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My Two Cents on How to Save Your Dollars and Cents

Picture of 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.
 
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Step 1: Rain barrels

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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

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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

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Groceries. Shopping is probably the place where most waste their money. While shopping, you want to bring two three 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

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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

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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

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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

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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
Skai5 years ago
Also, if you are becoming more and more ready to be a good commuter to ride along with the cars on your roads, think about installing some turn signals and lights onto your bike. I feel like lights are what really allow people to navigate and be respected as commuters because it makes it so that you are joining along in the same common language that drivers use to communicate to each other what they're doing. Brake lights are important so that the car will stay behind you, and lights that are sufficiently bright for the night make you not something to avoid and dodge when you're glimpse of an image is flashed before a drivers eyes. Those drivers will just try to pass you. You might even want to consider upgrading to an electric bike, which you could definitely D.I.Y. This is a lot of stuff to both think about and execute, but it will just make saving money feel so much more comfortable and safer and will encourage you to continue doing it and also increasing your sense of freedom. This is why I continue to think that one of the most important things you can do if you have a whole lot of desire for changing your ways D.I.Y style, then planning and organizing is a MUST
Skai5 years ago
Must be tiring to try and think of every last use for different things, though, eh? It's like you kinda got to exercise your mind to be able to think about items for different, creative uses so as to gain a fitness that allows your thoughts to be quick about it and so then you can stay focused on what you really like doing more. If you have an end goal for how much money you will save, and how that will allow you to work less or whatever you want, then perhaps you'll be more motivated to exercise your re-using brain. Maybe you could have a little slip of paper with you with your end goal on it, and you just take it out and it stunningly reminds you of what exactly you're aiming for that'll push you so far, like aiming to lose a certain number of pounds and you'll look like this, or hey I'll be fit enough to partake in this or that marathon or hike this mountain. Motivation.
Skai5 years ago
Yeah, if you want to be a whole sale buyer, you have to know exactly the date by which anything you'd buy would go bad, and have a very organized system to keep track of how you'd use what you buy by then. If you could figure out how many pounds of something you use a week by keeping notes on a normal week's use of a certain food, then you know how much you can buy and you will use within the time of expiration. Hell, you could even write some kind of algebraic equation if you wanted it to be a whole lot simpler than trying to figure through all of that. The math that you learn in high school really can be pretty helpful if you're trying to be organized and conscientious about what you do. I have to think for a bit what exactly that algebraic formula would be, but when I figure it out, I'll give it. Also, how about doing a taste test between different qualities of food and seeing how much you really care about the taste difference of one brand over another. Think about if a quality difference is worth the cost. If you add up the repeated cost of buying more quality products, then how much total money will you lose? What could you use that money on? IDK maybe you want to save up for a trip to India or something. Something cool like that. Sounds like a lot, but if you really want to crank out some efficiency, I'd attempt some of that stuff. I'm in the process myself of doing those equations. Great instructable, by the way, laying out nice steps towards financial independence. Thanks
Nice'ible, but I have to disagree with your bike suggestions. Sidewalk riding is more dangerous than riding in the road. It's important to know your local laws (like in GA, where it's illegal to ride on sidewalks once you're over 17) Safety is very important, but you basically say, "Ride your bike" and then list out a ton of stuff you need to do it, and reason why you shouldn't. Just get on your bike and go. It's tons of fun, completely free, and so much easier than most people think.
It's tons of fun, so much easier than most people think. Except when your city turns off the crossing sign things, and the only time you can cross a major road is when your lucky, or really fast.
Why would you need crossing signs? You should be riding in the road anyways. Riding on the sidewalk is very dangerous for all parties involved.
I honestly can't tell if that's a joke or not...
No, riding a bike on the sidewalk is very dangerous, no joke at all. Google it, you'll find plenty of reasons why riding your bike on the sidewalk is more dangerous than it is to ride in the road.
if you look where looking where you are going you can avoid people
What about blind driveways? Bushes in the way of tour view? The road is almost always clear of these things, but sidewalks often aren't.
slow down and look
Why should a bicycle, a perfectly viable vehicle, have to slow down and look around hedges, walls, and everything every 15 feet, when there's a perfectly good, safe road there for him to legally travel on?
because cars go way faster and im 11 thats why
simple
I still have to go with riding on the sidewalk...
Do what you want, but in many states it illegal, and for good reason. When's the last time you were driving and you checked 20 yards down the sidewalk to ensure there were no vehicles coming down it? You probably never have, just like most motorists....
When's the last time you were driving and you checked 20 yards down the sidewalk to ensure there were no vehicles coming down it? You probably never have, just like most motorists..

That's why as a cyclist, or what ever the correct term is, it's your duty to make sure that a car isn't right in front of you, or will be when you cross the street.
So in an effort to be as safe as possible, it's your responsibility to be where motorists are looking for other vehicles. Seeing as you ARE a vehicle, you should follow the laws accordingly, that way everyone can be as safe as possible.
That's not what i said. I said as a cyclist, it's your responsibility to look out for vehicles.

Seeing as you ARE a vehicle, you should follow the laws accordingly
That's a really bad reason.
Chicken2209 (author)  toekneebullard6 years ago
Thanks for feedback, I partially agree with this, I feel that depending on your location, it can be safe or unsafe. Also the laws part was already in there, "For this you need to know the laws. First off, find off if you can bike on sidewalks in your area". Anyways biking isn't exactly finished yet, i was just jotting down some basic thoughts last night while working on homework, I will edit it soon
Some great tips there. I like the money jar tip, I'm one who sets budgets and the like and its always a pleasant surprise to find there's left over from what I accounted for, and that leftover has built up.
#@$#$# now i have that sing stuck in my head!!!! "Dallars and cents!"
scafool6 years ago
In the food department I have found that slow cookers like crockpots save me a lot of money. They let you use basic foods like beans to make great chili dishes and so on. When was the last time you had a bowl of real pork and beans instead of that stuff out of the can? Even bread is fairly easy to bake and a few simple recipies like pan bread or pita bread are fast enough to be cooked on the stove top when you need them. Don't buy premixes for flour based foods. You can make your own premixes just as easy for 1/3 of the cost, and they will work even better. 1 kilo of pancake or biscuit mix costs as much as 5 kilos of flour. Note that I do not recommend those bread machines or other specialized gadgets. The crockpot(slowcooker) has been the only countertop gadget that saved me money so far.
I agree with everything you say except for the not recommending a bread machine. I have used one for years,put it on at night and wake to fresh bread each day. I have 3 near adult children so it is saving me heaps and is soooo yum. We make wholegrain and add herbs etc from the garden. It is proving much cheaper than purchased bread.
DebH576 years ago
Great ideas Chicken, you provide a lot to think about.
KentsOkay6 years ago
Hey not bad! Suggestion? I bit more conclusive ending, summarizing what's learned...
Chicken2209 (author)  KentsOkay6 years ago
well you learned time is money right?
well then why waste your time reading what you just learned, I mean, you know what you just learned right?
If not, read it again.....
jk
That is the best response I've seen in forever!
:P
DJ Radio6 years ago
You put in your 2 cents, I put in my 50 cent:
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I don't know if you've ever tried it, but tofu REALLY picks up the flavor of whatever it was cooked with. [I don't eat meat but] A good friend of mine told me that when his times were really tight, he would plan the protein in his meals to be about 1 part meat to 4 parts tofu. I buy tofu at my local Asian market for $1.20 a pound. If you want to try it, just remember to buy firm or extra firm tofu; most people who hate the stuff have just had bad experience with the squishier varieties. (:
on a side note, I always forget that when i type in brackets it becomes a link.
Derin6 years ago
nice
Chicken2209 (author)  Derin6 years ago
thanks