No matter if you’re trying to limit your impact on the environment, be less wasteful or save some money and time, these 37 hacks from our contributors can help you accomplish your goals.
1. Grow your own sponges to save money
This may sound outrageous, but you shouldn’t waste your money on pricey loofahs or sponges. You can grow your own crop right at home.
This spongy member of the gourd family can even be prepared and eaten as a vegetable as well. In northern climates, you will want to start the seedlings indoors or in a small greenhouse to ensure the gourd fully ripens. If you try harvesting the luffa too early, it won’t last long.
2. Keep your savings jar in sight
Keep your savings jar, or any type of piggy bank, in plain sight and in a location where you can access it often.
The more you see and access it, the more likely you are to work on tucking away your loose change. The old adage “out of sight, out of mind” oddly rings true in this case. If your savings jar is hidden and completely out of sight, the only thing it’s likely collecting is dust.
While it might not significantly increase your savings rate, a dollar saved is still a dollar earned and A Dime Saved is a Dime Earned (had to stick that in there!)
3. Repurpose glass jars
Glass jars from honey, jam, salsa or other condiments can be washed and reused as food containers.
Clean the jars really well, and then soak them in hot water to remove the label. Once you have a clean, empty jar, you can use it for whatever you want! You can use the jars to store homemade dressings, sauces or toppings.
You can also use them to store single-servings of soup or salad to use for lunch or a snack. It does not need to be used only for food storage. Glass jars are great for all types of storage purposes (paper clips, safety pins, etc.) and can also be used as a base for a kid’s craft.
4. Use less of your household cleaners and detergents
Although the chemicals found in our household cleaners have been diluted, factory recommendations for their use are still typically much higher than what is needed to provide sufficient cleaning.
Using a quarter of what is recommended still gives you the clean you want while minimizing the build-up of the chemical, as well as your exposure to it. Using less than recommended also means you won’t use the product as quickly, saving you money.
In fact, this method is recommended for any household chemicals since it can help you save money, your health, and the environment.
5. Cut your own hair
Cut your own hair. Seriously, you can do it!
When you’re looking to save money, reducing an ongoing expense like getting your haircut every three to four weeks (men) or every few months (ladies) can be a huge money saver. While you can find cheap haircuts around you at about $15 a pop for guys and $25 for ladies, that’s a few hundred dollars you can also save annually.
It isn’t hard to learn how to cut your hair. Simply buy some cheap hair cutting supplies at a local overstock store like a Tj Maxx. Practice on yourself or, even better, your kids!
6. Complete simple car repairs yourself
The cost of car ownership just keeps growing. But you can fight against this rising tide by completing simple car maintenance tasks yourself.
For example, changing your air filter is a 10-minute task, and the filter costs $10. A mechanic could charge you up to $75. Other replacements are simple, too!
Windshield wipers ($20 and 15 minutes), spark plugs ($15 and 20 minutes) and oil changes ($30 and 30 minutes) are all tasks you can achieve in your own driveway or garage.
7. Use your kitchen whiteboard to track goals
Use your kitchen whiteboard to track your progress toward goals. Any goal, big or small, needs the support of the entire household. So put your goals on location you pass every day to remind yourself to stay on track.
For example, if you plan to lose weight, the written goal motivates you and reminds other household members not to order pizza every night. Similarly, if you dream of retiring early, write down your plan in a shared location. Everyone is aware of it and can help you when you falter and need to make tough decisions.
8. Use a staple remover to open a keychain
Do you know that feeling when you attempt to get a keychain open? It’s one of the most excruciating things, and it always hurts your nails or your fingers.
Use a staple remover and place the sharp point between the keychain rings. Press down to spread the ring while you can change the keys easily. No will be fingers harmed in the process.
Doing this will improve your mood when you have to change keys and simplify your life going forward. No more damaged nails or frustration! Just get your staple remover out and let it do the work for you.
9. Grocery shop in your own kitchen
It’s inevitable for many of us that our fridge and pantry fill up with leftover groceries. But rather than the occasional purge, create a habit one week each month to eat what you can round up in the kitchen instead of eating out or making another trip to the supermarket. You’ll also end up wasting less food.
10. Make your home office more comfortable
You spend way too much time working in your home office to be slumped over in half straining to read a tiny laptop screen. It’s well worth your time and money to spruce up your home office and make it more comfortable.
Before adding anything, you should remember to periodically get up stretch, and look away from the screen.
An uncomfortable workspace will affect not only your work production but also your health and wellbeing. Adding simple things such as a laptop stand, a larger monitor or a seat cushion will do wonders for your work-life and beyond!
11. Develop good sleep hygiene
The best house hack you can give yourself is to ensure that your rooms, especially your bedroom, function as they should. A bedroom is a place of sleep. Develop good sleep hygiene for yourself and make your bedroom a relaxation zone.
Specifically, this means no TV in the bedroom and no doing work in bed. Set a regular schedule to go to sleep and don’t eat a large meal close to bedtime (and definitely don’t eat in bed!).
Instead, be sure that you eat your last meal at least one hour before. In addition, develop a routine that signals you are ready to relax, such as drinking soothing teas or doing some bedtime meditation.
These sleep habits will make it easier for you to relieve stress, improve sleep and make your home the sanctuary it should be!
12. Clean out your closet for extra cash
Clearing out clutter is underrated. Not only is it great for your peace of mind, but it can also be great for your pocketbook.
While it is easier to just throw everything away, keep an eye out for items that can be donated or sold. Those old college textbooks may be worth reselling on Amazon, or that lamp you’ve had tucked in your closet would be a great donation to your local charity.
And if you are lucky enough to find that old iPhone you misplaced, you can make $200 fast selling it online or in a Facebook group!
13. Prepare a weekly meal plan
Meal planning is a great way to reduce your grocery costs, cut down on your daily cooking time, and reduce the amount you’ll spend on takeout.
Take a few minutes each week before heading to the store to map out your lunches and dinners for the week. With a few hours in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon, you can easily prepare a week’s worth of lunches and prep ingredients for dinner.
Cooking dinner each night is then a simple process of cooking the pre-prepared ingredients.
14. Neutral paint improves your mood
Painting your walls in neutral colors, such as white, beige and navy, can provide a calming effect. This is especially important in rooms meant for relaxation, such as bedrooms and living rooms.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, it might not be you — it could be your bedroom’s red paint.
Not only can paint colors affect your mood, but certain paint colors can also make your home sell more quickly. Homes with bright paint colors or bold accent walls have more trouble selling because it’s harder for a buyer to see themselves in the home.
With neutral colors, on the other hand, buyers can more easily visualize themselves and their furniture in a room.
15. Keep your medications in the right places
Medications and supplements will last longer (and work better) if stored appropriately. That means stable temperatures and low humidity. If you’ve been storing your meds in the same room as your bath or shower, that’s not the best idea.
And don’t hide them away! Pick a spot in your house that you will see your medications and be forced to visually acknowledge them daily.
For safety reasons, consider a lockbox if you have kids in the house. If you do have to hide your medicines, consider other reminder tools like printable medication reminder sheets for your refrigerator. But make yourself visually acknowledge the habit in some way.
16. Use toothpaste and baking soda to clean marks
Thought your kids’ scribbles on your white kitchen cabinet were permanent? Think again. With just a dab of toothpaste mixed with baking soda, you can erase just about any unwanted wall art.
In fact, it also works to erase old pan stains, unwanted paint marks and more! It’s a much better and cheaper alternative to cleaning agents.
17. Finance home improvements with a credit card
Think about all the home improvements on your mind, both necessary and purely cosmetic. Now, consider what they might cost. If you’re like most who own or rent a home, it’s probably more than the change in your pocket. If that’s the case, you’re leaving money on the table by not financing those purchases and fixes with a credit card.
By opening a credit card with a decent sign-up bonus, you position yourself to not only be rewarded for home improvements but to possibly fund them entirely.
Credit cards can be a solid source of funds when it comes to airfare or even straight cash. Go ahead and give it a shot, then thank yourself with a free trip across the world funded entirely with the credit card points you’ve earned.
18. Freeze your bread
Fresh bread gets moldy faster than you’d think. Sometimes, you don’t even get the chance to use a delicious loaf before it starts to mold. In order to save money on your favorite baked goods, freeze them!
When you are ready to use a loaf, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it up, then bake it in the oven for a few minutes. It’s as good as new, and you’ll never waste loaf again.
You won’t save thousands of dollars by freezing your bread, but it is a great way to save a small amount of cash, and that can add up over time.
19. Protect your home from thieves
Homes are a big purchase, which is why you want to make sure you protect your home. Unknown to many, anyone can open a garage from the outside.
A thief can slide a wire hanger through an opening above the garage door and pull on the emergency cord. This cord disengages the door from the opener, allowing the door to be lifted manually from the outside.
Fortunately, the solution is to wrap the emergency cord around the trolley track. This method prevents any kind of pull from disengaging the opener while not hindering its function.
20. Get your crockpot out of storage
It’s cheaper and healthier to cook your meals at home, but who’s got the time? Eight out of 10 homes already have the solution: a crockpot!
Throw a handful of ingredients into a crockpot at the beginning of the day. While the kids are at school or you’re on a lunch break, a slow cooker transforms them into a delicious meal.
Looking for recipes? Borrow crockpot cookbooks from your library to get started. While you’re there, check out all the other ways your local library can save you money, such as free passes to museums, in your area.
21. Freeze your credit to avoid identify fraud
Freezing your credit is a simple process your entire household can do. The major credit bureaus have made freezing your credit free and easy to do. And you can lift the freeze at any time if you are applying for something that requires a credit check.
But everyone should freeze their credit regardless if you’ve had identity theft issues in the past. It prevents thieves from opening bank accounts, credit cards, and more in your name.
It won’t completely stop all fraud, but it’s an essential identity theft protection tip that takes a few minutes of your time that can save hours of headaches.
22. Take a video of everything in your residence
If you ever need to make a homeowners insurance claim, it is critical to have documentation of everything you own. Rather than making a written list or keeping receipts in a separate location, take a video as you walk through your house and store it on the cloud.
23. Give the gift of your time
We all need to give presents to certain family members and friends on birthdays or holidays, but we don’t always have the money to do so.
My kids used to give me coupon books saying they would do something nice for me. You can use the same concept as an adult by mowing someone’s lawn, cooking a meal or walking a dog.
24. Ferment your own alcoholic beverages
For 10 years, I’ve been a homebrewer. I learned to make my own beer from scratch (the all-grain method) and have brewed, enjoyed and shared dozens of different beers.
If you’re not into beer, hard cider is actually much simpler to make. There are also options to have a home winery or meadery.
There can be cost savings after you’ve recouped your initial investment in equipment. Either way, the satisfaction of imbibing your own creations is priceless.
25. Ask about energy efficient incentives
An easy way to reduce your electricity bill is to contact your electric company and see what energy-saving services and products they offer. Most offer free energy savings kits or upgrades, depending on eligibility.
These can include things like LED lights, weather-stripping, clotheslines, high-efficient faucets and showerheads, smart thermostats and even energy-efficient appliances. Don’t forget to ask about rebate programs, too!
People with low income may also be eligible for programs that automatically credit their bills or provide emergency financial assistance.
Be leary of any salespeople who claim they can save you money with a fixed rate for your natural gas and electricity if you sign a contract with them, as there are many energy reseller and retailer scams.
26. Manage your work schedule to promote harmony at home
If you’re like many people now working from home, the line between your personal and professional life gets constantly blurred.
Sometimes, that lack of distinction can cause conflict with other folks that live with you. Fortunately, you can instantly boost the morale of your household by effectively managing your work schedule.
One step you can take is to set fixed office hours. Unless there’s an emergency, you’re not to be disturbed. Your significant other, children, or roommate(s) can have your attention once you’ve completed the day’s work. Just make sure you honor the time you’ve carved out for them.
27. Make simmer scents
Have your house smelling good all year long by making some DIY scents! While this may be an unusual saving habit, it comes at the extra benefit for a great-smelling home. All you need to do is take some fragrant smelling ingredients and simmer them in water.
Citrus fruits hold up very well. Get creative with your combinations. Cinnamon sticks, cloves, oranges, bay leaves and vanilla extract can have your house smelling like a cozy autumn day any time of the year!
The scents can be stored in airtight containers, such as festive mason jars, topped off with a box or tag. The scents are reusable up to three times. The initial batch of water will evaporate, so make sure to add hot water to the pot. These also make great DIY gifts.
28. Make your bed immediately
It can be a pain when you’re in a rush to get to school or work, but starting your day with this small ritual really sets your intention. Most difficult endeavors require discipline.
Whether dieting, managing home finances or, in my case, swing trading and investing, playing your A-game each and every day is the only way to succeed. Making my bed in the morning really helps set me up for this success.
29. Use residual heat when baking
This works especially well when you are making a dish like a casserole, when the accuracy of the temperature won’t have a big impact. If the recipe calls for one hour in the oven, consider turning off the oven 10 minutes early. The residual heat will be enough to cook the dish through.
30. Don’t look at your home as an investment
An easy way to justify overspending on your home is to view it as an investment, but that is a slippery slope to travel down. Yes, your home is an asset. And yes, it should go up in value.
But it’s not a replacement for a sound retirement and investment plan. In my opinion, it should be viewed more as an expense (mortgage, taxes, insurance, repairs) than an asset (equity).
31. Finally cut cable
Cable TV is expensive! If you currently pay for cable, calculate how much each year you pay. Think of the next best thing to do with that money and actually do it! Examine how you’re spending your time and if television is benefiting you in the right ways.
You can sign up for streaming services, like Netflix and Hulu, for a fraction of the cost of cable, or mooch off family or friends. See if your library has an app to rent ebooks and audiobooks for free. You may think that you’re being cheap, but really you’re being smart and frugal by spending your money in ways you want to.
32. Set a daily target for your household budget
With so many of us spending a lot more time at home, total household expenses are through the roof! The first step is to review all your household expenses from food, cleaning supplies, toilet paper to subscriptions and more.
Then, set a daily target to spend 25% less on these items to potentially save hundreds of dollars a month. Remember, subscriptions are always negotiable. Just because you pay a set rate doesn’t mean you can’t swing a great deal and save some money.
33. Buy nicer things and keep them longer
Many people call themselves “cheap” and shake their heads when others “waste money” on high-end products. Obviously, if you’re strapped for cash, you just have to do what you can to get by.
However, once you cross a threshold where you can actually afford a bit more, you should consider more luxury items.
To be clear, more expensive doesn’t always mean better, but it can often mean higher quality materials, better construction and nicer design. It’s often a better use of money to buy things like this and keep them longer.
34. Buy second-hand household gadgets
If you’re like me, you love to find discount deals on brand new things. In recent years, I’ve found Black Friday deals and seasonal sales to be a bit lackluster.
However, I discovered amazing deals on Facebook Marketplace. For instance, I found a new litter box for my cat. It was priced at $50 from a local retailer, but someone was selling it for only $25!
I managed to haggle it down to $20 and bought it from her. She also mentioned she bought it for her kitten, but the box was too big for her. So, it was basically brand new!
35. Shop according to your values
What’s really important to you? Instead of always choosing what’s on sale or being seduced by what’s hottest for the season, think about what values you and your household want to live by.
It’s great to live in the moment but better to be more purposeful when you shop. Focus on items that bring your family together all year long.
36. Tackle house projects yourself
With a little bit of research, perseverance and elbow grease you can save a lot of money by completing house projects yourself.
Personally, I have saved thousands of dollars by refinishing my deck, redoing our landscaping, installing a sprinkler system, replacing our garage door opener and so on.
With so many resources online now, DIY has never been so easy.
37. Negotiate household bills
You can actually negotiate down certain household bills with your service providers using the correct course of action.
Apps like Trim make is incredibly easy for bills like your WiFi bill, where they do the negotiation for you so you never have to talk to anyone.
For most Trim negotiations, you’ll need a recent bill from your service provider. After signing up for Trim, you should be prompted to upload or provide the account number to Trim. Then, they take action on the next steps.
This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.org.