Even when the economy looks like it’s making a turnaround, most of us are still looking for easy ways to cut back. Yet, not many Americans are looking to cut down on all of their materialistic items so easily. Fortunately, there are a handful of clever tricks out there that will help keep your wallet a little thicker each month.
U.S. News racked up 15 ultra-frugal strategies that will let you live on as little as $500 a month. While some may be a little outlandish, like baking cookies in your car, others can really be an easy adjustment to your lifestyle.
1. Get rid of your car. Well, not literally. However, there are many ways to save on cash by taking public transportation such as a bus or subway. Or why not go for a more scenic approach and bike or walk to work, which will also give you a great morning workout.
2. Take cold showers. This may not be the most desirable approach in the winter, but skipping hot water will surely reduce the expense of heating up the water. Also, since not that many people love the feeling of a cold shower, you’ll most likely be taking shorter ones as well.
3. Stop using a fridge. This is a difficult challenge for all you dairy lovers, but it is definitely possible. Try stocking up on non-perishables like canned soup and boxes of pasta for meals instead of deli meats and cheeses.
4. Replace your house with an RV. Many people may not want to opt for this challenge if they can’t tear away from their walk-in closet and indoor spa. However, one couple who left their house in Boulder, Colo. for a 340-square-foot bus realized that they were much happier living in the RV than their “dream house.”
5. Bake cookies in your car. This one is a little tricky since it will only work in hot climates, but it’s definitely something to try out at least once. Just park your car under the sun and take out a thermometer to measure the temperature outside. If it’s at least 95 degrees or hotter outside, your cookies just need a couple hours to bake and they are ready to pair with a cold glass of milk.
6. Reuse plastic sandwich bags. This is one of the easiest rules you can start enforcing every day. When you’re packing your peanut butter and jelly to work, just rinse out the bag after you’re done and you could be saving about $30 a year. Remember though, throw out any bags that touched raw meats for health precautions.
7. Turn your car off—while it’s still moving. Even though the American Automobile Association does not promote this method, it has been discovered that it truly promotes saving gas. First of all, never try this method at high speeds because it is definitely too dangerous. Also, practice driving without power steering and power breaks in an open space where no other cars or pedestrians are around.
8. Make your own cleaning supplies. While many beauty professionals advise to make your own skin and body lotions, it is also true for kitchen cleaners. Essentials such as lemons and vinegar are smart choices to always have in your pantry. Try leaving a small bowl of vinegar in a shallow bowl on your kitchen counter to banish unpleasant odors. If you have a garbage disposal, you can deodorize it with a squeeze of lemon juice. In the end, you can save up to $120 a year on cleaning supplies.
9. Stop drinking soda (or another beverage of choice). This might be one of the easiest ways to save a ton of money each month. Try going cold turkey and drink nothing but water for a few days instead of buying a soda or energy drink at lunch. If you nix your trip to Starbucks in the morning, you could save twice as much. Not only is this a great way to save $30-$50 a month, the transition from soda to water has great health benefits, too.
10. Move back home with your parents, at any age. You may not want to dive into this option right away, but the savings are well-worth the cost. When you have kids, it’s a burden to find babysitters on top of all the other primary costs of having children. This allows for free pet and babysitters that saves more than just housing costs.
11. Buy in bulk. This might not be the smartest idea for things like fresh fruits and vegetables, but a membership to a warehouse club can definitely save you a ton on groceries. Try bringing our own duffle bags or backpacks (to save plastic bags) and load up on paper goods and nonperishables. Bulk retailers such as Sam’s Club, Costco, and BJ’s are great for loading up on groceries for weeks at a time.
12. Stockpile supplies. It keeps coming up—nonperishables! Canned goods are truly great for saving on money, especially when you get hit with bad weather and can’t make it to the store. You may not be a fan of canned vegetables and fruits, but canned beans and boxes of pasta can come together to make a quick and filling meal.
13. Compare prices. Don’t walk past your that street vendor too quickly. These little carts may have cheaper and even fresher produce than your local supermarket.
14. Cook big. After you buy all your groceries from one of those bulk retailers, grab your apron and start cooking. Devote one night a week to making plenty of soup and chili that can easily be stored in the freezer for future meals. Not enough to fill you up? Add some pasta or rice to make a hearty meal for the family.
15. Plan ahead. Even if you have to go out and buy a small notepad for it, try deciding in advance which meals you want to cook on which nights. It will help prevent you from going to the drive thru after work or ordering takeout once you get home.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.