Spring and summer are probably the two best seasons for frugal living. There really aren’t that many holidays that require gifts like in the winter. More importantly, though, is that the weather is perfect for doing all sorts of self-sufficiency projects that can save you tons of money over the course of the year. Here are six money-saving ideas to try.
1. Make Your Own Laundry Detergent. Laundry detergent is incredibly cheap and easy to make. Powder detergent is easier, but you can make a liquid version with a few more steps and some dedicated cookware. Choose a day or two to make up enough detergent for the entire year and don’t worry about it again till next year.
To make powdered laundry detergent, grate three bars of Fels-Naptha soap and then mix that in with six cups of washing soda, then blend it to a fine powder in your blender. That’s it! You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the load when you wash if you like. Each load only needs 2 to 3 tablespoons, so this recipe alone will wash up to 62 loads of clothes. Since you only need a little per load, you can easily make several months’ worth of detergent and store it in one 5-gallon bucket.
2. Discover the Power of the Sun. While we’re on laundry, let’s not forget that spring and summer are perfect for making use of the sun’s free energy. Did you know that it can cost up to 70 cents per hour to run a clothes dryer? It can be significantly more or less depending on your area and provider, but that’s about average.
If you wash five loads of clothes every week, that’s $3.50 per week to dry clothes. Now multiply that by 21 weeks, or half the year, and that’s $73.50 you could be saving every year at minimum just by hanging your clothes outside to dry! Ready to put up a clothesline yet?
3. Plant a Garden. Gardens are wonderful for slashing your food bill in the summer, but they can also go a long way toward helping with your cool-weather food supply as well. If you don’t have enough land to plant a traditional garden, try pallet gardens or container gardens. You’d be surprised at just how much food you can grow in small spaces, and how far it can go when you learn a few preservation methods.
Try planting tomatoes and beans if nothing else. These two items are incredibly versatile for everything from salads when they’re fresh to soups and stews when they are canned or frozen. If you’re going to plant them in the ground, you’ll need to take precautions to keep critters at bay. Tie pie pans around the perimeter to deter deer and get some mole repellant to protect your root crops.
4. Barbecue the Days Away. Spring and summer are usually synonymous with grilling out, but so much cooking energy gets wasted when you only grill burgers or hot dogs for one meal. Instead of grilling one meal at a time, try grilling a week’s worth of meat at one time. You’ll get the most out of your charcoal or gas money, and you won’t have to fire up the stove as often to burn up electricity.
Grilling en masse also gives you the opportunity to freeze a few things for use in cooler months. Buy up chicken and other meats when they are on sale around Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day, and then barbecue them for a frugal taste of summer during the long, cold winter. Plus, you won’t be as tempted to eat out when you don’t feel like cooking — you have ready-made meals in the freezer!
5. Have a Yard Sale … or Three. Most of us have extra stuff to get rid of and, while this isn’t technically being frugal in and of itself, it can accomplish several goals in one sitting. The money you earn from your yard sale can be used for other fun and frugal projects or a mini-vacation. Plus, you get to clean house knowing you’ll get paid for it. How cool is that?
6. Go Extreme With Your Laundry. Laundry really is a place where you can save tons of money, especially during warm weather. Now this one’s a little extreme and not for everyone, but it can be a fun project to try and is a quick and easy “cure” for your kids’ boredom. We’re talking about hand-washing your laundry outside.
You can use a couple of different methods, but the easiest is probably to just get a five-gallon bucket with a lid, and drill a hole in the center of the lid to accommodate a simple paddle. Put in some water you heated over a fire pit, dissolve a bit of your fabulous homemade laundry detergent, throw in some clothes, and then go to town sloshing those suckers around. Rinse, ring and hang to dry.
Are you going to try any or all of these? What are some of your favorite frugal-living activities for warm weather? Please do share your experiences!