Four frugal projects to kick off 2014(Read article summary)
The first weekend of the new year is the perfect time to tackle frugal indoor projects.Here are four of them, along with how much each project will save you over the course of the year.
Allison Love/Chattanooga Times Free Press/AP/File
The first weekend of the year is coming up. If you live anywhere in the northern half of the United States – or north of there – you’re probably going to be focusing on indoor activities for the weekend.
Thankfully, there are a lot of frugal projects you can take on. Here are four of them, along with how much each project will save you over the course of the year. Incidentally, I’m planning on doing each of these this weekend.
Shorten Your Dryer Vent Hose
The hose that connects your dryer to the air vent is often one of the biggest sources of inefficiency for dryer use. Quite often, when professionals install the dryer, they use a flexible dryer vent hose that enables them to install the hose quite far away from the wall, then move the dryer close to the wall.
This means that, in some cases, that air vent is winding around behind your dryer, creating lots of elbows in the hose that can accumulate lint. The longer the hose, the harder the blower in your dryer is going to have to work to expel the damp air out of the dryer. Your dryer will have to work longer and harder.
Even if your hose doesn’t need shortened, getting back there and cleaning it out can help your dryer work more efficiently. All you have to do in most cases is pull your dryer out a few feet, reach back there and disconnect the hose from the back of your dryer and the wall, then vacuum out that hose and reinstall it. If there’s a ton of excess hose back there, you can trim one end of the hose. Here’s a guide for the process.
This Old House estimates that cleaning out and shortening your dryer vent hose will save you about $25 a year, on average.
Build a Frugal Calendar
This is something well worth doing more frequently than once a year, but it’s still a great project to sit down and tackle this weekend, particularly if you have a new wall calendar that you’re launching for the year. Time to fill it up!
All you have to do is look up free events to add to your calendar… then actually add the interesting ones to your calendar.
One good place to start is at your city’s website. Look for a community calendar, for starters, and browse through the next few months of entries. Do you see anything that looks good? Add it to your calendar. Check out your city’s parks and recreation department in the same way.
Another great place to look is at the website for your city’s library. Almost always, the library will have a calendar of upcoming events. Do any of those look interesting? Are there any groups there that seem like they might be worth joining? Repeat these things for communities near you. What can you find on their websites? When you find something potentially intriguing, stick it on your personal calendar.
If you can add a few free activities to your calendar, you’ll have a lot less time sitting around trying to think of things to do in the evenings.
It’s really hard to estimate how much this will save you, but let’s say it manages to replace one $10 activity or shopping excursion a month with something that’s free. If you do that, it adds up to $120 a year.
Plan a Garden Together
This is the time of year where many people who love gardening are thinking about their garden for the coming year. They’re making diagrams, ordering seeds, and thinking about schedules for when they should get their starts going.
If this sounds like you, great! Gardening can really save you a lot of money over the course of a year.
However, you can save even more money if you involve someone else in the garden planning. If you have a friend who also gardens, invite your friend over for the afternoon and plan your gardens together.
How does this save money? Let’s say you’re both going to plant a particular type of bean from seed. Rather than each of you buying a packet, just one of you can purchase it or you can split the cost. If you can find several things that you’re sharing in your gardens, you can both end up saving significant money.
You can also evaluate garden tools together and share tools as needed, as well as the replacement costs for them.
A simple step like this can save an avid gardener $20 a year, easily.
Make a Kitchen Compost Bucket
Sarah and I have been avid composters since we bought our home. We love turning vegetable and fruit scraps and coffee grounds into nutritious food for our garden.
During the winter, though, it’s not exactly fun to trudge out to the compost bin to toss in vegetable scraps – and letting them openly pile up is just begging for odor and bugs.
The solution? A compost bucket. The problem is that compost buckets online can be pretty expensive. However, they’re also very simple structures.
When something’s simple… why not just make it yourself? This is a great guide for making one out of an old coffee can and the only thing you need to buy is some charcoal filters from the pet store to keep odors away. This lets you keep quite a lot of kitchen scraps conveniently right in your kitchen, saving you trips to a larger outdoor composter.
Making your own compost for your garden or for other plants around your home can save you on potting soil and fertilizer throughout the year. We easily save $40 a year by making our own and this little bucket will make it even easier.