In today’s economy, it can be hard to get ahead. As a young family, we have experienced many of the ups and downs that make it difficult to invest in the future. Here are some ways I have found to save money and work toward financial freedom that can then be put toward retirement, college funds, or the down payment on the perfect home.
- Gardening- Eat what you grow, and grow what you eat. If you love cucumbers and pickles, grow extra. If something is out of season, go without. It will make it that much better next year. If you don’t do well on a certain crop that year, trade for it. Make sure you plan ahead and grow a winter garden as well.
- Plan shopping ahead- This ties in with meal planning and saving on groceries, but it can apply to a lot more. If you live 20+ miles from town or just around the corner, this applies. Buy what you can in bulk and plan all your errands at once. This saves you time, gas, and money. Plus, if you can look around for the best deals ahead of time online, you aren’t going to be spending as much PLUS if you have a list, you are less likely to impulse buy. Check out these worksheets for saving on groceries.
- If you have read our Meat Rabbits for Beginners post we break down what it costs us to raise rabbits. Chickens, quail, and duck are all a similar cost. You can supply all your meat needs in a relatively small space for half the price it would be buying in store. Plus, you get eggs, fur, and feathers!
- COOK! – Ingredients are so much cheaper than premade. Going out to eat can cost an arm and a leg. It takes a little more time and effort, but knowing what you are putting in to your body, that it is prepared in a clean space, and the amount of money you’ll save make this worth it. It doesn’t have to be boring stuff either. Here’s our favorite dessert, chocolate chip blondies.
- Preserve- If you just have garden enough to enjoy seasonally, that is still great. Ideally though, you will be able to grow or raise enough to save for year-round. Be it canning, freezing, or drying, stocking up on your own products will save you hundreds to thousands a year. The average household spends at least $8000 a year on groceries. If you can save even half of that, that is a good chunk of change.
- D.I.Y.- If you can do something yourself, do it. Try to learn to fix things around the house yourself and mend what you can instead of replacing. Do not toss a sock because it has a hole in it, fix it! If you do not know how to, there is a ton of information out there just a click away. You can also make your own household products for pennies compared to store bought like this homemade laundry detergent.
- Use recycled materials- If you need to build a shelf, don’t go to the hardware store, find pallets. You can also buy leftover material from building projects. Those tiles may not match, but they do the job. One of our favorite way to get wood for projects are the rejects at the hardware stores. These usually have knots or are less than straight, but the rabbits don’t seem to mind.
- Thrift stores- Don’t buy new what you can get used without losing function. This is practically everything. You do not need a brand-new salad bowl when the one at the thrift store is only $1. Kids do not need brand new clothes when they will grow out of them soon anyway.
- Make ahead- This goes hand in hand with cooking, but deserves a section. Instead of buying coffee every morning, make ahead and keep in a pitcher in the fridge. Iced coffee ready to go for those fast-paced mornings. Breakfast can be made ahead as well. We often make homemade pancakes and freeze them, my daughters favorite. We freeze breakfast sandwiches also. Just throw these in the microwave and grab an apple and you are ready to go in 2 minutes. I mention this because this was one of our big money hogs. If we were running late in the morning (I always am) then we would grab something in the drive through. At a minimum of $3 a person, our family was out around $150 a month due to this habit!
- Save on energy- In the summer, set your thermostat at least to 75. In winter, set it at 70 or lower. We use this programmable thermostat we found on Amazon. If you are too hot, remove a layer, if you are too cold add one. Cover your windows with plastic during the winter. We use Duck brand window kits, they’re cheap and highly effective. Curtains also save on heating and cooling when you have the light on anyway. During the day, pull those curtains back instead of switching on the light!
There are a ton of other things you can do, but these are some good ideas to start with. Financial freedom doesn’t happen overnight, but with these in play, we are closer every day!