When you near the end of the line and are almost out of a product to the point it becomes hard to get out of a bottle, what do you do? Give up and throw it away, moving onto the next one? I remember being a kid and trying to get the last bit of ketchup out of the bottle, then giving up and moving on to a fresh one. My aunt was horrified by my actions, and immediately chastised me for them. She took my ketchup bottle and added water to it before giving it back to me good as new with ketchup once again flowing freely. At the time I was baffled by her actions, but those actions have stayed with me all these years later and I fully understand her choices and why she made them, not just with that ketchup bottle but with many things.
Times are tough for lots of us. Money is hard to come by and even harder to keep. When you are struggling to get by, it is hard to buy the things you need, let alone those you want. Because of this, we are forced to stretch our money as far as we possibly can, or even further. Blood from a turnip, you say? No problem, let's do it.
Even though we know tough times are upon us with even tougher ones to follow, we still don't always make the best choices in terms of making things last and getting the most out of what we have. We also don't make our precious dollars stretch as far as possible. While it is unclear why that is, what is clear is that it is time to make some changes. Here's how:
1. Bargain shop for the items you need. Watch for sale prices, use coupons, and buy in bulk if you can. If you shop online, look for the best deal and don't forget to factor in shipping, which you can often get for free if you do a search for coupon codes.
2. Teach yourself to cook and do so as often as possible. For the price of a restaurant meal, you can often feed 3-4 people at home. Not only does cooking amount to intense savings, but it prepares you for a world in which you will have to cook to survive.
3. Use the things you already have. Take a look in the deep, dark recesses of your closet. Chances are you have perfectly good clothes that fit fine but you simply don't want to wear. Well, wear them anyway, even if you wear them to work outside, but don't buy new stuff when you have perfectly good stuff. Also apply this to more than just clothing: don't fall for gimmicks and buy stuff you don't really need when the things you already have are just fine.
Photo: She Knows
4. Speaking of clothing, don't be afraid to shop second hand. It is amazing how many thrift stores, consignment stores, and online sites have gently used clothing for sale at cheap prices. There are brand name deals to be found for very little money and in some cases you can even find brand new stuff that was never worn sold at a reduced price.
5. Learn to do it yourself. Whether it is fixing something, building something, or making something, there is no reason you cannot learn to do it on your own. By adopting a do-it-yourself mentality, you will not only diversify your skills but also make it possible to save money in the process.
6. Get out of debt and stay that way. Yes, this is easier said than done, especially when cash is hard to come by in the first place. Making the effort, however, will help you save on interest in the long run, putting more money in your bank account down the road.
7. Start not one but two savings accounts. The first should be an emergency fund to get you through when crisis strikes. The second should be for something you want; set a goal and reward yourself when you manage to acquire the money to do so. This will help you grit your teeth and get through those long, hard days at work.
8. Get it for free when you can. Whether it is a buy-one-get-one or a tickets to a free event, take advantage of it. Getting one free means having one more than you would otherwise and attending a free event you will enjoy can give you a mental break from stress and worry. The best freebie of all, however, comes from the library. Got a book you want to read? Don't buy it when you can borrow it. Most libraries will make an effort to get books they do not have if those books are requested, so speak up and ask for what you want.
Photo: Suddenly Frugal
By cutting corners on your spending, some might call you cheap. So what if they do? Those very same people may well find themselves up the unsanitary tributary with no means of motivation because of the choices they made. That will be their problem, not yours, all because you chose to be frugal instead of splurging. So go ahead and add water to that ketchup bottle if it helps you better prepare to face the financial future.