August 22, 2012

Pinching Pennies

Many people are struggling to make ends meet now. I'm sure most folks know of coupon clippers who swear that's the path to financial peace and others who say coupons are useless, savings happen when you make everything from scratch from food and baked goods to cleaning products. Some hints are good across the board: and never go out of style, like don't grocery shop when you're hungry, try generic products, use less than the recommended amount of things like soap, clean windows with old newspaper, tips that have been around forever. This post isn't intended to reiterate those, rather to offer a few you may not have thought of yet.

1.Take advantage of your location. You can check at FreeCycle to see if there is a group in your area.  This organization is just what it says. By e-mail local members offer items they no longer want or need and other members take the items away. Ours allows people to post  requests like: Wanted, backpack for grade school child.Often another member does have that extra backpack, unused ironing board or item youneed and it's free for the cost of going to pick it up. On the flip side, it allows ongoing or single piece clutter removal and you're able to control when and how that happens, not always possible with larger charity donation  sites.

2. Along the same idea as above, but more personal, ask your friends and neighbors if they can help with things you may need often. My example is packing materials, paper, bubble wrap, anything of that nature. A friend gets a number of medications and other things delivered by mail and she's happy to put it all in one spot till we get together for lunch. She doesn't have to go to  much effort, saving material that's already there and it keeps me from having to buy stuff that could have already been in the landfill. People who love to garden are often happy to share plants, give cuttings and save bulbs when they're separated. If you know someone who already has an established garden, it doesn't hurt to ask. Mr. B has been very successful at growing these vines with pretty purple flowers: 

he  regularly harvests the seeds and is happy to give them away to anyone who asks.

3. Think before you pitch something out if it can be used again in another incarnation.
Big bags that contained pet food or large pillows can be used again as trash can liners or to pick up debris from the yard or if plastic, under a high chair or play table. Make them work twice at least before tossing. Why spend money on a large garbage bag if you don't have to? Bloggers are great recyclers already, so if you haven't checked out crafts made from clean empty cans, jars and bottles do so now. Things most people have around the house anyway can be cute, useful or a great source for kids to use their imaginations. I shred thin cardboard to use as padding to pack fragile items and cut the lids off clean boxes to reuse, or maybe just separate lid and bottom to use as drawer or cabinet organizers.

Here are some empty jars that stand on the kitchen windowsill with chopsticks and drinking straws in them. As you see, my able assistant, Flossie, helped with the shot.

4. Before you buy something new make sure you don't own it already, or something similar that would work just as well. To help this process, try hard to store like things together because it's easy to forget the existence of a tool or gadget or piece of clothing left where it doesn't belong.

5. The best tip of all, though, is free. Use your local public library. Because we're in a big city there is a Central Library and neighborhood branches spread throughout the area. Besides books, dvds and music to check out, here is a very partial list of free classes and events going on at HPL:

  • Classical Literature Book Club
  • IGoogle
  • Passport Services
  • Urban Fiction Book Club
  • Crochet
  • Conversational Spanish
  • 50+ Computer Club
  • Tunes at Noon-live music
  • Inter-library loan for materials yours doesn't own
  • Mystery Book Club
  • eBook Open House
  • Chinese Tai Chi
  • Quilters
  • Homework Help
  • Audubon Society
  • Website Design
  • Public Poetry
  • Social Networking 
  • Credit Report
  • Kids' Crafts
  • Computer-zillions of these
  • ESL
  • Noon Movies
  • Laughter Yoga
  • Job Skills Lab
  • Stress Relief and Relaxation
  • Workout
  • Tax assistance for senior citizens
  • Paper Crafting
  • One whole location dedicated to genealogy research
  • Custom Fitting and Alterations
  • Baby Yoga
  • Bedtime Storytime
  • Yarn People
  • Technology Toolbox
  • Mango Language
  • Wii Game Time
  • Video Games for Kids
  • Needlework Club

That is just a sample of free offerings going on now. During the summer while browsing for books I've seen a petting zoo on the lawn outside the library, clowns, water play and a firetruck visiting at the story hour. There is a whole teen zone away from the main stacks available for that age bracket with newspapers and magazines of all kinds to peruse. Some libraries lend toys as well as books and most have a summer reading club to keep skills up over the break as well as reading lists for area middle and high school students. So, get one of these:

You'll never regret it.

More on thrift and savings another time. 

Stay cool,


A Walk in the Countryside said...

Good tips! Unfortunately since we live in the country we can't take advantage of some of the city perks! However, we do recycle or should I say, repurpose, a lot of things!

Tricia said...

Lots of frugal ideas here! I need to check out FreeCycle, especially for giving away large items.

Janette - The2Seasons said...

Thanks for the idea on what to do with my warped terrarium. i also have seen them used to hold books.

Brandi said...

These are all great tips, Michele. Thank you for sharing. I appreciate your visit to my blog as well.

Jody and Stan said...

Great tips. Thanks also for stopping by with your sweet comment. New Follower.