December212012.info
FREEBIE LIBRARY!
Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.

52 Different Ways to Save $100 a Year: Cut Your Own Hair {Week 10}

At the beginning of every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

While this is one of those often-encouraged frugal tips, this series wouldn’t be complete without it. Because, truthfully, you can save a LOT by cutting your own hair at home… or having a family member do it for you.

My Own Hair-Cutting Adventures

For years, I didn’t go to a hair salon — not even an inexpensive one. I couldn’t afford to get it cut anywhere for some of that time and for the rest of the time, I just chose not to pay to get it cut because I wanted to save my money for other things.

My mom would trim my hair for length and then I’d cut layers in it. Did my hair look amazing? No. But it was decent and I had fun learning how to do layers and just play around with it.

Yes, I messed it up sometimes, but it was sort of an adventure. And I sure saved a lot of money by cutting my own hair! 🙂

Nowadays, I do go to a salon to get my hair done. It’s a splurge we budget for and I don’t feel one bit guilty about it. But I know if our budget and financial situation were ever to change and we needed to tighten things up, I could definitely go back to home hair cutting again.

If you are struggling financially, I’d heartily encourage you to consider cutting the trips to the salon until you get in a better financial position. If you don’t want to completely give up your professional hair cut, at least try to go as low as possible between each visit. Or, look for less expensive options (see below).

Practice Makes Perfect — Or Almost!

If you’re scared of the damage you might be able to do with scissors, instead of trying to give yourself a whole new ‘do, start small. Do simple trims of your boys’ hair (see a ) and try trimming your bangs or a small child’s hair.

Kikka says:

To get started you can watch free how-to videos on , look for a sale at your local beauty supply store (like Sally’s) to purchase what you need, do your research, and then give it a try! Just remember that practice makes perfect, or close to it. Also, the good thing about hair is that it does grow back! :) -Kikka

Creative Ways to Get Your Hair Done Free or Inexpensively

I loved this tip in ALL YOU magazine:

“I answer Craigslist ads looking for hair models to be used for salon interviews or for people who are building hours toward their certification. I no longer pay for hair cuts, straightening, hair color, or even highlights, and I always have nice results.” -All You magazine (April 27, 2012), page 117

Rhonda says:

Our children are grown now, but when our son was little, my husband cut his hair. As they got older, we all went to a cosmetology school where students cut hair at a greatly reduced price. It took longer, but the work was always inspected by the supervisor so you wouldn’t have uneven lengths, etc.

When my hair began getting gray in my 30′s, a friend showed me how to color it myself. I have been doing that every month since then, and have saved thousands of dollars I’m sure, compared to having a stylist color it. I buy a brand I can get at Dollar General, and once a month a newspaper coupon insert will have a $1 or $2 off coupon for it. So I average $3-$4 a month for hair color!

Another idea for haircuts is to check ad circulars that come in the mail. We usually have one for our local franchise hair salon for $6-$9 a haircut. Even with a tip, that’s less than $10 for a quick haircut which I get every 8 weeks or so. My husband has an electric hair trimmer that I use to shave the back of his neck, and he has bought a Flowbee hair system that he uses to cut his own hair. After 10 haircuts, it’s paid for itself.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing your own hair care, then perhaps you have a friend who cuts hair and will barter another service from you for that. Look around — there are many alternatives to high-priced hair care out there! -Rhonda

For tips on At-Home Hair Coloring, check out this post.

How Much Can You Save?

Well, that depends upon a lot of factors… like how many people you have in your family, how often you usually get your hair cut, and so on. But I can almost guarantee you that you’ll save well over $100 in a year — likely much more!

For instance, Kikka says: “We have found that if I cut my husband’s hair and he colors my hair, we are saving a minimum of $840 a year.”

Do you cut your own hair? If so, approximately how much do you save per year?

; ;

52 Different Ways to Save $100 a Year: Eliminate Disposable Products {Week 9}

At the beginning of every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

One way to save quite a bit of money each year — and send less trash to the landfills! — is to eliminate or greatly reduce the number of disposable products you use.

Here are some ideas of ways to eliminate or reduce paper products that many people purchase on a regular basis. If you purchase and use most of these on a monthly basis, I recommend just choosing one area to work on every month or two. Don’t try to eliminate all of the paper products all at once, just slowly reduce and eliminate them one by one.

And remember, what works for one family won’t necessarily work for another family. So if you try to eliminate one area and it’ just too hard, skip it and move onto another area. You can always go back and try again later.

Ziptop Plastic Bags

We do buy these, but we don’t buy them very often. I wash and re-use plastic bags as much as possible. If I use a plastic bag for storing flour or bread items in it, I just shake out the crumbs and store it in the freezer until I have more flour or bread items to refill it with.

Aluminum Foil

Most of my pans have plastic covers that I use in place of foil. When I do use foil, I try to re-use it if at all possible.

Learn how to make your own cloth napkins.

Small Trash Bags

We use the grocery store sacks, or none at all. In addition, unless the trash is really full, we’ll often just dump the trash can contents into the large trash dumpster and not remove the bag.

Paper Plates

Again, we occasionally use plastic plates, cups, and silverware, but rarely just for our family. We usually save plasticware to use when we have a large group of people over and it just makes it so much simpler. For every day use, it’s not a big deal to use normal non-disposable plates, cups, and silverware — especially now that we have a dishwasher and the kids can help with loading and unloading it! 🙂

Paper Towels

As I’ve blogged about before, we stopped buying paper towels a number of years ago and we realized we didn’t miss them. We use washcloths or old rags instead.

Disposable Cleaning Products

I try not to use any disposable cleaning products — such as toilet cleaners or duster with replaceable disposable heads. It’s so much less money to just use a rang and cleaning solution. Plus, you don’t have to worry about remembering to buy replacements!

How Much Can You Save By Eliminating Disposable Products?

How much you save by eliminating or reducing your usage of disposable products is going to vary widely. But I’d wager to guess that most families spend around $2-3 per week on disposable products, if not more. So by eliminating most of them or greatly reducing your use of them, there’s going to be a very good chance that you’re going to save over $100 per year — if not more!

What disposable products have you eliminated from your home?

52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Surround Yourself With Frugal Friends {Week 8}

At the beginning of every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

A few of my frugal friends: Ruth from , yours truly, Rachel from , and Ashley from Ambient Promotions.

I was being interviewed for a magazine article this afternoon and one of the questions the interviewer asked was, “What are some of your top tips for families who want to cut their budget?”

After going through the usual suggestions I give (things like setting financial goals, getting on a budget, etc.), I said, “I think it’s also important that you surround yourself with frugal friends.” While this isn’t necessarily the usual financial advice you receive, more and more, I’m beginning to believe that it’s a key factor in helping people stay motivated and on track financially.

Why You Need Frugal Friends

Think about it: if everyone you associate with it spending money pretty extravagantly and telling you that you “deserve” this, that, and the other — even if you can’t afford it — it’s going to be hard to stick with your resolve to live frugally. On the other hand, if many of your friends are living frugally and simply, if they are content and totally “get” you when talk about buying something secondhand or saving up to pay cash for things, it will be a lot easier to keep on your slow and steady journey toward debt-freedom or achieving your other financial goals.

In addition, when you hang out with frugal friends, you are inspired with new money-saving ideas, you are motivated to not give up, and you can laugh at all the crazy things you do in order to stay on budget.

It’s much more fun when you don’t go it alone. That’s why I encourage everyone who wants to live frugally to start an official Frugal Club or at least find a great gang of frugal friends that you can brown-bag your lunches with.

Some of the ways you can save money by having frugal friends:

1. You’ll Be Able to Swap Skills

Your frugal friends will more than likely be glad to barter skills and talents. It saves everyone money — and it saves you all a lot of frustration, too.

Your frugal friends might also be interested in having regular swap parties where you swap clothes or toys your kids no longer need or even items you got for free with coupons.

2. You’ll Learn New Skills and Money-Saving Tactics

Your frugal friends will teach you new money-saving skills and techniques you would have never thought of or tried on your own. Pretty much every frugal idea I know of is something I’ve learned from another frugal friend.

In addition, my frugal friends have challenged me to try things I probably wouldn’t have tried on my own — like making homemade soap!

3. You’ll Stay Inspired

Whenever you’re feeling burnt out on sticking with a budget, just call or email one of your frugal friends and she’ll be sure to listen and then remind you of why you’re doing what you’re doing — and that it will be worth it.

4. You’ll Have Fun

It’s a lot more fun to save money when you’re among friends who are also committed to living frugally. Plus, they’ll laugh at your crazy thrift store experiences or used car adventures.

Don’t Have Any Frugal Friends? Don’t Despair!

If you don’t know a single frugal friend, don’t despair. Start looking for them at your local library, mom’s groups, church, thrift store, used book sale, or gardening club. You just never know where you’ll find an amazing frugal friend, but if you keep your eyes open, I promise there are some other frugal folks who live in your area!

In the mean time, read money-saving books and blogs to help you stay motivated and inspired. They aren’t the same as real-life friends, but they will still help you stay motivated. And if you have trouble finding local friends, see if you can find some good accountability partners online — maybe even people that you meet in the comments section here on December212012.info.

Do you have frugal friends? Tell us what you’ve learned from your frugal friendships and your best tips for finding frugal friends.

52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Become a One-Car Family {Week 7}

At the beginning of every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

Some of you have already rolled your eyes at this idea because you know downsizing to one car would never work for your family. I totally get that. I know that this suggestion isn’t for everyone.

But would you do me a favor and at least consider it, if you haven’t already? Because you’ll never know if something will work if you don’t at least consider it. Plus, if you’re really struggling financially, becoming a one-car family at least for a short while might be a way to find some breathing room in your budget.

How Much Can You Save?

Downsizing to one car is going to mean making some changes and sacrifices. However, if you think about how much you could save, it makes the changes and sacrifices sound a little more doable. So start there, if you’re needing some convincing.

Add up how much you’re paying in taxes, car repairs, and car payments (if any) per year. Then, think how much you’d save in gas if you dropped one of your cars and carpooled, used public transportation, road your bike, or just stayed home more.

Combine these two numbers together, and you’re more than likely to get a number somewhere in the vicinity of $1000 to $2000 per year — or possibly more. That’s certainly not an amount to sneeze at!

Our One-Car Experience

When Jesse was in law school, we had two rather used and unreliable vehicles for the first year. Since we were both working and he was in school, this was a near necessity. Or so we thought.

Then, I got pregnant and very sick. So I stopped working and came home to try and set up an online business (you can read my very long story of Becoming a Work at Home Mom here).

Not too long afterward, our second vehicle gave out. Because we didn’t have money to replace it and because I was now home full-time, we became a one-car family and we stayed a one-car family for the next few years.

Yes, it was a little challenging at times. I had to do all of my grocery shopping and errands on Saturdays. Or, I had to get up early (with little Kathrynne in tow) and take Jesse to work.

When we moved to Kansas City and Jesse started working for a law firm downtown that was a 45-minute commute, it was no longer feasible for me to take him to work. So I stayed home every day, all week long.

We lived close enough to walk to Aldi, if need be, and we were also within walking distance of the library and a park. So truthfully, I really didn’t feel all that cooped up. If I wanted to get together with friends, I invited them to come to our house. No one seemed to mind that I was always the one hosting things — and I loved it!

A few months after our second daughter was born, we were in a financial position to purchase a second vehicle and we’ve been a two-car family ever since. It makes it more convenient, but I’ve told Jesse that I’m always willing to go back to being a one-car family if the need arises. And I truly mean that.

Because honestly? Life was a lot simpler when you didn’t have the option of running out to do or buy this or that during the day.

How Much Did We Save?

Recently, I was being interviewed for a piece and they asked me for a specific number of how much we saved per month by being a one-car family for those few years. Honestly, we’d never sat down and done the math, so this was a fun exercise.

After lots of number-crunching, Jesse determined that we saved around $1500 per year by downsizing to one car. Since our budget was so tight during those years, that $1500 was huge for us — and likely one of the things that helped to keep us afloat.

A Priceless Lesson Learned From Being a One-Car Family

You know what was more valuable than the money we saved by being a one-car family? The lessons I learned on contentment during our one-car family experience.

I learned that it’s not stuff or busyness that brings fulfillment. Contentment is an inner state of the heart. Learning to bloom exactly where I was planted and to be content in my quiet, simple, ordinary life is something that all the money in the world can never buy — and these are lessons I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.

Things to Consider Before Becoming a One-Car Family

You’ll want to think long and hard about the sacrifices being a one-car family will require. It has to be a family decision, or it will make everyone miserable. Everyone is going to have to be on board and be willing to be flexible for it to work.

In addition, it’s important to think about safety. If you live out in the country, far from civilization and you’re a mom of young children who is home all day, it might be wise to have access to a second vehicle in case of an emergency.

Finally, it’s necessary to consider how much extra time and effort becoming a one-car family will require. If you have a busy schedule, work two jobs, and are running children to lots of different activities, trying to share a car with your spouse might lead to more headache and frustration than it’s worth. Count the costs ahead of time before downsizing.

Transportation Options Aside From a Second Car

  • Walk
  • Ride Your Bike
  • Use Public Transportation
  • Buy a Moped
  • Carpool With Friends or Co-Workers

Are you a one-car family? If so, tell us your tips and secrets for making it work!

52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Your Own Homemade Mixes {Week 6}

 Save over $100 per year by making your own homemade baking mixes!! Check out these tips and tricks  get easy recipes!

At the beginning of every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

Save Over $100 Per Year By Making Your Own Homemade Mixes

Making your own homemade mixes is such a simple thing, but the majority of families who don’t cook and bake completely from scratch would likely save at least $8-$10 per month by making their own mixes instead of buying them pre-made.

Of course, if you typically get boxed cake mixes for pennies with coupons, you’re likely not going to save too much. But if you’re routinely paying for cookie mix, biscuit mix, pancake mix, taco seasoning packets, and more, you’ll save quite a bit. And every little bit adds up.

Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets

Not only are homemade mixes themselves much more economical than buying them pre-made at the store, but they can also save you money by encouraging you to eat at home. If you have pancake mix already made or pizza dough in the freezer, you have fewer excuses to go out for breakfast or order pizza.

Homemade Mixes Can Save You Time

Take a little time on the weekend or some evening to mix together the dry ingredients for your favorite homemade cakes, muffins, brownies, cookies, or pancakes. Doing this ahead of time will cut your prep time in half or more — and make cooking and baking from scratch a breeze!

Homemade Mixes Are Healthier

Aside from the time and money saved, one of the big benefits of making homemade mixes is that you have full control of what you put into the mixes. You don’t have to worry about chemicals or other unwanted ingredients. This is also a huge if you are dealing with food allergies at your house.

Freezer-Friendly Pizza Dough

How to Get Started Making Your Own Homemade Mixes

If you’re new to cooking and baking from scratch, don’t try to make everything from scratch. Just pick a few recipes that you think you’ll love and start with those. If they don’t work or you don’t like them, move on to another recipe.

Pinterest is a loaded with homemade mix recipe ideas. You could even create a board specifically to pin homemade mix ideas on as you find them. You can see a few of my favorite tried and true recipes below.

As you find recipes that work well, keep making them and slowly add new ones. Eventually, you’ll hopefully get into a nice rhythm of always having a good supply of mixes and doughs made ahead of time and waiting in your freezer.

Homemade Baking Mix

Be Sure to Label Your Mixes!

Make sure to label your mixes clearly, though, so you don’t end up having the disaster I had when trying to make rolls for guests with what I thought was flour, but was actually pancake mix!

Recommended Homemade Mix Recipes

13 Easy Homemade Bread Recipes (Freezer & Budget Friendly!)

Freezer-Friendly Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

Homemade Baking Mix

Freezer-Friendly Pizza Dough

Knock-Off Betty Crocker Brownie Mix

Glazed Cinnamon Scones (I’ve made the dry ingredients as a mix, or made the scone dough and frozen it.)

Freezer-Friendly Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

What are you favorite homemade mix recipes? I’d love to have you share them in the comments so I could consider trying them myself!

52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Your Own Homemade Cleaners {Week 5}

At the beginning of every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

One of the easiest ways to cut your spending is to stop buying stuff you usually buy.

Let that brilliant {ahem!} remark sink in for a moment.

While it might seem like it’s the most basic of basic statements — and it is! — we sometimes forget to apply it. Or, as is often the case, we don’t even consider an alternative to paying for what we normally buy.

Homemade cleaners are one such example. None of us wants to live in a dirty home (or, at least I certainly hope none of us do!). Because of this, we buy cleaners because, well, that’s what everyone else does.

Here’s the thing: commercial cleaners are often pricey. And the manufacturers are smart. They play on our desire to have clean homes in the most efficient manner so they create products for every single cleaning project known to man.

Whenever possible, they make super slick gadgets that require refills so that you have to constantly be spending even more money to purchasing refills so you can keep cleaning your house. Before you know it, you are literally washing hundreds of dollars down the drain each and every year.

This is why I’m a fan of homemade cleaners. Unless I can get some amazingly sweet deal on a cleaner by paring a coupon code with a sale, I just plain don’t buy commercial cleaners. In fact, after making many of my own cleaners, I’ve come to believe that almost every commercial cleaner on the market is a rip-off.

Baking Soda & Vinegar Are Your Best Friend

Instead of spending tens of dollars each month on special cleaners that are designed for one specific job, go to the dollar store or Aldi and buy some vinegar, baking soda, and spray bottles. These are just about all you’ll need to clean almost every item in your home. Seriously.

You can get a little fancier and make actual homemade cleaner recipes if you’d like. But you don’t have to. You can just spray on vinegar and water and wipe off or scrub most tough stains with a little baking soda and elbow grease.

Earth Easy has a long list of how to clean your house using just baking soda, vinegar, soap, borax, washing soda, alcohol, and cornstarch. You might have to make a trip to Walmart to pick up a box of washing soda or borax, but I bet you already have all of the other items on hand already.

How Much Can You Really Save By Making Homemade Cleaners?

How much you can save by making your own cleaners is going to vary widely, depending upon which cleaners you make, how much you usually spend on cleaners, and how many people you are cleaning up after!

But let’s say you have an initial upfront investment of $30 to purchase the supplies listed above and let’s estimate that these supplies last you for 12 months. That’s like paying around $2.50 per month for all of your cleaners. If you only use baking soda and vinegar, it’s going to be significantly less than this.

If you typically buy commercial cleaners on sale, I’d say there’s a good chance you are purchasing an average of 4 cleaners of some sort each month, at around $2-3 per cleaner. At this rate, you could easily save $100+ per year.

Now obviously, your situation might be completely different. If you’re typically only buying cleaners for pennies each by pairing coupons with sales, it might not save you any money at all to make your own cleaners. However, you will for sure be using fewer chemicals in your home and you will also not have to worry about chasing down deals and pairing them with sales.

But Doesn’t It Take a Lot Of Time to Make Homemade Cleaners?

Actually, most homemade cleaners can be made in less than a minute. And if they save you $1-$2 per minute of time invested to make them, that’s like making an hourly wage of $60 to $120 — and it’s tax-free money.

In my book, that’s definitely worth the return on investment. And some cleaners don’t even require that much time because you just spray the vinegar on or dump some baking soda on and scrub. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Where To Find Good Recipes

I’ve linked to a number of homemade cleaner recipes below, but the internet is truly a goldmine of homemade cleaner recipes. Honestly, you can find a recipe for just about any and every cleaner you usually use.

Just Google it or type it into the search engine on Pinterest. Now, I can’t guarantee that the first recipe you try will be a home run success. But if you keep experimenting, I bet you’ll find a good homemade recipe to replace just about every one of your favorite cleaners — all for pennies on the dollar!

Recipes: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Here are links to homemade cleaning recipes I have tried or want to try. My honest reviews are alongside those I’ve tried. Not all homemade cleaners are all they are supposedly cracked up to be, so I hope to save you some effort by letting you know which ones I didn’t find to work well.

If you have amazing recipes for some of the ones I found to be “meh”, I’d love to have you link them in the comments!

— This looks like it would work well!

Homemade Window Cleaner — This one works really well.

— I’ve heard rave reviews on this one and hope to try it soon.

Homemade Scrubbing Bubbles — I found out after I made this that the two ingredients cancel each other out so it wasn’t really effective at all.

Homemade Dishwashing Detergent — This was was okay. Not stellar. Just okay.

Homemade Laundry Soap — This one worked decently, though I found that I had to wash my clothes in hot water for them to get clean and, even then, some of the stains didn’t come out.

Homemade Foaming Hand Soap — This is the easiest recipe ever and works SO well!

Homemade Oxiclean — This one worked alright but didn’t work quite as well as Shout.

— I can’t wait to try this!

Have you made your own homemade cleaners before? What are your favorite recipes? Share the links or details in the comments.