Friday, March 18, 2011

Making changes to save some money - Frugal Fridays

This morning as I was fixing lunches for the boys, I asked Jordan for his lunchbox.  As it turns out, he left it at school yesterday.

That's okay, we have other lunchboxes.

But after I got his sandwich made, I reached in the drawer to grab a sandwich zip.  That's when I realized that was stupid as I have other reusable containers that I could put his sandwich in.

So that got me to thinking about the various changes that I've made in our house to reduce waste and save money.  Here is what I've come up with:

  • Reusable containers.  It saves on the budget by reducing the purchase of zip locks.  I do still use them, but not nearly as many.
  • Napkins.  When we bought this house 7 years ago, I had bought some cloth napkins for special occasions.  They weren't super pretty or fancy, just reusable.  I figured since I had already spent the money, I might as well use them.  So I quit buying paper napkins.  Also, we use them more than once before they get washed, which saves a bit more on laundry.  Another thing I do is save whatever paper napkins I get from those random takeout meals.  It seemed silly and wasteful to throw them away unused.  Now if I do need a paper napkin, I have a few, but didn't buy a whole package of them.
  • Paper towels.  We do still buy them.  However, I don't still buy two different kinds, and I'm not brand specific anymore.  We can't seem to completely eliminate them, but have greatly reduced how much we use them, thus how often it's necessary to purchase them.
  • Plastic spoons.  Last year I discovered a huge box (Sam's Club sized) of plastic silverware from David's 40th birthday party.  There were a bunch of spoons, and I started using them in the boys lunches to avoid having the kids lose my good silverware.  It didn't take me long to realize we had sailed through them, so I told the boys that they'd owe me a quarter for every spoon they threw away.  You'd be surprised how quickly they quit throwing them away and started bringing them home!  Four lost spoons paid for a pack from the Dollar Store, and I didn't buy them, the boys did.  That fact alone has kept the boys motivated to not buy me anymore spoons!  We've used the same pack of spoons all school year, and still have the whole pack.  Good job boys!
  • Buying in bulk.  I have quit buying individually wrapped items.  Now I buy things like yogurt by the quart instead of all the yogurt cups.  It saves money by getting more for my money, but it has also reduced how much waste is thrown away.
  • Water bottles.  I bought reusable water bottles for all of us.  That has saved us in a number of different ways: 
    • Water is "free" - I put that in quotes because technically the water isn't really free.  However, the fact that I spend $45 for all of our household water in a month, I don't have to go out and buy something else to drink, making it "free" in my eyes. 
    • I'm no longer buying bottled water -- **see above
    • The boys get water in their lunches.  If they don't get the bottle emptied, the bottle doesn't take on it's contents flavor.  Water doesn't have a faint taste of lemonade or fruit punch or apple juice, and that saves the bottles.
    • We no longer purchase juice boxes or soda.
    • Water is good for you - it's healthy.  I'm instilling healthy habits into my kids.
    • I take water with me everywhere I go.  It helps keep me from buying a bottle of water, or something else to drink.
  • Espresso Machine.  Probably one of the best purchases we've made.  Seriously.  It paid for itself in about a month.  I haven't had a Starbucks in ages, so that means I'm not spending $4 on a coffee that costs me pennies to make at home.
  • Thermoses.  David has a microwave at work, so he can reheat leftovers for his lunches.  The boys on the other hand, can't reheat lunch at school.  So buying them their own thermoses allows them to eat leftovers at school.  They love it, and so do I. Yay, less food waste!
  • Reusable bags.  I use them when I go shopping.  But if I do forget them, and get plastic bags, I use the plastic bags as garbage can liners in the bathroom trash cans so I'm not buying garbage bags.
That's what I can think of right now.  I know there are so many other things we do to save a dollar, but this is a good start.  What do you do to save some green?

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