1. Make every effort to use the toilet when away from home. This will substantially reduce the toilet paper you must buy for your own bathrooms, and may make a nice dent in your water bill. There will also be a reduction in the amount of toilet cleaner you use.
2. Save your used coffee grounds. Dry and repackage in an empty coffee can. Use when unexpected company drops in. If you use about twice as much as normal the resulting beverage will be approximately as dark looking as coffee made from fresh grounds. This will reduce your coffee use, and also the number of unexpected guests who drop in, giving you more free time. Try the same with tea bags, or alternatively just eliminate the coffee and tea and drink hot water. This saves money and eliminates drop-in guests.
3. Slice things thin. For example, you can start with bagels. They are usually too big anyway. Instead of serving halves, serve thirds. Once your family gets used to this you can move on to other items. Slice potatoes thinner. For a family of four you can make a pile of three potatoes look as large as a pile of four potatoes. Buy unsliced bread and slice it thinner than standard slices. Slice a strip off each serving of steak or pot roast and collect these strips in your freezer until you have enough to make slumgullion. Once you start on this course of action you may find that it can carry over into other areas. Slice dryer sheets in half. Slice an end off each bath towel to make a kitchen towel. Slice those unnecessary edges off your sheets and make handkerchiefs. Slice everyone’s hair shorter and you will use less shampoo. Save a slice off the top of each can of pet food, slice the…. Well, you get the idea.
4. When you enter the grocery store parking lot, park as close to the street as possible to save gas. This has a double benefit if you are overweight. You will have farther to walk to get to the door, thus increasing the number of calories you burn. As you lose weight you will need less food to sustain that weight, thus generating extra savings. However, this can be counter-productive if you are not overweight. You may just increase your metabolism, requiring that you buy more food.
5. Don’t make left turns when you drive. Actually UPS has adopted this strategy for their fleet. Steve Goodrich, UPS Community Relations Manager says, “One, they waste time. Two, they waste fuel as we idle. And three, left turns are not as safe to make as right turns.” Business Week reports that UPS spent $600 million dollars on the software to plan driver’s routes. If you, too, do careful planning you shouldn’t need to drive more than 14.2 miles out of your way on an average day in order to avoid making left turns. This tip has a corollary; while you are out there not making left turns you can look for gas stations on the right side of the road which have gas for a cent or two less than average. Just be sure that you won’t have to turn left to exit the station. This corollary is unlikely to add more than 3.7 more miles to each trip.
6. Borrow. This practice is really a fine art. You must walk a fine line so that your neighbors don’t realize that you are borrowing more from them than they are from you. Be sure that you always offer to return the favor when you ask for those cups of sugar, cans of tomato soup, and spare pens. Then you need to be sure that you are conveniently out of those items when the neighbors show up on your doorstep, but apologize profusely. Take care to borrow from neighbors who don’t speak to each other so that they don’t begin to compare notes and discover your ploy.
7. Take cloth bags to the grocery stores where there is a bag credit. Many stores will give you a nickel back for every one of their bags they don’t have to give you. If you are credited for five bags a week you will save $13 in a year, minus the cost of the gas to run back home to get your cloth bags when you forget them, minus the $10.99 for the pretty new bag you couldn’t resist buying, for a net savings of about -$2.00 a year. This may be offset if you are overweight by the number of times you had the bags in the car but forgot to take them into the store and had to walk to the car to get them. Or, if you are not overweight the “savings” may be exacerbated. See tip # 4.
8. Refuse to buy soda pop. This is good for your family’s health as well as money-saving. They are sure to thank you for your concern for their health just as soon as they figure out some other way to fulfill their cravings for the beverages (See tip # 6). Of course, you need to plan carefully before you implement this idea so that you know where you will be able to get your own soda pop on the sly.
9. Eat your lawn. Seriously. Stalking the wild asparagus and all that. There are entire cookbooks devoted to ways to fix the lowly dandelion. If you eat fast enough, and buy a shotgun to force the spouse and kids to eat with you, you can eat enough so that you don’t need to buy weed killer for those pesky yellow flowers, and save on the grocery bill. Alternatively, make dandelion wine, and then they won’t care that you are feeding them the weeds. Train your kids and your dogs to find wild foods. After all, pigs are trained to hunt out truffles. If enough people like to eat fungus it’s considered a delicacy, not foraging.
10. Don’t change all the light bulbs in a multi-light fixture. Replace three with only two. Your family will hardly notice that they aren’t able to see quite so clearly. Run around after everyone turning off lights obsessively. Better yet, teach one of the kids who tends toward OC behavior to take on this task. Eventually you will be able to avoid replacing most of the bulbs in the house. Remember the question: How many mingy mothers does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: “None, I’ll sit in the dark!”
11. (A bargain if I ever saw one- 11 tips for the price of 10!) Always buy on sale. Never buy anything that isn’t on sale, but if something is on sale, buy lots of it. You can have four cell phones for the price of one, and only three of them will be technologically outdated before you need them. You can stock your pantry with seventeen cases of chow mein noodles for a savings of $23.95. Someone will eventually eat them, perhaps even before the fat leaches to their surface and begins to turn rancid. Buy on line. You can get great prices on things you never will need. Insure the packages for just a bit more than they are worth. After all, don’t be greedy. When the items arrive, damage the contents just a little, claim the insurance money, and get ahead. Sometimes you will even get to keep the “damaged” product. It won’t be long until the Vice Squad is ringing your doorbell, and you will be trundled off to the local hoosegow where you will be clothed and fed by the government. You will no longer have any personal living expenses. This is the biggest money saver of all.
Good luck, shoppers everywhere! And don’t say that I sent you.