Between inflation and increasing expectations, it is getting increasingly expensive to live. It’s hard to make ends meet when you can’t even find the ends! However, I often hear people comment that they can’t do any better, can’t live on less, and that they are just scraping by. I have yet to see anyone making that claim who was accurate. I am sure there are some people who are already doing everything possible, but they are few and far between.
Here are a few ideas to cut costs for 2021 and save a few dollars. As for what you do with the money you saved, that is up to you. But I suggest you keep God in mind as you handle your money, He made it possible for you to wake up this morning, to receive anything from work (because He made you able to work). He even made it possible for you to read this article. See Deuteronomy 8:18.
I start where everything dealing with personal finances has to start for real progress to be made.
Start or review your budget
Without a budget, you have no way to track how well you are doing until it is too late. A well-crafted budget is one that is started based on your historical expenses and then develops and grows with you as income, prices, costs and expenses change. Inflation makes it necessary for any budget to be a lifelong work-in-progress.
No budget is perfect every month because, for example, electric and utility bills vary each month, but by watching your budget at least monthly, you become conscious of using too much electricity or water, leaky faucets, air conditioning set too cool, or heating set to warm, etc. You have a chance to see where the financial leaks are in your ship of state before it sinks.
For help with budgeting, we will be adding a budgeting section to our website in the near future. Dave Ramsey with his Financial Peace University starts with budgeting and I could not agree more that it is the essential first step. Another of his recommendations is also essential. You should …
Institute a 10-minute rule
If you are shopping and come across something you hadn’t planned on buying but it looks like a really good deal and you want it, stop! Wait 10 minutes (it is a purely arbitrary number; even better, perhaps you can try a 20-minute rule), and then go back and look at that special deal. It may not look so special anymore. Those 10 or more minutes can save you a lot of money. In fact, in 2021, FPU will be available through the Idlewild stewardship ministry to more people than ever before. Call Pastor Rob at 813-264-1515 and check it out.
Use cash, not a credit or debit card
Studies make it clear (as does personal experience) that if spending is quick and convenient, people spend quicker and more. That is why Amazon makes it easy for you – you can register your credit card or your PayPal account and shopping is as easy as one simple click. That is why PayPal exists and thrives, speed and convenience works! However, think about it! Is spending faster and easier really a good thing?
Having to hand over cold cash makes a purchase so much more “real”, that people spend less. There is also the advantage that if, for example, you take $100 for grocery shopping (like that is enough anymore), then that is all you can spend! If the money isn’t in your wallet (or envelope for the FPU graduates), and you don’t have a credit or debit card with you, you can’t spend it.
Avoid “convenience” (meaning it costs you more) stores and show at a wholesaler like Sam’s or Costco. That requires you to carefully plan a shopping trip, scan your pantry to what you have and buy for the reasonably near future. Make sure the prices of what you want really are better than the grocery store, something that is not always the case, and make a list.
Look for a farmer’s market along the way because you might find a few surprising bargains.
Have a left-over Thursday meal
Most families have some left-overs at some meals. Safely store the left-overs and organize them so you know what they are and regularly have a left-over meal where they get eaten. Many refrigerators have things growing in cellophane wrap or containers that have been there weeks. Some of those things may be growing – and many are no longer edible! Not only is that wasteful of good food, it is financially wasteful.
This may also encourage a meatless meal which is probably better for you anyway. Fewer calories and saved money make for a good combination.
Give away unused clothing
Most people have clothes they have not worn in one or more years. Likewise, many people are holding onto clothes since they know they will lose weight soon and be able to get back into them. Or maybe they are holding onto those bell-bottom pants waiting for them to come back into style!
Make a realistic assessment and if you have clothes not worn in a year or two (set your own time limit – but be realistic), then give the clothes away. Clothes sitting in a closet are no good to anyone. In a thrift store, those old clothes of yours can become someone’s treasure. Consider giving clothes to Loft 181 for teenage girls in foster care or Garage 517 for teenage boys in foster care.
Hand-in-hand with that is the requirement that you avoid fad or impulse buying so you do not create future clothes sitting in a closet or drawer. Think “waste of money.” How many pairs of pants, shirts, shoes, sock and other clothing items do you need as opposed to want?
How does this lower costs? If you give to a qualified 501(c)(3) charity and get a receipt, you may be able to get a tax deduction for the charitable donation. You tax bill is a cost of living; saving on it is a good thing!
Buy less and make more
Here’s a website with a great list of products that you can make, so you buy less of those expensive home cleaning products. Click here. This is a page of Mom’s Budget which is loaded with money-saving ideas. It can also be visited by Dad’s! They have ideas on making products such as:
Make your own oven cleaner without chemicals
Make your own soft scrub cleaner
Homemade Febreeze recipes you can make
Make your own disinfectant wipes
Make your own silver polishing cloths
Homemade SoftScrub Cleaner Recipe
Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe
Make your own lemon dishwasher detergent
Scrubby oven cleaner recipe
Bathroom Tile Cleaner
Stainless Steel Polish Recipe
Antibacterial bathroom cleaner recipe
Make your own daily shower spray
Herbal Carpet Freshener Recipe
Hand cleaner for mechanical grease
Homemade vanilla deodorizer spray
Stain remover for porcelain sinks
Lime deposit remover for teakettles
Heavy duty grout cleaner with ammonia
Ceramic Tile Stain Remover
All-purpose metal polish & cleaner
Non-Toxic Grout Cleaner
Stainless steel cleaner
Pine Oil Disinfectant
Everyday Ceramic Tile Cleaner
Spray starch recipe for laundry
Scented aromatherapy all purpose cleaner
Make your own fly paper
Pre-wash laundry stain remover recipe
Laundry detergent recipe
Hand sanitizing gel recipe
Aromatic Vanilla Air Freshener Recipe
Sparkle spray window cleaner
Mildew & Scum Remover
(I removed the links so you could go to the website and article and see additional helpful information).
Can you save a lot that way? You certainly can. Many more ideas can be found at 100 Ways to Save Money and Top 50 Money-Saving Tips. A simple web search for money-saving-ideas will give you many more sits and ways to save.
So, is it possible to save even when you thought you couldn’t save anymore at all? Probably.
If you have any additional ideas, please let us know. Call The Idlewild Foundation at (813) 264-8713.
About the Author
John Campbell has retired from a 40-year legal practice as a trial attorney in Tampa. He has served in multiple volunteer roles at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, where he met Jesus. He began serving as the Executive Director of the Idlewild Foundation in 2016. He has been married to the love of his life, Mona Puckett Campbell, since 1972.