Monday, February 2, 2009

Spending Money to Save Money

What in the world?

Yes, sometimes you need to spend some of your money to save money in the long haul. You know how you buy the cheapest rake you can find at the hardware store, only to have it break in the first week. If you would have spent a little more money up front, you would have gotten a higher quality rake, and it would have lasted the whole season. Same kind of thing. How to spend you money wisely, to help it save you money in the end.

1. CFL Light bulbs. Everybody now pretty much knows the wonders of CFL light bulbs. They do conserve energy, therefore saving you money on your electric bill. I have CFL's in every socket that has a CFL size to fit it. I bought them throughout the year when they went on sale. They are still more expensive that traditional light bulbs, but they are worth it. Watch your monthly electric bill after installing a few of them. You will notice the usage go down. The first rooms I put mine in were the kids rooms. They always forget to turn their lights off, so they were the most used light fixtures. I then expanded from there.

2. The Sunday newspaper. Whether you have a subscription or buy it at the store every week, a serious money saver needs the Sunday paper. They obviously have all the coupons every week, but they also have the ads to see where the best deals are for that week too. There are grocery store coupons, and coupons for craft stores too. My youngest son loves Thomas the Train. Some of the best advice I got was to use the Michael's 40% off one item coupon every week to go buy one Thomas the Train wooden train. I didn't go every week, but by the time his birthday came, I had a huge set to give him, all at 40% off. It also works great on craft kits for girls birthday presents!

3. "Real" Dinner Plates. Going green is very chic right now, but it is a way to save money too. Get out of the habit of buying paper plates, cup or disposable silverware. They are bad for the environment and bad for your wallet. I went to Ikea and bought a set of dishes at $.59/plate, $.49/bowl and three sets of silverware for $3.99 each. I have a serving for 24 now. They are not fancy, they are just plain white and off-white. But when I have dinner parties, birthday parties, or neighbors over for a BBQ, my plates match, and they are re-washable. It cost a little upfront, but is better for everybody in the end. Don't have an Ikea by you, remember to check out thrift stores. Stick with a color theme, and they don't have to match. It would be very eclectic to have a little girls birthday party with all different pink dinner plates. Not to mention fun to shop and find them all. Just remember to not spend alot on a single plate, check for chips and wash right away when you get them home.

4. No Throw Lunches. My kids have been having no-throw lunches for over a year now. Now that I am back to work full-time, I have them every day too. Basically, your goal is to not have anything to throw away after you are done eating your lunch. So you need, a re-usable lunch bag/box, sandwich holder or wrap-n-mat, real silverware (thrift store), cloth napkins (thrift store), and plastic containers to store different food in. The best part is, once you buy the different size plastic containers, you can buy things in bulk. I have bought canned fruit, apple sauce and chocolate pudding in huge cans. You just divide them out to the smaller containers and pop them in the crisper drawer. It makes it faster to pack a lunch that way too. If you can, remember your beverage containers too. Small thermos for milk, water bottle for water or lemonade, metal coffee cups for coffee or cocoa. If you have a pop, just please recycle the can.

5. Home Energy Audit. This is one of my goals this spring. If you go to your providers web site, and see if they offer home energy audits. We have Center Point Energy in my city. They offer a basic audit for just $25.00, or a High Performance Audit for just $100. You can click on the link above to see everything that they do in the audit. I am actually a energy saving freak, and I am very excited about doing this. They will show you how to save your money in heating and cooling your house. Think of all the money you could save.

6. Insulation. This kind of ties into the energy audit. But if you don't have enough insulation in your attic, you are literally losing money every second. Stop trying to heat the outside of your house, check out if you have enough insulation today. There are also many kinds of eco-friendly insulation out there, more than there ever were before.

7. Power Strips. This is something that we started last fall. Each TV in the bedrooms now is attached to a power strip. Everything except the clocks are attached to power strips too. That way we can completely turn off the small appliance that are sucking electricity. I turn off the computers that way every night too. It is a habit you need to get into. But once again, you will instantly see the difference on your electric bill. Ours cut down at least 25% the first month!

8. Female Products. I am going to do a whole post in the future about this. Female products are an area that nobody like to have to spend money on, but we all need them. I personally use a Moon Cup that I purchased for $35. I have sewn my own pantyliner too. Most people have a very strong opinion one way or the other about these types of products. If reusable products are not for you, that is fine, but try to be open minded about them. They do cost more money upfront, but think about never having to buy a box of tampons again. I do, however have a whole shelf devoted to disposable products that I have gotten free or next to free. After all, my daughter is 11, and things will be changing soon for her. And her friends sleep over all the time. I will not force things onto my daughter, it will be her choice what she will want to use. And I would never force these products onto her friends. What is right for me, is not what is right for all. Watch for a post coming soon about how to make your own pantyliner and pads.

Well, that's the bulk of my list I came up with. There are obviously hundreds of other things out there to help you save money in the long run. What are some things that worked for you? What are something that did not? We can all learn from each other where to invest our money, and what thing to not waste our money on.

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A blog about living within your means in todays world, while being married, raising three kids, working full-time, and trying not to go crazy in the process.