A watched pot never boils, it is said. I’m not so sure about that. When I was a kid I kept my eye on a pot on the stove, and sure enough, it boiled. Electric bills are out of control. There are so many phantom energy drains in the average home that half or more of electricity consumption goes down the drain without any benefit to the homeowner. Read more about recording your electricity consumption here. This one simple step can lower your energy costs significantly.
The mantra is getting old. The frugal tip of doing everything yourself is a double-edged sword. Sure, you can save money doing it yourself. Sometimes. If you know what you are doing. When I owned rental property years ago I learned quickly I was not cut out for carpet laying. It was cheaper to hire it done. (Really, I was bad at it. One job was so bad all the carpet had to be ripped out and tossed.) Where you are able to handle the repair or maintenance, doing it yourself can save a lot of money. Changing the oil in the car, sharpening lawn mower blades, light appliance repair, changing a faucet and other tasks might be under your purview. If so, by all means, consider it a DIY job. However, knowing when to hire the professional is important. A DIY job when you don’t know what you are doing can lead to disaster. If you want to increase your skills, consider volunteering at Habitat for Humanity. A summer of free time spent learning several crafts of the trade is a powerful education that will pay off the rest of your life.
Stock up on foods that can play multiple roles in meals. For example, plain or Greek yogurt works as breakfast and as a condiment—swap out sour cream for it and reap the probiotic benefits of better gut health. And olive oil can be used for healthy cooking as well as a homemade salad dressing base.
Vegetables and fruits are the most valuable players in any kitchen. Just think of the tomato—perfect as a salad or sandwich topper, but also an ideal base in some of our favorite comfort foods like soup and spaghetti. In fact, all kinds of veggies can be pureed to create some insanely flavorful sauces, from tart to sweet to savory. Or, blend a smoothie from any melange of fruits and veggies—instant, drinkable vitamins and minerals. And let’s be real—meat is expensive. Consuming it in small amounts can still be satisfying. Treating lean meat as a side and veggies as the main goes a long way in saving you cash. You can even pack your plate with as many vegetable dishes as you can conjure up in one sitting—variety is the spice of life, right?
Sometimes the best way to accomplish a goal is to go all-in. This is where a spending fast comes in. A spending fast is exactly what is sounds like. There are 5 levels to the spending fast. Each level teaches new financial skills and supercharges your frugality muscle. You can read more about conducting a spending fast the right way here.
Anything you want to save for later—foods that might go bad, school lunches for the week ahead, leftovers—just freeze it. This will help cut back on wasted food and save time during the week. One cool trick to try is to pour little portions of pasta sauce into ice cube trays—plop those babies on top of pasta in a container and it’ll melt by lunch time. Freezing farmers market produce can also preserve it at the peak of its flavor and nutrition.
Save your residuals from meat and vegetables like bones, onion tops, carrot tops, even wilted veggies, and brew your own batch of broth. It’s easy:
Taxes will cost you more than any other thing in your life, including your home. It may not feel like spending, but taxes are a massive expense everyone can do better at reducing. I see people in my office all the time that had prepared their own tax return. In nearly all cases they overpaid the government. Since income, sales, excise, property and other taxes consume over half of the national income, you will need a two-pronged approach in applying frugality to your tax spending. First, most people need a tax professional to assure they are utilizing as many tax benefits as possible. The tax code is complex and getting more so every day. Even the pros struggle to keep up with the changes. What chance do you have? And the over-the-counter DIY software can’t do everything for you either. Second, even with a tax pro in your corner you need to keep yourself informed on tax issues. Read about tax breaks that apply to you. Question your tax professional. Don’t be afraid of paying for some consulting with your tax pro. When I consult with clients I have in excess of a 10x return for the client. That means for every dollar they spend they benefit over $10. We call that hyper-frugal!
Easier said than done. Illness is expensive and the cost goes beyond the medical. Lost wages and a lower quality of life are two huge costs of poor health. Staying healthy is easier for some and harder for others. Regardless, you need to eat quality food in proper proportions. Exercise is vital. Because everyone reading this will be in a different place with their health, I encourage you to consult with your doctor in building a plan to improve your health. Get on the right diet for you. Find the best exercise program for you. Don’t forget your social life. Family and friends play a large roll in your health. If you sit in taverns with friends that drink too much and smoke, you might have a problem. Consideration for your lifestyle is an important part of your frugal lifestyle. Choose who you associate with well.
Vegetable-rich one-pot meals save you time and supply tons of healthy leftovers, which you can always freeze.