These days the things I do to save us money have become such ingrained habits that I don’t even realise I’m doing them – they’re all done on autopilot. So, when I was asked to talk about the everyday things, I had to stop and think - really think - because most of them I just do without conscious thought.
*I automatically check for the markdowns in the meat cabinets as I zip through Aldi, Tasman and now Australian Butchers.
*I automatically put the veggie water into a container in the fridge to use as a soup base or to make gravy or stock later in the week.
*I automatically put the leftovers from dinner into a container and freeze it for a future easy meal (we're a family of five and most of my recipes make at least six serves so there's always at least one left). These then become free meals for nights when we're running late or can't be bothered cooking.
*I automatically hang the washing outside in the sunshine and wind. The sun is a free stain remover and deodoriser, the washing smells divine after being sun-dried.
*I automatically go to the op shop/$2 shop/discount shops first – 9 times out of 10 I find what I’m looking for.
*I automatically turn lights off when I leave a room.
*I automatically dress in layers so the heater can stay off longer.
*I automatically open the drapes wide on winter days when the sun is shining to warm the house, and automatically close them again as soon as the sun starts to go down about 5pm.
*I automatically close the drapes and windows tight early in the morning during summer to keep the heat out and open them wide as soon as the sun has gone down to let the cool in.
*I automatically look for the ‘specials’ at the fruit and veg shop – and plan our meals around them.
*I automatically look for items to put into the Present Box – it’s nearly always full of gifts, cards and wrapping.
*I automatically cook more than one thing at a time in the oven – all shelves are used while the oven is on.
*I automatically turn the gas off once the pot has come to the boil and let the veggies sit to steam.
*I automatically put the veggie peelings into the compost.
*I automatically do the mending as soon as it becomes necessary.
*I automatically ‘turn’ sheets when they wear out.
*I automatically overlock the frayed edges of towels, face washers and bathmats as the hems unravel.
*I automatically put old sports socks into the cleaning cupboard to use as dusters etc.
*I automatically use microfibre cloths and Miracle Spray for cleaning – instead of hundreds of other more expensive cleaning products.
*I automatically split the toothpaste tube and get at least another two days' worth of toothpaste out of it. I do this with all tubes - make-up, hand cream, even the condensed milk we use when camping.
*I automatically cook from scratch rather than order home delivery or go out for take-away.
*I automatically recycle plastic bags – use the grocery bags for rubbish, rinse out and dry the fruit and veg bags to use in the fridge and freezer (I don’t recycle plastic bags that have had meat or chicken in them).
*I automatically wash and dry the foam trays that some foods come on to use as plates for pot-lucks, mixing paint or glue when crafting etc.
*I automatically put foods into Tupperware containers rather than using plastic wrap – I’ve had a 100 metre roll of plastic wrap for at least 6 years!
*I automatically turn the sauce bottle upside down, rinse out the tomato soup can and scrape the cream bottle and peanut butter jar with a spatula.
*I automatically use the butter wrappers to grease cake tins.
*I automatically check the price of petrol – and fill up when I see it at its lowest for the week.
*I automatically compare prices and sizes – carrying a calculator makes working out the per gram price easy if it's not on the label (and it's easier than fiddling with the calculator on my phone).
*I automatically catch the cold water in the showers and use it in the washing machine.
*I automatically save used tea bags to use as firelighters.
*I automatically add fruit and veggie peelings to the worm farm and compost bin.
*I automatically save coffee grounds to add to the compost and worm farm.
*I automatically darn holey socks before buying new ones.
*I automatically save paper bags to be re-used.
These are just a few of the things that I do on autopilot. I don't do them all every day or even every week, but I do them without thinking.
They all save us money, some only a few cents at a time, but at the end of the day, it all adds up. If I can save just $1 a day, I’ve saved $365 in one year!
And that’s three days that I don’t have work – it’s three more days I can spend with my family!