No, that’s not a typo. I really did mean shaving money, not saving money.
When our first baby was born and we went down to one income, I got on a big money-saving kick. One of my favorite resources was a book called The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn, which gives small, simple ways to save money.
Or rather, to shave money.
The premise of the book is that people nickel and dime their way into debt, and they can nickel and dime their way out if it. Shaving off expenses here and there, knocking out nickels and dimes in lots of little places, really adds up.
Everyone wants to save more. But saving money can be a daunting prospect. It’s like using an Epilady or waxing your legs. You know it works, you know you’re going to be thankful for it in the long run, but in the moment, it feels like an excruciatingly painful sacrifice.
Shaving money, on the other hand, is barely noticeable. It’s cutting little bits off at the surface, not uprooting anything. There might be occasional nicks that sting a bit, but overall, it’s just normal routine. Small alterations, not huge sacrifices.
(Speaking of shaving, I was reminded the other day of the Dollar Shave Club video. I watched it like a dozen times when it came out, and it still makes me laugh. Right up my humor alley.
“Do you think your razor needs a vibrating handle, a flashlight, a backscratcher, and ten blades? Your handsome-ass grandfather only had ONE blade. AND polio. Lookin’ good, Pop Pop!“
So. Danged. Funny. After we get settled someplace, I might sign up purely because I love their commercial so much. And because I’m a hairy beast and I hate spending a ton of money on good razors.)
Anyway, I digress.
The bottom line is that shaving money makes it easier to save money. Nickels and dimes add up to dollars. Every little bit helps.
Here are ten money-shaving tricks we use at our house:
1. Ditch the fabric softener. Completely. Cold turkey. You don’t even have to replace it with anything. We haven’t used fabric softener in years and haven’t noticed a difference. Our clothes are soft and they smell just fine.
2. Use baking soda and vinegar to clean your house. Yes, even the bathroom. Baking soda is a natural scrubbing agent. Vinegar is antibacterial and kills most household germs, including the flu virus. It smells like a salad while you’re cleaning, but the smell dissipates quickly. We buy the big bags of baking soda and big jugs of white vinegar at Costco.
3. Stretch your meat. My husband is a Paleo eater, so we buy grass-fed beef that’s painfully expensive. But it’s an expense that’s important to us. So we buy it ground, which is cheaper than cuts, and then we cook small amounts into stir-fries or soups to stretch it out. Even Paleo folk don’t need to eat large quantities of meat, so stretching it thin is both cheaper and healthier. (Going vegetarian is an even cheaper option, but that would count as a “huge sacrifice” to some people, not to mention start WWIII among the Paleo people. I won’t go there.)
4. Buy party supplies at the dollar store. Specialty party stores are a total ripoff. If your kid simply MUST have a character themed party, buy ONE decoration with the character on it, then buy all of the plates, napkins, cups, and tablecloths at Dollar Tree in colors that go with that decoration. Elsa and Anna don’t have to be on every single disposable dish and napkin. Your kid will never notice the difference, and you’ll save a buttload on birthday parties this way.
5. Use the library more. Even in the age of Amazon, we almost never buy books, movies, or music. We’ve lived in towns of varying sizes over the years, and every single one of them has had a public library. With online catalogs and accounts, you can put books or movies on hold and renew them with the click of a button. You can even check out e-books. Every time I think about buying a book or renting a movie, I check the library first. Even the inevitable late fines are still cheaper than buying a new book.
6. Work out at home. I struggled with this one for a while, experimenting with various gym memberships, until I came to this conclusion: If I don’t have the discipline to exercise at home, then I don’t have the discipline to exercise, period. Uncomfortable, but true. I save time and gas not going to the gym, I can wear totally scuzzy work-out clothes, and and once I got used to working out at home, I wondered why I didn’t do it sooner. I just walk out the front door and run. (Well, run/walk.) Or I stream Jillian Michaels’ 30-day Shred on Amazon, which is only 25 minutes. Lots of great video workout options these days. Even the expensive ones are cheaper than a gym membership.
7. Host a potluck instead of going out with friends. Inviting friends to your house actually has several benefits. 1) It’s oodles cheaper. Eating out is REALLY expensive compared to eating at home. 2) It’s SO much easier if you have kids. You can actually relax and have a conversation. 3) For some reason, when company’s coming over, you can clean your house five times faster.
8. Dilute your hand and dish soap. As soon as the soap dispenser has some room, add water to it. Or, if you refill your dispenser from a large container (which you should—lots cheaper that way), use half water and half soap. You’ll never notice the difference, and you can stretch it at least twice as far as when using it full-strength. Nickels and dimes, baby.
9. Use colored rubber bands to mark water glasses. I bought a big bag of multi-colored rubber bands for a buck and put a handful of them in a pretty bowl by the fridge. Each family member has a color. When you get a water glass in the morning, you put your colored rubber band around it, and that’s your glass for the day. Cutting out unnecessary dishwashing saves water, soap, time . . . and therefore, money.
10. Drink water exclusively. Speaking of water glasses, drinking water instead of soda, juice, or other flavored drinks can shave more money than you might think. Let’s say an average person drinks just one non-water drink a day. Let’s say that drink costs $.50. That’s $15 per month, just for one person. If three people in a household ditched those drinks, that’s $45. But most people drink more than one non-water drink per day, and often that drink is more than $.50 worth. Add it up and see how much you can
save shave. (You’ll shave a whole bunch of calories as well with this tip. Win win.)
Do you have any tried and true money-shaving tips to share?