If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’re already a pro at learning how to cultivate delicious, creative, and downright decadent recipes and meal-hacks in affordable ways that never compromise on taste. That’s a given! With a few tricks and the proper know-how, it’s easy to feed your family on a budget; amazing, healthful and filling meals that are every bit as scrumptious as they are healthy.
Wouldn’t you like to do the same for other areas of your life? You can!
Food is just one area in which you can cut corners and learn to adapt recipes, techniques and habits to something that saves you money without compromising on what’s important to you. If you watch a lot of ads on television or the internet, you might think you need this or that expensive product for your everyday life, but it’s not true. Most of it is smoke and mirrors, and there’s hardly any product out there that can’t be recreated, repurposed or substituted. There are myriad ways to live comfortably while saving money and still enjoying all the same things you always did. In many cases, you can even give back to others who are in need while helping yourself along. Doesn’t that sound like a great way to live?
Below are just a few of the ways in which you can adapt your lifestyle to a budget, with easy hacks and tips for yourself and your community:
DIY/Make Your Own
Honestly? Depending on your skill level/your unique set of talents and interests, this could apply to almost anything. But it especially applies to household items, those everyday things we always buy at the grocery store that add up to a ton of money. Things like laundry detergents, household cleaners, soaps and shampoos, fragrances and air fresheners. Even the moderately priced items all begin to add up and take a chunk out of your monthly budget if you take the time to do the math. Did you know you can create all of these items and more yourself, saving yourself tons of green as well as storage space in your home, AND with the added benefit of all-natural, delicious smelling ingredients that you control, making things safer for your family? You can!
For example, did you know you can create your own delicious smelling, super heavy duty laundry detergent using just borax, a little fragrance and a few other ingredients? There are tons of recipes out there, all of which yield a huge amount of detergent for pennies on the dollar; it’s organic, it’s safe, it smells yummy and it will save you SO much money, while getting your laundry cleaner than you’ve ever seen it.
Kitchen cleaners can be made with water, white vinegar, and your favorite essential oil blend to leave your counters clean and smelling fresh. Never pay for expensive cleaner again. All you need is a cheap spray bottle and your favorite fragrances.
You can create your own shampoos and soaps, as well as fragrances, detanglers, conditioners and even deodorant, with a combination of ingredients like glycerin and vitamin E oil, which are readily available and affordable, mixed with your favorite essential oil or other body-safe fragrances.
Imagine all the cash you’ll save if you try a couple of hand-made cleaners/detergents for just one month!
It’s the first thing well-meaning people always say when you mention trying to save money. “Have you given up your netflix and coffees?” Well, actually, no. Nor should you have to! Giving up things in the interest of saving money is a noble goal, but self-care is important as well, which means that you should be able to still enjoy things even when saving money. Rather than giving things up entirely, instead try and streamline your budget by choosing one or two apps that you just can’t live without, or better yet, bundle services to save you on monthly bills. Take advantage of trial offers and free months/weeks.
When it comes to cell phones/wireless, many people complain about the exorbitant costs associated with their phone plans. For good reason, too. It’s rare to find a cell phone plan that isn’t at least a hundred bucks a month; most are much more than that. Not to mention the cost of upgrading a phone, with iPhones running into the thousands of dollars and accessories like airpods or chargers costing a small fortune (and needing to be replaced every two days, it seems like). This is why many people are choosing to go with pay-as-you-go or by the month phone plans like SMARTY. These options are no-contract, which means you aren’t beholden to any company and can switch at any time. Upfront costs are more because you’ll need to buy your phone, but even this is a huge money saver in the long run. One payment, and you own the phone. No two years spent paying off that latest iPhone. The cost of monthly plans, even for unlimited, are much cheaper than their contract counterparts. And you can choose everything, from the type of plan you want to the phone itself.
We’ve talked about making your own household products; how about other things you can make?
A big one is clothing. Taking the time to learn to sew (with sewing machines being surprisingly affordable there’s no reason not to try!) can be intensely rewarding and save you lots of money. Sewing is a lucrative skill that will serve you well. Patterns can be found free online or for pennies on the dollar at craft shops, outlet stores and even thrift stores. YouTube videos can teach you many skills, and once you’ve got it down you can repair old clothing to breathe new life into it, as well as design and make new items. You could even go into business doing altering!
Clothing is just one thing that you can make. Crafted items is a hot new trend that has been around for a few years now. Many people are getting into the art of making sustainable clothing, fun trinkets, eye-catching jewelry, art, toys, and so much more. Is there something you enjoy making? A unique talent you possess? Have you always wanted to go into business for yourself? Why not start a side venture selling your unique crafts?
If selling your wares isn’t your cup of tea, you can always just stay crafty around the home. Taking the time to repair broken items rather than tossing them can save you so much money and you’ll feel pride in knowing that you’ve salvaged something. Everyday items that can be repaired and fixed include things like upholstery, carpets, shoes, clothing, appliances, and so much more. These days, there’s nothing you can’t fix without the help of a video online or a book checked out of the library.
Libraries and other Forms of Borrowing
Since we’re on the subject of libraries…do you have a library card? If not, you should get one ASAP. For those who can’t afford streaming services and online entertainment, the library can be a lifeline. They’re more than just books – most libraries offer free internet, and allow patrons to check out DVDs, audiobooks, music, games and more. Many also offer free classes, zoo/park passes, children’s activities, musical events, book/readings and author signings, holiday parties, and more. For many in the community, the library is like an extended family, offering them so much joy they might not otherwise be able to afford.
And libraries are just one way to borrow when you’re in need. Community services and projects like Little Free Libraries and Little Free Pantries, that offer books, toiletries, food and other necessities to those in the community are a great resource. All they ask is that you give back by throwing something in the box when you’re able to. It’s a “pay it forward” philosophy, and everybody wins.
There are also community oriented events like “really free market” that are cropping up everywhere these days, which are kind of like a yard sale, but everything’s free! Multiple people and families will come to these events, armed with items they no longer want or need, and either trade them for other goods or give them away outright. These are great events to participate in if you’re in need of something, or if you just want to give back to someone else.
These ideas are just a few ways you can save money without compromising the things that make you happy. It’s hard to sustain a strict budget if you’re not able to still enjoy things, occasionally treat yourself and relieve stress. With these quick little hacks, you’ll not only be saving money, but in many cases, you’ll also be giving back to others, which will make you happier than anything else. We’re all in this together, and with the proper know-how, we can all live happily, healthily, and sustainably.