If you're interested in spending fewer of your hard-earned dollars, read on for some tips on how you can rather painlessly pinch pennies at home.
- Keep your thermostat turned down (or up in the summer) when you're away.
- Insulate your water heater and turn its thermostat down when you're away.
- Consider compact fluorescent lightbulbs, as they're cheaper in the long run than ordinary lightbulbs.
- Install dimmer switches. They allow you to use softer lighting when you don't need full-power lighting, and they'll save you money in the process.
- Close the blinds. This will keep your home cooler during the day and might keep some heat in at night.
- Turn off lights and appliances when not in use.
- When your liquid soaps are half finished, add some water to make them last a little longer.
- Consider using Procter & Gamble's
(NYSE:PG)Dryel or similar at-home dry-cleaning products for items that require dry-cleaning.
- When using cleaning agents, try using less than you're directed to. You'll often get just-as-good results, and you'll spend less. Also, take a look at the ingredients in name-brand cleaning agents you use and consider making your own. A gallon of bleach costs just a few dollars and goes a long way. A little bleach mixed with water in a squirt bottle makes a great antibacterial cleaning spray for the kitchen and any hard, colorfast surfaces (be careful and label it clearly to avoid accidents with carpet and fabrics). The bleach solution also kills mold and mildew on bathroom surfaces, just like the pricier products, such as Clorox's
(NYSE:CLX)Tilex. White vinegar mixed with water makes a great glass cleaner that costs pennies. Use it with old newspaper for streak- and lint-free sparkling windows and glass.
- If you need a desk, you can make one with a door resting on two two-drawer filing cabinets. Buy the door before the doorknob hole is cut, and stain it if you wish. Office supply stores such as Staples
(NASDAQ:SPLS)also carry sturdy folding tables meant for office environments that make great, portable desks -- usually for less than $50. Look for inexpensive doors at stores such as Home Depot (NYSE:HD)or Lowe's (NYSE:LOW).
- Don't toss out that tube of toothpaste until it's really empty. And know that you really only need about a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on your brush when you brush your teeth. Don't overuse that paste, or you'll end up buying more than you need to.
- Measure things. If you're supposed to use two tablespoons of dishwasher detergent, don't guess at what that is -- because you'll very possibly use more than you need to.
- Reuse Ziploc bags. You can wash them and turn them inside out to help them dry.
- Learn to do more of your home maintenance yourself. Home-improvement stores often offer free mini-seminars or workshops.
You'll find many more handy tips where most of these came from on our Living Below Your Means discussion board. The board's directory of tips is especially handy. Once you've saved some money, put it to work for you, and learn more in our Savings Center (which features some good interest rate deals).