I am a huge fan of modern conveniences. I sincerely do not think that I would have survived during the “olden days”. The amount of work required during Biblical times to put food on the table and clothes on your children’s backs just sounds utterly exhausting. I’m not saying I’m lazy, except, I am. But seriously, if I can pay someone else to do something for me that I don’t enjoy doing myself, than I am all for that. The problem is that money is in very limited supply, but my ability to do things is not nearly as limited, its just my desire that struggles. However, I also desire to pay my bills on time and feed my family, so sometimes my desires just need to suck it up and do things that I would rather hire someone else to do.
I’m sure you all know where I’m coming from. And if money is unlimited in your household then live it up for my sake. Take advantage of your unlimited money supplies and pay people, like me, to do anything and everything you don’t want to do. For the rest of us, here is my list of ideas of things that we could try to do for ourselves, at least a little more often, so we can save some of our limited money supply for more important things like food and shelter.
I know, I’m starting with a really hard one. Especially since I just got my hair professionally done two weeks ago and I’m so in love with it. Prior to a couple weeks ago, I haven’t been to a salon for a proper cut and color for probably a year! I used to spend nearly $200 every 6 weeks like clockwork to have my girl do my hair. I felt amazing. It was so pretty. I got compliments all the time. I never did any drastic changes, but we’d switch things up just enough to keep me excited. Oh, it was so wonderful. And then I had children and $200 was no longer available because children need things like diapers and food and clothes. Ugh!
I understand that this is a hard one, especially if you are addicted to your amazing stylist. I’d just like to suggest that we could tone things down a little bit and get a really affordable cut at your local beauty college or quick clip shop and top it off with a boxed dye job. Or maybe just skip the fancy, expensive salon coloring and just let your stylist work her magic on the much cheaper hair cuts. This can feel extreme and hard core. It can get boring, it can be scary, but $200 is a whole lot of money to spend every couple of months. So just think about it.
And if not for yourself, think of your children. If you haven’t purchased yourself some clippers and hair cutting shears to cut your children’s hair, then get thyself to the store. If your kids are young, you really don’t need to spend a lot of money on getting their hair cut, just head outside and clip away. Or take them to the beauty college or cheap hair cuttery if you don’t trust your own skills. But they certainly don’t need to go to the same fancy salon that you do.
2. Cleaning products
I’ve talked about this one before. This is one of the easiest ways to save money. You don’t need to spend $4 a bottle on that fancy eco-friendly glass cleaner when cheap vinegar and water can shine your glass for mere pennies! You can find my recipes for all natural, homemade cleaning products on this post. I also have a recipe for homemade laundry detergent that you can find here. I haven’t bought laundry detergent in years and my homemade supplies cost me a few bucks a few times a year.
3. Manicures and Pedicures
This one is much easier than hair. Many of you probably already do it. For many, many years I would go every two weeks to have my nails done. I loved my acrylics. They made me feel so pretty! And my husband really liked my pretty nails, so of course I needed them to please him! Until I realized that I could save myself nearly $1000 a year (not to mention that it took me 52 hours a year of driving and sitting in the chair for my nail addiction) if I would break up with my amazing nail technician and fancy nails. Now I’m terrible about doing my own nails, but fortunately my daughter is starting to really enjoy getting her nails done, so doing our own manicures and pedicures is a really fun (and cheap) mommy and daughter activity.
4. Clean your own House
I’m putting this on here because it’s good advice, but I will not, cannot, will die if you make me break up with my house cleaner. However, paying for someone else to clean my house is quite a bit more expensive than my nail habit was, and my house cleaner is really affordable compared to others. So, sometimes sanity wins out over money savings, but if you really need to cut your budget and you have a house cleaner, this is something to consider. If your children are older than this is kind of a no-brainer. My momma taught me that the purpose of having children is to have house cleaners living in residence. Put those kids to work!
Sometimes homemade gifts are much more special, meaningful, and valuable than that quick gift you grabbed off the store shelf and shoved in a bag. And they are usually much easier on the wallet! There are lots of options for DIY gifts, some require some pretty good crafting skills, but there are many for the craft-challenged. Ideas include homemade candles, face scrubs, food mixes in a fancy jar (brownie or cake mix), knit, crochet, or hand-sewn items, scrapbooks, soaps, and many other items. Pinterest is an amazing resource for coming up with DIY gift ideas. You can also browse Etsy to spur your creative juices for things that you could make for a friend or relative. Another great gift idea is to provide a service instead of an item. Offer free babysitting to your tired mom friend or make a meal for a sick relative. You can expand this idea with your kids and give them a coupon book for things like “stay up an extra 15 minutes late”, “watch one extra TV show”, or “get out of chores free”.
6. Minor House Repairs
I’m pretty useless at the Mr. Fix It/Handyman kind of stuff, but fortunately, my husband is great at this kind of stuff. We have saved a lot of money by doing many things for ourselves that others have to call for help. Google and YouTube are an amazing resource these days, so if you need something done around your house and don’t know how to do it, see if you can do a little research to learn how to do it yourself before you call your expensive handyman or repair company. Whether it be fixing a small plumbing issue, freshening up your paint, or installing a new ceiling fan, you just might be able to figure it out all by yourself (or with your handy husband).
7. Bug and Pest Removal
Businesses might need to call an actual bug/pest company on a regular basis to spray around their facility to keep the critters away. Their livelihood and success depends on keeping out the yucky pets. However, there are gazillions of products on the market for your home that work just fine. I work in my mostly unfinished basement, so I understand that bugs and pests in your own home are very unwelcome and not fun to deal with, but please don’t call an expensive bug spraying company. I found this amazing Raid Bug Barrier spray that works really well and is so easy to use.
8. Coffee and Fancy Drinks
Do you have a regular Starbucks habit? Are you constantly stopping by McDonald’s for your daily soda? Have you ever calculated how much money you spend on your drinking habits? I know they taste good! But would a tropical vacation on the beach be more enjoyable to you than a Diet Coke? Brew your own coffee, buy some coffee flavoring syrups for your home or office, add some milk and voila! Fancy coffee drink on the cheap. Sure, it might not be exactly the same, but I promise the money savings will be worth it. And if you’re a soda drinker, just stop! Or if you must, ration yourself to special occasions or 2 liters.
9. Movie Theater
Redbox or Netflix, a box of popcorn, a bag of candy, and a couple two liters and wouldn’t you know, you’ve made yourself your own theater experience right in your living room for a few bucks. Sure, you might not be able to see the very latest films and you might not have that giant screen, but again, tropical vacation or ice cold, noisy theater?
10. Air Fresheners
Are you a glade plug in addict? Or are you more of a modern woman and you’ve switched over to Scentsy bars? Did you know that you don’t really need either? Now, I understand smelly houses. I have a dog and a baby still in stinky diapers. I’m just saying that air fresheners aren’t really required and especially aren’t needed for everyday use. However, if you feel that you need regular air freshening in your home, try the saucepan trick. Put some water with orange peels, cinnamon, spices, maybe a tiny dribble of vanilla extract on your stove and breathe in the goodness. You could also put a drop of your favorite essential oils in some water or olive oil in your scent warmer to freshen up a room. Essential oils can get expensive, but many scents are reasonably cost effective when you realize you’re only using a drop or two at a time. Another idea is to create an essential oil air freshening spray with water, alcohol, and a few drops of your favorite oil. You could put out small bowls of lemon and baking soda, or freshly ground coffee, or if your garden is blooming snip a few flowers and herbs to bring indoors for a pretty and fragrant display. There are many ways to freshen your home, naturally and cheaply.
You don’t need a personal trainer, a coach, or even a gym membership to get in shape. You don’t need to spend money on fancy equipment or workout DVD’s either. All you really need is your own body and a little bit of willpower. I suppose a decent pair of shoes and a sports bra would be handy too, but there’s no reason to get carried away. The internet has thousands of no equipment workout instructions, videos, and ideas if you have no idea how to get started. Go for a walk, or maybe even a run. Dust off that bike in your garage. Do some good old fashioned jumping jacks and push ups. You can start on Pinterest and search for HIIT or Tabata workouts if your time is limited. HIIT workouts are generally really short (4-10 minutes) but incredibly intense for maximum impact in a short amount of time. Another great resource that I’ve found is Fitness Blender where you can access tons of free full length workout videos to guide you. There are also plenty of other workout videos available on YouTube. If you need to save money, don’t let that be an excuse for not working out. You really can work out for free, anywhere.
There are all sorts of ways to save money. The hard part, I’m learning is the lady in the mirror. Changing our thought patterns and habits from “I want everything that makes life easier, simpler, better, etc” to thoughts and habits of frugality and saving money is hard. But the more we try it out and flex those frugal muscles, the stronger they become. And I’m thinking, hoping, and praying that strong frugal muscles leads to a much less stressful budget experience.