For many people, sticking to a tight budget often requires moving out of their traditional comfort zone. Studies have shown that thinking “outside the box” can provide many creative ideas for keeping a household budget on track — usually in ways that you might not otherwise consider.
Let me share with you ten out-of-the-box ideas that I am currently implementing and/or pondering in order to keep my household finances on track:
1. Take advantage of restaurant condiments. I mean really, folks. Why buy condiments when all of the fast food restaurants down the street give away ketchup, mustard, mayo, salt, pepper and three kinds of salsa for free? Savvy savers can realize savings of over $100 per year. Frugal Bonus Tip: While you’re at the condiment table, try taking a few extra handfuls of napkins for even greater savings.
2. Make your own toothpaste. From time to time I like to see what’s happening over at the Simple Dollar. Check it out sometime and see what Trent is writing. I noticed that the Simple Dollar’s top post of all time is something called How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent. Well, over here at Len Penzo dot Com, the big tip is how to make your own toothpaste.
Here’s the recipe:
Take one teaspoon of baking soda and mix it with two cups of Skippy peanut butter. Why peanut butter? Because on a per-unit cost basis, peanut butter is one-third the cost of regular toothpaste — and the kids love it! CAUTION: To prevent chipped teeth and costly trips to the dentist, always use the smooth variety.
3. Golf at night. Each day around sundown golf course clubhouses close and the employees and groundskeepers head for home. That’s when smart duffers take advantage of the unguarded course to enjoy lots of free golf! True, it means you’re golfing under less-than-optimal visual conditions. But night golf has many benefits that you can’t get when you play under the sun. One of the biggest benefits, aside from the great price, is that it is easier to cheat because nobody can see you improving your lie — assuming you can find your ball. Night golfing is also perfect for the visually impaired.
4. Quit Wasting Money on Stamps. Drop all your letters and bills in the mail minus the stamp. Just remember, in order to prevent the post office from returning the mail you’ll need to first mark “Postage Due” on the envelopes. Hand-writing it will not work; it’s got to look “official.” So invest in an ink pad and “Postage Due” rubber stamp at your local retailer before implementing this strategy.
5. Three Words: Dine and Dash. Frugal teenagers and community scofflaws have been using this tactic to save money for generations. Keep in mind that this idea should only be attempted if you and your guests are in good shape. Important: Always remember that the slowest runner in your party must be faster than the dining establishment’s fastest waiter or waitress.
6. Stop paying for Internet service. Why pay for Internet service when you can “borrow” it from your neighbor? If one of your neighbors has an unencrypted wireless Internet connection available, then use it! If not, pay a visit to them — preferably one who still proudly sports an Obama bumper sticker on their car. I recommend passing along a few pleasantries before gently guiding the conversation towards the benefits of socialism. Once you’ve reaffirmed common ground on this point, ask if you could “borrow” his/her Internet service for an indefinite period of time. Remember, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” In this case, your neighbor has Internet service — and you need it.
Don’t feel guilty. You’re probably subsidizing your neighbor’s mortgage bill anyway.
I haven’t paid for Internet service in three months. It takes forever to load a page now, but at least I’m saving money each month. I’m really beginning to like socialism.
7. Tell the kids there is no Santa Claus. Now we’re getting in to some significant savings. This is the gift that keeps on giving. Parents can save thousands of dollars over many years by simply denying Santa’s existence. However, if you’ve already sold the Santa Claus myth to your little cherubs, it’s on to Plan B: Tell them Santa Claus died.
8. Ditch the Mortgage and Live Under the Stars. The average mortgage payment in the United States was $1687 in 2006. Over 30 years, that amounts to $607,320. Did you know a six-person cabin style tent can be had for $219.97? That is a savings of $607,100.03 over the same period — and that doesn’t include the money you save on property taxes!
9. Put the kids up for adoption. It now takes approximately a quarter-million dollars to raise one child. Talk about a golden opportunity for saving 250 grand. Taking advantage of this tip has the added benefit of allowing you to avoid breaking your kids’ hearts by telling them the truth about Santa Claus. Please, no nasty grams from you bleeding hearts on this one. I’m adopted and as far as I’m concerned the trade worked out great. Well, at least it did for me.
10. Why stop at the kids? If you live in a non-community property state, or if you were smart enough to get a prenuptial agreement, you might as well divorce your spouse too.
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