Looking for budgeting ideas? Forget discounts. The best way to save money is to not spend it in the first place. Here are 6 things you should never have to pay for.
Although the debate continues regarding bottled water versus tap water, a lot depends on where you live and how well the water supply is monitored by the EPA. Tap water is free, but if you have concerns about the quality of your water system, there are many inexpensive home filters available to ensure what your drinking is clean. Carry a water bottle with you. You can fill up at drinking fountains and avoid the cost and waste of buying disposable water bottles. Most gas station convenience stores don’t mind if you politely ask to fill up with filtered water from their soda machine. If you do need to buy filtered water, most come in cheaper as their volume increases. In that case, buy the biggest bottle and then fill up your reusable bottle to take with you.”
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Most of us only occasionally need an electric drill, hedge trimmer or power saw. Instead of spending the money to purchase one, use a tool for free by borrowing it from a neighbor, friend or family member. In Sweden, Malmo Hardware store started a new venture called ‘Tool Pool’ in which you can borrow a tool for 24 hours for free. Owner Matti Jokela explained, “With Tool Pool, you can borrow a complete toolbox with everything you need for odd jobs at home. We also lend power tools of all types. People flock to us to get tips and inspiration on how to improve their homes. And when they drop by, they’ll buy nails, screws, paint, or maybe something else.” No matter whom you borrow it from, the most important factor is making sure you know how to use it safely, and return it in better condition than when you got it.
If you live in rural areas, it’s much easier to obtain free childcare from relatives and friends. Finding free babysitting in metropolitan areas, where many people don’t even know their neighbors, can be more of a challenge but is not impossible. Laureen Miles Brunelli shares great advice on WorkAtHomeMoms.com, “Infants and toddlers are more work-intensive, so most of these approaches are better for school-age kids. But when a work-at-home mom only needs part-time childcare, she can take advantage of short bits of time when free childcare is available.”
Kid Swap or Play Date – Talk to other like-minded work-at-home and stay-at-home moms about a kid swap. You host one day, and then the child’s parents reciprocate on another day. If it works well, set it up as an ongoing arrangement. For example, you host Tuesdays and the other family hosts on Thursdays.
Gym with Child Care – Unlike the rest of these ideas for free childcare, this one is better for younger kids. Many health clubs have childcare facilities, often geared toward toddlers and preschoolers, as an added benefit for its members. If yours does, take advantage. If yours doesn’t, consider switching to one that does. You can’t leave the premises, but you can bring along your laptop and work in the lobby after your workout. Of course, you have to pay for the membership, but if it is something you would pay for, then essentially it’s free childcare. If you don’t have a laptop, bring along another task, like paying bills, that is easier to do when the kids are occupied.
Clubs, Classes, Music Lessons, Sports or Other Kids Activities – Many communities offer free or low-cost classes and activities for children. Take advantage of these as free childcare by working while your kids learn. Bring along your laptop or pack a work-at-home mom bag of tricks. If the class is long enough and close to home, you may be able to drop off the kids and go back to get a few things done. Find classes by picking up a local parenting magazine or your city’s newspaper or asking friends. If a friend is enrolled in the same class parents can swap pick-up and drop-off duties.
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Many communities frequently provide free entertainment events. Be sure to check out your local community calendar. Look at your town’s website (as well as those of cities and towns nearby) or stop by city hall to find a list of events going on in the community. Many will be free. You’ll often be surprised at how many interesting (and free) activities are going on right now in your area.
Gone are the days that we depended on radios for listening to music for free. With the IT revolution, if you’re not listening to music free of charge, you’re missing out. Websites like Pandora, Jango, and Spotify, are just a few sites on the internet that you can listen to. Amazon and AOL Radio represent just a few of the mainstream companies getting in on the action.
With the success of Hulu and Netflix, new free television viewing providers have been popping up as fast as popcorn in a hot kettle. Some of them have an annual fee, albeit reasonable compared to cable providers. Other providers are completely free. Just enter it into your search engine queue. You’ll be amazed.