Lean times mean belt tightening and never having any more fun, yes? Wrong. It's just a matter of being creative. We've come up with a 11 ways, tested by us, that should help you get through an economic slump...
- No fun, no parties: Saving money doesn't mean staying home by yourself, twiddling your thumbs. But it might mean less time out and more friends over. Try potluck dinners, game nights, movie nights at home (split a Netflix or local dvd store subscription with friends). We like brunch: it's an inexpensive meal, one person brings the papers & we all share. Less paper waste too.
- Stretch out your weekly or monthly costs: If you do your grocery shopping every week, try stretching it out to 10 days. Same with trips to the laundromat or the dry cleaner. Stretch out month services for every 5 or 6 weeks. It's a small change with big returns.
- Do Your Own Chores: Have a housekeeper? Save money, keep your home clean and improve your health at the same time by doing it yourself (or have her come less frequently. See above). Follow this post's advice and your home will practically clean itself.
- Declutter: Not only will you get rid of stuff but then you can make money by selling it on Craigs List or Ebay, swap with friends or donate it and take a tax deduction.
- Pay your bills online: Not only will banking online save you money in stamps but it'll help you keep a tighter rein on your finances and avoid bank charges, including overdraft or bounced check fees.
- Use your library: It's a great source for books and audio materials. Remember that each city in Los Angeles has their own library system so if what you want's not available through one system, try another. We belong to the Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills libraries. And, if you donate books to the library, you get a tax deduction as well as some decluttering done.
- Swap out regular bulbs for CFLs: Yes, the initial outlay's a little more expensive (dropping all the time) but they last longer so you'll have fewer replacements. And they're good for the environment so you're saving a little green at both ends.
- Turn down the thermostat: Even a few degrees can help. And, if it's a little chilly, you can put on a sweater or wrap yourself up in a throw. It's said that keeping your home a little cool will keep you energized.
- Bundle: Receiving cable, phone and internet from one provider often entitles you to a discount on those services. Call and ask for a reduced rate.
- What do you really need? From home appliances to hundreds of cable channels, what do you really need? If you rarely watch tv, do you need every cable channel? Maybe you can just opt for basic cable and rent the new episodes of your favorite show via ITunes as one friend does for "Mad Men". We balked at spending money on a toaster and grill bread instead; two sets of sheets are plenty for us; we share magazine subscriptions with a friend; see less movies out and more on Netflix. Get creative.
- Cook at home: Warm up your home by doing more cooking at home. Plus the great smells (and taste) will put a smile on your face. Check the Kitchn for recipe ideas and this post on saving money in the kitchen.
Do you have any great ideas that you can share with us?
[painting by Veronica Nagy, available for sale on her Etsy]