If you missed the first parts of this series, you can read them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5. Here's the sixth installment in this series of ideas of ways to save $100 or more this year:
23) Recover your furniture instead of replacing it. When my husband and I were first married, we spent a total of $100 to furnish our apartment. We accepted hand-me-downs for almost everything and then purchased a used matching sofa and chair we found in the newspaper.
Four years later, when we had made it through law school a had a little more wiggle room in our budget, we decided it was about time we replace our living room set. We had scrimped together a few hundred dollars and naively figured we could likely find something for this amount. However, we quickly found that a few hundred dollars doesn't go very far when it comes to furniture.
We scoured garage sales, second-hand stores, surplus stores, and Craigslist, all to no avail. Either the furniture was very used, hideously ugly, or just plain too expensive.
Finally, a friend suggested we consider buying slipcovers instead of replacing our furniture. We'd never considered that, but after a little digging, we discovered you can buy brand-new slip covers off of eBay for about half of what they'd run retail. And the price of these slipcovers paled in comparison to buying new furniture!
So, after buying two slipcovers and making some matching throw pillows, we re-did the entire look of our living room for less than $150!
(If you were more handy with a sewing machine than me, you could likely make slipcovers or just up and recover your entire sofa for even less than we paid.)
24) Constantly challenge yourself to improve. My husband and I are fairly competitive people so we've found we can really use this to our advantage when it comes to saving and giving. We set goals every month for how much we hope to save and give and how we hope to accomplish it and then we have a running competition to see if we can actually pull it off.
Some months, we'll commit to not going out to eat, or reducing our energy usage, or driving less, or spending less on groceries, or not spending any money on anything but basic necessities. Each month, it's a little different so that it keeps life interesting and we never grow bored of the challenge. In addition, we always set our goals a little higher than what we think we can pull off, just to challenge ourselves to think outside the box and be more self-disciplined.
Making it like a game to see how well we can live while still reaching our financial goals makes it fun and exciting. Who says that living on a budget and living beneath your means needs to be a miserable experience?!
The biggest benefit of challenging ourselves in this way is that it really does seem to allow us to save and give more. We don't always quite make our monthly goals, but I am positive we go a lot farther than we would if we didn't set any goals and didn't come up with creative challenges each month to help us try and meet them.
25) Drink water. Okay, so this might not be your favorite way to save $100 this year, but if you want to spend less and save more, curbing the caffeine addiction is something to seriously consider.
Water is the beverage of choice in our home. We enjoy coffee and even soft drinks on occasion, but these are reserved as a treat, not an everyday occurrence. And we've saved a lot of money over the years because of this.
I know you often hear about how you can save money by "cutting the Starbucks habit" and I'm sure it has almost begun to seem cliche at this point, but have you ever really done the math? If you regularly get drinks from the soda machine at work or stop in often at the drive-thru at a local coffee shop, have you ever taken the time to add up how much these little expenditures are really costing you? If you spend $3 five times per week on lattes, that's over $750 each year! Or even if you only spend $1 five days a week on a drink, that still is over $250 a year.
If giving up your daily latte is unthinkable, perhaps you could consider learning to make it at home? You'll save a tremendous amount of by doing so and you might find you can make it even better than the local coffee shop. But I still recommend water–it's a lot fewer calories than most caffeinated beverages and it's really good for you, too!
To be continued…
photo by Refracted Moments