5 Easy Tips for Saving Money at Home

20140106-150509.jpg

Most of us try to save money and most of us do a decent job of it. We face a lot of external factors (like which store is having a deal, the state of the economy, etc.) on a daily basis. So much so that, often times, we forget about the actions that we can take right in our own homes to save some extra money.

Hurry, hurry, step right up, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for – my 5 easy tricks for saving money in the home, that you might not have thought of before:

1) Freeze candles.

There’s no need to clean your ears, you heard me right. Before you plan to use your candles, put them in the freezer for a couple of hours. This will help them to drip less and last longer, while saving you some dough because you won’t have to buy as many or as often!

2) Use the (underestimated) back side of papers.

I am a paper magnet. No, seriously, my apartment is the heaven of trees. Between work, school, mail, writing and my inclination toward reading from actual paper versus a computer screen, I have acquired a ton of paper. Just when I feel proud of one of my recent paper purges, I turn around and there’s more paper stacking up!

Over the years, one way that I’ve found that helps to combat this mess is using the back side of papers. Naturally, it’s not the first thing you’d think to do with that used piece of scrap paper or that newsletter from your child’s school. But, when it comes time for you to make a grocery list (as any thrifty gal should do), leave a note for your husband or print your online coupons, this back side of the paper will come in really handy. Take a moment and think about how many times a day you scribble on a new piece of paper. Now multiply that number by 365. That’s how many pieces of paper you could be saving per year if you just started embracing the long-snubbed back side. And think of how many trees you’ll be saving too!

3) Pry open (get creative) flattened tubes and bottles before throwing them away.

I understand that some of you might find it “cheap” or “below” you to do this, but you’re just missing out! A great way to save money on usually-expensive cosmetics and toiletries is by making sure you’re using them “till the last drop”. If you pay $10 for a bottle of conditioner, then gosh darn it, you should get $10 worth of that smooth and silky hair-gold! By slicing open your used tubes and bottles, you can get several more days – even WEEKS – out of them. What’s that noise, you ask? Oh, that’s music to your ears!

4) Wear clothes twice before washing.

You might be cringing right now. That’s okay – let it out. I mean, this tip goes beyond the borders of what we perceive as “normal”. To most people, my suggestion is unheard-of and precedent-free. But I ask this in all seriousness: if you wear an outfit once, and deem it stain-free and not covered in dirt, why not wear it one more time before you wash it? This will help you save money on laundry detergent, electricity and the cost of water – cha-ching! Even better? Your clothes will last longer this way, with less wear and tear. Go one step further and, if realistic, opt to use the clothesline instead of the dryer and you will save even more mula!

5) Use Freecycle and Craigslist.

Believe it or not, these sites are not only saturated with crazy people and hoodlums, scouring the internet for the most gullible people on the planet. Yes, you need to be careful and mindful when using these sites, but they are truly great tools for anyone trying to stick to a budget. If you haven’t looked at Craigslist lately, please do it. Pay special attention to the section that says “free” – that’s “free”, as in free stuff!

People that don’t need an item anymore will post a listing on these sites and, most times, if you have the means to go pick it up, it’s yours. No questions asked. The best way to get the most out of this tip is to look for items that you need. That being said, if you don’t necessarily need something, but you’re a DIYer (like I am), THIS IS YOUR CAMELOT. You can get all sorts of goodies to inspire your upcycling dreams, and best of all, they’re super cheap (or free)!

Advertisements

My Budget, DIY Wedding: 6 Ways I Saved a Bunch of Money

I am going to join everyone else in doing a bit of reflecting today, on this past year and all that it has blessed me with. One thing stands out (quite obviously) and that is my wedding. Being admittedly obsessive-compulsive, the fact that I can look back on that day without any worries, anxiety or regrets is truly an amazing feeling.

Beacon-9415

*Credit: All photos in this post were taken by John Munson at Beacon Photography.

With that in mind, I want to share a post that I’ve wanted to write for a while now. As I mentioned previously, planning my wedding is what reignited my creativity and inspired the creation of this blog. Since weddings are super expensive and only getting more so, and planning one can be extremely stressful, I want to share the 6 ways that I was able to save a boatload of money in planning my wedding:

1) Discounted and DIY Stationery.

Save the Dates: When it came time to make the save the dates, I was still very new to the whole wedding planning process (or strategy, if you will). I knew we had a very tight budget (I’m talking incredibly tight to the point most would find it unattainable) and large families. So I waited until there was a 50% promo code for save the dates at Minted and I ordered them. Easy enough – and I saved about $150 with the promo code!

Invitations: As the wedding got closer, I started pondering what on earth we were going to do for invitations. Knowing how expensive they are, I panicked a little. Once I got back on my one-minded, budget-planning track, I weighed my options. We could either order really crappy invitations because it would be all we could afford, OR… wait for it… we could make our own! If you can’t already tell by my enthusiasm, we went for the latter.

I had a bunch of leftover envelopes from a friend’s baby shower that I planned a few months earlier, so I decided to use those and then get more of the same. My husband (bless his soul) and I bought the extra envelopes at Staples. I ordered cardstock paper online from The Paper Mill Store in the texture and color I wanted, using a promo code to save me 40% on my order.

Once I had the materials, I used Microsoft Publisher to design the invitations which consisted of a main invitation, guest information card, ceremony info card (for our immediate family, as we had a very intimate ceremony), a silly “celebration rules” card and an RSVP instruction card. We had everyone RSVP online through our wedding website, so we saved money on an entire set of envelopes and stamps! We tied all of the pieces together with some twine and called it a day. *There will be a tutorial on DIY wedding invitations coming soon. In the mean time, check out this printable stationery checklist from DIY Bride. I used this and just adjusted it to fit my own vision.

2) Free Ceremony Venue and Discounted Reception Venue.

This one is pretty self-explanatory. We had an intimate ceremony with just our immediate family, and we had it in our backyard, overlooking the ocean with a view of the Boston skyline. And just like that we had the beauty of nature (free décor!) and a budget-friendly venue (free!). Aside from décor and attire, all we shelled out for the ceremony, other than the champagne and beers purchased by my new in-laws (I can’t thank them enough), was the $100 officiant fee.

For our reception, we chose the yacht club down the street from our house, at which my (now) husband is a member. Not only do local function halls tend to be less expensive than the bigger, more popular venues, but, with his member discount, my husband was able to save us over 50% on the fee for the hall! I knew that I would just have to create decorations that would give us the most bang for our buck, so to speak. The amazing views also helped, as they drew a lot of attention away from the hall itself.

3) DIY everything… no, really… everything.

My husband and I made our own photobooth and saved over $600. We also made our own centerpieces, arbor, bouquets, boutonnieres, guestbook, card box and the rest of the décor for both the ceremony and reception. A major way that I found to save money was by not having any real flowers. Yes, you heard me right. We did not have any real flowers at our wedding!

  Beacon-8146 Beacon-8189Beacon-8020 Beacon-8345 Beacon-8348 Beacon-8353 Beacon-8398

4) Open Seating Plan and Delicious BBQ.

The key to keeping most any wedding guest happy is good food. It was really important to my husband and me that we choose yummy food options that would keep our guests full and satisfied. If you’ve ever planned a wedding, then you know how terrifyingly expensive catering can be. That being said, we chose a BBQ joint in our area (Blue Ribbon Bar-B-Q… yummmmm) to cater our reception. We saved some money by having them drop the food off and having the staff at the reception venue serve it. We also opted to have an open seating plan and let our guests choose where they sat. By doing this, we saved money on place cards. We also decided not to have a cake. Instead, we had a dessert table; I baked a lot of dessert breads and froze them ahead of time, while various friends and family members brought desserts to add to the table.

Beacon-8357

5) No Professional Band or DJ.

We paid a friend to be our DJ. This allowed us to create the entire playlist ourselves, so we could ensure that the music being played would be something we liked. This did provide for a bit of a challenge because, as it turns out, we underestimated the length of our playlist, but it was just a minor hiccup in the day and really didn’t make much of a difference. In fact, I’m not sure if anyone else noticed. Since DJs can run upwards of $1,000+, we saved oodles of money in this area.

6) Thrifty and Fun Attire.

The total cost of both my attire and my husband’s, including the boutonniere and bouquet materials, was under $500. And $150 of that was for my cowboy boots (splurge!). Being shy and, I think, sometimes socially inept, I knew I wanted to buy my dress online. This might not be the best option for everyone, but it worked for me. After months of searching, I found my dress at Macy’s for $70 (and I got a promo code for free shipping). My husband and his groomsmen wore jeans and I ordered my birdcage veil and flower clip from Etsy. I chose to do my own nails and my future sister-in-law did my hair and makeup (she’s amazing). All in all, it worked out better and we saved more money than I could have ever hoped!

Beacon-7934Beacon-9178Beacon-9151