PDP Exclusives by Rebecca

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Frugal Strudel

I'm sorry, that really is a misleading title! There is no cake.

Anyway, Ranon here! *waves*

Today I thought I'd share my top 10 ways to save money, how to be frugal, or your first tiny steps towards becoming a zillionaire*

*no promises there.

All I hear from the media at the moment is how terrible the economy is, and how much money we don't have. What I don't hear enough of is advice on ways to improve or alleviate the situation, and so with this post today, I'm going to share some of that advice. Most of this is common sense, so while I may not blow your mind here, I will hopefully be able to suggest at least one thing you hadn't thought of yet.

When it comes to cutting down on spending, it doesn't mean you have become a penny pinching tight wad, there is no fun in that, so no need to start dividing your toilet paper up in to daily rations, or making your kids bathe in the cabbage water that's left over from making dinner.

Starting at 10, we'll count down:

10) Buy second hand. You can find some really nice clothing, and top designer brands in charity/thrift shops or on ebay if you look hard enough. I picked up a brand new Ralph Lauren skirt on there last week for 2.99 including shipping! Some people don't like the idea of 'used' clothing, and that's fair enough, but a lot of clothing in these shops isn't used, it's often overstock and factory seconds too. Not only are you saving a whole load of money, you're also helping a charity. Cheap stylish threads & good karma! Don't just think second hand for clothing either, if you need a new toaster, why not ask on facebook? One of your friends might have one in a cupboard that they're desperate to get rid of, but won't throw it in the bin as it's too good, and charity shops don't often take electrical items.

9) Check what you're spending. Since living in the times of facebook and twitter where people are keen to announce their every move, I've noticed that a lot of people tend to eat from restaurants multiple times a week, which to me seems quite frivolous and indulgent, but that could just be the way I grew up where eating at restaurants was a rare occasion, I had to wait to go to the beach to have an ice cream with sprinkles, and a fancy coffee and a doughnut was a treat rather than 'breakfast'. Because we indulge in these things so often, they've lost their treat effect, so we feel the need to spend even more for a real 'treat'. Try cutting down on the fancy coffee 5 times a week, it'll feel a whole lot more luxurious when you have one that you've waited a week for!
Try keeping a spending diary for two weeks, just to see where all your money is vanishing to, it might just surprise you.

8) Seasonal produce. When a fruit or vegetable is in season it is always cheaper to buy, so buy it up while it's good and fresh. Eat as much as you want, and make some pies, cakes, preserves, chutneys, soups, stews, and freeze the rest.
Did you know that the best way to make blueberry muffins or pancakes is with frozen blueberries? It stops them turning to mush and disappearing in to the rest of the batter, resulting in a better bite.

7) Stuck for ideas on what to do on a rainy saturday? Or something to do that doesn't require getting in a car and spending money on fuel to get somewhere? On your own or with kids, it doesn't matter, pick out a really great recipe that you will enjoy making and then eating (Modern Rosies can help you out there!) maybe a great big cake, home made pizzas, or 50 differently decorated cookies. It doesn't cost that much to buy raw ingredients (And by that I mean flour, sugar etc., NOT a cake mix that is full of additives and artificial preservatives and will only yield one small batch)
Make a huge cake or enough cookies to last an entire family for a month, plus extras to give to friends and family as gifts. I don't know anyone who wouldn't like a little box of home made cookies.

6) Sell some stuff! A carboot, a yard sale, or list everything on ebay. While you might not get much money for some things, you will be cleaning out things you no longer need and creating a clearer living space, and a little extra money is better than a bunch of clothes you're never going to wear ever again. You could also sell some of those cookies you make ;)

5) Movie nights at home. Pick out a new movie, or even better, borrow one from someone. Most importantly, don't forget the snacks! It's a small expense, but it's nothing compared to what you would pay to get lets say 4 people in to see a movie, with popcorn, chocolate, and cola for each person. At our local cinema it's £9 to see a movie, and £10 for a hot dog, popcorn & drink combo. That's £19 ($30 USD) per person. When you consider that you could buy a blu-ray and a huge bag of popcorn kernals for that, you really start to see how much money you can waste in just one night at the movies.

4) Plant a little garden, or a tiny window garden. You can grow herbs, on a window ledge inside your kitchen, and strawberries from a hanging basket in front of a window in any room where there is a fair amount of sunshine. If you are lucky enough to have outdoor space, then think about starting a little vegetable patch next spring. Carrots can be grown in any soft earth, or in a tall barrel or drum if you live where there is a lot of rock and shingle in the earth. Potatoes will grow anywhere you'll let them, and peas love some wire or bamboo to grow up through. With just a small amount spent on some seeds, you could have all the fruit and veg you could eat (and freeze!) all summer long.

3) Don't fall in to the trap of thinking that all 'household product' cleaning tips are necessarily cheaper. Juicing enough lemons to wash your kitchen floor is going to work your juicer to death and leave your wallet bare; and is really quite a horrible waste of delicious juicy lemons. You can get eco-friendly, good quality cleaning products very cheaply, especially if you look out for coupons and deals, and stock up when they are at a low price.

2) Give up dirty cigarettes for vapor/electronic cigarettes. I don't know why anyone wouldn't want to at least try this. E-cigarette re-fills can be bought with or without nicotine so that you can cut down as and when you decide you want to. The re-fills are cheaper than buying cigarettes and last a lot longer too. It won't leave your house, your hair, and your breath stinking to the high heavens, and best of all it won't age your skin, and eventually probably kill you. This article explains everything about e-cigs, please at least give it a read as it might encourage you to make the switch

1) FINALLY! - Stop living beyond your means! Don't spend money that you don't have. Simple.