Time, as the saying goes, is money. We frugal types know that saving time is just another way in many cases to save money so we frugal types are all about saving time. Eleven money saving, time saving hacks below:
1. An hour spent wisely, can literally result in money in the bank. I harp a lot on that ‘hour’ of kitchen prep time every weekend’ and it is as true now as it was in every blog I mentioned it. Spend an hour (or less if you are a whiz with your food processor) chopping, cutting, dicing, grating, etc. It will not only save you time when pulling together meals during busy weekdays but you won’t be buying far more expensive convenience foods. Any foods that you buy already cut, chopped, grated, diced, etc., will cost you more money, period. Put aside one hour every weekend and save in the long run.
2. Less is always more, at least more frugal. Schedule half a day to a day every four to six months to clean out unneeded stuff in your home. Old clothes, knickknacks, magazines, books you no longer need…box it all up and off to charity it all goes. Or consider hosting a garage sale with friends and neighbors. The less stuff you have, the less time you have to spend cleaning and caring for everything, freeing you up to pursue the things you truly enjoy. Nobody loves dusting knickknacks so just don’t, give them away. For bigger items that are destined for the trash heap, be sure and tap into any free large pick up services your garbage service provides. Mine allows one large pick up on a quarterly basis and I always take advantage. Free, after all, is free.
3. Time and distance translate into more money spent. Schedule basic entertainment for the cheapest times possible. For example, I wanted to see the latest Star Wars movie long before it came out but I was also frugal wise and patient. I knew that the hard core fans and crowds could adversely impact the viewing experience and that there would be no early bird specials. My partner would rather stab himself with red hot pokers than see a Star Wars flick but eventually a free weekend collectively came our way and he acquiesced because he knows how much I love a good battle between the Dark Side and The Force. We ended up going first thing on a Sunday morning, early bird special, about a month after the movie premiered. We chose that time because they offered early bird on that movie after a month thereby saving us a bundle. We also don’t spend a ton of money on popcorn and junk food and given the time of day, it’s easier to resist. In another example, we have a few bands we follow faithfully. Going to rock concerts can be time consuming, expensive and well, expensive so my partner signed up for all the latest email news coming from each band and now he scours the dates and times as well as seat availability. At first, seeing my beloved Boz Scaggs in Napa on my birthday seemed like such a good idea but upon closer scrutiny, the date was a Sunday so I knew I’d end up having to burn a vacation day given how late we’d return home. Gas, dining, all factored in, along with the very limited seat selection, made the decision for us: we would wait for more performance dates that we know are coming later this summer as more local venues lock in their talent line ups.
4. Don’t stream too many cable services. Not only are they a time suck but they cost you wasted money because, let’s face it, you only watch one or two shows per streaming service, right? OK, even knowing this, I will admit it, I am hopelessly in love with Baby Yoda. I fell hard after seeing the very first episode of The Mandalorian at my daughter’s house. I immediately thought I’d have to buy the streaming service just to see the one show that is all about Baby Yoda but upon reflection and a bit of research, I realized that there was only ONE show I’d be watching and I’d already binge watched the entire season. I decided to forgo the expense. Same for Netflix because my daughter has a package that streams that service as well. Anything on HBO and other Xfinity channels, she can view at my house. Find family and friends you can horse trade streaming services with. Now, that being said, it is probably illegal (at least according to streaming services) or at the very least, it is patently dishonest. It is also not a good idea to be passing around any passwords. So horse trading in this case simply means that when you hang out with friends and family, you can use some of that time to catch up on your favorite shows, especially if there is just one or two shows you covet from one streaming service. Moral here is that a little patience saves you a lot of money in the long run.
5. Getting sick may just be the biggest time and money suck of all. My daily secret weapon? Dollar store bottles of hand sanitizer. I use them all the time, any and everywhere. This habit is obviously no guarantee of not getting sick EVER but I have noticed I get colds and flu far less often now that I douse my hands in cheap hand sanitizer. I also exercise regularly which keeps my immune system humming. A moderate amount of exercise, done regularly, will save you considerable health issues in the long run.
6. And speaking of health, eating out is straight up, bad for your health to say nothing of your pocketbook. Studies show that restaurants offer food that has far more calories, sugar and fat than homemade meals of similar composition. Of course, this is why everyone likes eating out but eating out is simply bad for your health. Limit meals out for your health, time and wallet. It takes me 15 minutes to put dinner together on a weeknight and you can’t drive to most restaurants in that amount of time. That includes a nice steak for my partner, a healthy salad, a vegetable side dish and something usually vegetarian as the main dish for me. Factor in the cost, time, gas and the overall unhealthy choices of eating out and you will soon relegate it to special occasions.
7. Start your holiday shopping in March. That’s right, March. By February I’ve personally paid off any small balances on credit cards I may have used for convenience during the holidays. Come March, I start my holiday shopping. I earmark a large box and keep a running list on my phone (in the Notes app) of what I’ve bought. Then, when I am on vacation, at some amusement park or just tooling around, should I find something, I will buy it, record it and store it in my Xmas box. Come December, I am never over taxed with buying too many gifts on a limited budget.
8. Speaking of gifts, don’t go overboard and always try and think outside the box. As I have written about in the past, the most cherished gifts are often ones that evoke fond memories. For Valentine’s Day I decided to give my partner the gift of a wonderful shared memory. I took a selection of photos from our most recent vacation and arranged them in a photo book that I had reproduced. I waited for a special coupon/offer from a company I use on-line and saved a bundle.
9. Certain things you buy on a regular basis are fundamentally the same, chemically speaking. Petroleum jelly, vegetable shortening, many types of salt, flour, mineral oil, sugar…the list is long and so are the savings. Don’t automatically go for brand versions. Buy generic. The chemical make up is the same, only the packaging is costing you more.
10. In the kitchen, what you use up the most, you should be paying the least for. Herbs, baking ingredients, whatever you use a lot of, find a strategy for paying less. If that means 25 pound sacks of flour from the Big Box store or growing your own tarragon and basil, then make it happen. Because these are high-volume items for you, the savings multiply. Pick your top ten and build your ‘most for least’ strategy from that list. Mine are fresh herbs, flour (what a surprise), eggs, butter, sugar, chicken, fresh produce, coffee, milk, and dog treats. I grow 90 percent of the herbs I use and purchase eggs, chicken, coffee and milk at my discount grocery store. I buy the rest at the Big Box store except for dog treats which I often make from scratch. Honing in on the top ten helps me focus on the items I use the most so that’s where is save the most.
11. It is a tried and true one but figure out a way to ALWAYS pay yourself first. Now I personally love moving a sum of money from my checking into my savings every single pay day (takes but a minute online and I find it very motivating) but a lot of frugal folks prefer having this done via automatic bank deposits. Whatever works for you just be sure and do it every single time you get paid.