Many homeowners share a common New Year’s resolution: Save more money. One great way to do this is to reduce monthly checking withdrawals and eliminate certain items from your shopping cart. With small changes, you can curb your spending habits and still maintain the same quality of life. Take this opportunity to make an audit of ways you may have wasted money in the past. Pay particular attention to your 2021 spending, and consider how your family’s needs may have changed over the past year as working or attending school from home became more common.
Do you own baking soda, white vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, and Castile soap? Then you have the ingredients for countless homemade cleaning products. There’s no need to spend big bucks on commercial options laden with potentially harmful chemicals when you can whip up a batch of DIY hardwood floor polish or toilet cleaner for mere pennies. RELATED: 9 Potent Cleaners You Didn’t Know You Had.
After spilling coffee or splashing soup, most homeowners reach for a roll of paper towels. But with prices approaching $1 per roll, paper towels can make a real dent in your budget. Save money (and help protect the environment) by reaching for reusable towels, rags, or sponges instead.
Sales of alarm clocks fell dramatically during 2021 as rigid daily schedules relaxed a bit with social distancing and working at home. With a lightning-quick commute to the home office, you can afford to sleep in a little. Plus, alarm clocks are just another gadget that has been replaced by smartphone technology. Nearly everyone has a smartphone with settings for multiple daily alarms as well as “do not disturb” settings to mute those emails from the boss once you have shut your eyes for the night.
If your weekends revolve around Netflix or Hulu, you probably aren’t making the most of your cable plan. Canceling your cable can save about $100 to $120 every month. In comparison, a subscription to Netflix costs just $10 to $20 per month. Add a digital antenna to nab local channel signals and catch weekend football games.
If you’re buying a new appliance or gadget, think twice before upgrading to an extended warranty. They’re often overpriced, usually setting you back between 10 and 20 percent of the product’s cost, and they won’t cover all damages, such as those caused by accidents or user error. Instead, set the money aside and use it for necessary repairs or replacements.
According to Business Insider, bottled water can cost 2,000 times more than tap water—and it’s terrible for the environment to boot. Stock up on savings by relying on free tap water and reusable bottles, which come in all sorts of colors, sizes, and styles—but be sure to choose only BPA-free designs. If you’re worried about lead or chlorine in tap water, splurge on a filtration system, which will still save in the long run.
No homeowner likes stink bugs, mice, or ants crawling around their property, but hiring a professional exterminator can cost hundreds of dollars. Instead of dropping the money, peruse the web for simple and nontoxic DIY solutions to your pest problems.
RELATED: 10 Reasons Bugs Love Your Home
A little grunt work never hurt anybody. If you’re looking to cut down on costs, consider taking on your own lawn and landscaping work. You’ll need to shell out a one-time payment for tools—think hedge trimmers or a weed whacker—but savings will eventually add up because you won’t be paying for professional help. Plus, gardening chores provide good exercise and outdoor time.
From medications to toilet paper, brand-name products cost significantly more than generic ones. Sometimes these recognized labels offer better quality, especially when it comes to paper products, baby foods, or dairy items. But most of the time, generic brands will suffice. Don’t hesitate to pick up cheaper versions of nonperishable foods, cleaning products, and pain relievers, especially when supplies are running low in your local stores.
Unused Gym Memberships
Do you constantly pledge to work out but inevitably plant yourself on the sofa instead? Or maybe during the pandemic you’ve opted to exercise at home. If so, it may be time to cancel your pricey gym membership. You can always exercise for free by walking or running outside, lifting weights in your home gym, or sweating it out with free streaming workouts and fitness tutorials.
Traditional wired security systems provide professional monitoring and can alert the police, but this peace of mind comes at a price. If you’re a tech-comfy homeowner or renter who mostly just wants to keep an eye on your front door and your deliveries, Ring, Google Nest, and other doorbell cameras may offer enough to suit your needs. Most cameras tie into both smartphones and smart-home technology so you can monitor from anywhere. Of course, businesses and some residences might be better off with a more secure subscriber system, but consider the costs. A monitored alarm system can run $15 to $35 per month, while a doorbell camera like Ring that saves footage in the cloud costs closer to $30 for the year. If it suits your security needs, save some cash by dropping the wires and the professional surveillance.
Books and Magazines
With social distancing still firmly in place at the start of 2022 in most corners of the world, strolling through a bookstore or joining an in-person book club get-together presents plenty of challenges. Regardless, in many areas during the pandemic, book sales actually surged—and that includes old-fashioned paper books, which made this list of costs to cut a few short years ago. You can keep up your reading habit and save money by checking out books from your local library. Although many libraries closed temporarily or halted in-person services, the American Library Association notes that most began to offer more virtual help and expand online checkout and renewal. Yours might also offer curbside pickup services. Most libraries offer ebooks and digital magazines to those with library cards, too. If, however, you prefer purchasing your reading material, you can save money and help the environment by opting for ebooks and keeping up with newspapers and magazines virtually.
Online shopping has firmly taken root as the preferred method for buying everything from groceries to appliances. You can hold down the expense of this convenience by avoiding shipping costs. If product costs are the same, choose to purchase from sites that offer free shipping. When a site offers free shipping with a minimum purchase amount, if you have the funds and storage space, meet that minimum. For instance, fill out your cart with something nonperishable that you know you will use in the future. You may end up doing yourself a favor: Inflation might add to the cost of that item when you need it 6 months down the road. If you can’t avoid a shipping fee, and if you don’t need your purchase immediately, you can save on shipping by choosing the slowest shipping method. Retailers might also offer free shipping if you’re willing to pick up the item at your local store.
The rise in shipping costs can in part be blamed on higher prices for oil and gas, which are also triggering inflation in transportation costs. Everything you’ve ever heard about walking or biking to nearby destinations in order to save gas mileage is especially true in 2022. Of course, walking or biking isn’t always possible, but public transportation can be cost-effective. During the pandemic, many public transportation services offered discounted or even free rides to keep their routes going. If you do take the train or subway, see if you can save by purchasing weekly, monthly, or yearly passes, but make sure you won’t lose money should you have to lock down again or return to working at home.
Although some cities relaxed their plastic bag bans at the start of 2021, it’s time to get back in the habit of bringing your own bags—after all, some stores charge for disposable bags if you forget to bring your own! While you’re stocking up on reusable grocery bags, start a collection of reusable refrigerator and pantry storage containers, especially now that your family probably eats at home more than before. Because reusable food storage containers are washable and refillable, they minimize kitchen waste while still sealing in flavor and keeping out fridge smells. That said, while Ziploc bags are wasteful, they also take up less space in the fridge than containers do. As a compromise, invest in a set of more sustainable mixed-size silicone bags, and you’ll save on grocery bills in the long run.