Five minutes. Three hundred measly seconds. Not a lot of time in the scheme of a 24-hour-day, but enough time to help the frugally minded save big bucks. So, take the five minute frugal challenge and do one or more of the following every day to save big bucks:
1. Make your lunch. A 2015 study reported by USA today says that people spent at least $53 a week on eating lunch out. That’s $2756 a year and you KNOW it is more in today’s dollars. and if you have done your hour prep over the weekend then this is simply a matter of assembling a salad or soup and sandwich and tossing in a piece of fruit.
2. Hand wash your delicates. Dry cleaning is not only expensive but in most cases, still very toxic. Follow manufacturers directions and hand wash everything you can saving big bucks over months. I use cheap liquid dishwasher detergent (unless specifically told to use something else by the manufacturer) and I have never ruined even one piece of clothing.
3. Whip up some delicious doggy treats. Preheat the oven to 350-F and then mix together: 1 cup of pumpkin, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup peanut butter and 2.5 to 3 cups of whole wheat flower. Once you have a basic dough (takes less than two minutes), pat the dough into a greased pan (square or rectangle cake pan is fine) and bake for 22 to 30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the dough when baked. Cool slightly and cut into squares. You can also cut into fun bone shapes but that takes more than five minutes. These doggy treats freeze well. You can swap out mashed sweet potato or yams for the pumpkin.
4. Water, water everywhere. Water your garden whether it be a full blown vegetable garden or a few pots of tomatoes and herbs sitting on your sunny apartment balcony. When you harvest, you save. You can also set up an even quicker form of water that I’ve found highly effective. Recycle old plastic soda bottles (the bigger the better) and rinse them out well. Fill nearly to the top with water and freeze overnight. Remove the cap and poke a couple of holes in it. Replace. Invert the frozen bottle of water into your pot or garden and it will slowly defrost, melt and drip into your garden. You can rotate additional bottles that you keep handy in the freezer and end up spending less than two minutes every day watering this way.
5. Wrangle those leftovers. Pull any current leftovers from the fridge and whip up a new meal or side dish. Create something from nothing.
6. Ground up savings. Cook up some ground beef for the week ahead. Just plain old ground beef. Crumble and cook till done in a frying pan and cool. Drain and store in your fridge for quick and easy meals to come.
7. Lights out. Walk around your house and turn off every light and appliance not in use. That is five minutes well spent.
8. Freeze, sucker! Take leftover coffee, tea and freeze in (dollar store) ice cube trays. Same with leftover marinade, sauces, etc.
9. Beat it. Extend the life of rugs and floor coverings but taking them outside and giving them a good shake. or whack. Saves vacuuming time later too.
10. Smooth(ie) operator. Do a quick review of all your fruit and slice and freeze anything close to being overripe. Label for smoothies and now you have ready fruit for your morning smoothie.
11. Speaking of fruit. Extend the fridge life of your fruit by WEEKS! Cut up your fruit (berries can remain whole) and place in a large bowl of water, add in a couple of tablespoons of vinegar and swish. Yes, just swish around. Drain well and store in the fridge. Your most delicate fruit will remain untainted for several weeks in your refrigerator now.
12. Never pay for your mid-afternoon work snack again. Cut up cubes of cheese, wrap up a few crackers, toss in some grapes or apple slices and a 1/4 up of nuts into an old plastic container and you have a cheap snack for your mid-afternoon work pick up. You can assemble a week’s worth in under five minutes.
13. Don’t pay a gardener. Set a timer and pull weeds for five minutes. Play your favorite songs, you will only need two. In a week, most if not all, of your weeds should be gone.
14. Sow some savings. Take five and plant some more radishes, squash or other quick growing vegetables. Use old ice cream or popsicle sticks to label.
15. Dip stick savings. My vintage BMW has a slow leak that the repair folks all tell me would take 10 (very expensive) man hours and lifting the engine to fix. No thanks. Even the mechanic said not to fix it. So, once a week I check the oil levels. Simple, easy and saves me a lot in the long run.
16. Facials are expensive and time consuming. Why not make your own at home? Three five minute options to whip up: For hydrating: mash up 1/2 a very ripe avocado, a teaspoon each of yogurt and honey each. To exfoliate: equal amounts of brown sugar and melted coconut oil (couple of tablespoons each should do it). To reduce inflammation: fist full of raw oats, 1/2 very ripe banana and a drizzle of honey. You can wear it while you pull weeds!
17. Deep conditioning your hair can also very expensive. Warm half a cup of good olive oil in the microwave. It should be just warm to the touch. Slather on your hair and wrap your head in a warm, wet towel. Rinse and shampoo after ten minutes. Cost? Pennies on the dollar.
18. Cash in on Coffee. It takes less than five minutes to make your favorite cold brew, even less if your coffee beans are already ground. Pour cold water over your favorite beans, finely ground. I use a large glass container. Place the brew back in the fridge and drain over a fine mesh sieve two to three days later. Store the brew back in the fridge. Coffee from your neighborhood coffee shop costs a ton of money over time so make your own and save. In the summer, toss your favorite tea bags into cold water and let sit in the sun for a few days. Lovely summer tea for pennies.
19. High and dry. If you grow herbs in your garden, take five and string up some herbs to dry for use later. I have a cute little chandelier in my kitchen that makes for a great location to dry herbs. Pretty and decorative too boot.
20. Mend it. Pull something from your mend pile and (finally!) fix it. I do this while watching one of my favorite tv shows at night.
21. Pop it. Pop some popcorn for movie night at home. Check your cable selection for free movies and start a themed movie night. Scary, funny, rom-com, adventure, action, etc., let the kids choose and make it a weekly tradition. Sprinkle popcorn with parmesan cheese, cinnamon or other favorite spices. You can do the same with game night but you may find, as I have, that you have a child in your mist who can regularly and fairly beat you at a game you have been playing for decades as evidenced by my future real estate mogul of a grand-daughter who always bests me at Monopoly of all things. She’s SEVEN for pity’s sake and she beats me each and every time.