One of the first basic rules anyone learns running a business is that a dollar saved is better than a dollar in new sales. Small business owners either learn that rule or they’re not in business very long. The same basic rule applies to household expenses, although that has to be balanced out against your individual pain threshold. Sometimes saving money in your personal budget means pain that you’re not willing to endure.
Consequently, when you’re evaluating household items that really pay for themselves, that has to be balanced against the time required to obtain and use them. For my wife and I that would be something like canning vegetables. While we could probably save money buying vegetables in bulk from local farmers or farmer’s markets and canning them ourselves, but we’re just not willing to make that effort or the investment in jars, water baths and a pressure cooker. That’s our pain threshold when it comes to food and the savings aren’t all that significant for two people.
Luckily there are easy, low-pain purchases that you can make that will save you big bucks.
A Chest Freezer
You may not want to can your own produce, either, but buying in bulk and freezing can save you big bucks. Almost any type of meat, fish, poultry, fruit or vegetable product can be frozen with the right preparation. According to the Money Blog, a typical chest freezer consumes $4 to $8 a month in additional electricity. The extra electricity is easily trumped by the savings of making fewer trips to the store, eating out less and being able to cook in bulk.
My advice for most people buying gym equipment for their home is to make sure you can hang clothes on it because that’s how 90 percent of them end up being used. If you are that 10 percent that actually goes to the gym and works out regularly, then buying your own gym equipment can save you time and money. The problem with the gym is more than the cost of the membership; it’s the time to change, drive there and wait for the equipment you want to use. During flu season the gym is hot and steamy, a positively fabulous environment for spreading respiratory infections. If you won’t miss the social aspects of the gym, then save the money and buy yourself a treadmill.
A Commuter Bike
If you live 10 miles or less from your job, consider getting a commuter bike. Even at $3 a gallon for gasoline, a bicycle easily pays for itself just in gas savings, if you use it regularly. That would include commuting to work once or twice a week and using it for small errands to the store. This is another one of those items that can be a net money loser if it ends up staying in the garage but, if you use it, a good quality bicycle will save you money and last for years.
When LED lights first came out they were prohibitively expensive and did not emit a particularly bright light. The technology has advanced today to the point that LEDs are cost-effective replacements for older style incandescent bulbs. Even if an incandescent bulb costs $1 and a similarly bright LED bulb runs $8, you’ll still save enough in electricity to be in the black the first year. LED bulbs use roughly one-sixth of the electricity of older style light bulbs. The real cost savings comes from the longevity of LED bulbs themselves. With the average life of an LED bulb estimated to be 25,000 hours, the lifetime savings could run into the thousands of dollars. Best of all, it’s also a painless substitution.
A Slow Cooker
Even if cooking isn’t your talent, taking five minutes to dump a list of ingredients into a slow cooker is pretty easy. Set the timer, go to work and a hot, delicious meal is ready when you walk in the door. No mess, no stress. The best part is you’ll have plenty of leftovers to put in meal-size containers and load into your chest freezer. You can also use your crockpot to make hot dips, chili and other great dishes for entertaining friends and taking to parties. Use your crockpot once instead of going out to eat and you’ve already covered the cost.
Saving big money doesn’t have to be painful; all that’s really required is being able to evaluate what expenses are going to save you money and which ones will end up being wasted money. Know your personal pain threshold and plan your purchases accordingly.