At times I'll have searched out or happened upon an article about "10 Things You Can Do to Save Money" or "7 Things You Can Cut Out to Save Money". I excitedly opened them only to realize that I was already doing most of things suggested...but I still needed to find ways to save money.
We already don't have cable/satellite TV. We don't have credit cards to pay on. We own our car, and are a one car family. We shop at thrift stores. No gym membership. Small house. No coffee runs on the way to work. Cheaper phones and phone plans.
But sometimes we still need to save a little more each month, and we've found a few small things that have helped us to save some extra pennies and dollars.
1. Toilet Paper.
I know, weird. But really! This is one we found out by accident while living in Silver City. I was making a very fast grocery run and knew we needed toilet paper, so I zipped down the tissue aisle, grabbed a 24 pack and raced on with my day. It wasn't until I was home and had put new rolls in the bathrooms that I realized I'd bought the 1 ply. And not just any one ply...the most one-plyest one ply. Maybe even a half-ply. But it was bought and opened, so we decided to just use it and get a new pack when it ran out.
We didn't buy toilet paper again for 6 months!! That's how long it lasted! And we didn't skimp on usage. No 3-square rule here. We were using it liberally. At first it was weird...but we got used to it. And haven't switched back since then. We pay $2.22 for a 4 pack (1 ply, 1000 sheets a roll, Great Value Brand) and that lasts us a little over a month. That's only $26.64 a year!!
A 4 pack of nice Charmin is twice as much and lasts half as long. Even the Angel Soft brand tissue, which is definitely cheaper than Charmin, ends up being about $5 a month with their 4 pack and it only lasts about 3 weeks.
Our kitchen faucet puts out about 1/2 a gallon of cold water before the hot water reaches us. The bathtub puts out about a gallon of cold before the hot comes in. We started saving this water rather than having it go down the drain. We keep a gallon pitcher by the sink to catch the cool water and use that for our drinking water, water for food prep (when we need to boil water, add water in a recipe or give something a quick rinse), watering plants, and filling the washing machine. This drops our monthly water bill by $8-10.
3. Clothesline Drying in Good Weather
If it's not raining, freezing, or dust storming, we dry our clothes on the line outside. According to this article, on average you can save almost $10 an hour by line drying rather than using the clothes dryer. I'm not quite as fast as she is, so we may only save $5 an hour, but still...that's pretty good!
4. Wear our clothes more than once per wash
This may gross some people out, but really we don't see a reason for washing clothes that really aren't dirty. So at the end of the day if the clothes we have worn aren't stinky, have food/dirt/smears on them, and don't look limp and dingy than we put them away to wear them again before washing. Generally Darrow's clothes get washed after one wearing...because toddlers are not clean. But Cameron and I can often get away with it with most things. Not always, and not every item, but many. This keeps colors from fading as fast, cuts down on the amount of laundry (which saves money and time, and time is money!), and is easier on the clothes. We don't wear the same shirt for 4 days before changing or washing, don't worry.
5. Split Garbage Fees with the Neighbor
To get a dumpster at the end of the driveway would be $25 a month. We don't generate enough trash to fill a dumpster. So once a week I'd haul all the garbage to the household use bin at the dump (the free one). It was free, but often I'd get dribbles in the car that I'd have to clean up. And that was gross. Once a bag leaked on a blanket and I couldn't get the stain out. Our neighbors noticed and offered to let us share their dumpster, because they don't generate enough garbage to fill it either.
If you have more of something than you need (space, garden produce, eggs from chickens, etc.), think about sharing the excess with your neighbor (either for free, or splitting the cost). It'll be cheaper for you and them, and it could turn out to be a blessing for you both!
So none of these 5 things we do will make us millionaires in 3 years, but they help! That's money we can put in savings. That's money we can have a fun family day in town with. That's money that can go towards bills. Whatever we decide to do with it, it's nice to have a little bit of excess sometimes!