1) Become a paperless household - no paper towels, no paper napkins, no disposable diapers - no paper other than toilet paper, and there are some people that even use cloth for that.
- Cloth Diaper - it isn't what it used to be. I use gdiapers 100% cloth option, which basically work like disposables in terms of how you put them on the baby - put have an outside cloth, an inside cloth, and a snap liner to hold the inside cloth in place. Even my husband loves them. We paid about $400 originally for everything and we have never had to pay anything else since. Honestly that originally money was mostly gifts/gift cards so not much of that came out of our pocket.
- Cloth wipes - You can also do cloth baby wipes. I understand why many don't do this - and quite honestly I dont either (hubby won't let me). Instead I buy seventh generation wipes on Amazon in bulk and spend about $5 a month on wipes (1 box lasts us about 2 months). Amazon has a great Amazon Mom program that will give you discounts on diapers (if you do paper), wipes, and lots of other baby products.
- Cloth Pads - Yep, I said it - cloth pantiliners and pads (I like the brand Gladrags). I think that is all I need to say about the matter.
- Cloth Napkins - Reuse! Buy or make cloth napkins and use those instead of paper towels or paper napkins
- Dish towels - Instead of using papertowels, I clean my house with dish towels. I even clean my floors with them instead of having a mop (I clip them into a swiffer and use that instead).
2) Cleaning Products- You don't need all of these fancy cleaners! Back in the good old days people cleaned their entire house with just baking soda and vinegar. (If you dont like the smell you can add water and lemon). Vinegar and lemon are natural anti-bacterials. Clean your glass (wont leave smear marks!), your floors and counters (I let the baking soda foam when I do these and then do a second and third rinse with just vinegar and then just water again to make sure there is no residue), clean all your furniture -even wood with vinegar. Use baking soda on your tile, toilets, and shower/tub. It is that simple.
3) You can always be extreme and make your own laundry detergent. There are a ton of different recipes; just google "make your own laundry detergent"
4) Go Vegetarian - if not for all of your meals - a lot of them. Beans, lentils, brown rice, soy, quinoa, leafy greens, corn, squash, and dairy are all low cost sources of calcium and protein with lots of other good vitamins and minerals mixed in there.
5) Buy in bulk - Amazon.com, Costco, and Sams all have great bulk options that cost a little more right this second (ie you cant spread out the cost over a number of weeks) but cost you way less per ounce.
6) In a pinch - do you really need a landline and a cell phone? In most cases you can drop the landline and save about $30 a month.
7) If you cant afford it - cut the cable. If you still have internet you can do netflix watch now or Hulu and get many shows and movies that way for much lower cost than cable.
8) You may be able to cut internet as well - this will mean likely you have no tv, but you can get access to internet at many coffee shops, bookstores, etc as well as the library (yes bookstores and libraries do still exist)
9) In some areas you need heaters and air conditioners. In California you can probably sweat/chill it out just a little bit. During the winter, set the thermostat to keep the house warmer than 62; in the summer set it to keep the house cooler than 85 and use fans. Unplug anything that you are not using and turn off the lights if you dont need them. Use natural light whenever possible. This will save you money on electricity. Now don't give me a look on this one. I lived in Texas for 6 years - where it is humid as hell, we had over 100 degree temps for 45 days straight during the summer, and during the winter it got down to the teens. My thermostat was set to not get hotter than 90 in the house during the summer and not colder than 50 in the house during the winter. Once we had the baby we made it no colder than 60 and no hotter than 85 - so if we can do it, so can you.
10) Buy things that arent in packaging. You can get some good bulk deals even at places like Wholefoods and Safeway when you bring in your own containers and fill up from the dry goods sections (beans, lentils, rice, popcorn, snacks, granola, etc)
11) Don't eat out - cook for yourself. Seems pretty self explanatory, but you would be surprised how much money most people spend eating out. We are all busy. I cook our lunches for the week on Sunday and put them in the fridge or freezer for us to grab and take to work. I used to do lunches and dinners on Sunday, so do as many meals as you need to and then you wont have an excuse later and eat out because you are busy.
12) Make a budget and track your spending - you will be surprised how much over budget you are on some items or how much you are spending on one thing. At one point we were spending $80 a month on frozen yogurt. It was coming from our eating out and entertainment section on the budget. We werent going over budget, but when I started tracking we definitely slowed down on the fro-yo.
13) If needed apply for assistance- WIC, Food stamps, and Section 8/public housing are all out there.
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