With the ever rising cost of living, many of us are analyzing our finances, trimming the already trim budget, and coming up with creative and “unusual” money saving hacks to save money.
Even though the budget is already tight, gas prices are sky rocketing, and food prices continue rising, some people out there came up with some outrageous ways to save money. But we can’t judge, whatever rocks one’s boat, as long as it is not illegal.
Think of your budget in hours instead of dollars. How many hours did it take you to earn what you are about to buy? How many hours did you work? Think about how much labor was involved in earning the cash.
When you realize how much of your work you just spent on something senseless, it changes your mindset.
Radical Money Saving Ideas
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How do you do the pantry challenge?
A pantry challenge is when you strive to make meals out of what you already have in your pantry without buying new groceries.
Make meals out of the random things you have freezer or pantry. You probably have frozen veggies, cans of pasta and simmer sauces, rice, pasta.
All you have to do is buy fresh fruit, milk and bread a few days a week. You will be surprised at how creative you can become with what you have.
This is not weird, you do grocery shopping and plan your meals based on what foodstuffs are in season and on sale. For example in the summer, you incorporate lots of aubergine, carrots, zucchini in your meals.
During the summer and fall seasons when vegetables are in plenty, buy carrots, onions and celery. Make bags of Mirepoix, then freeze to use later on in soups and bases in dishes.
Freeze all the leftover veggies, when money is tight, put everything together in a pot to make vegetable soup. Serve with bread and there you have dinner.
Cook mushroom stems and chicken bones to make homemade stock. Freeze the stock in a ziplock bag.
Start a “no spend” weekend once a month. No spend means no gas, no fast food, no bills or groceries, coffee etc weekends can be particularly tough with lunch, dinner and a movie and outdoor activities like laser tag, the money quickly adds up.
The first time is tough, but doable. The beauty of no spend weekend is you will likely not overspend after the weekend. Because this would defeat the whole purpose of not spending. Remember your goal is to save money.
Write down every dollar you spend and on what, you will be surprised to see where your money goes.
The possibilities that do not cost a penny are endless. Play board games as a family, make meals together, visit your local library to read books and magazines or borrow a movie. Get a lot of work done around the house since you are mostly at home.
Look for free community events like free concerts, picnics in the park, or in your backyard. Get creative with your craft supplies, finish a home project you have been putting off like organizing your closets, clean out your freezer, your garage or organize a garage sale.
How online grocery shopping saves you money
Save money on groceries by using Walmart grocery pick up, is free of charge, they are not allowed to take tips. Plan your meals for the week, make a list of what you need, put them in the online cart.
It will save you money because you do not walk around the store, getting tempted and buy the things you don’t need. When Walmart is out of an item, they will substitute, and will not charge you the difference.
Sometimes they give you an extra or two more items at no extra charge. This may be dependent on location though.
Can you pay utilities with a credit card?
For example, this is not condoning credit cards but it one sounds smart. Put all your monthly expenses like food and utilities on one credit card.
Write one check to pay it off each month. You will earn points, which points you can use to get “free” airline tickets.
Do the same with your Amazon rewards card. Put all your bills on that card and automatically pay your bills from your checking account.
Save your points to splurge books, birthday days and Christmas shopping – at no real cost to you. Sign up for your Amazon rewards card now, in time for Christmas.
When & how should you do laundry to save money?
Hand wash your clothes in the summer, air dry them to save money on water and electricity. Some laundromats charge anywhere from $1.75 per wash and dry. A mini washer (amazon) uses so little water and electricity.
A good drying rack or a drying line and you are good to go. The mini washer will pay for itself within the first few months will a small water bill with barely increased bill.
Run your mini washer at night during off peak times. Someone I knew, used to do her laundry while showering to save money.
Try these instead of disposable towels & toilet paper.
Use huck towels instead of paper towels, cotton pads and makeup removing pads, dish cloths, cleaning cloths, and face cloths. Huck towels are used in hospitals, they are lint free, made of cotton, highly absorbent. They come in blue and white, blue is very popular because it does not show stains easily.
Crochet small makeup removal pads from 100% cotton yarn. Use a net bag when washing them in the washer so they do not get lost. They are gentle on skin, can be used for scrubbing.
This maybe considered as an obscure way to save money – the family cloth. Well if you don’t know what it is; it is a cost effective and an eco-friendly system.
Instead of toilet paper or disposable wipes, you wipe with cotton cloths, drop them in a plastic bag or hamper.
Each toilet visit gets its own cloth(s) wash them after a while and reuse. Some families use the family cloths for both toilet visits, while others use them after peeing.
Family cloths are made from old pyjamas, baby clothes, old burp clothes, old towels- basically from cotton. There are also ready made family cloth on etsy.
If you can afford, install a bidet. You use the family cloth for drying as you are already clean.
The menstrual cup is another quirky way of saving money. It has existed since the 1930s is economical as well as eco-friendly.
A menstrual cup is made up of silicon or latex and collecting the blood instead of absorbing it. On this website, they answer every question about the cup, there is also an instructional video about how to get started on using the menstrual cup.
How to get most of your shampoo & conditioner.
Cut up your half your toothpaste, face and body lotion, scrape out everything that accumulates in the creases. Add some water the shampoo and conditioner and shower cream, dish, and hand soap bottles once they are empty.
There is always so much product left. You can get a day or two’s worth. You are not only saving money, but minimizing waste.
This may be a little extreme for some, but I know of a family that travels a lot for work, they bring home soaps from hotels, to use as hand soaps. Pump soaps are not environment friendly.
How can you spend less money on lunch?
Does your workplace serve you lunch, ask to pack leftover lunch, eat it as dinner. This way you only make meals during the weekends or public holidays.
This sounds a little out there but hey…. If you work in a busy environment, where meetings take place regularly, you can get free lunch.
Go to the room when the meeting is over, there will mostly likely be extra leftover lunches that the caterer is going to throw away, voila free lunch.
On a TV program about frugality, was a guy who dressed very well, went around his neighborhood attending funerals of people he didn’t know- to eat food in the name of saving money.
Drink a glass or two of water before having your lunch/dinner. You feel more full then and eat less.
How do you repair clothes by hand?
When there is a hole in your clothes, color your skin under the hole, and you are good to go. I believe it is referred to as sharpie. It works well with leggings and yoga pants that normally get holes around the inner thighs.
How can you lower my electric bill in my apartment?
I watched a program on TV about a guy who used extreme methods to save money. During the rainy season, he showered in the rain – to save on water and electricity.
He ate his meals at one of the city’s public service cheapest canteens because it was cheaper than cooking meals at home.
Depending on where you live, you can wear long sleeves, sweaters, socks and other warmer clothing in the house to save on electricity in the colder months.
Put aluminum foil around window and door seals to prevent heat loss during the winter.
Shower at work or the gym to save on hot water at home, it encourages you to work out more.
Get a good sleeping bag from a thrift store and cocoon yourself in it when watching tv or reading a book instead of adjusting the thermostat.
Protip from a Vent/duct cleaner: Dryer sheets cause a film to build up on the lint trap, this prevents air from getting through, clothes take longer to dry- this increases energy consumption.
Clogged vents screens are the number one cause of dryer fires. Scrub your vent with hot water and dish soap to remove residue build up.
During the summer, use styrofoam panels in the windows. Close your blinds or curtains over them.
They look like a shade from the outside, keep the house much cooler- saving electricity. Styrofoam panels are available in home improvement stores like Lowe’s; there are instructional videos online.
Use hot water bottles in the winter to warm your feet when sitting still i.e watching, reading a book, etc.
An hour before bed, change the hot water and put the bottles under the beddings, your bed will keep warm for many hours. Turn the thermostat to low during the night.
I read somewhere a guy who cut his mobile phone bill for many months. He moved his phone number to Google voice, where he was able to call and receive calls on any open WIFI networks.
How can transportation expenses be reduced?
A frugal person i know of, uses a bicycle almost everywhere within a reasonable distance, lives in a small town, where shops and offices etc are miles away. He does not own a car due to costs related with owning a car.
In fact he said that this was the reason he declined to take driving lessons. He uses public means when going on long distances.
Depending on where you live, when using Uber, Lyft or any other taxi services, ask the driver to drop around 150 meters from your home, it saves you money. Many people use it when they do not want taxi drivers to know where they live as well.
Carpool with colleagues to and from work to save money. Split the gas bill and rotate which car to drive every so often. According to a survey by AAA 33% of driver carpooled to save on gas.
Ride Sharing is a place where drivers and passengers meet to carpool. Sign up here to become a passenger or a driver.
There are other carpooling sharing apps in addition to Ride Sharing. These included erideshare, zimride and Carma.
This is not practical to everyone, but i know is nurses that sleep over at the hospitals between afternoon and morning shifts as a way of saving money on gas.
How can you save money on your hair?
This is a creative way to save money when you need a pampering session, new haircut, new hair color, massage, facial, mani-pedi, waxing etc.
Lets be honest, you would like to sit or lie down and have someone else pamper you, it is more relaxing and not messy.
Trainees at Aesthetician schools will groom you for a quarter the price of what you would pay at the salon. They are supervised by professional tutors.
Grow your hair out until it’s long enough, then donate to Locks of love. You will get a haircut for free for donating hair, you will still have to tip the stylist though.
Use men’s razors, shampoo, shower gel and wear men’s dress shirts instead of women’s. They are a lot cheaper and do the same job. (pink tax anyone?)
Open a savings account at the beginning of the year. Save $ 1 in the first week, then $ 2 the second week, $ 3 the third week, continue like that, by week 52, you will deposit $ 52.
Alternatively, you can this in reverse. $ 52 in the first week, then $51 in the second week and so forth. This may be more helpful because by the end of the year, you are less likely to contribute so much into your account.
By the end of the year, you should have around $1400 in your account. Voila – Christmas shopping.
How buying bulk fresh produce saves you money
Buy your vegetables at the flea market/farmers markets can be less expensive than the grocery stores. Do you live in Arizona, they have something called Pow-Wow and Market on the Move.
All you do is show up at their location, usually a church on a saturday morning between 6-9 am, give them $12, you can take up to 60 Ibs. It is amazing. Not sure whether other places in the United states have something similar. It will save you a lot of money.
By canning fruits and veggies, you will save thousands of dollars on impulse food buys and take outs. Canning equipment can be very inexpensive. You can get boiling-water-canner (practically new with rack)at a garage sale for 3.00.
You can get tons of canning jars from family members who no longer process their own foods. You can also find them at garage sales and thrift stores, they last forever. Avoid cracked or chipped jars.
For those of you just starting, make strawberry jelly the first year, use boiling water bath, advancing slowly to actually canning other stuff like pickles, veggies and fruit mixtures.
Lesser known useful money saving hacks
According to a survey, many parents are uneasiness when talking to their children about money. Bring the kids in the budget meetings instead of just telling them no.
Be honest with your kids on your financial mistakes and limits, teach them how to shop, how to cook meals at home, and how to take care of what we have.
Rewarding them when we reach small goals. Find all the free events in town for entertainment.
As you are probably aware, the value of your car goes down over time, but the insurance company will not adjust your coverage unless you ask them to.
Your car insurance agent can review your account to see your eligibility for other discounts, but he/she won’t do it unless you ask them.
Unless you are on contract, your mobile phone and internet company will happily charge you the same rate for the same service for years unless you call and ask them for a cheaper plan.
This sounds obvious but set up a goal, and start saving for it, if you are saving for the sake of it, there is not as much motivation.
But if you have a house, a car, a kitchen remodel, you will be more than willing to put money away each month.
Paying attention to hidden costs is another unusual money saving hack. Acquiring a pet is an example here, apart from the daily feeding costs, there are other major costs like veterinary bills, some pets need professional training and grooming.
Some pets can destroy your furniture and other belongings. You may need to pay a house sitter or kennel services when you are out of town, as well as enclosures
Do not buy something on sale, that you did not intend to buy in the first place. If you buy an item that is half price off from $100, you are not saving $50, but spending $50.
There are many unusual money saving hacks out there. Share with us in the comments sections the extreme saving tips you or anyone has used in the past.