secret tool for saving money at home is negotiation. I try to negotiate as many of our bills as possible: recurring costs or one time. Because so few Americans are comfortable negotiating, you have a built-in advantage if you’re willing to just try.
    Done by Forty recently posted…Why Aren’t We Getting Better With Money?My Profile

  11. I like this list! I just tried making my own laundry soap, and I have to say that the savings are impressive. Did one load yesterday with it and my skin is feeling fine (I can only use detergents that are “free and clear” and not even all of them work for me without my skin having a reaction). I am working on getting together info on that for a post, but I found the savings to be extremely high for the amount of work when comparing liquid soap homemade to store bought (I did not compare dry as I have never used dry soap). I am interested now in the other soaps!

    Food waste.. yea I really try to plan to avoid waste, on occasion there is some produce left over (don’t usually get to an entire garlic before it is bad, cilantro is strong and you don’t need an excessive amount to get the required flavor). Had some cheese go back recently, but that was all messed up when my meal plan got changed when my ignitor went out in the oven. Win some lose some.

    Areas I need to improve is more #3, maybe #9 for a few items, and #10 should be done more often.
    Kipp recently posted…Life Is Short – You Only Live OnceMy Profile

    • So glad the homemade detergent is working for you! Yeah, chemical wise, it’s pretty benign, even for those with sensitive skin. Food waste is definitely a work in progress, for all of us I think, Kipp. Keep at it: you’re doing just fine. 🙂
      Laurie recently posted…10 Ways to Save Money at HomeMy Profile

  12. Great list, Laurie. I have to say that #3 has saved us TONS of money. When our oven stop working, the internet helped us out. The part cost $50 including shipping. Same thing for our washer, our cars and other things.
    As far as number 2 this used to be the toughest in our home after a while lunch is left overs and searching the internet (yes, again) for other recipes helped reduce food waste.
    Buying school supplies during BTS helped us to the point where each year we buy less supplies. Also growing our own herbs and veggies helped us reduce our grocery bills.
    Brit recently posted…P&G Everyday – Favorite Coupons From The Best BrandMy Profile

  13. Good list. Doing a few things from these 10 categories can make a big difference. Shopping at Costco has made a huge difference for us. Buying in quantity, focusing on quality food that is fresh and can be eaten multiple ways. Over time I replaced all our lights with LED bulbs. We only have 2 4 foot long fluorescent lights left. Every other bulb is LED. It slashed $20-25/month off our electric bill. Thanks for the list.
    Wade recently posted…A post about nothingMy Profile

  14. Great tips Laurie. I’ve been trying to get better at comparing prices and looking for cheaper alternatives. I’ve also try to use less and adopt a minimalist view…we can also optimize our lives better to save a little money.
    Andrew@LivingRichCheaply recently posted…The Price of Inattention: 3 Ways You Can Lose Your Money without Noticing ItMy Profile

  15. Like many of you, I was brought up by a very practical mother who hated to waste money and loved to find new ways to scrimp. As a result, I am a household cheapskate and proud of it!
    Alicia @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted…Enjoying the new Carseldine Markets and Buying Local ProduceMy Profile

  16. I’m trying to get better about not using as much shampoo, soap, and other “product.” It didn’t even dawn on me until one day I looked down at my loofa in the shower and realized I had poured a huge gob of body wash unnecessarily on it without even thinking. A little goes a long way. Not sure I’ll ever be much of a DIY girl unless it involves cleaning. 🙂

    • LOL, Tonya, I think one day you just might surprise yourself with the DIY stuff. You being a type “A” like I am, you’ll find something that needs to be fixed that costs 8 zillions dollars, get ticked at the price and figure out how to do it yourself. 🙂
      Laurie recently posted…10 Ways to Save Money at HomeMy Profile

  17. Great post, Laurie, and I try to incorporate all ten of these in my daily life in one form or another! One goal I’d like to do is DIY my own hemming since I’m so short and require a lot of tailoring for clothes. I’d also like to start learning how to DIY haircuts, though so far it’s been a fail with the hubby. Oh well, at least it grows back quickly! 🙂
    anna recently posted…The Lemonade Stand: A ReviewMy Profile

  18. All good tips, Laurie! We are very much into the homemade at our house, from cleaning products to food. We do have to work a little more on DIY. It takes time to learn new skills!
    Kay @ Green Money Stream recently posted…June Dividend and Side Income UpdateMy Profile

  19. I’ve been trying a few of these tips myself. Buying cheaper alternatives has been a good strategy and I’ve found quite a few that work just as well as the brand name.
    Practical Cents recently posted…Benefits of Sharing Financial Goals with Family and FriendsMy Profile

  20. Great list. Do you know a good link for homemade dishwasher detergent? I’ve tried a couple with no success. I think many, many things we break or wear out don’t need to be replaced. I broke my favorite spatula a couple of months ago and was about to buy a new one when I decided to see how I could do with what I had, and I really don’t miss it. My post Wednesday will be about my failures at thrift store shopping, but I think you can get replacement housewares there pretty consistently if you break kitchen or bath stuff.
    Kim recently posted…Pros and Cons About Booking a Vacation With PointsMy Profile

    • No luck with me on the dishwasher detergent either. We did wash with only vinegar and a touch a bleach for awhile, out of necessity, and it worked fairly well. We do buy a more expensive dishwasher detergent, simply for the chemical freedom it provides, but I’d love to find a good homemade one.
      Laurie recently posted…10 Ways to Save Money at HomeMy Profile

  21. This is a really great post! We are currently looking at reducing food waste. I have come a long way since March with cooking meals at home for my family, but i can get better at shopping for what is on sale (reverse meal planning) and doing planned leftovers. I do take leftovers for lunch, but tonight for example, I will have a lot of leftover meat and I need to figure out how to repurpose it into another meal!
    Brandi recently posted…Cook: Cantina de ThomasMy Profile

  22. I think the only tip that I have yet to try or implement is the first one of making things such things as one’s own laundry detergent or dish-wash soap. If you have any tips on that or haven’t yet done a post on that, please do!
    Just tonight, my wireless USB mouse died on me. The DH was planning to buy me a new one on Amazon and then I remembered that we still have another one, albeit non-wireless. Guess what I’ll be doing…not ordering the new one from Amazon 🙂
    Kassandra recently posted…What You Don’t Need To KnowMy Profile

  23. We keep our daytime heat set at 68, and overnight at 62. In the summer, we use fans and open windows on all but the hottest days and nights. Our daytime AC is set at 74, and since we get very little direct sun in our house, this means the AC rarely kicks on.
    Amy recently posted…Last Week’s Frugal HighsMy Profile

    • We’ve been doing pretty darn good at not using the AC too much this year, but we really need to be better about heat. Our house is old and drafty, and we spent most of last year with the heat set at 74 during the day and 68 at night. We’re going to try and buck up and keep it lower this year though, and hopefully the wood stove installation will help too.
      Laurie recently posted…10 Ways to Save Money at HomeMy Profile

  24. All of those things add up! Cutting food waste is a big one for us. We eat leftovers all the time and it really helps.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…Tips for FreelancersMy Profile

  25. My husband would eat leftovers all week if they stretched that far LOL. I can only handle 2 nights of the same leftovers. He said I need to adopt a concentration camp mentality and I would be happy with the leftovers. I told him he needs to cook less food! 😉
    debt debs recently posted…Business Travel with Baby – Travels with my AuntMy Profile

  26. I am working hard ton getting a deep freezer, so we can buy meat in bulk. I think that will be a great way to save some cash, but I can also use the freezer to brew beer! Win-win!
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted…Credit Sesame Review – Get Your Free Credit Score and MonitoringMy Profile

  27. We used to be so bad about food waste. It’s something I’ve been trying really hard to work on. Not only is it a waste of money, it’s also a wasteful in general which makes me feel really guilty. I know how many people go to sleep hungry in this country every night, while I’m throwing away whole pieces of uneaten fruit and veggies.

    I’ve recently started making body wash and hand soap using Dr. Bronner’s magic soap and I love both. It’s way cheaper than buying either product, better for the environment and better for our skin. It’s a win-win in my book.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted…Healthcare is expensive, ask for what you want!My Profile

  28. These are great! It really comes down to doing a lot of things yourself. It’s always best to calculate the costs and make sure it’s worth doing it yourself. Since your time is one of the most valuable things you have. Often, these things are quick and easy DIYs.
    Kalen @ MoneyMiniBlog recently posted…24 Things That Are More Likely to Happen Than Winning the LotteryMy Profile

    • I totally agree, Kalen. We had a car repair last year that, after we factored in time of Rick learning how to do it and then doing it, that we hired out for. Well worth paying out the money, and Rick and I spent the day skating with the kids on the lake. 🙂
      Laurie recently posted…10 Ways to Save Money at HomeMy Profile

  29. Back in college, my roommate and I wasted so much money just on food. We would go out and throw away our left overs, then go out again the next night. The cycle just repeated. Once I had to live in the “real world,” I quickly understood why my grandma was feeding us food from three days ago. She couldn’t afford the waste either.

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