Our family sometimes comes up with some pretty crazy ideas to reduce spending. It’s fun to make a game of saving and talk about crazy ideas for saving money. Some of the best ideas come from my middle-school child — and even the youngest has quite a few ideas that add up over time.
Here are a few of our favourite crazy (and creative!) ways to save money:
1. Check soda pop machines for loose change. Even the area around vending machines often reveals dropped coins or forgotten change.
2. Check the parking lot and car wash vacuum areas for dropped coins. Those “free” pennies, dimes, nickels, and quarters add up over time.
3. Set up aluminium recycling bins at the homes of friends and family. If you have friends or family members who don’t recycle cans for cash, have your kids set up a special recycling bin for them. Collect the cans weekly and save the money for a special project or reward. You can even use the money to throw a BBQ or dinner for those who participate.
4. Use pallets for projects. Wood pallets (or skids) are very versatile for building projects and are often free for the taking. We’ve used plastic pallets to craft winter shelters for stray cats and installed pallet flooring in a hunting cabin for next to nothing.
5. Recycle old clothing and sheets into rag rugs and sleeping mats for camping trips.
6. Skip a meal once a week.
7. Drink water instead of soda, milk, or juice. Tap water is free and better for you than sugar-filled drinks.
8. Eliminate all snacks and junk food from your budget. Snack on fresh fruits and vegetables, or make snack bars instead of expensive packaged items. Whenever possible, skip snacks all together to reduce caloric intake and save money.
9. Stay home. Do all your errands on the same day and eliminate the expense and time it takes to run to a store or leave home. Planning helps you be more productive and spend less.
10. Shop for school clothes at yard sales and resale shops.
11. Once a week (or month), have electricity-free family night where you eat by candle light and turn off the TV and electronic devices. Play cards, tell stories, go for a nature walk, or play with the dog — but don’t use any electricity for an entire evening.
12. Cancel all subscriptions to see which ones you actually miss, and which ones you can live without.
13. Eat smaller portions at mealtime.
14. Grow indoor plants, like cacti and Peace Lilies, to help clean the air in your home instead of buying expensive air purifiers and filters.
15. Use coconut oil as a hair gel, conditioner, make-up remover, and moisturizer instead of buying separate (and expensive) products.
16. Use inexpensive generic baby oil instead of shaving cream.
17. Hold contests to see which family member can keep the same lip balm and ink pen the longest without losing them.
18. Make your own laundry soap or mix your favorite laundry soap with Borax and washing soda to make it last longer (use less with each load).
19. Stop buying trash bags. Use shopping bags as trash liners instead. You can always ask your friends and family to share their stash if you run out.
20. Have a friend take your family pictures, school pictures, or baby pictures instead of paying a photographer.