I have recently started to enforce a major change in my household. With all the recent news we've been hearing here in Canada about retiring ages going up, the poor economy, pension problems, etc. I knew we needed to start doing something now to prepare for the future we have envisioned for ourselves.
I am a huge Pinterest freak so I started there. There are so many great ideas on Pinterest on how to save money, plan for your future, waste less, be more productive, being sustainable, and I could go on and on. I also found several absolutely fantastic blogs via Pinterest who's main focus are centered on being frugal and smart with your hard earned cash!
I decided to start small and to make myself the promise that this lifestyle change would not mean that we had to be "cheap" or go without but, rather, it would mean that we would cut where we could, make smarter decisions, and really look at wants versus needs. I think to start out with small changes is a great idea because it can ease you and your family (because without their support, it'll never work) into thinking this way and will set you up for success.
Here are a few small changes that we have made that is already resulting in some actual results:
1) Make a list of small things you can change to save some money in your budge that you wouldn't even really notice. The point of this is to show how little things do actually add up! I made a list of eight things I knew we could easily change. They included, turning off lights when we are not actually in the room (we were sooo very bad for this), unplugging the coffee maker during the day, watch a little bit less t.v. (therefore less power), following through when I wash a load of laundry (to reduce having to rewash if I left it too long), etc.
2) Take advantage of that food that's already in your freezer and pantry! We have an entire freezer full of meat in our basement and the one on top of our fridge is always equally as full. So much so that we often struggle to pack more stuff in it! Why on Earth am I always buying more, before I use what I actually have? So plan ahead. Make a weakly meal plan, using what you have on hand first, which cuts down on your grocery bill.
3) Put your spare change to work! Contrary to many people, I actually enjoy doing laundry because my husband never empties his pockets. I secretly pick his pockets and always keep the money I find inside (hahah!) - I consider it like my pay check for cleaning his underwear! :) I started putting all that change into a large mug hidden away in the laundry room....and really, it hasn't taken that long to grow to $50! Sweet, I'll take that and put it towards something I usually don't have enough extra cash for (like in my RRSP!). Think about it...$50 here and $50 there adds up!
4) Make a few more things at home. This has been one of my favorite changes! We've always been a family that bakes and crafts but focusing that energy more towards what we actually need has been great. Whether you make some more baked goods (and buy less granola bars, bread, or fruit snacks at the store), your own Windex or laundry detergent (which is probably better for you anyways), or art supplies for your kids (like eco-friendly finger paints) you are just putting money in your pocket. You can usually make your own version of the store brands for way less and it's generally better for you! Not to mention the invaluable time you are spending when you do these things with your kids!
5) Consider growing some of your own food. I've always wanted to have a garden, however, a lack of time, knowledge and space has always stopped me dead in my tracks. With my beloved Pinterest on my side this year, I'm ready to make the plunge. You can have a garden or a garden-esque type set-up in any living space. We have a backyard so I'm going to attempt to make two raised garden areas and include a few "garden pots". Even if you lived in an apartment and had a small balcony you could do a few "garden pots" (check these out on Pinterest...love them!) and grow your own herbs! With a little planning ahead I am hoping to find success here! An added bonus is that I will be including my 3 year old in the process and she's going to love learning and growing some veggies from seeds!
So, the five things I mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg! There are so many things you can do to make smarter money choices and, remember, it's not about going without it's about getting the most for your hard earned cash! Over time, small changes make a big impact on your wallet! Think about what you and your family need rather than what you want in this moment. If you've made any changes please share because I would love to hear them!!!
p.s. This afternoon, my daughter and I were raiding the stuffed freezer in our efforts to use what we had. We found a half of a bag of frozen berries just waiting for us. The result...super delicious Pro-biotic Frozen Pops!! In total I had to spend $3.50 on the Greek yogurt because I already had everything else I needed to make them!
Pro-Biotic Mixed Berry Pops
Frozen Berries (I had half a bag in my freezer)
2 Tbsp sugar
3Tbsp of lemon juice
3 Tbsp honey
1 Container of Strawberry Greek Yogurt
Mix the frozen berries, sugar, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Stir together well and let sit for about an hour.
Put the berry mixture and honey into your blender or food processor and mix until completely blended.
Pour mix back into bowl and then add the container of Greek yogurt.
Pour this mix into some popsicle moulds or whatever you would like. Put into freezer for at least 4 hours.
**I was able to make 8 pops out of this recipe. With the brand of yogurt I used, each pop works out to 150 cals.