Buy in bulk.
Find second uses for everything.
These are all powerful frugal tactics and they’ll all save you money. I’ll give you five examples.
1. Got an old t-shirt that’s worn out? Toss it into a “scrap cloth” bin and save it for times when you just need a big piece of cloth to clean up a mess or protect something else from getting too messy.
2. Collect canvas bags whenever you can find them. Take them with you to the grocery store. You’ll save $0.05 on your bill per bag at many stores, the bags are much more sturdy (and less prone to bags ripping or other accidents), and it’s better for the environment, too.
3. Want to save money on pretty much any household product? Keep an eye on the price per unit and buy the version that has the lowest cost with that regard. You’ll pay less per use, but you’ll often wind up with fifteen bars of soap (or similar levels of excess).
4. Your vegetable scraps from the kitchen make brilliant compost. You just need a small compost bin out back. Toss the scraps in there and harvest the black compost months later. It’s spectacularly powerful on your garden.
5. Buy any holiday supplies you need in the days after the holiday passes, then store them for next year. You’ll get enormous discounts and the stuff will be just fine in storage for eleven months.
What do these four tactics have in common? They all save you money over doing things the “typical” way. But each one of them takes up valuable space in your home or on your property.
To put it simply, frugality and free space work hand in hand. It’s much easier to pull off bulk buying and things like a “rag bin” if you’ve got space for those items.
Of course, at the same time, frugality works hand in hand with being in control of your possessions. You’re far better off having one high-quality television than four cheap ones that will just fail every few years. You’re far better off just owning a handful of your favorite books and a handful of unread books than mountains of books you’ve read and will likely never touch again (sell them, already!) and piles of books you might someday read (use the library for that!).
These two ideas combine together with one word: organization. Having a place for everything you own and not having more stuff than you can actually realistically use in the next year work together towards not only freeing up money (by selling off the excess stuff, you can pay off debts or start an emergency fund) but also freeing up the space you need for a lot of frugal projects.
It’s surprisingly easy to organize your house. It only takes several hours, three baskets, and some patience. When you’re done, you’ll have a big pile of stuff to get rid of, as well as a sensible home for every item in your house.
Get three baskets and go into a room. I often use laundry baskets when I decide to do this, but you can use any sort of large tub that you wish. What you’re going to do is go through every single item in that room and put the ones that are not in the right place into one of the three tubs.
One tub is for stuff that should remain in the room but is out of place. Don’t worry about putting it back in the right place yet – you should do all of that when you’re done. For now, just collect the stuff that you are sure will stay in the current room.
Another tub is for stuff that should remain in your home but is in the wrong room. If it should be in another room in your home, it needs to go into this tub.
A final tub is for stuff that you no longer wish to keep. As you go through each item, ask yourself honestly if this item needs to be kept. If you don’t have a definite “yes” as a response, put it in this tub.
When you’ve put everything in the room that can be moved into the tubs, it’s time to deal with each one.
Put all of the stuff in the first tub where it should be in the room.
Put all of the stuff in the second tub into the room where it should be. You can just put the items on the floor in that room if you so wish, but if you’re going back into a room you’ve already finished, you should put the item away.
Put all of the stuff in the third tub in a place where you can go through it later. The garage is a good place for it.
Then, just move to the next room and repeat the procedure with the three tubs. When you’re done, your house will feel a lot more organized and roomy.
The final step, of course, is to deal with all of the stuff you decided to get rid of. Ignore your second guessing here. You will likely think, “Well, I can keep this now that I have room,” but don’t fall into that trap. Trust your initial instinct and sell off or trade away that item.
The best thing to do is to have a garage sale with all of those items. Put up a sign in a couple of weeks, price everything, put up some tables, and arrange all the stuff. Your goal is not to make a mint, but to sell off a lot of the items.
You may want to sell media items at a media shop or trade them online. Both will earn you some cash from your excess items.
Keep in mind that this is an ongoing process. You may wind up starting over before you complete all of the rooms, but if you do that, the rooms you’ve already done will go much, much faster than before. You’ll probably also come across projects that need to be completed along the way – just use your own judgment with them, but the key is to keep moving forward with something.
What’s the end result of all of this? You have money from the stuff you cleared out. You have time because you’re not hunting for stuff all over the place. You have space for other frugal steps that will, in the end, save you more money and time.