August 7, 2014 7:14 am
Updated: August 7, 2014 7:30 am

5 easy ways to start saving money at home

Saving money around the house doesn't have to be hard.

Mario Beauregard/The Canadian Press

TORONTO – Clipping coupons, using apps and monitoring spending are great ways to help save money each month. But what if that’s not enough?

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A recent poll found Canadian families are just getting by, and with 9,400 jobs across Canada lost in June, it’s time to find new ways to cut expenses and keep more money in our wallets.

Earlier this year I took a look at where my family was wasting the most money each month and was shocked at how much we were throwing away on cleaning supplies, food that would go bad, and staples like toilet paper and toothpaste.

I started doing these five simple things and have already saved a few hundred dollars this year. Besides the savings, my family has benefited in other ways, such as being more eco-friendly and having a healthier home.

Use vinegar to clean everything

Vinegar is not just a great window cleaner, it can also be used as a rinse aid in your dishwasher, as a fabric softener in your washing machine, as a stain remover, a general all-purpose kitchen and bathroom cleaner, and even as a weed killer in your yard.

Cut out all the over-priced chemical cleaners and switch to the budget and eco-friendly vinegar as your go-to cleaner and you’ll see your savings add up quickly.

Some health and beauty products can even be replaced with vinegar, which is a great option if you have sensitive skin.

For more ideas on what you can use vinegar for in your home, visit vinegartips.com.

Tip: Rinse thoroughly and reuse your old off-the-shelf cleaner bottles for your homemade vinegar recipes.

Make your own laundry detergent

Replacing costly laundry detergents with a simple homemade solution is one of the easiest ways to start saving money, especially if you have a large family.

For powdered detergent a mixture of 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup Borax, and a grated bar of Ivory soap will last you over 50 loads using a tablespoon of detergent per load.

The ingredients needed for making homemade laundry detergent.

Liquid detergent uses the exact same ingredients but takes a bit more work to make as it involves boiling the grated bar of soap and letting it sit overnight. The recipe for liquid detergent I use can be found at lifehack.org.

A box of Borax and washing soda will run you about $5 each at most grocery or hardware stores. I’m still using the same boxes I bought in January and that’s with doing laundry on an almost daily basis for a family of four.

Tip: Homemade laundry detergent in decorated old mason jars makes a great inexpensive gift for friends, family, co-workers and teachers.

Regrow your produce

No question, you can save a lot of money by growing all your own produce at home. But that takes a lot of time and is not possible for everyone. An easier way to save money on produce is by regrowing the produce you buy at the store.

The next time you use green onions add the base you usually throw away (that white part with the roots on it) into a small jar with some water. Leave it in an area that gets a lot of light. In a few days you’ll be amazed to see that you have a brand new batch of green onions that you can cut and use (you’ll be able to do this many times off of one base).

And while green onions is by far the easiest produce to regrow, this also works with lettuce, celery and even pineapples.

Tip: Make sure you change the water you’re using to regrow green onions and other produce every few days or it can get stinky.

Along with green onions and lettuce, celery is an easy vegetable to regrow.

Invest in a FoodSaver

The biggest overall expense in my home is food, and when I see costly items like cheese and meat being thrown out because they weren’t stored properly, it drives me nuts. This is why I invested in a FoodSaver.

Yes, the upfront cost of the machine is pricey, but being able to keep cheese, chicken, deli meats and even dry goods, such as cereal, fresh for much longer than expected has ended up saving us money in the long run and has cut down on our food waste.

There are many types of FoodSaver units out there and the price ranges depending on features.

The one we have has special containers that can be used for dry goods and deli meats, which have come in handy for lunches and leftovers. We can also use a special roll of plastic film to make our own storage bags instead of having to buy the pre-made ones.

Tip: If you’re in the market for a FoodSaver keep an eye out for sales around holidays and back-to-school season as they generally go on sale then.

Buy certain things in bulk

There are certain items you are always going to need in the house, such as toilet paper and toothpaste. Items like these bought in bulk make sense when you figure out the cost per unit (or per sheet) of what you’re buying.

Along with toothpaste and toilet paper, I found that purchasing paper towels, diapers, cereal, pasta, canned goods and items like peanut butter and ketchup in bulk ends up being much cheaper in the end (and also saves me from frequent shopping trips).

If you have a FoodSaver, purchasing cheese and meats in bulk and packaging them into smaller portions at home can save you even more (especially if you split the cost with other family members).

Of course, you’ll need to do the math of the items you’re shopping for to ensure you are saving. For something like toilet paper or paper towels, find out how many sheets each roll has, times that by how many rolls are in the pack and divide by the price of the package. You’ll get your per sheet price and can compare from there.

Tip: If you’re hosting a big family dinner check with local farmers to see if they will give you a deal on meat, produce and eggs if you buy in bulk directly from them.

SOUND OFF: Do you have a tip on how to save money around the house? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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