Tracy Sitchen is a veteran coupon clipper, stay at home, and aspiring writer. While she loves shopping, she loves the chase of the deal even more! She’s recently been writing on printable Mrs Smith pie coupons and printable on the border coupons over at her blog where she shares deals and discounts to help every day people save money.
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Making every penny count starts with cutting out unnecessary spending. (We do more of it than we think!) The following are ten things to stop wasting your money on, along with ten ways to cope with each particular change.
- New clothing. Anything we might buy at American Eagle or Gap is going to be overpriced and made in a sweatshop. Neither our wallets nor our consciences will thank us for shopping. It’s a better idea to go vintage if we absolutely need new clothing, although the truth is that most of us don’t. If you’re worried about looking outdated after shopping at a thrift store, remember that Drew Barrymore, Winona Ryder, and Julia Roberts are only some of the many celebrities who shop vintage.
Paper towels. It takes practice and patience, but cutting out paper towels from our lives is a simple way to save money. Imagine going through two rolls of paper towels (about $6) in one month—that’s still $72 a year we might have spent getting out of debt. As an alternative, try cutting up a bath towel or an old t-shirt (some fabrics may require sewing the edges) to make several washable wipes. Keep a stack of them in the kitchen and bathroom.
- Prepared meals. We’ve all been caught up in work or spent hours running after the kids only to realize that we have nothing to eat. Cutting out costly restaurant meals and frozen dinners takes three things: planning, a keen eye for bulk items on sale or coupons, and a freezer. Buy fresh foods to cook from scratch and choose freezer-friendly recipes (like hearty soups, lasagna, and pasta sauces) so you can preserve food for reheating on hectic days. Reheated meals get a bad rap; try throwing them in the oven or toaster instead of giving them the slush treatment in a microwave.
- Household cleaning products. A 19 fl oz bottle of Lysol Disinfectant Spray costs $7. We can make half a gallon (64 fl oz) of disinfecting spray for less than $7 by adding 3 tsp of tea tree oil (a natural disinfectant proven to inhibit even the H1N1 virus) to a ½ gallon of water, ½ cup of white vinegar, and ¼ cup of baking soda. Find similar DIY cleaning recipes here.
- Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Most of these things brim with parabens and harmful chemicals, anyway. All you need to make these bathing products at home: water, a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap, and apple cider vinegar. For shampoo and body soap, choose a scent of soap (Dr. Bronner’s varieties already come infused with healthy essential oils) and mix one part soap with one part water and shake before use. For conditioner, mix one part apple cider vinegar with two parts water. It may smell bad, but you’ll never find another tangle or fleck of dandruff again.
- Trips to the spa. We don’t have to pay to get pampered; we have all the ingredients to pamper ourselves in the kitchen cabinet. One of the best things we can do for our skin is wear honey on a clean face for 15 minutes before rinsing with lukewarm water. Honey is antibacterial, contains antioxidants, and moisturizes without clogging pores.
- Coffee from Starbucks. Invest in a travel mug. Even if it costs $20, we’ll make up for the trips to Starbucks and the high-priced drinks after a week of brewing our own coffee at home.
- Bottled water. Not only do most companies overprice their bottles of tap water, plastic bottles also negatively affect the environment. Drink from washable cups or invest in a Brita filter and a stainless steel reusable bottle.
- Pet toys. Even if a particularly chew-happy dog will do well on just two toys: a Kong and a pulling toy (which is particularly helpful for terriers). Kongs last practically forever and we can fill them with peanut butter (better if it’s frozen inside) to keep the pup busy when we’re away. A pull toy allows us to play with the dog but should never be left with the dog unsupervised, since it will just become another chew toy. If we exercise a dog enough—say, by canceling the gym membership and taking Fido for a jog instead—he won’t be destructive in the home. As for cats, they can find entertainment in cheap things, like rubber bands, plastic bottle caps, and balls of aluminum foil.
- Cars. Take the bus. Buy a bicycle. Don’t lease a car. If we need one (unfortunately, many of us do), we’re better off investing in a used car. We’ll end up spending less money on keeping an oldie-but-goodie on the road rather than putting money into a lease and drowning in interest.