Be a Creative Stinge – 12 Great Tips for Cutting Your Spending and Saving Money

Discovering new ways to save money and reduce consumption is a creative act - once you're on the journey to frugality and buying less, it never ends. After a while, thinking up new and different ways to save money and consume less becomes a habit.

Below are some of the things I do to cut spending and stick to a budget. While the focus is on saving money, some of these tips will help reduce your consumption and therefore waste. Do you have any creative stingeing tips you’d like to share?

1. Get more from your groceries. When a bottle or container of a liquid product such as dishwashing liquid, moisturiser or shampoo is getting low, leave it tipped upside down in a plastic cup (with the lid still on), giving the liquid the chance to travel to the lid. Do this until you’ve used it all up. Do a similar thing with cooking oil, leaving the bottle standing upside down on a wad of newspaper. If there’s still a decent amount of product in there and the bottle is made of thin plastic, see if you can cut the bottle using scissors (be careful doing this!).

2. If you’ve bought goods in bulk, use them sparingly. Storing goods in larger quantities can encourage you to use more of the goods at a time. A study conducted by Pierre Chandon and Brian Wansink in 2002 noted that people tended to consume some products at a greater rate if they were bought in bulk. To curb your unconscious eagerness to use up the product, try to challenge yourself to make it last as long as possible. Alternatively, transfer the goods to small containers to give the illusion of a lesser amount being available.

3. Cut down on the amount of washing powder you use per wash by at least a half. A washing machine mechanic once told me that washing powder companies encourage consumers to use far more product than they need to; this can actually reduce the effectiveness of the wash. Front loaders require less soap powder than top loaders because they use less water, but the advice applies to both types of washing machine.

4. Re-use tissue boxes. Don’t like spending a lot of money on tissues but prefer boxes with attractive patterns? Buy a fancy box of tissues and when they’ve run out, keep refilling the box with store-brand tissues.

5. Halve the money you spend on tissues – literally! Tissues are two-ply – simply divide them into their separate sheets before use, and use one sheet at a time.

6. Renovate your car as an alternative to buying a new one. Do this only if you’re sure your car is reasonably mechanically sound and that you will be holding onto it for a number of years. For example, have the windows tinted and the exterior and interior detailed, and, if you can afford it, treat yourself to any new accessories you’ve been thinking about.

7. Park your money in a credit union rather than a bank. The overall fees are usually much lower, and internet savings accounts can offer excellent interest rates. My credit union allows me to conduct a certain number of transactions for free every month, including using another bank’s ATMs. When you’re comparing the fees of different financial institutions, look at fees for out-of-the-ordinary transactions (eg cheque dishonour, bank cheque, account overdrawn) as well as the usual account-keeping fees, as the former especially tend to be far lower for credit unions.

8. Spend less money on recreational items by swapping with friends. Do your friends and family have similar tastes in magazines, books, computer games or DVDs/Blu-rays? Arrange with them to swap these items so you end up buying fewer. Sort out your DVDS, books and games, store them in alphabetical order, and set up your own ‘library’ so you can keep tabs on who is borrowing what.

9. Make your own greeting cards. There are many ways to do this; for example, the internet is loaded with free vintage images that can be printed out for use in cards as well as items such as calendars. If you’re not the crafty type, stake out places to purchase cheap cards and buy them in bulk a long time before the relevant birthdays, choosing them to suit the individual recipients. Discount stores and large galleries often offer relatively cheap cards, and galleries also sell art postcards that are cheaper than standard greeting cards.

10. Make your own Christmas decorations. Use odd pieces of wrapping paper, and cut them up into strips of equal size. create a loop with the first strip using sticky tape or glue, then link each strip in the ‘chain’. Hang the decoration from a mantelpiece or wall.

11. When it comes time to renew your home and car insurance each year, shop around. Prices can vary hugely for very similar products, so it’s worth comparing your premium with those offered by other companies to ensure you’re still getting a good deal. Even if you want to stay with your regular insurer, give them a call and bargain them down if you think the price has increased too much from the previous year.

12. Look after your clothes, even if you buy cheaply. If you have a top loader, consider handwashing some types of items you normally wouldn’t, at least for the first few months of wear. When you need to replace your washing machine, keep in mind that front loaders will be more gentle on your clothes, as well as being more environmentally friendly.
Until next time!

If you enjoyed this blog entry, you might like Green Fingers: Gorgeous Gardens on the Cheap.

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