15 Ways to Stretch a Dollar
|January 18, 2014||Filled under Frugal Tips and Tricks|
DH and I went to the store last night to get him some new socks. The store was noticeably empty. No lines at the checkout. No dancing around other shoppers. It was glorious. DH wondered if everyone was on a budget lockdown after the holidays. Maybe. I didn’t really care because I would be able to go straight to the socks, grab a pack, check out and be back in the car in mere minutes. Well, you know that didn’t happen. An hour and a half later, we had scoured the store for Clearance items, debated the merits of buying our movie candy at that time, and decided that the dog doesn’t really need another toy. Then, as per my M.O., we went through the basket when we were ready to checkout and removed everything that had lost its magical powers in the last hour. The socks we came in for, at the bottom of it all…$14! When did that happen? $14 for athletic socks?
Time to recommit to living more frugally. We’ve done this before, but things just get away from us sometimes, we’re busy, stuff happens. So, mostly as a reminder to me, here are some of my favorite ways to make our money go further. And, by the way, DH’s old socks will be recycled into dusting cloths…
15 Ways to Stretch a Dollar
Swap Instead of Shop
Nowadays there are so many products that you can swap…clothes, toys, tools and books.
Ride Your Bike Instead of Driving
Are there days where you drive just for the sake of convenience? Could you walk or ride your bike instead? Not only would you save money, but you would stay healthy too.
Borrow a Book Instead of Buying
Even though this is said time and again, how many people actually do it? Instead of logging on to Amazon to buy that next book, head to the library. Or, ask a friend what they are reading and if it sounds interesting, ask if you can borrow the book when they are finished reading it.
Play Games at Home Instead of Going Out
Whether you have little kids at home, teens, or you just want to hang out with your buddies, setup a games night. If you have enough people, do mini tournaments to create a competitive, fun atmosphere.
Make Your Own Pizza Instead of Ordering In
When most people think of ordering in they think of pizza and Chinese food. While I love them both, dinner for just the 2 of us usually costs between $30 and $40. But for just a few dollars we can make a nice large pizza at home instead. Here are ideas and recipes for 50 pizzas you can make at home.
Super Frugal – Use Your Cell Phone for Emergencies Only
If you are seriously looking for a way to stretch a dollar, give up your cell phone. Cell phones and all the fancy plans that come with them are costing you a fortune. And even though the cell phone companies lead you to believe that you have to have the latest and greatest one out there, you don’t.
Cell phones are not a necessity. In all honesty, all you may ever really need a cell phone for is if you have an emergency away from home. So in that case, get a cheap cell phone, with no extra features, and use a pay as you go plan.
Don’t forget to add an ICE number to your contacts.
Keep Your Vehicle Clean and Well Maintained
You can drive your vehicle for years with very few mechanical problems if you maintain it well. And by keeping it sparkling clean inside and out, you will never feel like you are driving an older car. Our car is ten years old and still going strong!
Plan Out Your Trips Before You Leave Home
My mother has a giant aversion to backtracking. The process of planning out my route for errands and such has been ingrained in my head for decades. Instead of driving around in circles everyday or going back and forth to the same place 3 times, plan out your days. Make a list of where you need to go. Head to the place that is farthest away first and then stop at the other places on the way back.
If at all possible, plan all your errands and appointments in the same day, so that you are not going out everyday, except to go to work. This will save you gas and I bet it will stop you from eating on the run too.
Always Shop With a List and Look For the Lowest Prices
I’m a big couponer. When DD went to college, we started looking for ways to save money. A good place to start is to learn your favorite store’s coupon policy. Then get some coupons. Try these articles to get off to a strong start –
Even if you don’t coupon, you can still do some price checking before you shop. Stock up on what’s on sale. Plan menus around seasonal items and create a shopping list. (Ever had three cans of black pepper in your cabinet, but bought another one anyway because you couldn’t remember if you had any? I have.) Finally, take advantage of the stores, like Wal Mart, that will price match.
Buy Generic Prescriptions
Not everyone needs prescriptions, but if you do, and you need to pay cash for them, always ask the pharmacist if they have an equivalent generic brand. Some stores offer a limited number of medications to their customers for free – like common antibiotics, diabetes medication, blood pressure medicines, etc.
Cook More From Scratch
When you really need to stretch a dollar one of the places that you can reduce your spending is on groceries. Do you have eggs, flour, salt, sugar and baking soda in your pantry? Make some muffins and serve them for breakfast or for snacks.
Bake your own bread. Make a double batch of oatmeal cookies and freeze them. This way you will always have snacks on hand and there will be no reason to buy a cupcake or a muffin at the local coffee shop. For the price of that cupcake you can make an entire batch of cookies.
Try a few of these inexpensive recipes and save lots of cash!
Once you’ve finish cooking, why not try to grow some of your own food from the scraps you have? We have green onion growing in a little jar of water in the window all the time.
Take Advantage of Free Admissions and Discounts When You Vacation
Need a break from life but there’s no money to go on a vacation? Spend a day in a local park, walking around and enjoying the scenery. Sit on a bench and people watch. Pack a picnic. Enjoy the time away from your home and your job.
Did you know that national parks offer free admission on several days throughout the year? Plan your vacation around this to pocket some cash for souvenirs.
Learn How to Sew
Years ago people would sew their own new clothes and mend their clothes instead of shopping at the mall. Sewing can be tricky, but once you practice your skill level will rise and you may find that you enjoy sewing some clothes for your family.
In fact, it may become your favorite new hobby. You can also have fun sewing curtains and making decorative pillows for your family room. I just learned how to sew about a year ago and I’m so glad I did! I’ve made gifts, party favors, pillowcases, and quilts. I’ve also been able to repair some of our clothes. Try it!
Make Your Own Gifts
Christmas is only a few months away. Instead of saying you can’t afford Christmas this year, look for ways to spend less. Keep it simple, but still enjoyable. Create a list of gifts that you can make at home, and as you see the things you need on sale, you can buy them now, and then get to work on making them. Put together a cookbook of family recipes or some homemade hot chocolate mix? A couple of years ago I made homemade vanilla and gave bottles of it to my friends and family. It was a big hit!
This year, I received a set of beautiful candles that a dear friend had made simply by adding wax and a wick to an old sugar bowl and teacup she’d found at a yard sale. Loved it! Totally stealing that idea…
Turn Off the Lights and The Water
Every time we get our monthly electricity bill, my husband wonders why it is so high. Is it because I do laundry too often? Or maybe it is my 20 minute showers in the evening. I don’t know. But it sounds like it is up to me to find a way to use less electricity (and water!)
Do you have any tips on how to stretch a dollar? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.