In these tough economic times, cutting costs has become the reality. And even the small things can make a difference in your budget. With this in mind, the Good Things for Saving Money series features ideas that we hope will help save you that little bit extra around your home. Here, a roundup of Martha's money-saving tips.
Keep the Cold Air Out
Cold air that seeps in from the base of doors and windows can considerably cool down your home -- and increase your heating bill. Simply blocking the draft with an object like the Draft Dodger is a clever solution.
Checking Air Pressure in Tires
Make sure your car tires are fully inflated. If they're not, you could be losing 10 percent of your gasoline, and that could add up to a lot of money. So before you head off on any journey, be sure to check the correct air pressure for your car's tires.
Buy and Store Food in Bulk
Buying food in bulk is a wonderful way to pinch pennies. Keep your food fresh up to five times longer with the FoodSaver Vacuum Sealing System -- it can save you up to $600. To find out more, visit foodsaver.com.
Use Filler In Festive Displays
When setting out jars or bowls of treats for your holiday displays, fill the majority of the container with household objects to save on cost. Place cans in the core of a container or towels in the bottom of a bowl, then cover with candy, walnuts, or ornaments.
Incorporate Photos into Holiday Greetings
Have fun with your favorite photographs, and turn your photos into a holiday greeting. Personalized postcards are your best bet for saving money compared to traditional holiday cards -- you don't need an envelope and postage can be as low as 27 cents.
Decorate with Seasonal Items
Seed collecting saves money as it is the most economical way to produce new plants for your garden year after year. You can even share your favorite seeds with friends -- simply put the seeds in a pretty package for a heartfelt and affordable holiday present. Here are some tips.
Think Fresh Fruit for Centerpieces
If you're looking for an attractive yet cost-effective centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table, try a bowl of shiny and delicious apples. Simply polish apples with a soft cloth before placing them in a pretty bowl. And once your holiday meal is over, you can enjoy your apples in a variety of delicious recipes.
Create Holiday Arrangements with Produce
You don't have to spend a lot of money to beautify your holiday table. Make your own arrangement using seasonal produce together with fresh flowers. Try the rose-like flowering kale (about $1.50 to $3 a stem), artichoke, grapes, pears, or pomegranate for a unique -- and tasty -- arrangement.
The benefits of cooking pasta are many -- it's simple and quick to make, and versatile, not to mention inexpensive. And whether you grab a box from your pantry or make it from scratch, you'll have a satisfying meal that the whole family will love.
Buy Chickens Whole
It's much more economical to buy whole chickens instead of individual parts. The technique may seem complicated for first-timers, but it's not. Try these easy step-by-step instructions, or take a look at the "Cooking School" book for illustrated how-tos and more.
Use the Library
There's a wealth of books and movies, both new and old, at your local library. So get a library card, if you don't have one already, and take advantage of what's available to you for free. In addition to being affordable, visiting the library can be a great family outing.
Make Your Own Breadcrumbs
The next time you have leftover bread from a meal, why not make homemade bread crumbs. You'll save yourself a few dollars by making this easy--and flavorful--recipe for fresh bread crumbs, which is perfect for chicken, pork, or turkey cutlets, or as a pasta topping.
Get Creative with Halloween Costumes
A tightened budget is no excuse not to have fun. For an inexpensive and fun-to-wear Halloween costume, a mustache on a stick is the perfect disguise that will be a hit at any party.
Turn Down the Heat
Heating uses up a tremendous amount of energy (and money) in the home. So when the mercury dips, consider warming up in more energy and economically efficient ways. Instead of using lighter bedding and increasing the thermostat, choose a down duvet, and a lower temperature setting.
What tips, tricks, and great ideas do you have for saving money? Share your ideas with Martha.