Dollar Stretcher: Appliance savings
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Lawn tool storage
Here's a really cheap way to keep rakes, shovels, and brooms organized. Just put three cement blocks on top of each other with the openings facing up. Now drop your tool handle down into the openings!
My solution for storing excess stuff? It isn't to rent one of those storage lockers. It's to get rid of some stuff! It might just cost $80 a month, but that's nearly $1,000 a year! For that much, I can replace a lot of the stuff that I would be storing.
My higher interest rates
Nobody likes paying high interest rates on credit card balances, but I've found a way to make a higher rate help me save money. Each month, I see how much interest I've been charged. Then I make sure I add that much to the minimum payment I make. It forces me to pay a higher interest rate, but it also helps me reduce the balance.
Back to school buses
Every school bus driver will tell you that they find and turn in lunch boxes, backpacks, sneakers, and all kinds of stuff each week. Now is the time to make sure that you include your child's name in any item that you'd want returned. Do not include phone numbers. The school already has your number. Bad guys who might pick up the backpack don't.
A friend who installs carpet gave me this advice when we bought new carpet for our living room. He said that I should have a few pieces bound and use them as runners in front of the door. He said that it would save the carpet under the runner. Also, the runner piece would be a good patch if I ever needed to do a repair somewhere in the room.
Before you buy: cleansers
Before you buy any household cleansers, you should read the labels. For instance, OxiClean does a good job of cleaning, but the main ingredient is dry bleach, which is super cheap. Why pay for the advertising? Most cleaners contain only a few chemicals that are readily available. I save a lot just by reading labels and buying the active ingredients.
Before you buy: appliances
My washer was on its last legs. We priced new ones at Lowe's and online and didn't like the prices we were seeing. Therefore, I started watching for used sales. I found a washer and dryer combination that was just one year old for half of what a new set would have cost. The couple was moving and didn't want to pay to move them. Next time I need any expensive thing, I'll check used before buying new.
Before you buy: clothes
Unless you're really well organized, you probably have a corner of your closet with clothes that you haven't worn in forever. I needed to make room for the new selections, so I cleared out some stuff from the back. I found that there were a few things that I hadn't worn in awhile but I still liked. I gave away the things that I wouldn't wear, but added my old favorites to my regular choices. I didn't need to spend nearly as much as I thought on new clothes!
In case of emergency
We all know to put our "in case of emergency" numbers in our phone, but that's not enough. My daughter-in-law gave me a little thumb drive that I have on my keychain. On the outside, it's marked "ICE." It has my vital information with all my current meds, allergies, and doctors listed. Also, I included my current insurance information and who to contact if something should happen. It's in a text file, so anyone can read it. It's also easy to update. I haven't had a need for it yet, but I'm glad it's there if I need it.
Doing it backwards
Sometimes starting at the end is the best way to save money. At least that's what we do in our house. We already were saving by sticking to a shopping list when we went grocery shopping. Then we decided to try something new. We created an "unshopping list," which is a list of things that we would not buy! Initially it was things like the Big Gulp and a treat at Starbucks, but we've expanded the list. The money we save has been going towards our credit card balance. It's coming down! We can't wait to get it paid off!
We're getting a bumper crop of tomatoes this year. I'm freezing all that I can get my hands on. I put them on a cookie sheet where they're not touching and freeze overnight. From there, they go into a freezer bag for storage. When I have some time, I'll run them under hot water for a minute and then pull off the skin. After doing this, I will be able to easily make some tomato sauce.
We keep our chest freezer organized with plastic storage containers. I have one for beef, one for pork, and one for veggies. The containers make it easy to find anything without a lot of searching. Before I had the containers, it was impossible to keep organized. Every time I looked for something, I'd end up with everything once again disorganized. It got so I didn't even want to use my freezer. Now it's easy to find what I need and put everything back in its place.
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