Today’s guest post is from Reduction Rebel, Tonya Kristina from Zenatco. If you are not familiar with her site, it’s beautiful (yes, I said beautiful) and it’s saturated with helpful ways to bring balance and goodness into your life. With that, I’ll turn it over to Tonya Kristina…
As creatures of habit, it’s easy to take for granted a routine based on the “norms” of what you’ve always seen, always known, and always done. Most of us don’t, however, take our bills and expenses for granted. If you think you’ve done all you can to switch up routines that might help trim down your budget, check out these “outside of the box” ways to cut back on typical household purchases:
The Once-A-Year Garbage Bag Purchase
From tots to teens to myself and the hub, we total a seven person household. We take our indoor garbage to the garage trash can – in a closed bag – every day. Yet, we only buy a box of garbage bags once a year. How? When I grocery shop, I always ask the cashier to bag my groceries with “paper in plastic.” Besides the fact that I could write a paragraph alone on why I prefer “paper in plastic” for my groceries, I’ll just get on with telling you that we actually use those brown paper bags as an “insert” for the garbage can. The 13-gallon “tall” plastic garbage bags are more like a “liner,” which only needs to be changed once a week or so. After dinner each day, we roll the top down on the paper bag and carry it out to the trash. If there’s something wet at the bottom of the bag, we just sacrifice the plastic garbage bag and start fresh with a new one. We find ourselves changing the plastic “liner” bag more often around the holidays, when we have parties and company for dinner… and sometimes even give up the paper concept for those occasions altogether. Even counting those additional changings, a box of 80 high-quality “tall” 13-gallon/standard capacity garbage bags, costing around $10 according to WalMart’s website, will last well over a year.
Parties, holidays, big family dinners and things of the sort often (if not inevitably) leave the host/chef/baker mentally, physically and financially exhausted. That’s surely why most of us get so very excited when we realize there are plenty of leftovers. Of course, packing up lasagna, putting rolls into freezer bags, keeping cookies in a sealed container… we all do that, right? However, convincing everyone to finish off the veggie tray or eat the basket of fruit before it all begins to turn – is not always so easy. This is the time to get creative! I made “creamy veggie tray soup” out of my last tray of veggie leftovers. Knowing we had plenty of other leftovers, I let the soup cool after cooking in the crockpot, then froze it in freezer bags for easy weekday dinners. Leftover carrots can be cooked in a little butter and honey as a delicious side dish. Add some ground beef to baked beans and you have a delicious crockpot dinner dish! Give your kids some celery sticks dipped in peanut butter. Turn your party leftovers into snack cupboard additions by investing in a dehydrator to make apple chips, banana chips with sea salt, fruit strips and more.
Make Your Own Cleaning Products
The plethora of cleaning products with amazing scents, combined with the apparent simplicity of grabbing a household cleaner from store shelves, makes the concept of “homemade” cleaning products seem elementary, old-fashioned and seemingly tacky. This is definitely an area of frugal living where value and expense vs practical usability should be tested, compared and well thought out, because what works for one person’s home may not work out so well for the next. For example, vinegar is super cheap, great for cleaning just about anything and everything, and by adding a drop of lemon juice, the sharp smell is offset by a pleasant lemony scent. However, some people find it doesn’t do the job well enough to justify the price cut. I recently used a combination of olive oil and apple cider vinegar to clean and shine my kitchen cupboards. Not only did they look amazingly clean and glossed, but old scratches were nearly invisible. If I had bought a wood cleaner capable of doing what the oil/vinegar combination had done, I’d have easily paid three times the cost of the apple cider vinegar and a small bottle of olive oil. Homemade laundry detergent has its ups and downs, but this is also a matter of preference. To read about my own experience with this piece of frugality, as well as the variations I have settled on to keep it worth my while, read here: http://zenatco.com/category/frugal-living/money-saving/
Finding ways to spend less money often means testing and trying new ways of doing everyday things. Rest assured that you are not alone in stepping outside of the comfort zone… after all, how many people have had “veggie tray soup” for dinner? Yet – endless online reviews give it a standing ovation. What works for one will certainly not work for all, but if you are eager to trim your household budget, remember that every little frugal adjustment adds up. As the saying goes – “nothing changes if nothing changes.”
Tonya Kristina is a freelance writer and owner of www.zenatco.com, a multi-faceted blogzine devoted to life development by producing articles, audios and videos that help people of all ages and stages “step outside of the circle” to find “balance beyond the box.”