People who have massive debt to pay off or enjoy a challenge may find extreme ways to save money. Of course, the best way to save money is to simply spend less than you make. But that is not always easy for those who do not have any money left over once the bills are paid.
Reusing things is one of the best ways to save money. Not everything can be reused, but a lot of things can be. Consider doing the following:
- Reuse coffee grinds
- Reuse food containers like pickle jars or deli meat tubs (thoroughly clean)
- Wash out plastic bags and use them again
- Save aluminum foil to rewrap items
- Use rags and towels over and over, instead of disposable towels
- Reuse wrapping paper--or better yet, just skip it altogether
- Melt soap scraps together to create a new bar
- Use cloth diapers instead of disposables
- Save seeds from homegrown plants instead of buying seeds the next season
Keep children's clothing and pass it onto the next child and accept hand-me-downs from friends and relatives. Give children pots and pans, boxes, and other items to use as playthings. Broken crayons can be melted together and used again; use scrap printer paper as coloring sheets.
Cut Household Costs
Some costs, like energy, water and groceries, seem unavoidable. And even bargain shopping or turning off the lights when you leave a room may not result in big savings. Some extreme ways to save money when it comes to household costs include:
- Junking: Many towns have "trash-to-treasure" or "junk" days where people can place used items by the curb for others to pick up, free of charge. Find anything from kids' toys to clothes to furniture and electronics by shopping this way. Also sign up as a member of Freecycle in your community, the service that lets people give away stuff and get stuff for free.
- Reduced for Quick Sale: Grocery bills can often be cut by purchasing almost expired or dented foods. Most stores have a special cart or even section of foods that have had their prices slashed due to an impending expiration or large dent in the packaging. Combine these deals with coupons and you will have plenty of change left in your pocket. Just be sure to use the items before they go bad.
- Reduce Water Use: Unless you are extremely dirty, shower every other day (or less) and skip shaving to keep your shower time down to just minutes. Double the water savings by tossing some of your lightly soiled laundry that does not need to be run through a full wash cycle into the shower with you. Flush the toilet only when necessary, such as with solid waste, not every time you use it.
- Reduce Home Energy Costs: Unplug appliances when not in use, and always turn lights off when leaving a room. Some people save on lighting a step further by changing their biological clock to get up with the sun and go to sleep at sunset, thus reducing the need for artificial lighting.
Many people consider cable and Internet bills a necessity, but they really are not. Cut those household costs by using old-fashioned "rabbit" ears to get local stations and find other cheap local entertainment. Libraries often offer free Wi-Fi connections or computer stations for Internet use to their cardholders.
Insurance is a household expense you cannot afford to skimp on. Even if you are healthy, you never know when disaster may strike. Forgoing insurance is not recommended; however, there are ways to save. Some U.S. citizens find significant discounts on overseas healthcare. Ask your insurance company if this is an option; if not, do the math. It may end up being cheaper to pay out of pocket with a reputable overseas doctor and hospital than going through a poor insurance plan in the U.S.
Extreme Ways to Save Money
One of the best and most extreme ways to save money is to play a game of "hide and seek" with it. Hiding money from yourself is a good way to keep it. People often do this in one of two ways: actually hiding cash, or opening accounts that take care of themselves.
Hiding cash may seem like a great idea. People have been known to stuff particular amounts, such as every $5 or $10 bill, in odd places, like plastic bags in toilet tanks, behind framed photos, or under the mattress. While this might work for some, you will be out the cash if your home should burn or be robbed. Additionally, you may truly forget where all the money is when an emergency arises, making it difficult to access.
Another way of hiding cash from yourself is to balance your checkbook using the "round up, round down" technique. For every amount you deposit, you round down to the dollar; for every amount you withdraw, you round up to the next dollar. However, this can become complicated for some people and make it hard to balance at the end of the month. Keep track of this method by using a separate ledger to follow the actual amounts and transfer it into a high-yield saving account at the end of the month.
Opening an additional bank account is a great way to save money without having to remember. One way to do this is to open a high-interest rate certificate of deposit that automatically renews itself unless you cash it in during a particular time frame. Some workplaces allow you to directly deposit money into savings and money market accounts, and over time, you don't feel the reduction of your paycheck. The amount can grow without you ever having to touch it.
Saving money can be difficult for many people, making them resort to more drastic measures when times get tough. If you have any extreme ways to save money, share it with other LoveToKnow readers by adding a comment at the end of this article.