Save In Your House


Room-By-Room Tips on how to save money at home

By Wayne Bell

By the time you read this, I will be in my new home. Every day for the past month or so has been consumed with something related to our first home. It is a cute little home that is more than 50 years old in a charming neighborhood and has all the character that we were looking for. However, one challenge was bound to present itself: What do we do about filling it up on a budget? I have noticed this is a common concern.

Each time I visit a resale shop or flea market, I have noticed more and more people. On the flip side, some of the high-end retailers around town are drastically marking their furnishings down. For example, we purchased a couch at Bassett that was originally marked at more than $1,200 for less than $700. I suppose that the current economy is causing panic within the retail world, and if you have the money to spare or the items to buy, now may be the time.

But, it doesn’t simply stop at decorating and filling your house. Everyone is looking for new and different ways to save money on their cars, in their kitchens and at the grocery store. Therefore in the spirit of spreading the wealth, here are ways to save in every room of your house.

The Kitchen

Daniel, my better half, and I love to cook. We could easily spend $200 a week on fancy foods. But here are some ways to save.

Use coupons. I recently signed up for a subscription to the Sunday “Morning News,” which has an entire section of coupons.

By in bulk. Buy your beans, grains, nuts and spices in bulk at a food cooperative like Ozark Natural Foods. The prices, even at Walmart, are twice as high when you compare them to buying in bulk. Keep these items in decorative jars and BAM!, you start saving. Remember that with nuts, it is better to store them in the refrigerator or freeze them, to prevent the oils from becoming rancid.

Buy what is in season and buy local when you can. It just makes sense to buy your produce when it is in season and buy locally grown food that isn’t tired out from traveling from halfway around the world, or even California. It’s not only cheaper, it’s better. A great tip for freezing vegetables is to flash blanch them in boiling water (peppers, broccoli, summer squash) and then shock them in cold water for just a second, before freezing them. This will keep them fresh and crisp for use all year long.

Buy your meat in bulk. I often buy a bunch of chicken breasts on sale, pound them out thin, add a teaspoon of water and freeze them individually. I have cutlets whenever I want for a quarter of the price of pre-packaged cutlets.

Extend the life of herbs by refrigerating them. Wrap them in a damp paper towel, put them in a zipper top bag and refrigerate. However, the cheapest way to have great herbs is to go to the farmers market, buy the plants and plant them. I lived in an apartment for years and still managed to have a nice window herb garden. I save hundreds of dollars a year by not buying dried herbs in those tiny boxes.

The Bathroom

The bathroom doesn’t necessarily seem like a room that you should be concerned with, in regards to saving money, however, there are a few easy ways to save.

Price your toilet paper (and paper towels) individually. Sometimes those bulk sizes at Sam’s can be alluring. However, it’s not always a good deal. Simply look for the unit price on the shelf label. Most stores have these. This will tell you if you are getting a steal or a deal. Oftentimes, there isn’t a difference in the price.

Cut down on your water usage. I can’t believe how much time some people spend in the shower. Showers are a huge water-waster. I realize the importance of a shower — when you are dirty or when you just mowed the lawn — but cut them short or draw a conservative bath.

Consider using rechargeable batteries for your shavers and other electronic devices. This can cut back on energy usage and reduce the amount of those not-so-friendly-to-the-environment batteries that go into the waste stream.

Towels and bath amenities can be bought on the cheap at stores like TJ MAXX. I don’t deny the fact that TJ MAXX might be one of my favorite stores. I can always find designer towels and soaps at half the price you’ll find at those fancy stores in Rogers.

Consider switching to an energy saving toilet and showerhead. The new toilets and showerheads use less water and cut down on your water and sewer bill. Save money and conserve resources at the same time.


The Bedroom

I would never promote skimping on your bedding. Your bed should be as luxurious as it possibly can be. You spend a lot of time in the bedroom, therefore it should be a retreat. However, there are still a few ways to save.

You can get great bedding at TJ MAXX and Tuesday Morning. I have found Ralph Lauren sheets for less than $40 at each of these stores. If you are looking for a quilt or duvet, don’t forget about

All those candles that you like to burn in your bedroom can really add up. I have noticed that even buying candles at Target or Walmart can set you back $20 or $30. Save some money by buying individual candles instead of some stupid set, which means you’re paying for the fancy packaging.

Use the fan. I love to sleep in a cool room. It drives everyone crazy, but I want my bedroom to be an igloo. However, I am shocked when I go to places that don’t have fans. Yes, fans are ugly. However, they can really help cut down on your energy usage. Also, consider buying a programmable thermostat that you can set to reflect your needs. It will be cool when you get home, but when you’re not there, it will allow the temperature to go a little higher than is comfortable. Why should you freeze out your house, when you are not home? I have mine set to click on an hour before I get home from work and click off after I leave for work.

The Garage

I know that a great amount of money is spent outside of the home, in the garage to be precise. However, there are a few things to consider to save money on your car.  If you make a few economical switches, you might actually get to avoid living in your car.

That 3,000-mile rule is a bit silly for regular servicing. Most experts say that you can actually wait until about every 5,000 miles, unless you have a heavily used vehicle. Add a thousand miles or a month to your little window sticker and then take it in.

Renew your auto insurance and your home insurance annually. There can be a significant discount for paying your insurance annually or semiannually.

The Library And Closet

These are two areas of my house where I can really rack up the expenses. However, I have determinedly become frugal in these areas. Here are a few things that you can do.

Buy secondhand. I cannot stress it enough. Resale shops have some wonderful pieces that are gently worn, yet full on style.

Just like clothing, you can find some really good gently used books at used bookstores. Although you can’t always find the book or CD that you want secondhand, you can comparison shop for new ones. I spend a ton of money on books. I am a bit obsessed with coffee table books. However, I recently learned a trick with my camera phone. When I’m out and see a book I want, I take a picture of the cover, so that I don’t forget it. Then I search for the best price.

Comparison-shop for DVDs, too. I recently purchased “Rachel Getting Married” at Hastings for $7.99. Best Buy had it for $19.99.

I know that times are really tough right now. However, style for your home doesn’t have to suffer. I am confident that by making just a few modifications you can save, save, save and then of course, spend it on lattes.

Categories: Features