When times are tight, it’s important to search for ways to stretch your dollar. While everyone knows obvious money saving strategies such as clipping coupons, taking public transportation, and curbing your shopping habits, there’s plenty of other options to cut costs.
If you’re serious about saving money, you can get pretty creative with your cost saving strategy. Those willing to think outside-the-box can save serious cash. If you’re willing to do anything it takes to add some extra room into your budget, try these five crazy ways to save money and cut your expenses:
1. Recycle for money
Earn a little extra money and be eco-friendly by collecting your used bottles and soda cans and selling them to your local recycling center. Some centers pay by the bottle or can, while others base your total on the weight of the bundle. According to the Aluminum Association, Americans earn nearly $1 billion each year from recycling aluminum cans, so if you’re not getting into this market, you’re missing out on an easy way to get some money back on these items. If you have family and friends living nearby who don’t care to participate, ask if you can place a container in their homes to save their cans for you. Every penny counts!
2. Stockpile condiments
Don’t spend money on ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, soy sauce or any other condiments. Instead, collect packets when dining at fast food restaurants. Ask friends and family members to help you by grabbing a few extra packets when they’re out at these restaurants too. While it may not seem like you’re saving much each week, this can really add up over the course of a year.
3. Make your own laundry detergent
Clean clothes are an essential, but wasting money on name brand laundry detergent is not. Stretch your dollar by making your own laundry detergent, while still enjoying fresh and spotless clothing. You’ll notice the savings adding up fast, as the average load of laundry costs $0.30 using store bought detergent, but a mere $0.03 with homemade solution. If this works out well, start making all the cleaners in your house. Good Housekeeping has recipes for DIY glass cleaner, heavy-duty scrub, grease cleaner, all-purpose cleaner and deodorizer, and more.
4. Unplug your appliances
While it’s good to turn the lights off when you leave the room and power your laptop down when not in use, you can do better. The next step is unplugging computers, televisions, DVD players, modems, cable box TVs, cordless phones, radios, coffeemakers, lamps, toasters, and electronic gadgets when not in use, as they still use power when idle. The average U.S. household spends approximately $1,900 per year on energy costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, but about 15% of that comes from appliances left on standby.
5. Go dark (and have fun)
Cut your electric bill by going turning off the lights, television, and all other electronic devices once a week – even if just for a few hours. Light a candle and enjoy old-fashioned family time with your loved ones by playing board games, telling ghost stories, or heading outside for a bike ride. Not only will you save money by cutting back on power usage, you’ll also benefit from distraction-free family time.
If you’re willing to be a bit resourceful, there are plenty of unique ways to go above and beyond standard methods of saving money. Whether you’re struggling to keep up with monthly expenses, saving up for a major purchase, or hoping to afford a pricey vacation in the near future, you can do it if you really put your mind to it. Some people may call your extreme cost-cutting methods a bit crazy, but ignore them and laugh your way to the bank.
Money-saving image via Shutterstock.