If you do a quick google or Pinterest search, you will find many beautiful and well designed blog posts on how to save money. I like reading them, because i’m always up for learning new ways to stretch the dollar. But, they’re all, kind of the same, so I decided to come up with a list of more unconventional ways to save money.
And lest I sound like some expert or one who’s figured it all out, I must confess that I don’t do all of these well. In fact, I do rather poorly at some of them, and I can see where it’s cost me money.
If you’ve been with me very long, you may have read my series of posts on Consumerism that I wrote a couple years ago. It describes my journey away from mindless consumerism into a more simple and contented lifestyle. I wrote on: shopping, social media, contentment, multilevelmarketing, and why all of it matters.
It remains a struggle, living in such a privileged country, and I continue to have to work hard to make the right decisions.
In David Platt’s book “Follow Me”, he describes the openly idolatrous practices of some of the people he encounters in other religions. But he brings it home in paragraphs like,
When we think of worshiping idols and false gods, we often picture Asian people buying carved images of wood, stone, or gold or African tribes performing ritualistic dances around burning sacrifices…… But we don’t think about the American woman incessantly shopping for more possessions or obsessively consumed with how she looks. We don’t take into account men and women in the Western world constantly enamored with money and blindly engulfed in materialism.
Ouch. And so when I speak of saving money, I’m not speaking of being smart with your money so you can afford bigger splurges or nicer things. I like to think of it as saving for opportunities or needs that arise that bless and impact more than just you.
This was a really long preface into this list, but I hope it gives some context.
- Be organized with your possessions. This is where I don’t do well, and I realize when I clean out the junk drawer that I actually did have two tubes of super glue, and because of my mess, I now have three. Little things like that seem hardly worth mentioning, but they add up.
- Figure out good quality-to-value ratios. Again, I struggle with knowing where it’s best to invest in quality, higher cost products and where value is most important. This is especially true in home ownership, where it’s tempting to buy/pay for cheaper services and products that won’t last as long or perform as well. I haven’t figured this one out, but I do know that going the cheap route can ultimately be more expensive in the long run.
- Know your weak areas and work to avoid them. In my posts on Consumerism I talked about how powerful media influences can be and how easily accessible products are. Literally any product you can think of is two days away from you with the click of one button. Marketing ploys are everywhere and they are all after your dollar and sense of contentment. If you have a weakness for certain things, figure out how you talk yourself into them, and then pull out your mother tone, and respond to yourself in a way to get your own attention. just kidding. kind of.
- Stay away from places that accept money. This comes as a shock, to be sure, but research tends to agree that when you go to a place that takes money, you will spend money. Going on a hike, would therefore, be wiser than going window shopping with friends, if you’re trying to save money.
- Utilize natural resources. That’s fancy for saying, “hang out your laundry.” As a child, this was probably my least favorite chore. Any ominous clouds, or suspicious moisture in the air was sure to have me running back to the house to try to persuade my mother to use the dryer. My mother was wise. Wisdom is acquired, apparently, through the paying of bills. I usually had to hang the laundry out anyway. And now, in some strange twist of irony, I scan the sky again, this time as the bill payer, and sometimes before the last drops have fallen from the sky, I’m out with the laundry. My theory is this: if the sun will run my power bill up through the hot summer months, than it will also dry my laundry. I find some peace in that. Also, it gets you outside, which is desperately needed anymore. And then you can stop buying your vitamin K supplements. Cha-ching!
- Stock up when you can, on products that you use, when they’re at rock-bottom prices. My sisters were rather wide eyed to come home and find 6 bottles of our favorite coffee creamer on the refrigerator shelf. We had the space, we would use them before their expiration dates, and that sale saved us $6. Would I buy another refrigerator for deals such as this? No, but I stock up where I can. We also have enough dish washing soap for this year, thanks to running across our favorite brand, full size at our Dollar Tree. Maybe an eight dollar savings, but guess what, they add up!
- Learn the discipline of sticking to shopping lists.
We laugh because it’s funny, but guess who’s bill will likely be the highest?? Granted, he won’t have the cool dollar spot stuff in his cart and the trip won’t be as fun, but if you’re after saving money, follow your husband. I would also recommend your presence by his side at Bass Pro, to be fair, but this picture makes the point about lists. We tend to get in trouble in the meandering, wandering shopping trips and those little impulse buys can quickly add up.
8. Don’t litter. I saved the best for last here and this is a tribute to my departed Hershberger grandpa. He enjoyed calculating all the money that he saved by not littering when he was on road trips. Just look for the signs with the dollar amount posted for littering and then add them all up at the end of the trip to see just how much you saved by not littering. The savings are truly remarkable. I saved over $10,000 on a recent trip to South Carolina. Depending on how you look at it, it makes all of your trips free, because the savings always way outweigh the trip expenses.
In case you don’t know me, I’m totally joking in that last point. But I can’t see a litter road sign without thinking about my grandpa.
I’m curious now, what interesting ways do you have, of stretching that dollar? To what extents will you go? What are your secrets?