We’re seeing record rates of unemployment, and additional government aid for the jobless is still in doubt. So a lot of people are looking for ways to save some loot. We’ve compiled several of our favorite ideas and resources to help you cut back on spending, from breathing new life into old clothes to keeping your produce fresher for longer.
At the store
A great way to save a few amounts at the register is to look for fruits and vegetables that are in season. Produce that’s not in season is imported, so you may end up paying more for it. Although you can get blueberries year-round in most grocery stores, you’ll pay a lot more for them in the fall and winter than you will in the summer. Use the list below to help you figure out when it’s a good time to buy certain items.
Brinjal, palak, tendli, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, radish, beetroot, peas, broccoli, capsicum.
Strawberries, grapes, guava, papaya, pomegranate, pineapple, passion fruit.February vegetables
Cabbage, methi, carrot, radish, spring onion, capsicum, broccoli.
Chickoo, musk melon, grapes, oranges, guava, papaya, pomegranate, pineapple, strawberries.March vegetables
Spinach, fenugreek, capsicum, carrot, parwal (pointed gourd), tindora (ivy gourd), pumpkin.
Watermelon, mango — raw, Totapuri, Badami — grapes, orange, pineapple, banana, muskmelon, strawberries.April vegetables
Lady’s finger, cucumber, doodhi, tendli, karela, chawli, beans, parwal, tindora, pumpkin.
Same as March + jackfruit.May vegetables
Spinach, cucumber, doodhi, karela, beans.
Mango — Alphonso, Kesar, raw — papaya, black jamuns, litchis, jackfruit, watermelon, muskmelon.June vegetables
Spinach, lady’s finger, cucumber, chawli, gawar, corn, capsicum, sweet potato.
Mango — Alphonso, Kesar.July vegetables
Same as June + round gourd, doodhi, snake gourd, karela.
Mango — Kesar, Totapuri — cherries, peach, plum.August vegetables
Same as June.
Same as June + custard apple.September vegetables
Same as June.
Guava, papaya, pomegranate, custard apple, passion fruit.
Brinjal, tomatoes, dill, spring onions.
Same as September.
Same as October + French beans.
Orange, dates, guava, papaya, pomegranate, custard apple.
Same as October + radish, beetroot, yam.
Strawberries, orange, sweet lime, fig, guava, custard apple, pineapple.
Overripe fruits and vegetables will go bad faster, so when you’re shopping, choose the freshest produce available. When it comes to leafy greens you want to opt for anything that’s richly colored, with few to no limp or yellow leaves. When you’re picking out root vegetables like potatoes and onions, weight is a good indicator of freshness—the heavier they are, the better.
When I was growing up, my parents threw all the veggies in the fridge as soon as they returned from the supermarket. It turns out not all vegetables like the cold. In fact, storing some vegetables at the wrong temperature can cause them to wilt or go bad faster. A few basic guidelines:
- Beets, carrots, ginger
- Leafy greens (don’t wash beforehand)
- Apples and pears
- Potatoes (including sweet potatoes)
It’s a good idea to freeze any fruits or leafy greens that you know you’re not going to use right away. This will keep them from going bad in your crisper. I usually freeze any fruits and vegetables I plan to use for smoothies. I start by cutting the ingredients into bite-size pieces and then separating them out into zip-top bags, so that one bag contains all the ingredients for one smoothie.
The most important thing to remember when you’re freezing food is to remove as much air and moisture as possible. This will reduce the chances of freezer burn. Second, you want to make sure you’re storing any frozen foods in an airtight bag or container. We like the Hefty Freezer Slider Bags. If you can’t find those at your local grocery store, look for bags that are specifically for freezing. Those tend to have a thicker plastic than non-freezer varieties, so they will do a better job of protecting your food.
If you do end up with produce that’s almost expired, don’t toss it out! Instead, try some of some ideas to put those veggies to use.
The cheapest place to go shopping is right in your home. With cooler months approaching, now is the perfect time to go through your closet and swap out your fave shorts for your fave sweaters. Take a day to go through everything you own, and create piles for things you no longer want (or haven’t worn in a while), things you want to keep, and seasonal items. For clothing, you won’t need until next summer, properly pack it in airtight containers to avoid issues like moths.
Once your clothing is separated, you’ll probably have some items that are showing signs of wear. There are a few things you can do besides tossing them out: It’s surprisingly easy to re-dye clothing that has started to fade. For stubborn stains, try soaking items in OxiClean. If you noticed that your workout gear is not looking as spry as it used to (or that it’s retaining a funky smell even after washing), bring it back to life with our favorite Stain Fighter.
If the idea of going through your wardrobe doesn’t fill you with joy, get some friends together over Zoom for a virtual clothing swap. You might be able to nab a couple of “new” pieces from pals and rid yourself of stuff you don’t love anymore.
If you’re itching to do some remodeling (seems like everyone is doing it these days!), try something that doesn’t cost anything at all: rearranging your furniture. Start by figuring out what’s not working in the current space. First, decide what you want the focal point of the room to be and concentrate on that. The focal point could be more functional, such as prioritizing where the office desk goes, or aesthetic, like moving furniture aside to have access to bay windows. You’ll want to position the largest pieces of furniture (such as the bed or sofa) first, and work outward from there. Try different layouts by moving things around.
When I was living with a roommate, I used to rearrange the furniture in my room once every couple of months just to keep it feeling fresh. One thing I found especially helpful was to exit the room, turn around, and walk back in. This allowed me to do a “vibe check,” to see how I would feel just walking into the room on a normal day.
After rearranging everything, you may find yourself in need of a new piece of furniture. But before you go out and buy something, take a look around to see whether there’s anything you can repurpose—could that old bookshelf be your new standing desk?
When you’re all done and the room feels new, why not take the extra step of making the furniture look new? To tackle lighter stains, a little warm water and dish detergent can usually do the trick (depending on the fabric). If you need something stronger, or you need more than just a spot treatment, it may be worth getting an upholstery cleaner. Since I have pets living in my home, I try to clean all of my furniture at least once a season. It makes a significant difference in how clean everything looks and smells (plus it’s kind of fun to see how much dirt it gets out!).
An inexpensive way to give your bathroom a facelift is to organize anything sitting exposed on shelves. Tidying up (and hiding things out of sight) is especially rewarding if you have a smaller bathroom because it creates the illusion of having more space. If you’re feeling crafty, you can DIY a new shower curtain.
Instead of buying new kitchen tools, revive what you’ve already got: Give your pots and pans a deep clean to make them sparkle, and sharpen your knives so they feel as good as new. A honing rod, like the Idahone Ceramic Sharpening Rod, is an inexpensive way to lengthen the life and usefulness of your knives.
Some of the biggest monthly expenses come from utility bills. There are some ways you can lower them:
- Skip the pre-rinse when loading your dishwasher.
- To keep cool air from the AC in, check your window seals for drafts.
- To keep the heat out when it’s hot outside, keep the blinds down.
- Run your ceiling fan or room fan to circulate the air instead of running the AC.
- With smart plugs you can schedule lights and phone chargers to turn off automatically when you know you won’t be using them.