Did your latest savings campaign end slowly, dribbling to a halt as you realized you weren’t saving as much money as you wanted or needed to?
It happens to all of us – good intentions and determined willpower slowly fade as we fail to meet our savings objectives. With the right tools, however, maintaining budget-friendly habits and systems is infinitely easier. Support your financial ambitions and save more money by stocking your home, workspace and vehicle with the money-saving items shared here.
Around the home:
Running ceiling fans counterclockwise in the summer and clockwise in the winter can lower both your cooling and heating bills. The rotation disperses cooled or heated air, meaning less energy is required to establish and maintain the desired temperature in the space. During moderate heat, the increased air flow from a ceiling fan may mean that you don’t even need to run your air conditioner. Your budget will thank you, as your utility bill takes a nose dive. Don’t know how to change the direction on your fan? Get up on a ladder and take a look – most have a switch on the side – or call the manufacturer directly.
UV-blocking curtains can drastically reduce both your heating and cooling bills. Now, energy-efficient curtains are available in a variety of colors and patterns, so you can find them to match any decor in local home goods or even hardware stores. Live somewhere particularly frigid in the winter? Put up liners during cold months to lock heat in even more effectively. No matter what kind of curtains you have, remember to keep them drawn during particularly warm spells.
Reduced-flow Shower heads
Look for a shower head that allows you to select the flow rate, or one that automatically adjusts. While it can be a pain to try to rinse shampoo out of long hair with inadequate water, you simply don’t need a high rate of flow for most needs. Families in particular can save hundreds of dollars each year by installing reduced-flow heads into each of their bathrooms.
Toilets with Options
Think it takes the same amount of water to flush #1 and #2? You’re right – it doesn’t, and if you’ve never thought about it, time you should! While graphic, the amount of water used in your toilets each year adds up on your bill. For about $100, you can install toilets with dual flush options, which means you don’t have to use extra water unless you need it.
Grocery and Shopping Bags
Regularly ponying up $10 for small trash can liners for bathrooms, laundry rooms, or guest rooms? Use grocery bags instead. They’re the perfect size, reusing them is good for the environment, and you already paid for them when you made your purchase. Grocery bags can also be used to clean up after your pet at the park, or stock your car for emergency spills.
Whether your home is full of kid’s toys that eat batteries alive, or you need to fuel flashlights, smoke detectors, appliances, and more, rechargeable batteries make a lot of sense. While they may require frequent recharging, they will save you over the long run. Bonus benefit: no more grunts of frustration when you realize that you are out of the type of battery you need. Remember to unplug chargers when they are not in use; anything plugged in will use energy that you pay for.
Clothes drying rack
Your dryer requires electricity, which can raise your utility bill sky high. Keep the bill in check by doing a bit o’ good for the environment by drying your clothes on a rack or line. Folding drying racks can be found at any home goods or superstore. Or, hang a rod and line with materials readily found at hardware stores.
In Your Kitchen:
Heading out with friends this weekend? Instead of meeting at a restaurant, stock a cooler with items from the grocery store and picnic at a local beach, garden, or park. Coolers really pay off for families who stock them with food from home and bring them to local entertainment venues. Many zoos, aquariums and parks allow you to bring your own food.
Insulated lunch box
Brown-bagging it during the week is a whole lot more attractive (and safe) when cheeses, meats, sandwich materials, fruits, and vegetables are kept at an appetizing and safe temperature for lunch-time consumption. Look for a soft shell bag that can be compressed to fit inside a large purse or briefcase post-lunch. Keep your lunch box in your car when not in use, to make it easy to slide leftovers into when you grab dinner on the go.
Make the daily runs to Starbucks a thing of the past, and save hundreds, if not thousands, every year. Brewing that cup o’ joe at home in the company of friends could also provide a substitute for costly weekend brunches or catch-up coffees, as well. For added convenience, select a model that allows you to set a brew time, and wake up to that coffee aroma you love.
Insulated Beverage Container
Take your second (or third, or fourth) morning cups of coffee on the road with you in an insulated beverage container. Bonus: that same container can hold smoothies, soups, and other items you prepare yourself to save money.
Make your own smoothies, juices, baby foods, and more with a heavy-duty blender. Not only will you save money, but you can ensure you get that flavor you like exactly right, every time. Earn extra savings points by only blending with in-season fruits and vegetables to lower your grocery bill even further.
Think you don’t have time to cook? Toss meat and vegetables in the pot in the morning, turn it to low, and have a delicious meal waiting when you get back from work. Extras can be frozen for another day, meaning yet another meal you won’t have to cook for.
Glass Food Storage Containers
Available in a variety of sizes, glass storage containers are the healthiest way to store leftovers. Anytime you cook at home, cook extra – not only will you have plenty to toss in that fancy lunchbox the next day, but preparing food in larger quantities means you can buy it in larger volume and take advantage of bulk discounts.
Deep Freezer, or refrigerator with large freezer capacity
Having hefty freezing capabilities means you can buy and cook in bulk, then freeze. Can’t see yourself ever using pounds of meat or gallons of soup? Split bulk-buying costs with a friend, and ask them to chip in a few dollars to use your freezer.
Create a grocery list as you run out of items, as well as any other items you need to stock up. Stick to the list during weekly errands to minimize impulse spending; numerous studies show that shopping with a list can drastically cut your bill.
In Your Office:
File Folder, Envelope, Paper Clips, Binder
… or whatever is most useful to you in tracking and logging receipts for all purchases and expenditures. You can’t save more effectively, if you don’t know where your money is going in the first place. Analyze your spending habits at several points during the month to allow for time to correct for any wayward expenditures. At the end of each month, scrutinize ways to improve your savings rate even more.
Internet at Home
Shop online retailers, or the online warehouses of your favorite stores, for virtual discounts and deals. Don’t want to shell out more for wireless? Talk to your phone provider – many smartphones can be used as a hub, within the limits of your data plan.
“Smart” Power Strips
If you use a computer at home, or run multiple devices like a laptop, printer, stereo, and so on from your desk, this item is a “must have.” The power strip focuses power usage on the devices you’re actually using, reducing the energy sent to the others and negating “phantom charge.” While some consider unplugging energy from gadgets you’re not actually using to be a waste of time, consider that the charges aren’t so “phantom” when they show up on your bill.
In Your Living Room:
In-Home Entertainment Subscription
Regularly shelling out $25 to see the latest movie on the big screen? For far less, you can have unlimited entertainment at home through Netflix or similar entertainment options. At-home entertainment can also be a great option for a date night or fun evening in with friends that saves you all money.
In Your Garage and Yard:
Patio or In-Ground Garden
Whether it’s a single planter with basic herbs on a windowsill, pots of tomatoes on your porch, or an extensive in-ground plot, gardening will cut your produce bill. Having plants around may also reduce stress and improve the overall quality of your living environment, cutting doctor’s bills and the need for that stress-busters class you pay for each week.
Loose Change Jar
Every penny you lose is a penny that could be spent reducing debt, contributed to an emergency fund, or otherwise constructively employed. Keep track of them and give yourself a visually encouraging boost with a loose change jar in an easily accessible location. Decide how you’ll use the money before you toss in the coins, and delight at how quickly it adds up.
In Your Wallet:
Make Barnes & Noble (and their expensive, tempting coffee bar) a thing of the past by checking out books at your local library. Many libraries also maintain subscriptions to popular magazines. While you may not be able to check them out, you can enjoy them at the library.
Membership to a Warehouse or Bulk Discount Club
If you turn up your nose at the thought of bulk shopping, it might be high time to check out your nearest Costco or Sam’s Club. These retailers often carry organics, clothing, household goods, furniture, and office supplies. If you truly can’t use anything in bulk, or lack room to store it, split the membership with a friend and buy items you both use, together.
Bonus Savings if You Have:
A Friend or Co-Worker Willing to Ride Share
Always drive yourself? Consider teaming up with a friend during weekend outings, or better yet, find a coworker who can help your commute. You’ll save money in gas, mileage-based insurance and, over time, vehicle maintenance.
Thirsty for more tips and tricks? Check out these 55 Practical Ways to Save Money Efficiently.
Featured photo credit: Kristina Zuidema via flickr.com