As summer approaches – okay, it’s already upon us and I’m just in denial – I’m always looking to squeeze a little more fun money out of the ol’ budget. Here are 5 simple tricks I use to save money. The money saved from one could get us an extra night at the movies or day at the bowling alley. When I combine them, I can save enough for a small family vacation.
Tip #1 Unplug the TV
You read that right. In the middle of the summer when you’re kids are bored you should unplug the TV. I know it sounds backwards, but it works. I found this one out when our TV broke. It had been down for three weeks when I got my power bill. We’d saved over 50 bucks! No joke. Of course, since the TV was down, we also unplugged all the gaming systems, the dish, and the DVR.
What I didn’t truly comprehend until I saw my bill was that all of these appliances suck juice out of your home, even when they aren’t turned on! The next month of no TV, our power bill went down even farther.
Since the TV wasn’t working, I suspended our dish. That saved us an additional $50 per month. Depending on your service provider, you can suspend your service for up to 6 months at a time with a minimum of 30 days suspension.
With this one little tip, we saved over $100 per month. If you aren’t ready to pull the plug completely, try hooking everything up to a power strip that you can turn off before you go to bed.
Tip #2 Use the Slow Cooker
I started using my slow cooker hot and heavy about 3 months ago. Since then our power bill has gone down by $40. No really, it has. I’m a big baker too. So I only used the slow cooker for dinners and continued to use the oven for baking. I plan on using it all summer long.
When the temperature rises outside it’s best to keep your home cool by not turning on the oven. If you do use your oven, then the air conditioner has to work harder to cool the house. A harder working air conditioner means you’re paying more money to the power company.
You can also barbecue or use a solar oven if you have one. Since it will be hot, I’ll be looking for desserts that set up in the fridge or freezer this summer.
Tip #3 Make Your Own
Instead of running out to buy new patio furniture, garden benches, or other outdoor items, look for plans on-line and try your hand at carpentry. Don’t have the tools? Consider borrowing from a neighbor or friend, or, you can rent them from your local building store. Many times the store will make cuts for you and charge a minimal fee. (It’s .25 cents per cut around here.) This can save you hours of time and if they measure/cut wrong, you don’t have to pay for the cut or the supplies.
By building your own, you can save hundreds of dollars. I plan to make a bench I saw online for $150. After pricing out materials, it will cost about $35.
These outdoor projects are the perfect way to introduce your kids to building. Since it will be sitting in the garden, a rustic appearance (maybe from too many misses with the hammer) is a good thing. Encourage their desire to build and teach them proper techniques. If they won’t listen to you, have them watch the YouTube video.
Tip #4 Grow a Garden
This is a project that will pay out for the rest of the year. With the help of my mom, we got our garden put in on a Saturday morning. By noon we were all laying on the floor in the living room afraid to move, but we got it done.
Garden’s teach kids all sorts of lessons. You can use them to teach faith, hope, hard work, what you sew is what you reap, diligence, by small things great things come to pass, and etc. it also shows them where food comes from and teaches them to value nature.
I figure, in pumpkins alone we will save over $40 this year. If our onion crop comes through, we’ll save another $30-40; and, that doesn’t include the corn, popcorn (yes we planted our own popcorn,) lettuce, cantaloupe, watermelon, peppers, spinach, and tomatoes.
Tip #5 Invite Friends Over
Meeting friends for dinner can cost upwards of $75. Why not invite a few families over for a potluck dinner? Even if you provide the hot dogs and hamburgers, you’re only looking at $30. Better yet, get a group of families together and trade off hosting. You’ll have a great time catching up with friends, trading stories, and letting the kids run in the backyard instead of trying to keep them still at a restaurant. The whole evening will be more enjoyable when you don’t have to mess with the crowds, stand in line for a table, or buy food the kids won’t eat.
So that’s it. Let’s add things up, shall we?
No TV x 3 months = $300
Slow cooker cooking x 3 months = $120
Make my own garden bench savings = $115
Garden (pumpkins and onions alone) = $80
Party Invites (2 per month at $35 each x 3 months) = $210
Grand total (drum roll please) = $825.00
What kind of things do you do to save money in the summer?