From reusing tea bags to collecting plastic cups at sports games, people have imaginative ways to cut costs.
- Drink water to reduce hunger-induced impulse purchases and be sure to match your orphan socks.
- Reuse gift wrap, soap, candles and get new life from sprouting vegetables.
- Adopting frugal habits can save money, but some people go to extremes.
The soaring cost of living is taking its toll on millions of Americans. In fact, 1 in 6 people are behind on their utility bills and millions of people have significant credit card debt. If you’re looking for ways to save a few bucks on your bills, we’ve rounded up some of the wackiest and weirdest savings ideas.
5 weird ways to save money
1. Drink a liter of water before going out
Not only is drinking water good for your health, it can also be good for your bank balance. Avoid feeling hungry while shopping by filling a few glasses with water before you leave. Cash back apps can also help you earn rewards on your grocery purchases.
If you eat out, drinking water or eating bread ahead of time can also reduce your intake, although it may reduce the enjoyment of the meal. Always take leftovers home in a doggy bag. On that note, my dad has been known to ask other restaurant diners for their leftovers. It doesn’t just happen on Seinfeld. Also, several people advocate taking home packets of mayonnaise and ketchup to restaurants, but I’m not sure if that’s a money saver or a steal.
2. Avoid a sock orphanage
Missing socks are one of the great mysteries of laundry and everyday life. But the loss of just one sock doesn’t require you to wear mismatched items. Buy several pairs of identical socks to always have a pair. If you lose or damage one, it won’t be that hard to find a match.
Don’t throw away your old socks. Use them as dusters or cleaning rags, or if you’re a budding Martha Stewart, try patching holes. Mending is beyond my patience, but I also use old socks to protect the floor when moving furniture – they fit well on our heavy sofa legs. Socks aside, if you haven’t tried shopping at a thrift store, you might find it’s a great, inexpensive way to refresh your wardrobe.
3. Reuse everything
I once went camping with a friend who hung up her tea bags to dry each day so she could reuse them later. As a Brit living abroad, the idea of reusing tea bags made more sense to me during the worst of the lockdown when my daily drink suddenly became much more expensive and difficult to maintain.
More relevant ways to save money by reusing items is to keep the old gift wrap in order to give it a second (or third or fourth) life. Create your own gift wrap by reusing the paper that sometimes fills online shopping orders, or even large pictures from old newspapers. In another “my dad” story, a person said his dad used to pick up the plastic cups that other people left behind at sports games. He washed them and reused them at home.
You can melt used candle wax into new candles and grate old bars of soap and a little warm water to form a new one. Bring cracked dishes, old jars, or even shoes back to life by turning them into planters. Search online for myriad ways to use old plastic bottles and tubs of ice cream. If you have garlic or potatoes that have started to sprout, put them in the ground – they could produce a whole crop of edible food.
4. Reduce showers
Take shorter showers by turning off the water while you shower or bathe. Some advocate taking fewer showers – one person I spoke to bragged about only showering once a week. A study has shown that showers are the third largest source of water in most households, which means changing your washing habits could save you money. Once a week is a bit extreme though; taking shorter showers a little less frequently may be more achievable.
Another water-saving trick we’ve heard is to put a brick in the toilet tank. The idea is to reduce the amount of water you use with each flush, but plumbers warn there are better ways to make your toilet more efficient, like kits. Bricks can disintegrate and cause costly damage.
5. Hug your pets to cut your heating costs
Winter may seem like a long way off right now, but it will be difficult in terms of costs. Probably the weirdest idea to cut heating costs is to hug your pet or loved one to keep them warm. More practical tips include wearing more clothes and using more blankets at night. It may not be affordable to heat every room, so consider where you will be spending time and heat accordingly.
At the end of the line
It’s stressful to see your daily expenses go up, especially if your salary hasn’t increased accordingly. Some of the ideas above may seem strange or extreme, and in truth, the savings from reusing old tea bags or saving a few condiments are likely to be a drop in the ocean. However, developing a frugal mindset can make a huge difference to your bottom line.
Rather than indiscriminately cutting costs, sit down and budget for where your money is going each month. If you don’t know where to start, you’re not alone – many people are nervous about making their first budget. A budgeting app can help you know what you’re spending and where you could make the biggest savings. Set aside 30 minutes next weekend to figure out how your expenses compare to your income. You’ll likely find ways to save without resorting to drastic personal hygiene measures.
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