Feeling a pinch in your finances this week?

If you’re feeling the need to save even more this week, but wondering what else you can do, here are some ideas to keep money in your pocket. (I’m planning to do all of them!)

Tuscan Tomato Soup 

1. Eat all meals at home

Don’t go out to eat or order takeout. If you’ve got a busy week ahead, put together some crockpot meals in the morning, make a large pot of soup every few nights (enough for leftovers for another day or several lunches during the week), and plan some quick and easy meals to save you time this week.

 

2. Don’t buy any groceries this week

Use up whatever you have in the fridge, freezers, and pantry. 

 

3. Turn the heat down

Set your thermostat a couple of degrees lower this week (for those in the Northern hemisphere). If you have a programmable thermostat, set it to be even lower during the day if you won’t be home during the day. Add another blanket to your bed (a throw blanket works fine if you don’t have another bed-sized blanket).

During the day, dress in layers.

 

4. Block drafts in your house with old towels

Roll up some old towels (or your summer swimming towels) and use them as instant draft blockers to block cold drafts from doors and windows.

 

5. Mend something 

Rather than buying something new, mend what you have. Sew up the hole in a shirt, patch a sheet, glue your shoes, or fix that thing that’s been broken for a bit in your home.

 December Arrangement The Prudent Homemaker

6. Decorate for the season using what you have (and can get for free)

Gather pinecones and put them in bowls. Decorate with cookie cutters. Cut greens from your yard. Visit a place selling Christmas trees and ask if you can have the trimmings; many places will give them to you for free!

 

7. Make a gift using items you have on hand

Repurpose old clothing to make a hat, scarf, or gloves. Refashion a broken piece of jewelry into a new combination to give.

 

8. Be diligent about turning off lights when you’re not using them

When you sit down to eat, turn off any lights that aren’t right above your table. Studies have shown that you’ll save more money turning them off if you leave a room for 20 seconds (incandescent) or 2 minutes (fluorescent).

 

9. Take a family photo (or individual family pictures) yourself

Set the timer and take a new family photo.  Email it rather than sending Christmas cards or post it on Facebook instead.

 

10. Have a date night at home

Play a board game or card game, watch a movie you already own (or borrow one from the library), work on a project together, clean something together, or just enjoy talking together while you have a homemade treat.

 

Do you have any other plans to save money this week that won’t cost you anything this week?

 

 

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34 Comments

  1. A question about your “date nights”. Where are the children? Do you wait until after they go to bed to have your date? My hubby and I have tried the date night at home thing and it never seems to work because it seems to take forever to get the kids in bed- but there is no way to have a date night with them awake, that’s for sure. Just curious of logistics! 🙂

    Every single one of your list items is great and we will be doing all of them too. They are just the standard around here- although occasionally we do break #1. Your #2 is one that I employ often- not only is it good for rotation, but it really saves you TIME and GAS MONEY too! One of the most valuable ways I save money is to challenge myself in this way- no groceries for the week/month, no buying anything brand new for the month, how much lower can I get my electricity bill if I am diligent? Things like that. It makes a game of it- and it is rewarding in more ways than one (and still pleasant too!)

  2. Thank you Brandy for the wonderful tips on money saving.

    Some of the things we already to on the list is –
    – Only shop monthly.
    – We now use solar lanterns in our home without turning on any mains lighting. It will be interesting to find out what it saves us over the 2 months we have been using them on our electricity bill in January.
    – Reducing electricity on cooling with our fridge and two freezers we turned the temperatures up to meet common standard recommendations for an energy efficient hoem. One was running at around 13 degrees too cool 😮 .

  3. Most of the above 🙂
    I will meet a couple of girlfriends for afternoon coffee, rather than brunch. I am careful about the time of day and when I make plans with friends. 3pm-ish is safe. Too late for brunch and too early for dinner. Coffee it is! ☕️

  4. I am roasting a turkey today (purchased at 79 cents a lb. -cheapest offer in our community) to make turkey enchiladas, turkey salad, shepherd’s pie with mashed potato topping and slow cooker turkey soup. On Friday night my workplace will provide a holiday dinner for employees. I am waiting to buy Kohls and Amazon gift cards (requested by family members for Christmas) to see if there is a good offer. Has anyone seen one, especially on the internet? So far the ones for Kohls – .5% aren’t worth the inconvenience.

  5. Love these practical, easy steps to save money. Thanks for compiling this list, Brandi! I have a pot of broth going several times a week and eat soup daily all winter long.I keep bags in the freezer with bones and one of vegetable scraps. I can quickly get a pot of broth going and have soup with minimal effort that is cheap and so, so healthy. This is so cost effective, and eating healthy saves money in the long haul.

    I think simple decorating especially with natural pieces makes for the most beautiful Christmas!

  6. There are always so many wonderful activities and parties in December. This year, we’ve decided to only attend two. One is a fundraiser breakfast for the little boy of my husband’s classmate who is battling cancer. We will donate the money we would have spent on our extended families’ Christmas gifts (grandparents.) It’s not much to begin with but I think our families will appreciate it. The other is a nativity display at a church about 20 minutes away. There are hundreds of displays, musical performances and a dress-up nativity room for children. It is all free. The expense will be gas and car use to get there and back. We have a newborn, so cutting down on Christmas festivities is not only good for the budget but to limit the amount of exposure of the baby. It’s also good for my sanity! 😀

  7. If you use gas points at Safeway or Fred’s, buy your Amazon gift cards there. It earns you gas points so you can really save on future gas purchases. Some weeks these stores have 2 or even 4 times the points for buying a gift card—so a $50 card could net you 100 or 200 points.

  8. Today (Sunday, December) only, Target has 10% off Target gift cards, in store & online. Maximum discount
    is $30. This is only for Target gift cards, not the VISA, MasterCard, or other gift cards sold there.

  9. ~Acorns are another option. Though, it’s best to gather when they are falling. (Google about toasting in the oven, so you kill any bugs.) You can use the good ones to make acorn meal, after the holdays. I’ve even put acorn caps in a jar. It’s interesting to see what you have. I have collected fabric, patterns, and various books, and craft items over the years. Many from before I was laid off from a good job. ~I do things like make playdough for my daughter. ~Checkout your library’s schedule for events. Many are free. ~It’s too cold where I’m at right now. But warmer climates could make a picnic lunch, if you live within a walk or bike ride from a park. ~Use a recipe generator, that goes by ingredients you have on hand. ~Libraries and Kindle have many free books. My library even has an online catalog you can borrow from. ~Puzzle and board game family(even w friends)nights are great. Pop some popcorn, or throw a simple snack together based on what you have. If you’re hosting, have others bring something simple to. ~Ask about any unused decorations. I lost my Christmas supplies from a move years ago. My grandma had some she didn’t use. Many were from my childhood. 🙂

  10. My bowl of pine cones has been around for probably 30 years now. They are spray painted gold–not all over but for highlights. Sometimes they are in a bowl, sometimes among greenery on a shelf, sometimes scattered down the center of the dining table among gold strands of ribbon. There are so many different ways of using them, and they cost me $0. My husband sprayed them with radiator paint which we had on hand. I picked them up off the ground.

    I will be doing many of the things on your list, although I’m more into saving time than money at my age. (73) It takes me longer to get things done than it used to. I need to wrap gifts, bake cookies, put up the tree and decorations. There will be weekly shopping trips to the grocery store. I have several more gifts to buy but I know what most of them will be, and some are gift cards. Our store has a great deal–with points earned by buying groceries over several weeks, we can get $50 gift cards for $40. I don’t give a lot of gifts that big normally, and the places to use the cards are limited, but I may be able to use one or two– only 7 restaurants, 14 stores where they can be used. But my daughter asked for restaurant gift cards to “new restaurants.” So that may be a spot for me to use one or two. Her husband, like mine, prefers the same restaurants over and over again! Not that either of us goes out that often, but we like to try new and different.

  11. Great ideas, and so easily implemented! It’s so easy to get off track when exposed to the buy-buy-buy pre-holiday sales, so it’s nice to be reminded that one can still save during the holidays.

    I did #1 (eat meals at home), #6 (decorate with what you have), and #7 today:

    1) Even though the DH and I were out running errands, I waited until we got home to make dinner and eat. I made lasagna using what I had in the pantry — plus it tasted awesome, so double-win!
    6) I also worked on finishing up the Christmas tree skirt that I’m sewing. I’m making it using materials that I either had in my stash (iron-on interfacing) or fabric that was gifted to me.
    7) And I made Christmas gifts of granola (items in my pantry), and wrapped them up using canning jars (pantry), ribbon (stash), labels (gifted to me), and fabric (gifted to me). They look pretty enough that the DH said they could be sold in Indigo/Chapters (a big box book/giftstore), which made my day!

  12. Love the ideas. With so much money going out right now, every bit saved helps a lot. Our property tax bill was higher than we paid (this has happened before) so we need to cough up another $200 by December 31. One of our plans is to eat an inexpensive homemade soup 3 times per week. That should also help balance out the extra calories from far too many goodies that are everywhere!

  13. Marcia, I decorate with pine cones also, but I don’t stop at the spray paint. I also bleach mine. Several years ago at the flower shop I work at for the white Chrismas display I decided to bleach some and see what would happen…they sold out!! I had not even intended to sell them but each year more and more folks ask for them. I’ve even bleached them in various stages for an ombré effect. It just makes me laugh that it is remarked how designer they look for just a bottle of off brand bleach. I also olant extra okra(actually my father in law) let it grow tall and harden off. Then dry them on the tall stalks and spray paint them. They looks great in wreaths and even in the Christmas tree. And magnolia leaves.. Painted or natural they are just beautiful.

  14. I truly appreciate that these ideas don’t require me to spend money to save money! So many folks with blogs talk about saving money, but their ideas would blow a huge hole in my budget because I’d have to buy something to save. I can’t do that! I WON’T do that! As a single lady, my big money savers for the week are: 1) using my dehydrator to dry fruits for snacks at work. Much more nutritious and cheaper than a bag of chips! and 2) tomorrow I’m roasting a chicken in the crockpot. I can come home from work to the smell of cooked chicken, it will be delicious for dinner tomorrow night and yield numerous meals for me in the future.

  15. Great suggestion about diy decorations. I was at Trader Joes where they had lovely wreaths for 10 dollars. I realized that I live in the woods and can make my own! My husband and I will gather materials and make them together so it’s kind of a date too. We have wire and ribbon ect on hand. Also, my mom gave me most of our decorations since we just got married in September. We also bought an ornament at a yard sale. For some gifts, I am making beeswax candles in jars I have collected free. My FIL keeps bees so the wax was given to me.

  16. These are great ideas! I would also add to entertain yourself with items already on hand at home. Watch an old movie or read an old book. You can also check out new stuff for free from your local library.

    I started making DIY Christmas gifts this week and they’ve turned out beautifully! I did spend some money on them, but it’s not nearly as bad as buying things from the store. Hopefully it will be a very frugal Christmas indeed. 🙂

  17. Great list!

    “#7 Make a gift” is my favorite!
    *In our home, our kids always make ornaments to give to family, friends, neighbours and teachers. This year they’re using bits of lichen, moss, twiggs and pine branches from our property (plus a little dollar-store embellishment) to create their ornaments. Love it! There are so many ideas online to create ornaments. In the past we’ve done salt dough ornaments, cut foam ornaments, felt ornaments, paper cup ornaments and paper plate ornaments.
    *A friend gave us a homemade bird suet in Christmas shape (using a cookie cutter) one Christmas. It was great! We hung it outside and watched the birds/squirrels. Very entertaining.
    *Baking is what I give away most. I like to give goodies that most others don’t make and so they seem extra special. An easy (and a favorite to make as no baking is required) recipe is Nanaimo bars. Homemade bread is always a hit too (and so cheap to make!).

    Other ideas:
    1. Make your own Christmas candy. Candied orange peel is my favorite.
    We always have mandarin oranges at Christmas. Instead of throwing out the peel, simmer it with water and sugar for an hour. Drain, cool and eat. Delicious! The taste always reminds me of Fruit Loops.
    2. Enjoy the outdoors! Playing in the snow is a fun free activity here. You can use shovels, cookie trays or even garbage bags as sleds and go sliding.

  18. Thank you for this. I’m in a major cash crunch this month and this week particularly so these are good reminders. Today was good in that I brought a lunch with me to work. Now to keep it up the rest of the week!

  19. Marci, I agree with your comment too. It is great Brandy’s ideas involve not spending money…I get very frustrated going to “frugality” sites where the main message is how to spend money (but look how much you saved). Being happy because I only spent $300 instead of $500 is not what I am needing right now.

  20. My family wants money for Christmas. This is somewhat easy–no shopping involved and we can still do it while my husband is working. There is no joy involved so I choose to make and gift hats to various charities and people I wish to bless such as a flight attendant who visited with me about the hats. An unexpected gift is always a blessing!

  21. Here are a couple ideas I use every year that really help my budget. I go to our local grocery store and buy $5 worth of fresh flowers-usually red and white carnations- but whatever is local, in season and cheapest. I then go home and clip greenery out of my yard- evergreens, pinecones I have collected and dried whatever I have available to me for free. I then make up fresh floral arrangements and can usually get 3 arrangements out of my $5 worth of fresh flowers. I give these out as my Christmas gifts and hand deliver them and people really appreciate getting them. Many times I use containers I get out of the trash at my work place- one year I used Starbucks holiday cups as the container- I washed them out really well and used them as the container for my floral arrangements- the coffee drinkers loved them.
    My other idea for children: I use some of my heavier weight Christmas wrapping paper (bought on sale after Christmas) and fold them into cones and use tape to hold them in the cone shape. I can usually find a huge bag of pretzels on sale for less than a dollar. I make my own popcorn. I place one small size orange in the bottom of the cone and then fill the cone with pretzels and popcorn. You could go the extra mile and place a ribbon and tag or label on the cone to personalize it even more. This is great if you have a group of children like say you want to do something for your Sunday school class or you just want to provide a special Christmas eve snack for your own children. Just a way to make something a little more special without adding anything to your food budget and it is a relatively healthy snack.
    For every day savings- most of you already know and do this but reminders are good. I close off all the rooms except the one we are using and keep that one warm with the woodstove. I use nice, thick, wool blankets on the beds to keep us warm through the night. This keeps our heating bill very low. I place our bath towels on a drying rack in front of the woodstove each morning after they have been used to towel off from the shower- this way we can get more than one use out of them before they have to be washed.
    Every little thing eventually just becomes habit and before you know it you have reduced your budget and made the most efficient use of your resources. I love this exchange of ideas and support!!

  22. I am very grateful for this post today. I am feeling the stress of not having any extra money for the holidays.

    I am working on not buying groceries and cooking everything at home. Yesterday I cleaned out and organized the pantry and freezer to see what we have, and did a fair amount of food prep. Today is a very busy day, so I currently have turkey noodle soup in the crockpot (turkey leftover from Thanksgiving).

    I will be carving out time this week to work on some of the gifts I am making (sewing and knitting), using materials I have on hand.

  23. Hi Kim,
    I think your first two ideas are great! I like to give zinnias from my garden (which bloomed until November this year and I am in Illinois!) But, now that I am out of free flowers, I will try the carnation (or similar) idea.
    Thank you,
    Greta

  24. Our xmas decorations are very simple. We get a real tree every season and love the fresh pine scent. Decorate our family room where we spend most of our time and that is it. I have quite of bit if shopping yet to do. It seems every month is a big money month. My biggest down fall is eating out. With 2 busy girls involved in many activities we are out and about almost 4 nights a week so we usually will pick something up. I work FT as a single mom so we do not have much time in the evenings,but we make it work. I will never be as frugal as Brandy,but I love reading about everyone else. I am want to add I am addicted to Target Cartwheel.

  25. That is what I think everytime I see these commercials for Ebates…If you are getting 200.00 back how much did you have to spend in the first place!

  26. I saw 2 more of these commercials last night and in both of them the women (it’s always women) are saying that with the money they save they will do more shopping, nothing about being frugal. Just that they can go spend more, get more back, spend more again and again. In my opinion, it does not make the women in the commercials look good.

  27. I believe under normal circumstances we do most of the above.

    We do like to send cards though but with having the iphone now we take the pictures on that and then print them into newsletters that we mail. Real mail.

    If I am home, then the heat will be on a bit warmer. If my hands and joints feel cold I am just no use. So we keep it where I am comfortable.

    I don’t enjoy eating out at commercial type restaurants, the corporation kind. I feel like I can taste chemicals and additives and stuff. If we do eat out on a trip or here it will be an ethnic type, like Indian or Thai or German. Or if we see a little mom/pop type cafe while traveling.

  28. I love soup. I made lentils with turkey bones ( I am not crazy about lentils but they are cheap), baked pumpkin, and seeds from a free pumpkin, and Harvard beets. This sounds kinda funny but I took the baked pumpkin, some of the juice from the Harvard beets, added it to the lentils and made a soup and it was actually decent. I usually just throw leftovers in a soup and hope for the best….lol. I do most of these tips, except I am not very good at sewing, but I do mend things, and although slow, I have made things last longer because of it.

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