The internet is full of “money-saving” products with all sorts of promises to make your life easier while keeping cash in your pocket. I’m sure some of those gadgets are great and for the right people would make a financial difference, but that’s not what I want to talk about.
Today I want to share with you 3 everyday, simple household products that, when used as I describe, are sure to reduce your budget every month. These are all items that we consistently use every single month and we’ve been doing so for years. In fact, along with lots of hard work and dedication, these seemingly small things helped us pay off six figures of student loan debt.
Whether you are working to pay off debt, to save up to buy a house, or to pay for a fancy vacation, you can take advantage of these strategies to help fund your goal.
I’ll start with the simplest item and move through the three items in order of amount saved. The last item easily saves us thousands of dollars every single year.
At the end, I would love to hear what the stand-out items are in your home that you can credit with saving you the most money!.
Reusable water bottles
In our family, we all use reusable water bottles that we fill up with tap water. They go to school, on trips, in the car, and at home. We have several different brands and don’t swear allegiance to any one brand. For decades we used Nalgene water bottles exclusively and we still have a handful in our water bottle cupboard. Now most of our kids have insulated metal water bottles with straws.
We keep several refill jugs in the car (more when we are on a long trip) so we never run out of water. Our refill jugs are cleaned out juice containers straight out of our emergency water storage. They are always filled so they are easy to grab and go.
Last week a stranger stopped at our house to fix his flat tire. He was grateful for a safe place to change his tire and thankful that my husband had tools he could use. He asked for a drink. “Just a bottle of water would be fine” he said. I sent him home with quart mason jar (we have a zillion) since we didn’t have bottled water.
A case of 40 16.9 oz generic bottles of water costs $7.63 where I live. That includes a $.05 per bottle deposit (which you technically could get back if you found somewhere to recycle the bottles, but those places are nearly non-existent these days). That comes out to $.19 per bottle. We have 8 in our family drinking a minimum of 4 bottles per day, that’s $6 per day or $180 per month. The reality is that we drink much more, so the savings would be even greater.
If you are in the habit of carrying a water bottle, you won’t have to buy bottled water at any of the locations where they are sold at an incredibly marked-up price. Depending on the event, one bottle of water could cost anywhere from $1 to $6 or more. That’s an expensive way to stay hydrated.
The tricky part about this one is that it’s easy to justify the convenience factor of bottled water, as the savings seems small when taken individually. When you make the lifestyle change to not buying bottled water, you will reap the savings every single month!
The technical name of these money-saving rockstars is Rubbermaid Easy Find Lids Food Storage Containers, but my family would not know what I was talking about if I said that. I love that these containers do not leak! I feel confident sending soup with the kid who tosses their backpack all over like it was a soccer ball. They are clear so you can see inside of them pretty well, but they aren’t breakable glass.
Don’t be fooled by these containers that are also from Rubbermaid and also have red lids. They are NOT the same. They are light duty and good for a couple uses, but I would never toss them in a backpack or trust them falling out of the fridge.
I should also mention that Easy Find Lids came out with a vent lid (on the larger containers) not too long ago that touts the prevention of splatters in the microwave. We have some of them, but I wouldn’t trust tossing them in a bag as something could open the vent and cause a spill. Probably a grown-up would be fine, but I still prefer the non-vented lids (which you will find in this set). If you want to try the vents (some people love them), then this set has a good assortment of sizes with vented lids for the bigger containers.
Money-saving use #1: replace expensive single serving packaging
The small size (1/4 cup) is perfect for dressings and sauces, but I love it for putting yogurt or applesauce in school lunches. A quick calculation from Walmart’s Great Value applesauce show that the cost of individual applesauce cups (9.7 cents/ounce) is 44% higher than applesauce in a jar (6.7 cents/ounce). Applesauce in the squeeze pouches (20.3 cents per ounce) is almost 300% more expensive than what’s in the jar. The math for making your own applesauce will vary depending on where you find your apples, but I know for us it’s always been very cost effective.
Our favorite containers allow us the huge money savings of buying (or making) in bulk, while still offering the convenience of individual serving-size packaging.
Money-saving use #2: Food on the go
If you didn’t think lunch could get easier than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, think again! Thanks to these containers, we can pack just about anything for lunch: watermelon, taco soup, cornbread. You name it, it’s safe in your red-lidded container (and more importantly your other stuff is safe from that sticky juice or messy soup).
Whatever you would eat at home is safe to eat on the go. Save time by packing for days or for multiple people at once.
Money-saving use #3 leftovers
We love leftovers around here! As a busy family, leftovers are intentionally worked into our menu. I purposefully double and triple recipes so that I won’t have to cook on other nights. Everyone loves a “leftover buffet,” or at least loves that each of them can choose the thing they like most from the buffet.
The problem with leftovers (and one reason they get a bad rap) is that they often get forgotten, which may result in a UFO (unidentified food object) in the fridge. Eww! So while using washed out sour cream or yogurt containers (recycled as “Tupperware”) might sound like a great idea, it also disguises your leftovers. Maybe you’re better at fridge management than I am, but for me, if I can’t see them I forget they are there. My favorite red-lidded containers are clear (well, more opaque), so you can roughly see what food is in there (and you don’t mistake it for sour cream or whatever kind of container you are recycling).
Calculating the actual amount of money saved using these containers in the three ways listed above is tricky. How do you put a price on the leftovers in the fridge. How much would eating out cost instead of always bringing your food? How often are you currently use single-serving containers? I don’t have an actual calculation, but for us, the savings from these three uses is easily in the hundreds each month.
I am unapologetically a superfan of these food containers! I have used them daily for the past decade and I frequently give them as gifts because they are the best!
By strategically using a couple of box fans, we very rarely have to use our expensive air conditioning. We are getting cooling that would otherwise cost us thousands of dollars a year.
The good news is, if it cools down outside at night where you live, this strategy will work for you too!
We don’t typically use our air conditioning, so as the day goes on, it gets warmer inside our house. Every evening when the sun goes down and it’s cooler outside than inside, we open all of the windows. We put box fans in a few of the windows, leaving other windows open without fans.
You can choose if you want to blow the warm air out (fan blowing toward the outside) or blow the cold air in (fan blowing toward the inside). If you are blowing the warm air out, cool air will be sucked in through the other open windows in the house. If you are blowing cool air in, the warm air will go out the other open windows.
No matter which direction you put the fan, your house temperature will drop the same, but there are a few other factors that might help you decide. If you like cool air blowing forcefully on you, then you’ll want the fan blowing in. If your screens have holes that let bugs in, or you have a lot of dust, you probably want to blow the fans toward the outside.
If you live in an area where you feel safe leaving your windows open all night, you will cool your house off the most by leaving the fans in the windows all night long. If having your windows open while you are sleeping makes you nervous, you can close them when you go to bed and open them again early in the morning. We close our windows before the temperature warms up.
It’s lovely waking up chilly on a summer morning, especially knowing that your electric bill didn’t take a major hit to get you those temperatures. We let our curtains or blinds keep our house cool all day long! This might seem like a pretty simple concept, but it works wonderfully! It would cost us thousands of dollars every year to keep our house at the temperature we can get and maintain basically for free.
There are a couple of weeks every year when the temperature is well into the 100s and the night time temperatures don’t get below 80. In those times, we use our air conditioning. Seeing the bill on those hot days reminds us the value of this strategy!
In the beginning of the article, I said we use these items all year round and I really mean it. We consistently use fans in the winter, too, but in a different way. While we have central heat, we primarily heat our home with a wood stove. Using the same principles of air flow explained above, in the winter, we use fans to push and pull air into the various rooms in our house. But the biggest savings comes in the summer.
How do you save?
Using reusable water bottles, red-lidded containers, and box fans save our family a significant amount of money every single month. Saving money in these areas allow us to have more money to put toward our financial goals and things that matter to us.
Are there simple, everyday items in your house that you attribute significant savings to? What items in your house save you the most money? I would love to learn from you!
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