Sometimes after we’ve had some unexpected big car repair bills, veterinarian expenses or are just trying to save money, I try not to spend ANY money at all except on the essentials like food and box wine. Since these times seemed to come more and more frequently lately I have developed a list of things that I have done to distract myself or to create something that feels spendy when it isn’t.
1. Use the library. I know that not everyone has a local library close to them, but if you do and you aren’t already using it you should definitely check it out! For some instant gratification I will check out a huge pile of craft books, movies and magazines. This totally makes me feel a (fake) shopping rush without spending a dime. An added bonus at our library is that they have free subscriptions to local museums that you can borrow and use to visit your local art museum, arboretum or history museum. Our library also has a little used book store where some of the books are as little as 25 cents if you really need to buy something.
2. Make some fancy homemade goodies using what you have in your pantry. So here are a few of my favorite things to make that might not be in the food budget if you bought them at a pricey grocery store or bakery, try them or come up with your own list:
Make your own granola: If you have one of those giant containers of oats then this is an easy thing to make and you can customize according to your taste and what is in your pantry. We always have almonds and coconut so I add these to my granola. Here’s a good recipe if you need one: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/granola-recipe.html
Fancy tuna fish salad: I make my own version of the pricey Whole Foods Cranberry Tuna Fish Salad that they have at the prepared foods counter. I actually think mine is better – just sayin. Prepare tuna salad as you would normally with mayo, celery etc. then add cranberries or raisins and nuts – I use pistachios or almonds – whatever I have on hand.
Salted Peanut Butter Cookies (Gluten Free): This recipe is from the trendy Brooklyn Bakery called Ovenly. I have made these three times already and they are delicious, rich and really feel like a treat. http://munchies.vice.com/recipes/peanut-butter-cookies
3. Have friends over for a Game Night. If you invite people over for an after dinner game night, you can get away with providing some inexpensive snacks and maybe one type of drink. Popcorn and chips and dip are always crowd pleasers, but check out your pantry and see what you have. If you don’t own any fun games you can play charades, Fictionary (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fictionary) or even plain old cards. Let people know what you will be serving and if they want something else they should bring it.
4. Enjoy your local parks and community centers. We are lucky to have lots of beautiful parks in our area. We will take the dog and go for a long walk, but there are always people biking, picnicking and fishing there too. In the summer there are several free concerts in our area – if you have these you should check them out.
5. Shop your closet. This advice is pretty common but I think that this doesn’t only apply to your clothes closet. Sure there will be things in there that you forgot you had, but also it is a great time to clean out the bathroom toiletries closet. If you are anything like me there is so much stuff in there that when I am done I feel like I just hit the drug store beauty department.
6. Sell some stuff. After all of that closet organizing you may have some stuff that you want to get rid of. Chances are that you can sell it on ebay or Craigslist. Just take a couple of photos and list the item – you would be surprised at the stuff that sells, like used products, old clothing, CD’s, books – you name it. And bonus that you are not only not spending money, you could actually make some.
7. Give yourself a day of pampering: Start with a long bath/shower, give yourself a hair treatment, homemade face mask, mani/pedi and sip some iced tea. Use up any of the products you have that have been languishing in your toiletries closet. Or, there are ideas all over the internet for homemade facials, hair treatments and bath bombs, take advantage of all the info out there.
8. Have a Pizza Night. Sometimes when we really want to have a night out but the budget just won’t allow it instead we will have pizza night – usually this is on a Friday night. I will make some pizza crust dough ahead of time or if I didn’t have time I will buy some pre-made since it’s still cheaper than a dinner out. Also, I usually have tomato sauce and mozzarella on hand. We add leftover meat or veggies to the pizza and pop it in the oven. Somehow eating pizza makes the end of the week feel a little special.
9. Make something. In my head I call this “something for nothing” and what I do is try to make something using what I have on hand – no running to the craft store allowed! I am a bit of a pack rat when it comes to craft supplies so I usually have lots to work with. Some things I have made are candles using bits and pieces of old broken candles, homemade laundry detergent, cloth napkins from an old table cloth, pajama pants from an old sheet, cards from magazine cut outs, refrigerator magnets from bottle caps and the list goes on. I would say that this is one time when it would be good to waste some time looking on Pinterest! Here are some fun ideas: http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2012/12/20/easy-to-sew-pajama-pants/ http://www.instructables.com/id/Cheap-and-simple-bottle-cap-magnets/ https://www.jennikayne.com/ripandtan/diy-hand-dipped-birthday-candles
10. Watch a video tutorial, class or lecture. While I love watching craft videos, I have also learned how to code, sew a skirt and make french macaroon by watching videos on the internet. Is there something you always wanted to know more about? I bet there’s a video on that! A couple of my favorites are: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tthdITgsR1I, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJ636Y8N6E8 I would love to hear what things you do in order to not spend money. Leave me a comment and let me know! Or you can check out the tutorials on my YouTube channel ;).