If your budget isn’t getting bigger but your expenses are growing, you need to find creative ways to spend less without making too many sacrifices. Some of the easiest things to cut are perceived conveniences. You might think of it as easier to have someone else do the cooking or mixing for you, but are you really saving time and money? Here are a few ways to save money by buying inexpensive small kitchen appliances and spending the same amount of time – or less – and doing them at home.
Make Your Own Coffee
Do you consider coffee one of the necessary food groups? There’s a little bit of glamour and convenience in stopping by a coffee place every morning on your way to the office to pick up that hot cup of joe. What’s not so glamorous is paying a buck and some change or even $5 a pop for a single cup of coffee. Tack on the time it takes to find a parking space and wait in line on top of that. If wake-up juice is important to you, do it at home for less. In the long run, a cheap coffee maker, a pack of filters and a bag of your favorite brew cost less to make your own coffee at home, and they take the same amount of time or less. Add a thermos to your repertoire and you can take another cup or two with you.
Slow Cooker Meals
A tight budget can curb your ability to eat out. Rather than cutting it out entirely, try lowering the number of times you eat out each week for lunch and dinner. If there are several people in your family, you might find it easier and cheaper to cook at home. One of the lesser known ways to have quality meals without spending a lot of money is using a slow cooker. You can throw the ingredients into the pot in the morning before you leave for the office. The food takes anywhere from three to 12 hours to cook, depending on the type of recipe. Find a few good crockpot cookbooks at the library or pull up some recipes online. Choose the ones that make sense for your schedule and tempt your taste buds too. Spend less time in preparation by choosing recipes that don’t require extra cooking time in a pan before you put the ingredients in a pot. Use leftovers for lunches or another evening meal.
Blended Boat Drinks and Baby Food
The 10-speed blender is an old-school answer to a modern problem. It’s about more than spending less money, but also spending less time. Going out for drinks after work or on the weekends is a great way to relax. It also costs more than staying in. Fire up a blender and make your own boat drinks for a fraction of the price and put on a DVD or a game. You can also save money by using a blender to make smoothies and baby food. Add apple juice, ice or water to thin out pureed fruits and vegetables for less than it costs to buy them already made for you.
When it comes to tightening your budget, doing things at home yourself doesn’t have to be cumbersome and time-consuming. You don’t have to feel deprived. Find one or two alternatives, and make an effort to spend less and achieve balance.
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Nikki is an independent writer for Deals.DollarTree.com. Deals offers low prices on everyday essentials, party supplies, pet products and more.