While I am away, the fabulous Laurie at Bargain Hunter has agreed to share a four-part series she wrote about various ways she goes about saving money. Laurie’s a great writer and I really hope you enjoy the tips she has for living a more fantabulously frugal lifestyle!
Hello, I’ll be doing a few guest posts this week for Miss Fantabulously Frugal over the next couple of days. My name is Laurie and I’ve been an “extreme couponer” for about a year now. At the start of 2009 I challenged myself to live on a $500 grocery budget. To aid in my other goal of being out of debt by the end of 2009, I’ve been exploring other ways to help save money. Stay tuned for some of my favorite tips!
1. Do your own yard work: I live in a condo and pay association fees so this does not apply to me. BUT, if I owned a home I would definitely be out there mowing my own lawn. I help Ryan (my BF) with some of his yard work like raking leaves and shoveling snow. It’s a nice way to spend time together, get a little exercise and save some cash. For the record, last summer I cleaned Ryan’s gutters for him. I put on a pair of those rubber dish washing gloves and I was good to go. I actually kind of enjoyed it.
2. Plant a vegetable garden: I am extremely jealous that I can’t do this! I have some small flower beds, but it is forbidden by the condo association. Sigh. Think of how much money you could save if you were able to skip buying veggies at the grocery store each week. Ryan’s neighbor has tons of tomato plants. So many that she is able to can enough to last her family all winter and have leftovers to give away.
3. Plant an herb garden: At my grocery stores, the packages of fresh herbs sometimes cost $3 each! And I almost never use them up before they go bad. As I start to cook more meals at home, having an herb garden will probably save me from buying at least one package per week. That’s $156 per year. YIKES!
4. Swap plants with a friend: Last spring I met up with a friend of a friend who graciously sent me home with probably 40 different types of flowers and herbs from her garden. We went through her garden and she divided whatever flowers I was interested in, making sure she grabbed me at least one taproot from each one I chose. She had saved the disposable flower pots they had originally come in, so we just put them in there for the drive to my house. I was able to fill up all four of my flower beds for free. Plus I had about 7 different types of flowers and about 10 different herbs that I gave to Ryan for his house. Nothing beats free.
5. Shut off outdoor lighting: The only time I keep my front porch light on is when I’m expecting company or when someone is leaving my home at night. If I’m expecting company at 8pm, I wait until 7:45 to turn the lights on and shut them off as soon as they arrive. No need to keep them on and waste electricity.
You could also invest in the solar stake lights. I got a few of these last year for $4 each. They are still working and provide just enough light for me when I get home after dark.
6. Compost: I finally started my own compost bin. (The condo association will probably freak if/when they find out I have a bucket of decomposing food on my deck.) I’ve already seen the amount of garbage I put out each week drastically reduced. I’m down to one large bag every 2 or 3 weeks. If you live in an area that charges for garbage pickup, biweekly pickup would certainly be a cheaper option. Plus you will be able to use your compost in 2 – 3 months as (free) potting soil or mulch in your garden. (I used the instructions over at This Young House and made mine for only $5.99.)
7. Rain Barrel: These are used to collect rainwater from the downspout on your house. The (free) water can be used to water the lawn/garden/house plants, wash your car and more. There is a great tutorial over at This Young House . They made theirs for $40!
What are some of your money saving tips when it comes to yard work?