A penny saved is a penny earned. You’ll never hear that saying come out of my mouth. I personally don’t like working for pennies! But, I might say something like this: A penny saved is a nickel I don’t have to spend later.
In 2012, I’m focusing on saving money by wasting less. To be honest, I’ve never been that great about making wise use of what I have. If I get a great deal on something, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend more time and money fixing it when I can just buy another one on sale.
But, prices are rising on just about everything and sales are becoming more scarce. What I used to be able to easily replace for a dollar may now cost me two dollars, and I’m starting to think about making better use of what I have.
My goal of wasting less is not so much a way to save the money I’ve already spent, but a way to save the money I haven’t yet spent.
Here’s how I’m planning to do this – 5 Simple Ways to Save More By Wasting Less:
Finish unfinished projects instead of starting new ones.
I have little projects here, there, and everywhere that were started with the best intentions and never finished. I laid out the money for supplies and lost heart or got distracted. If I don’t get my act together, that money I spend on supplies will be wasted – and I’ll likely continue buying supplies for projects that will remain unfinished.
I’ve got to stop continuing to not use items that I’ve already spent money on and spending more on projects that won’t ever get finished either.
This year, I will be finishing the framed pictures that I started for my boy’s room instead of dreaming up art for my girls’ room. I will finish printing and framing photos for my husband’s side of our family tree before I re-do some perfectly good framed art in our dining room. I will touchup the paint smudges leftover from last year’s painting projects before I start brainstorming on new curtains for the master suite.
I will save more and waste less when I finish unfinished projects instead of starting new ones.
Take care of what you have.
In America, we can buy many things so cheaply that I’ve always struggled with spending time and money take care of something that can be replaced for a few dollars. But, prices on everything are rising and I’m starting to think more about saving by taking care of what I already have.
Practical ways to implement this? One way is using or freezing food before it goes bad. I used half a can of pumpkin for a recipe and put the rest in the refrigerator, then realized that I would probably let it go moldy before I used it, so I put it in the freezer. (The challenge will be to make sure I use it before it’s unrecognizable from freezer burn!)
I’m the first to admit that I’m not a fastidious laundry-doer. Some people get a thrill out of successfully getting a difficult stain out – my theory is that if you wash the garment enough times, the stain will come out/fade away anyway.
But, I’m trying to take better care of our clothing by at least checking for stains before putting them in the laundry and spraying with stain remover when necessary. My littlest ones tend to get the edges of sleeves and collars quite dirty, so I’m spraying them before putting in the washing machine. I’ve become fastidious about turning jeans inside out, as it does seem to keep them from fading as quickly; and socks are getting unwadded before being thrown in the washing machine so that they actually get clean.
I will save more and waste less by taking care of what I’ve already been blessed with.
Under-buy rather than over-buy.
When I open my pantry and linen closet, I see food and personal care items that have been in my possession for a very long time, purchased as a great deal but taking space in my home for years. I’m learning to be more judicious in what I buy – even if it’s a great deal.
I’m a huge believer in stockpiling good deals to save money – it’s one of the principles I teach in Grocery University – but I’m not confident that buying things and storing them for years is an effective use of money.
Pantene shampoo at 50¢ a bottle? Great price, but when we use only a couple of bottles a year it doesn’t make sense to spend $5 on ten bottles of shampoo. I suppose the money didn’t go to “waste” since I have something to show for it and it’s something we would eventually use, but it might have been better to spend $1 on a couple of bottles and save the $4 for something else.
I’m also making it a point to not spend money on things for theoretical events. Yes, that game of Connect Four for $5 was a great buy and would have come in handy if we’d been invited to a birthday party for someone that it would have been an appropriate gift for, but now it’s sat in my basement for a year and a half and I really would have rather spend the $5 on something else.
If it doesn’t have a name or specific event attached to it, I’m not buying it anymore. I’d rather pay full-price for one birthday gift rather than buy three at half-price that never get used.
I will save more and waste less by being cautious about overbuying, even on great deals.
Ask if something can be used before throwing it away.
This goal is going to be prevalent in my kitchen: before I throw scraps away, I will ask if there is another dish I can use the item for, or another way to repurpose the leftovers of a meal that no one really liked.
That quarter-cup of celery that I put in the freezer is worth only a few pennies – but by saving it, I may be able to prevent spending $1 on celery in the future when I want some depth of flavor for a soup or stock.
Last year, I learned that broccoli stalks can be made delicious by shredding them for a salad like this Chinese Broccoli Slaw, instead of purchasing expensive broccoli coleslaw in a bag. In theory, I would only be throwing away a few cents worth of broccoli, but by making it go farther, I can get another entire side dish out of something I previously threw away, which prevents me from having to purchase another vegetable.
I willl save more and waste less by finding ways to use perfectly-good items that I am used to throwing away.
Only spend money on what is positively useful.
I keep money in my storage closets and basement – do you? Well, not literally, but that’s what it feels like when I look around and see a $3 lamp that I bought at Goodwill, stacks of nice scrapbook paper that were purchased for a project that never materialized, or a couple of $10 organizational tools that I was just sure were going to be the solution to our toy mess.
One problem with thrifty shopping is that you often have to be prepared to buy when the deal is hot. Unfortunately, for me this means that I buy things without a solid plan. I know we want a lamp and I can’t resist one for just a few bucks, so I buy it and then later realize I don’t really love it, that my ideas of spray painting it won’t look that great, or that it’s going to cost a significant amount more to buy a shade and rewire the lamp.
You can shop frugally and not make these mistakes, though. I’m working on teaching myself to only purchase what is absolutely, positively useful. I’m looking past the great price tag to think about where I will put it, how much I need it, if it’s what I really want, how much it will cost to get it where I want it to be, and whether or not I really love it.
If I can conquer that, I’ll stop wasting money on items that get donated back to Goodwill and will then have money to spend on something that is what I really want.
I will save more and waste less by evaluating if something is truly useful and beautiful before buying it.
Save more by wasting less.
I rarely regret not spending money, but I often regret spending a few bucks on this and a few bucks on that. And now more than ever, those few dollars spent here and there are starting to add up.
In 2012, I will be focusing on saving money by wasting less. I don’t necessarily expect to see hundreds of extra dollars in my bank account, but I do think that I will learn some things about wise spending and thoughtful using.
How do you save more by wasting less?
More 5 Simple Ways Posts
Nine other bloggers are also sharing five simple ways today – please visit them for some great ideas and inspiration!
- Heavenly Homemakers- 5 Simple Ways To Accomplish More Each Day
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- My Blessed Life- 5 Simple Ways To Update Your Home Decor
- The Happy Housewife- 5 Simple Ways To Save Money In 2012
- Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures- 5 Simple Ways To Save Money In The Kitchen
- I’m In Organizing Junkie- 5 Simple Ways To Organize Without Spending Big Bucks
- Balancing Beauty and Bedlam- 5 Simple Ways To Freshen Up Your Wardrobe for 2012
- Southern Savers – 5 Simple Ways To Not Get Overwhelmed in Couponing