Five Ways to Cut Household Spending Without Putting Out a Cent

At a time when many of us are counting our pennies, one place you can find plenty of money-saving opportunities is at home. Cut your household spending without putting out a cent by taking advantage of these five free budget-busting tips.

Clean Out Your Pantry, Freezer and Fridge. If your pantry is stuffed with canned goods, pastas, soups, mixes, cereals, and other food items that you haven’t gotten around to using, now is the time to clean it out. Ditto for your freezer and fridge. With a little thought, many of these items can be used to prepare nutritious meals for your family or to stretch dishes already on your menu. Grab some cookbooks to find recipes based inspired by what you have on the shelf, read the backs of boxes and cans for dishes that feature ingredients already on hand, or get creative and develop your own casseroles, pasta entrees, sauces or soups using items that have been gathering dust in your kitchen.

Become the Family Hair Stylist. You probably have at least one good pair of scissors in the house. If you have young children, you can save a bundle by cutting their hair yourself. But don’t stop there, while your husband may not want to give up professional haircuts entirely, trimming his mane before it gets too shaggy can extend the time between cuts and shave the amount he spends at the local barber. If you want to go all the way, you and your best girlfriend can even trim each other’s hair (just like you did in high school).

Use Dry Sheets Twice. Take advantage of the many surprising uses for used dryer sheets. One of the best is for dusting furniture. Used drying sheets are like dust magnets, and they smell nice. They also come in handy for many other cleaning chores. For example, put a used dryer sheet in a pan with stuck-on food, add water and let soak (for an hour or more) and you will find it is much easier to clean. Try this for paint brushes as well. Also, keep a few used dryer sheets in the bathroom for scrubbing the shower or bathroom sink.

Find Hidden Savings in the Kitchen. There are all sorts of ways to save money in the kitchen, starting with how you cook. Putting lids on pots and pans to conserve heat and speed up cooking, being sure to match the burner to the size of the pan, not heating more water than you need for coffee or tea, cooking meals in one pot whenever possible, using as little water and fat as necessary when you cook, reheating leftovers in the microwave rather than on the stove, and using a pressure cooker all will save energy (and, in some cases, water, as well) and, therefore, money. Individually these energy-efficient cooking techniques won’t slash your budget, but together they can add up to real savings.

Recycle in the Garden. Before you spend your hard-earned money at the garden store this spring, be sure that you have taken advantage of the many recycling opportunities in your own backyard. Begin by starting a compost pile, and you’ll have all the nutrient rich soil to satisfy your gardening needs. Harvest seeds and take cuttings to start new plants and to use for trading with other local gardeners. Use items you already have around the house to start seeds (egg cartons and yogurt cups work well for this), as containers for your patio plants, and to catch rain water, which you can use to water your plants. You also can recycle old garden hoses for drip irrigation (one of the most water-efficient ways to keep thirsty trees and shrubs hydrated), by punching holes in them.

Sources:

Barbara Whiting, homeparents.about.com, Money Saving Tips: Reuse Dryer Sheer

Chrisjob, curbly.com, 25 Alternative Uses for Fabrid Softener Dryer Sheets

Marisa Mcclellan, www.supereco.com, 26 ways to save energy in the kitchen

Annie B. Bond, www.care2.com/, Save Energy in the Kitchen: 10 Cooking Tips/Care2 Health & Green Living

Kristina Seleshanko, www.ehow.com, Gardening Recycling Ideas/eHow.com

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