These days, money is tight for almost everyone, and this fact has prompted a surge in innovative - sometimes bizarre - frugal living tips. Before you assume you've tried everything, consider these out-of-the-box, proven strategies for keeping more cash in your pocket. (For more tips, check out 5 Painless Ways To Save More Money.)
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- Keep It Clean …
Ethan Ewing, President of Bills.com, suggests scrubbing up for maximum money-saving results. "By practicing good personal hygiene, you can better avoid sickness, saving money on medicine, doctor visits and time off work."
Since hand washing is also contagious, parents who strive to keep their hands germ-free will influence their kids to follow suit. Imagine the cost-cutting that an entire elementary school could achieve!
- … But Not Too Clean
While hygiene is an important consideration in staying healthy, it isn't necessary to overdo it. Your hair, for example, requires less TLC than suggested by today's hair product commercials. Washing just once a day (or less, for people with thick or dry hair) cannot only save money on the water and shampoo bills, but it can save your tresses from undue stresses. When it is time to lather up, do so only once. Just because the directions on most shampoos request that you "Lather. Rinse. Repeat." the last suggestion is often wasteful.
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- Consider a Fake-Out
Everyone knows that flowers can brighten your mood, enhance décor, and create a welcoming dwelling, but the cost of fresh-cut blooms can be outrageous. To get the visual benefits of festive floral, without the price tag, invest in a high-end silk arrangement. They only need the occasional dusting to maintain their blooms, and they can be used outdoors, too!
- Arrange a No-Cost Home Makeover
While a fresh coat of paint and some new floor coverings can create a renewed look, it isn't always in the budget. Lisa Reynolds, Mom-Saver-in-Chief at RedPlum.com, suggests homeowners simply rearrange and minimize what they have. "You will be amazed the difference that removing clutter, shifting furniture, rugs and lamps can make."
Make sure your well-defined space also serves a specific function. If your home office is slowly creeping into the dining room, it's time to draw some boundaries within your home. (To learn more, see Creating A Home Business Work Space.)
- Order Entertainment A la Carte
The days of relying on your cable or satellite provider for all your TV needs are over. Instead, consider customizing your entertainment plan to include just what you need. Danielle Marquis, adjunct professor of personal finance at Red Rocks Community College, does just that. By combining the basic cable package with a Netflix membership and Hulu, she was able to watch all the channels she loves with more than $60 in monthly savings. Customers can also skip costly DVR fees and watch most content on-demand with products like the Roku box. It's a simple, made-to-order solution to high cable prices. (Learn more in 5 Ways To Cut Your Cable Bill.)
- Steal from Your Own Account
While not exactly "theft", the regular practice of siphoning off a few dollars and cents from your own checking accounts can add up to a huge windfall down the road. Carrol Van Stone of Visibility Bookings hits her online accounts every morning and does the following unusual activity: "I transfer money into my savings account that is between 00 and 25 or between 25 and 50, etc. So, if my balance ends in $27.50, I transfer $2.50 into savings. If it is $72.00, I transfer $22.00 into savings." While the practice itself may seem a bit time consuming, Carrol has been able to save hundreds of dollars per month.
The Bottom Line
In this world of economic hesitation, the phrase "anything goes" is certainly becoming a practical one. While savings tips that work for one person won't always work for others, these tips just might inspire a personal and creative plan to keep control of your cash. (Already got a plan to save in place? Check out Are You Saving Too Much?)
For the latest financial news, see Water Cooler Finance: Ghosts Of Economies Past.