We could all use a little more saving in our life, amiright? The less we spend on boring stuff like bills, the more we have for Jamba Juice and Starbucks runs! (Or maybe more responsible things like savings accounts, loan repayments, or charities… Okay, let’s just settle with all of the above.)
Although most of these ideas may seem a little weird to you, they’re sure to save you a pretty penny when you aren’t exactly rolling in the dough. And, as if that’s not enough, they’ll help reduce waste so your carbon footprint can shrink a little without you having trade your Tahoe for a Smart Car.
1. If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.
I know, it’s a little gross if you’ve never practiced this before. If you don’t get the cute saying, the rule is to only flush after you’ve gone #2. My husband and I do this (unless we have company over) and we probably flush our toilet 5 to 10 times less than we did before we started obeying this simple rule. It takes water to flush, you know, and water costs money! Plus it helps the environment when you use less water. I promise it doesn’t smell if you keep the lid closed :)
2. Make a meal plan.
I’ve learned from experience that having a meal plan and a well-stocked kitchen can prevent many last-minute I’m-exhausted-and-don’t-know-what-to-cook-so-lets-just-go-out-to-eat trips. I try to plan enough meals that we don’t ever have to go out to eat, although of course sometimes we decide to push aside those plans in favor of a restaurant. While your grocery bills might grow a little more, I guarantee you’ll see savings almost instantly if you can limit how much you eat out.
3. Unplug EVERYTHING when not in use.
Yes, everything. There are so many devices and appliances that are constantly sucking up energy, even when we aren’t using them. See that clock on your microwave? What about those little lights on your WiFi router? It takes electricity to run those things, even when you’re not warming up a TV dinner or surfing the web. Maybe keeping everything unplugged seems a little extreme to you, but it can save you loads of money on your electricity bills.
4. Shower together.
*Newlywed alert!* Yes, I know you expected this from a newlywed. BUT, it really does save water (which saves you money!). It takes me about 15 minutes to shower when I’m by myself while my husband takes 5 to 10 minute showers, depending on how rough his PT was that day. When we shower together, we usually only take about 15 minutes. That means the water is running about 5-10 minutes less each day, which is an average of 150-300 minutes per month. According to this conversion, which says we use 7 gallons of water every minute we shower, we’re saving between 12,600 and 25,200 gallons of water per year! Plus nothing will bring you closer than showering together regularly (especially if your shower is as small as ours is).
5. Take military showers.
Okay, so military showers kind of suck. This is where you only run the water while you’re using it, and you turn it off while you’re doing things that don’t require water (such as washing your hair, your body, your face, shaving, etc.). While these types of showers can get annoying, they can really cut down your water bills, especially if you combine it with numbers 4 & 6 on this list.
6. Install (sometimes free) eco-friendly fixtures that use less water.
From shower heads to faucets to toilets, there are all kinds of water saving fixtures on the market these days. Many hardware stores now carry these eco-friendly devices, but you can also find them by searching on the Internet. Sometimes water companies will even give them out for free! (Maybe that’s just in California, where we’re stuck in a major drought, but it’s still a good idea to call your local water provider and check with them!)
7. Turn off the AC or heater when you can.
My husband and I don’t have an air conditioner (gasp!) and we’re living perfectly fine without one. However, we do live in Central California, where the weather is between 60 and 75 degrees year-round, so we’re completely comfortable with the windows open on even the hottest days. While this may not be the case for you and your family, it’s likely that you can still take advantage of the windows in your home during the fall or spring, and maybe even the winter if you live far enough south. Speaking of winter, sometimes you don’t really need the heater on, either! Low-cost alternatives to using a heater could be wearing a sweater in the house, curling up with blankets, or even lighting a fire if you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace. Just try it sometime! You may find that you really don’t need the AC or heat on sometimes.
8. Just because you wore it once does NOT mean it’s dirty.
If I had to make a rough estimate, I’d guess that approximately one jillion gallons of water are wasted every year on clothes that are practically clean. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. That’s a lot! So let’s all play the smell-your-clothes game before throwing it in that hamper, shall we? The world will be a better place if we can do that. Just for some clarification: your gym clothes are dirty, but that shirt you wore to lunch with your friends before putting your pj’s back on probably isn’t. Your socks and undies are most definitely dirty, but that pair of pants you’ve worn for three days straight could probably make it a few more days, as long as you don’t pee yourself or spill something on it. Not everything exactly needs to be smelled, but if you’re unsure whether or not it’s dirty—well, it’s best to play the game first.
Got any more tips? Please tell us!