personalfinance

3 Uncommon Ways to Slash Your Monthly Expenses

Dec 4th 2010 at 6:44 PM

There's no shame in wanting to save money on your monthly expenses. And, because of the current state of the economy, flashing your frugality is actually considered to be cool! Plus, the more money you save on necessities, the more money you can spend on what you really want!

Surely, you're aware of the obvious money-saving ideas, such as clipping coupons, or riding your bike instead of driving, but you could save much more by taking an unconventional approach on your expenses.

Grow Your Own

Groceries are getting very expensive. And, while clipping coupons may save you money, items such as vegetables rarely go on sale. Therefore, if you make the effort to grow these items yourself, you stand to save thousands of dollars each year on groceries without coupons.

If you haven't already, start a vegetable and herb garden in your backyard. Alternatively, you could grow them just as well in decorative pots on your patio. There are also miniature varieties of fruit trees, which can provide you mounds of fresh fruit in a small space.

Even if you choose to grow just one vegetable, such as tomatoes or onions, it's one less $3 purchase at the grocery store each week. In fact, if you save $3 per week on just on vegetable, you can save $156 per year. Growing a variety can save you at least $10 per week, or $520 per year, on fresh produce.

Save even more by learning how to preserve your own fruits and vegetables. A food dehydrator makes delicious snacks and trail mixes of dried fruit, saving money on snacks. You could even use your homemade preserves as gifts, saving you even more money during the holidays.

Tip: If you purchase flowers on a regular basis, consider growing flowers at home so you can create your own bouquets for free. And, if you plant them in your front yard, you also boost your curb appeal!

Make Your Own

In a modern household, bread and soda can take up a considerable part of the grocery budget. If you have hungry teens or preteens in the house, you'll find that sandwiches (with a side of soda) are one of the most requested meals.

Therefore, if you make your own bread and soda you can save well over $10 per week. Making your own bread isn't very difficult. While a bread maker helps the process go far quicker, making your bread from scratch isn't difficult at all!

You can make any variety of bread that suits your family's fancy. And, the best part is that the bread will be made for just pennies on the dollar. And, if you use coupons to purchase your ingredients, you'll save even more money!
Added Bonus: Because you get to choose your ingredients, your bread will be a far healthier treat.

Making soda at home can take less than 60 seconds if you purchase a soda machine. A soda machine is compact (no bigger than an automatic can opener), and costs approximately $80 including the soda flavoring, the carbonation can, and carrying bottles. If you currently spend $5 per week on soda, you can save $260 per year.

Make the Most of Freebies

Companies give samples for a reason - because it helps them build customer loyalty and spread the word about their new product. Use this to your advantage by signing up for free offers from well-known brands of foods and household products, such as laundry detergent and cleaning products.

Well-known retailers commonly release these types of freebies:

1. Air fresheners
2. Laundry detergent
3. Cleaning supplies
4. Snacks
5. Link Sausages (select brands only)
6. Pens, pencils, markers, highlighters
7. Feminine products
8. Shampoo/conditioner
9. Magazines
10. Photo printing
11. Toothpaste
12. Recipe books
13. Breakfast cereals
14. Dog foods/treats
15. Coffee/tea samples

You can save considerably by simply signing up for free offers and receiving the items you would normally pay out-of-pocket to use. You won't get a full sized product in a free sample, as the size of the sample will be small, generally less than three ounces in most cases.

However, a sample size of shampoo can easily provide you with almost a week of free shampoo. And, by receiving a free sample of coffee that makes two servings, you can save $6 if you usually purchase your morning coffee at Starbucks, McDonald's, or Dunkin Donuts.

In some instances, by combining samples, you can create a meal for a small family. Or feed your dog for a day. Or clean a week's worth of laundry by simply using the samples.

By devoting just 10 minutes each day to signing up for free sample offers, you can drastically minimize your expenses and have free samples delivered to your mailbox a few times each week. In addition, you'll often receive high value coupons with your freebie, which you can later use to get a free full sized item when combined with a store sale.

There are a million ways to save money on your monthly expenses; you just have to be willing to think out-of-the-box.

Start small with your saving efforts. And, once you see how much money you can save each month by incorporating these simple ideas into your life, you'll be addicted to slashing your expenses!

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