Introduction: My Two Cents on How to Save Your Dollars and Cents
Money. Who would have thunk that we would be in this mess. Like most, your probably feeling the sting of this economic crisis. Selling lemonade on the street corner isn't going to cover it. We need some action. We need to go back to the basics. Our ancestors didn't need paid water to water their gardens, they had the rain. They didn't kill a lot of deers because they were on sale. So here are my ways to conserve your money, give your wallet back complications, and even help the environment.
Step 1: Rain Barrels
Rain. Who needs it? I mean it waters the plants but i still have to water my plants with my hose. If only there was an easier way.....Well Now There Is!!! Introducing the rain barrel!. The rain barrel is exactly what it sounds like. Its a barrel with rain in it. Its shocking to hear this, but rain is part of the water cycle, every so often, it will rain where you live. This rain is a much needed resource for plants. Now we all have gutters. If you don't, go install gutters, we'll wait here. Done? No? Okay we'll wait a little longer. Okay so now we all have gutters. Where does the rain water go? Well we want to collect all the water that comes off these gutters for future use.
A good rain barrel should be plastic, not wooden like mine. Plastic keeps out those icky bugs and junk. Also with plastic, you can install a line for your hose. This would be more difficult with wood. Also, it should be covered or else the mosquitoes will come. IF you have a rain barrel, GREAT!. If you want to buy one, GOOD! If your a true DIYer, then i have posted a youtube video of HGTV I found which will go over all the basics
Step 2: Make Your Own Vegetable Garden
Well as it is now, an outdoor garden isn't going to do you much. When spring comes around, a garden can actually turn into a profit. With tons of rain this year, our tomato plants have grown over 5 feet tall. I think there usually about 4. These tomatoes not only are cheep, but a sweet and juicy. We had way too many this year though. We gave them out to friends and family, encouraging them to take entire baskets home. Most of them are rotting faster then they are eaten. We could have made money with all these tomatoes.
Remember, it takes money to conserve money. You will need plants, a chicken-wire like fence, something to till your garden with, water, time and patience. Anyways, a garden is a good idea. I'm not going to go into great detail, but a good garden is a planned garden. When you plan out your garden its easy to do. First, mark out you land. I suggest doing with wooden stakes in the ground. Then, with a shovel, remove the grass to expose the soil. This grass, or sod, can be placed in other needed places, and it was free! Now, you will need till the land. I personally used our roto-tiller. Also, I distinctly remember placing a little play sand in the soil to soften it up. It is optional, but I would mark out the boundaries of the garden with a fence or stone path. Now you are ready to plant, well sort of. You will also need some fencing like chicken-wire to keep all the rabbits out so they don't eat all your blue ribbon carrots. Once you plant out your garden, place the cages around them and don't forget to use your rain barrel to water them
Step 3: Groceries
Groceries. Shopping is probably the place where most waste their money. While shopping, you want to bring
twothree things. A shopping list and a budget (and maybe some money). Before you leave your house to go shopping, go around and make a list of things you need. If it is a small list, don't even bother leaving, just place it on the side of your refrigerator or where ever else you can find it easily unless you need something urgently like medication. This way whenever you need more things you can just add to the list. With this, you save gas. I recommend keeping an active list on your fridge, update it every time you finish anything. Plan your list smartly, if your having hamburgers for dinner, don't forget to buy buns! ooh! and some ketchup, we're all out, but we're good on mustard
While are the store, brands are important! I hate to admit it, but the Canadian's Pride maple syrup (fake) cost $6 dollars more than the brand on sale and just about taste the same. Always look for whats on sale. But above all, only buy whats on your list. If your 23 and single, you don't need to buy baby food because its on sale! As long as you look for sales, but only buy whats on your list, everything should work out fine. You can always save a bundle buy bring cheep brands. For scouts, I usually have to buy groceries for 5 meals with my budget being about $12 dollars a person. Now your looking at your $25 dollar new york strip stake and feeling bad.
Lastly, candy is for the weak. If you find your self at the supermarket buying a chocolate bar, put it down! Who needs chocolate when they got
yummy bran other sweet foods that they actually need.
Step 4: Eating Out
Eating out is all ways a last resort. What do I classify for eating out? Well restaurants and Fast Food! Fast Food is where a lot go wrong. Your not a little kid anymore! you can't feed yourself with a item off the dollar menu. Now a days you might want a extra large value menu, with a um, errm, diet soda! I normally want to spend about $12 on a meal. With a little hunger struck, I've been able to narrow it down to about $5.
Restaurants are the other big spenders. I hope you bring your wallet with you because the $12 soup appetizer isn't paying for itself. How many times have you seen people at restaurants who eat till they are stuff and since they have so little food left on their plate, they decide to throw away the rest instead of taking it home. These people have bad eating habits. Next time you order this meal, I want you to think. When a little half way done your meal, ask your self, Would I be satisfied for tonight if I stopped eating now? If so, stop! Take the rest home with you, you can turn it into another meal like a two snacks or another dinner. This way, instead of just getting one meal out of a meal, you can get up to 3!
For example, I just ate out tonight at an Italian restaurant, got the cheapest chicken item on the menu, and found out it was practically a big chicken nugget with pasta (but don't get me wrong, i do love that place). So when I ate it tonight I was thinking that the pasta filled me up so I might be able to turn that chicken into a sandwich or something tomorrow for lunch because we have nothing to eat at my house!
Step 5: Keeping a Money Jar
Money Jars. Well we all have change collecting somewhere in our houses. Whether it be in your sofa or in your pants pocket, you have it somewhere. Collecting change can add up. I mean, your not going to find big bills in your sofa, but let me ask you this, if there wasn't enough small change lying around, wouldn't things like CoinStar be out of service. I've been just putting spare change in a container in my desk now for about a month, I am somewhere around $8. Before you go buy a big jar of jelly to collect change in, remember to reuse. I sometimes eat precooked microwavable dinners like macaroni which come in a black plastic case. Well, I like to reuse these things so it holds my change.
Well, I'm a growing person, I need more than that to do anything in today's economy. Well now you can, and quit your bad habits all at the same time. For example, Ladies, are you tired of your husband swearing? Does he need to stop before you have a little baby around the house? Well a "swear jar" is perfect for you. If you don't know what it is, a swear jar basically places a 'tax' on using profanities in the house. As the maker of the swear jar, you assign the jar a price. When ever someone swears they must pay the ultimate price (can be anything, a nickel, quarter, or even a dollar) This money can also be designated for a certain thing so its not just like paying your self. For example, you can use the swear jar to save up for "The Best of Instructables: Volume 1" book. My mom also has what she calls her Disney world fund where she has alot! of money that has gone through the wash. Her policy is that if it goes through the wash then its hers. Just so I wouldn't complain as a child, I think she called it her Disney world fund that way I couldn't complain because it was for a good cause. She has kept loyal to it. Whenever she took money from it, she would always write IOUs to make sure that it would all still be there.
Lastly, from what I've heard, the cost for things such as CoinStar is expensive compared to local banks so please think before you act
Step 6: Packing a Lunch
Packing a lunch can save you a bit of money. Packing a lunch will save you all that much need money for other essential things. When packing a lunch, shopping is one of the big concepts. For one, that $8 value meal that you buy every day will significantly bring down your life with your wallet with it. If you've been reading the entire instructable, you heard that I've had to buy food for scouts at about $12 a scout per weekend. I don' exactly know what one packed meal costs but I managed to do the one packed lunch for our hike last weekend for about $3 a person. What sounds better, $8 a day, or $3 a day. One thing important to remember is brands again. Supermarkets always have a deli section. This is where the freshest meats and cheeses are. I honestly buy the most of my lunch meat here but if I really needed to cut back, this is where I would. There are packed meats that go for much less. Remember, buying in bulk is usually cheaper but only if you need it. There's no sense of buying bulk if you throw half of it away. You can buy something like a jumbo loaf of bread but it will go all to waste when you just pack a sandwich a day. For those of you who pack about 2 sandwiches a day, this could be for you
Step 7: Reusing
Reusing isn't only just for helping the environment anymore. Its also a vital part of saving money. The on going example here I'm going to use is dog toys. Now I got a dog. She likes toys, who figured. Now toys cost money. Her favorite toys are the ones we buy, but above all, she likes the more expensive ones that aren't hollow in the middle. Well shes not getting a new toy a week. Instead we reuse various items. I know for a fact that lots of dogs just love plastic bottles. She'll take the bottle and just go to town on that cap. Bottles aren't the only good reusable toys. During our annual county fair (with amusement park rides, so much fun) I went into the democrat's booth, and i guess there was someone named duck running so they were giving out little rubber army ducks. When I went to one of my high school's football games, the cheerleaders were throwing out footballs, she loves that too. Often, I will look at something and think that she would absolutely love this and take it home for her.
Reusing isn't only for the dogs, its for everyday things. You can always reuse old things such as wood. If you started a DIY project of a bird house, look around at your scraps, you most likely are going to have to buy more, but you can still save a bit
Step 8: Biking
Biking is a good way to beat high gas prices. Now I don't live in a very good place to bike, but that won't stop you. Biking can be used not only for recreation, but to get places. When ever going short distances, biking is always a good idea. With biking, you need a couple of things. I recommend a helmet, rear and front reflectors, a bike, a bike lock, good biking equipment, and water. While biking, safety is always the most important. For this you need to know the laws.
First off, find off if you can bike on sidewalks in your area. Biking on sidewalks is safe except in more popular areas where there are many people on the sidewalks. To always ensure safe travel, always yield to any pedestrian or car. If you have to bike in the streets, try to bike in areas with a designated bike lane. You don't want to be biking in a car's headlights. Many people do bike in the streets, and that's okay.
Next, you need to plan out where your going. It can just be mental, but you need a plan. If you don't, you'll find yourself at the edge of town wondering how you got there. Then go for it. Remember to bring your essentials like your helmet, water, and your cell phone.
Its important to know your signals while riding in the street. Pictures will be uploaded soon but in the mean time, I'll explain it verbally. When making a right turn, raise your left hand at a 90 degree angle before making the turn. To make a left turn, hold your arm straight out. To slow down, hold your hand out slightly below what you would do for a left turn, but with a significant difference that way others can recognize it. You can also use your right hand, switching the right and left signals. Generally, you should always try to use your left hand because drivers are on the left side so its easier for them to see it. Also, this started on the left side because cars used to use this before turn signals were made.
For more on bicycling i recommend Killerjackalope's guide to urban cycling