Everyone knows the common money-saving tips. Turn off your lights, use coupons, put up window plastic and buy programmable thermostats to lower your utility bills and shopping costs. Sometimes those tips simply aren’t enough. Sometimes we’re already doing them, and want more unique ideas for saving money. Here are a few more unique money-saving tips to help you along your journey to your dream financial life.
1. Ditch the digital clocks. Mechanical clocks look a lot nicer on the mantle, their bell chimes can tell you the time from rooms away and they add a soothing element to your peaceful evenings. You never have to plug them in, simply wind them up manually.
2. Whenever you eat out, order a large meal. The typical large-sized restaurant portion is more than enough to feed a person for two or three days, which really helps the money stretch out.
3. Cut your own hair, or have your spouse cut it. Bonus points if one of you is a barber. All it takes is some time and a pair of scissors. If you keep it short, all you really need is a trimmer.
4. Go dumpster diving. Some stores throw out perfectly good sealed food simply because the sell by date has passed. If you live near a college campus, move out day gives you a treasure trove of functional furniture and electronics to pick.
5. Sell your pickings. This is especially useful around college campuses. Pick up as many chairs, lofts, lamps and other items as you can store during move out, and sell them back to incoming students during move in week.
6. Drop a brick in your toilet tank. Wrap it with plastic or seal it in a plastic bag to keep it from deteriorating. The tank will then take less water to fill, meaning each flush uses less and thus costs you less in utilities.
7. Look for alternate roads to avoid the highways. Many highways have older ex-highways next to them with lower speed limits but much lower traffic. Less traffic is less stress, and a 55 mph average is ideal for gas mileage.
8. Mend your own clothing. With a little mending, a couple of packs of socks and underwear can last for years. In fact, it’s easy to go two or three years without ever buying clothing.
9. Make friends with your neighbors. If you’re good enough friends, you can usually borrow the use of specialty tools and equipment you don’t want to rent or buy yourself. Just make sure you do something in return occasionally.
10. Keep a pitcher in the sink. When you’re using water, let the excess fill the pitcher. You can use that water for other things, like watering plants or drinking later, instead of letting it wash down the drain.
11. Cut back on hair products. Your hair is used to being deadened by chemicals and over-washed, so it will take a while to spring back. Once it does, however, you’ll have vibrant hair with half the effort and far lower shampoo costs.
12. Rearrange your furniture. Shifting around the way your home is laid out gives everything a new feel without having to spend hundreds or thousands on new items or a home makeover. Moreover, it gives you a chance to clean.
13. Save your change — even digitally. Whenever your bank balance ends in anything other than 5.00, siphon the rest off into a savings account. It’s such a minimal change you’ll never notice it, but the savings account will grow surprisingly quickly.
14. Get a library card. Not only can you read pretty much any book you could want from the library, you can also check out current magazines and even DVDs. It’s even cheaper than Netflix or Blockbuster.
15. Put everything on a delay. No matter how large or small a purchase, wait at least 24 hours per hundred dollars spent to make sure it’s still a good idea. You may be surprised at how much you waste in impulse purchases each year.
16. Save the bags you get from grocery store checkouts. Get a mix of paper and plastic — a plastic bag makes a perfect liner for a paper bag. Combined, the two can virtually replace your garbage bags. You may have to empty them more often, but you’ll never have one tear from too much weight.
17. Shop for holidays all year round. You can get great Christmas gifts a week or so after Christmas and save them for the next year or birthdays all year. Buy and save Valentines candy for Halloween, and so on.
18. Cut up and use old towels, hole-filled tee shirts and other cloth items for use as rags. They work great for dusting and cleaning, not to mention stuffing for homemade pillows.
19. Make your own ice. Keep a large container in the freezer and empty your ice trays into it, so you always have a constant supply. You’ll never have to buy a bag of ice, and your freezer will stay cold if the power goes out.
20. Bake your own bread. Most of the time the bread you make at home is healthier than what you get at the store and you’re only sacrificing the convenience of having it pre-sliced for you.
21. Keep your car empty. The more heavy junk you’re hauling around with you, the more energy it takes to get moving, and the more gas you burn. A lighter car makes for less gas consumption and it adds up over time.
22. Use thin fonts and set your printer to grayscale printing. Sometimes your printer will use color to make blacks look richer, and sometimes you simply don’t need color in something you’re printing. Printer ink is far too expensive to waste.
23. Use free software. Virtually any program you use on your computer can be replaced with a free version from somewhere online. Even your operating system can be replaced with a little work. You can save hundreds on a new computer by loading it out with free software.
24. Paint your roof white. Painting your roof may seem odd, but having a white roof instead of a black roof will help keep your house significantly cooler in the summer, and you’ll then need less A/C. (Only do this if you live in a warm climate)
25. Make your own cleaning supplies. This is one of the best ways to save money, you can easily make everything from shampoo to laundry detergent, and at significant savings over even generic brands.
26. Take Navy Showers or James Bond Showers. Navy showers are when you turn the water off while lathering up, and thereby saving as much as 80% of the water used in a typical shower. James Bond, on the other hand, showers cold. Better yet, do both and save both on you water bill and you energy use to heat the water.