Everyone I know has a budget these days. It’s just a good idea. A Smart (Girl in Pants) idea, if I may be so bold as to say... not cool? I’ll go home.
The goal of a smart budget is to spend as little as you can on things that are of less import to you. Thus, giving you more you can spend on things you love! Same money, just managed better. Trying to save for something special? Sick of being on the wheel of living pay check to pay check? Try adding these substitutes and watch how much money you save in the long run. Here is a big list of things you can cut out RIGHT NOW to stop wasting money!
One: Cleaning cloths
Buying one set of cheap wash cloths is about the same price as two rolls of good quality paper towels. The only difference? One can be washed and reused multiple times, thus ending this cycle of waste. Not only are you saving the planet, but your pocket book!
For napkins, I made the cutest reusable napkins from scrap fabrics. Everyone comments on how adorable they are!
I bought one set of not-paper towels from a local seamstress but making more is on my list of things to do!
Two: Toilet Paper
This one is a bit of a leap for many people. Investing in family cloth can really cut down the wastefulness. Did you know, on average, it takes gallons of water for one roll of toilet paper? Going green and buying toilet paper without plastic wrapping is great. The reusable toilet paper is washed, sanitized and used again. The basics for washing these just like any soiled wash (mainly because germs are scary) in the sanitary cycle with homemade detergent, essential oil infused vinegar rinse and sun shine on the line!
Three: Plastic cutlery
I know many use plastic cutlery for outings such as picnics and parties, but that one plastic cutlery item will outlive us all. Not only that, but that’s money we are literally throwing away. Investing in a great picnic bag full of reusable cutlery and a grand set of silverware for parties is the way to go. It’s much more elaborate and has pays for it’s self over the years. Plus, so cute!
Four: Feminine Products
That time of the month is never fun. With the mood swings and pains, adding in one time use products that cost so much and irritate the skin never helps. I switched to reusable cloth pads and my menstrual cup. Not only did it save me tons but I personally had lighter periods and less irritated skin. Not to mention never had to spend money on menstruation items again.
Five: Disposable Cups
Whether you are on the go or at home, disposable cups are horrible. At worst, styrofoam that will out live us all with it’s remains. At best, cardboard or paper cups, which not only use trees but water and other resources to make. Buying these means throwing your hard earned money away. Since I have switched to using a reusable cup, I have actually found I get discounts at my favorite coffee shops! A solid reusable cup can last years, meaning less resources were used. Thrift stores often have amazing selections as well, saving even more money and resources. Stop tossing your money down the drain with toss-away cups. So get that smoothie to-go in your own cup!
Being sick is horrible. Spending money on something simply used to remove mucus is not going feel grand for the ole pockebook, either. It’s so easy to use old t-shirts cut into squares and wash. Not only will you save so much money, but you can use only the most gentle fabrics. I really like having mine scented with some peppermint essential oil for a nice aromatheraputic moment.
Seven: Cleaning Products
Everyone has to clean. Many people, like myself, clean multiple times a day.
That being said, making your own cleansers and reusing the bottles from previous purchases can and will save so much. Not only are you keeping that bottle from landing in the dump for the next 5-20 years, but you avoid the costs of repurchase. I use essential oils to scent my cleansers and Match my cleanser scents with my laundry and diffuser blends!
Eight: Baby Hygenie items
Diapers are part of life in a family. In The Smart Pants home, we had two in diapers at once for a short portion of our lives. Do you know how much we spent on diapers? $40. No joke.
Cloth diapers saved us from exposing our beautiful babies to all the daily disposable diaper nonsense. We found a previously loved set of organic bamboo, one-size adjustable, insert style diapers that was a score of a deal at $1 a diaper with inserts. Now, I have found several comparable diapers brand new as low as $3 a diaper online. There’s literally no excuse! I never touched poo, well, not any more frequently than any normal parent by way of accident during a changing. Yuck.
We simply washed them with the rest of the baby cloths on high sanitation cycle and using our homemade detergent. Never had a single stain! We have since passed them down to another family (so keep your eyes peeled for a deal like we found because many cloth diaper mommas just want to spread the love!) but we did save a few for just-in-Case baby sitting emergencies. That’s how much I loved them, I reuse to use single use diapers ever again.
Even with the cost of the diapers and the cleaning, it’s still cheaper to go cloth over disposable. Not to mention less disposable diapers sitting in landfills for years and years.
Along with cloth diapers, we used reusable wipes. We sprayed the cleaning solution on each wipe before use to make sure we didn’t waste cleaning solution or risk it going bad and washed when we were finished using. So simple. If you hang dry your laundry, be prepared to save even more money and sunlight is a great natural bleach!
Nine: Skip Dryer sheets and Fabric softener
DIY is all the rage now a days and no wonder. Who wants to waste money silly things such as laundry? It’s my most hated chore. I do like my clothes clean and laundry smelling fresh though.
For dryer sheets, I use left over fabric soaked in vinegar and essential oil blend. My favorite? Bergamot, ylang ylang and jasmine but I do switch it up during holiday seasons.
The same vinegar and essential oil blend in a bottle works fantastic as a fabric softener. I do add some extra essential oils like tea tree and thyme in my fabric softener, just for added bacteria fighting boost.
Ten: Sponges and loofahs
Everything needs a good scrubbing, including humans. Investing or crafting a reusable, long lasting tool is more important than repeatedly buying disposable items. It all comes back to saving money, right? Disposable loofahs and sponges, including plastic based ones, are not meant to go through sanitary cycles. This means bacteria is just growing and breeding. Even if your scrubber lasts a long time, it could just be spreading bacteria around. So, throwing them away is the only option. Not a very good way to waste money. Put making or buying a scrubber made of sustainable resources such as bamboo, cotton, extra yarn a friend has (like I did), bit of left over decorative fabric or hemp on your to do list.
Eleven: Office supplies
We all work. Whether it’s in the home or outside the home. One of the place of waste is the work space. From pens to paper. If you journal, use these tips to save money on your personal journey!
Though we can’t avoid all waste, trying to switch to digital files can help save on paper. The less you use, the less that’s bought, the less money wasted. Recycled paper is amazing as a stand by when all else fails.
As for pens, any pen that is refillable is instantly better than any one time use pen. Even if the pen is plastic. The refills are often much cheaper than buying all new pens.
Printer cartridges are often refillable at a much cheaper rate. Avoid tossing those expensive cartridges and save money on the refills.
Other things to look into cutting down are: staples, paper clips, folders, etc. The more you can cut out, the less you have to buy.
As far as journals go, buy a recycled journal made with no leather. Leather takes a lot resources to make. Your journal is a journey of you. There are a lot of popular plastic based planners and journals, but why spend an insane amount of money on those when you can create something personal to you? It’s really not what it looks like on the outside, it’s what you create on the inside that makes it special. You do not have to be an artist to make a beautiful journal or planner! My recycled paper journal costs $4 and has enough pages for SEVERAL personal pages, like above, and TWO YEARS of monthly and weekly spreads. Mine is so personalized, we keep them in with the scrapbooks to look back on! Now that’s stretching a dollar!
Twelve: Shampoo and Conditioner
Whether you shower or bath in the morning or night, it’s nice to have access to being clean. Shampoo is one of the top selling items in the cosmetic industry, and rightfully so. But with those bottles of sudsy liquid comes a price. Some shampoos running the bill up really quickly, who sctually spends that much on shampoo?! As well as creating so much plastic waste and exposure to many unnecessary ingredients.
Switching to a shampoo and conditioning bar is such an affordable option. There are just as many shampoo bars as there are different hair types. Always options to choose from. I make mine myself with luxurious ingredients that big companies wish they had throught of and my hair is more healthy than it has ever been. They often run at very affordable prices and most last a very long time. It’s definitely worth looking into not only for your pocket book but your hair.
Thirteen: Scented Products
I don’t know anyone that enjoys a stinky home. In fact, it’s a huge market to make your home smell good. Not just clean, but a step above. A nice smelling home sets the mood, makes home feel like home.
What if you could create your own personal home smell? One that reminds you of walking into your safe zone after a long day. One that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Making our own is so easy. Replacing wax melts with diffusers using only a few drops of essential oils or even making your own wax melts! Making your own fabric and room sprays with the same very few drops of essential oils. You can not only have your home smell great, but you can match every thing from your linen spray to diffuser blender to your car , all in your personal favorite and save money in the process.
Just be sure to not make them too cute... I made puppy shaped scented wax melts as gifts that still exist and the owners refuse to melt them!
Fourteen: Teas and coffee
Do you indulge in tea or coffee? I do. I’m an avid tea drinker. I’ll splurge once in a while, with my reusable cup of course, but making my own at home saves so much money. If I had to add up all the tea I drank in a day in how much it would cost, I would earn myself a solid pat on the back. As great as splurging is, saving money is much more impressive.
I have found buying loose leaf and coffee not only saves money, saves resources (skipping plastic pods and bags) but tastes so much better! Buying in bulk will lend huge savings AND save the planet by reducing your waste. You can even grow your own herbal tea blends. If you can’t have caffeine do to anxiety or another issue, dandelion root tea really gives you the taste of coffee! I love it! On a warm summer afternoon, nothing beats fresh from the garden, iced chamomile tea.
Fifteen: The Electric Bill
Electricity is definitely a one time use item in my book. You use it to charge your phone and next thing you know, you are paying for it. While rechargeable items are great, leaving them plugged in is very wasteful and it shows on the bill at the end of the month. Vampire electronics take money right from your pocket, and it’s not even being used!
To avoid this, simply turn everything off and unplug chargers that aren’t being used. I found that plugging things into a great quality power strip makes this chore so easy. Turn the whole cord off and BLAM. Nighty night, energy thieves.
Investing in solar panels is another amazing thing to do. Not only can you free yourself from electric bills, but you would be actively helping the environment at the same time. Solar is one of the fastest growing power suppliers, it creates so many jobs around the world. Whether you start small or go big, solar is the way of the future.
In this day in age, almost everything has a battery. Even though we aren’t suppose to throw batteries in the trash, millions end up there anyway. Leaking acids into the environment as they rot in landfills.
Investing in reusable batteries is the easiest way to save some dough. A new toy from the holidays that needs batteries? Never fear, you have some.
Another idea is getting a health check on the batteries on phones. Phone batteries do not last forever. If your battery loses charge quickly, that means plugging it in more. Giving your money away to front the bill and leaving your phone at risk of dying when you may need it most. Having a new and possibly superior battery installed in your devices can save not only money but time in the long run.
Seventeen: Hair Removal
I really can not think of anyone who enjoys hair removal. Not only is it time consuming, but it can be so wasteful.
If you chose to remove your extra body hair, There are many options besides plastic toss away or refillable razors. A popular zero waste option is the old fashioned stainless steel razor. With refills being pennies compared to their plastic counter parts, affordable start up costs and reusable designs, it’s not a shock. There are other options such as waxing, epilating and lasers. At this point, plastic toss away razors are just a money drain.
Avoiding one time use cosmetics can save so much money. Flash eye lashes can be replaced with eye lash extensions or reusable eye lashes. One time use eye shadow papers can be replaced with mini samples of eye shadows (those don’t work anyway, IMO).
Even better? Making your own! Of course, you want to be sure to understand how to safely make things like makeup, lotions and more. As well as understand how to store them with or without preservatives.
Borrowing things is one of the best ways to save money. Instead of buying books, borrow some from the library. There are many items you can borrow or rent instead of buy! If we bought every, single book we have ever read, we would be so broke and also be able to fill several homes with books!
Twenty: Disposable Dishes
Doing the dishes is hard work. Everyone wants them done yet no one does them of their own free will. Even at parties and picnics, it’s so easy to reach for something you don’t have to worry about lugging home to clean. How much money are you just wasting by not only buying those, but using them one time? From take-out containers to paper plates, it’s all fairly easy to wash and reuse what we have.
Twenty One: Craft Times
I am an avid crafter of all things. I know many people are. Whether it’s painting, scrapbooking or whatever else. There are still so many ways to save your money and create less waste.
Using recycled items is great for scrapbooking! One idea is using left overs of wrapping paper to cut by hand or with a cutting machine for the word art on the pages, as well as the actual paper itself. A memory and art! Avoid buying plastic glitter and make your own!
Making your own painting supplies is actually really fun and saves so much! From making the actual paints to canvas wrapping. Buying quality brushes and washing them each time will mean buying less replacements.
It takes just a bit of extra time but then you have a completely unique work of art. Something the world needs more of!
Twenty Two: One time use food packaging
Plastic snack bags are a mess. I know many people wash and reuse these as many times possible, which is a fantastic plan as long as you have a back up for when those finally reach the end of their life. If you wash these twice and throw them away, you will still be buying more. Investing in or making your own reusable fabric bags is not only easy but cute and saves you money in the long run. There are so many bags you can make including sandwich bags, snack bags, bread bags... you get the idea!
Twenty Three: One time use beauty products
Skin care is so important. What isn’t is throwing so
much money down the drain on one-time-use items! It’s just so easy to make things like sheet masks, clay masks and more by yourself, saving hundreds, if not thousands, a year.
Twenty Four: Repair broke items
Learning to repair your items is a skill that will last a life time. Not only will you get to enjoy your favorite things longer, but also save money and reduce waste.
Many skills such as basic carpentry, sewing, and electronic understanding are just a few on the list.
Twenty Five: One time use entertainment
Nothing saddens me more than watching my paycheck get used once and done. From fireworks to waterballons! It just seems like there’s always something ready to waste!
Here is a link to a GREAT alternative to one of those issues! Save money and reuse!
Twenty Six: Skip The Parchment paper
Parchment paper can be easily replaced with silicone mats for cooking! I know, there are debates about whether silicone is good or we should just stick with non-reusable parchment paper. It takes almost the same amount of energy and resources to create one roll of parchment paper that it does to make a silicone mat. Water, electricity, etc. And if we are talking money saving, buying one reusable silicone mat VS a buying rolls of parchment paper... it’s kinda obvious which witch is which.
The right silicone mats can even be used on the grill! No more need for aluminum foil! YAY!
There are just a FEW ways to SAVE MONEY and the planet! Little changes are how we have changed the world! Studies have shown that it is making a difference in the world around us!
Keep up the good work and stick around here at The Smart Girl in Pants! I’m always posting new content!
The Smart Girl in Pants
The Smart Girl in Pants