Cedar Rapids, compared to other similarly sized cities outside the Midwest, has a fairly low cost of living. One way to reduce your expenses even further, however, is to simply buy less stuff. Here’s a list of 10 items that many people can easily eliminate from their household budgets.
- Air Fresheners. Place a few drops of vanilla extract on a light bulb to give your room the appealing smell of baked goods without the expense of pricey candles or scented oils.
- Storage Containers. Spending money on pricey storage containers isn’t completely unnecessary in most cases. You can make your own containers by decoupaging pretty cardboard boxes or covering empty glass jars with scraps of patterned paper.
- Toilet Bowl Cleaner. Use a solution of baking soda and water or vinegar to clean and deodorize. Scrub with a toilet brush as needed.
- Dishwasher Rinse Aid. White vinegar will work as a substitute for a dishwasher rinse aid, unless you live in an area with very hard water.
- Dryer Sheets. A small dab of hair conditioner on a wet washcloth makes an easy and inexpensive substitute for dryer sheets when you’re doing your laundry.
- Paper Towels. Paper towels may be convenient, but even the cheapest brands add up to a significant expense. Even if you’re not willing to give up paper towels completely, try cutting old t-shirts into squares to use as rags for everyday kitchen messes.
- Popsicles. If you have small children in the house, you know that popsicles are a favorite year round snack. Purchasing boxes of these frozen treats can be expensive, so consider making your own. You can buy popsicle molds at your local dollar store or a discount store like Walmart or Target. Let your kids experiment with their own popsicle creations. Popsicles with various combinations of frozen fruit and Kool-Aid are very popular with most kids, as are homemade pudding pops.
- Cat Litter. Did you know that shredded newspaper makes an excellent source of free cat litter? You’ll need to remember to change the litter box regularly, but that’s something you should be doing for your cat’s health anyway.
- Shaving Cream. Many brands of shaving cream are very expensive, but you can easily substitute inexpensive hair conditioner for this task. Look for the cheapest brand you can find in a scent that you like.
- Tinted Moisturizer. Many women like to use tinted moisturizer as a substitute for foundation on the days they don’t feel like wearing a full face of makeup. Save money by mixing a bit of your favorite foundation with your own moisturizer instead of purchasing another separate product for your makeup bag.
If your 2012 New Year’s resolution is to get out of debt or beef up your emergency fund, eliminating these purchases from your monthly budget should easily give you $50-$100 to put towards your goals.