Simple, Basic Ways to Cut Household Spending to “Find” Much Needed Cash

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Hello! My name is Gina and I write the Old School Saving blog. Thank you, Heather, for allowing me to write a guest post on Family Friendly Frugality!

I’m a lot like you; I try to stretch my dollar as far as it will go while living a full, satisfying life. To budget more efficiently, I enrolled in the ‘level pay’ plan my utility companies offer several years ago. My payments would always be about the same and I’d know exactly how much to budget.

I almost passed out when I received my utility bills this month – they went up an additional $100 dollars! Where was I going to get $100 dollars a month I didn’t budget for?

Have you ever been where I am now? We scrimp, save, recycle, reuse and still wonder how we can save another penny. We’re caught off guard by a higher utility bill, a car repair bill or gas goes up 30 cents a gallon overnight.

Don’t despair! I’ve spent many hours researching ways to cut household costs for my own family. Here’s some simple, basic ways we can save a little bit more than we did before:

There’s still detergent in that “empty” bottle. You might think that laundry detergent bottle is empty but don’t recycle it yet! Pour 1 cup of warm water in the bottle, shake to mix and you can get another load of laundry out of what you thought was an empty bottle.

Make your own laundry detergent. I’ve done it, it’s really simple, doesn’t take much time and does a great job getting clothes as clean and fresh as store bought detergent. The only time I make it is when the brand I buy costs more than home-made. Go here to get this simple recipe.

Cut dryer sheets in half. I have found half a dryer sheet does just as well as a whole one and cuts the cost of a box of laundry sheets in half while doing twice as much.

Clean your dryer lint filter before you dry each load. It reduces the possibility of a fire hazard and saves energy because your clothes will dry faster with less lint on them.

Don’t let that dryer grow cold. Dry full loads of laundry with no cool down time in between loads. When possible, keep that dryer going until all the laundry is done to avoid repeated warm up time and excess energy use.

Wash more efficiently. Use the warm or cold water setting for washing your clothes (always use cold water to rinse clothes).

Air dry dishes.  Dishwashers typically use less water than washing by hand.  When using the dishwasher, deselect the ‘heat dry’ option and let your dishes air dry instead. 

Use plastic store bags to line trash cans. Save plastic grocery store bags and use them to line bathroom trash cans.

Make your own coffee. I curtailed my coffee shop habit and saved quite a bit of cash by making my own coffee. I’m a fan of International Delight Coffee Creamer; they have some excellent recipes to concoct those coffeehouse specialty drinks right at home. They also offer high value coupons on a pretty regular basis. 

Use a slow cooker instead of the oven. Not only is it SUPER convenient, it frees up time for you, uses minimal energy and costs far less to operate than an electric or gas oven.  Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking is my go-to slow cooker recipe book that has a variety of recipes for entire meals, tested by the author.

Cook and eat all (or most) of your meals at home. It is very tempting to eat out rather than cook a meal at home but this simple resolution could save $2,698 per year!

Cook from scratch. Don’t stop reading, stay with me on this one! Boxed foods and convenience packaged foods are far more costly than preparing meals from scratch. Cooking from scratch is better for you because it’s healthier than convenience foods. If you stay organized, buy only what you need and meal plan, it really is easy and doesn’t take that much extra time. Utilize the Internet to discover time-saving recipes your family will like. I make my own bread, a variety of soups, veggie dishes, wild game and my slow cooker sees a lot of action.

Make a detailed grocery list. I have a master grocery list on a computer spreadsheet that follows the layout of the aisles in my grocery store from start to finish. I plan my meals, then go through my list and include only what I need for a two week time frame. I also organize my coupons the same way. While there is an initial time investment to create your master list, you’ll find your grocery shopping trips are faster, more organized and a lot less stressful. If you stick to the list, you won’t go over-budget and will spend exactly what you calculated.

Don’t shop without a list – PERIOD. It’s no accident you’re greeted by tantalizing “bargains” as you walk through a merchant’s door or those end caps are brimming with “Hey, I need that!” items. Stores spend oodles of marketing dollars to get you to spend more than you meant to. STICK TO THE LIST!!

Coupons. Coupons are great money savers but they can have a downside, too. Coupons are like a sale….if you see one for a product you like, you may be tempted to buy it because you have a coupon, not because you need it. Manufacturers will offer high value coupons to gain you as a regular customer, even when no coupons are available. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.  Send that unused coupon to overseas military and help our servicemen and women save too. 

Don’t buy bottled water. For a family of four, bottled water can cost up to $3,100 a year! Instead, use a water filter that attaches to the kitchen faucet. You will also reduce your carbon footprint by using a water filter vs. buying bottled water. I use a PUR filter that eliminates chemicals and some biologicals and our water tastes great.

Beware of “vampire appliances”. These are appliances that “suck” electricity even when turned off. I have my TV, VCR, Wii, computer and printers plugged in to surge protectors that I turn off when not in use. Doing this can save households up to $200 per year.

Disconnect the landline if you use multiple cell phones. We have multiple cell phones and saw no need to keep a landline. Getting rid of our landline saved us over $420 a year.

Utilize your local library. Libraries offer a host of resources that won’t cost you a cent. Downloadable e-books, audio books, book clubs, CD’s, DVD’s, free Wi-Fi, magazines, newspapers, free computer use, classes and more. There’s no need to buy or rent anything when you can get it free at your local library.

Do without cable or satellite. Ouch. These are expenses that folks are very reluctant to give up but could save a LOT of money. Cutting cable saved us $840 a year. We signed up for Netflix and bought an HD antenna to watch local channels. We pay $18 a month for Netflix, get one DVD out at a time and watch as many streaming movies as we want. DVD turnaround time is usually 1-2 days.

These are just a few simple methods that can save you money.  Re-examine ways you maintain your household.  Making small changes can add up to big savings over time.  Google new ways to do things and discover how others in similar situations are saving money. A few cents here and there adds up over the course of a year!

Thank you for reading my guest post! If you enjoyed it, please visit my blog at, my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter. If you have any questions or suggestions, please email me.

Would you like to contribute an original content guest post to Family Friendly Frugality? Email heather @ with “Guest Post” in the title. Not all submissions will be accepted.




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Heather is the creator and owner of Family Friendly Frugality. She calls Texas home and is married to her best friend. With 2 children 22 months apart, she has her hands full. So full that she decided to start blogging as a hobby. That hobby blew up into a full time job. Now she's got the husband, the kids and the blog. We're not exactly sure what she was thinking, but she's too busy for us to ask. Find Me On Google +

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