As a stay-at-home mother of 1, finances always seem to be on my mind. Probably, because I’m not the one bringing in the paycheck, so struggling through bills seems even more frustrating. With a little ingenuity, research, and a lot of dedication, I’ve found several ways to help supplement the household income, and to save what little money we do have left.
- Donate plasma. At first, when I saw this on a list, I just rolled my eyes. No one actually does this, do they? Sure, there are many stigmas against it. I’ve heard some people actually say “only homeless people do that!” or “it’s not safe!” Well, the truth of the matter is, lots of people do this. And most of them do it on a regular basis, though there’s no reason you can’t only do it once. After the first several-hour visit, donations only take between 45 minutes to an hour. Most places will offer $20 to $35 dollars per donation, and you can donate twice a week. That’s a minimum of $160 a month if you become a regular. I don’t know about you, but $160 a month is 2 utility bills for me, or half my student loan bill.
- Get free stuff. Really, it’s as easy as it sounds. Maybe I should explain. I’ve recently fallen in love with several free sample sites, as well as free sample pages on Facebook. With the right amount of researching (which took about a day, for me) I have 2 websites and 4 facebook pages that keep me constantly updated on who is giving out free stuff, and when. I’m sure many of you are sitting there, rolling your eyes, shaking your heads, screaming “They’re a scam!” I assure you, some of them are not. To date, I’ve gotten free samples of Gevalia coffee, Gud lotion, Garnier shampoo and conditioner, Kleenexes, Tide Pods, Purex detergent, various products from Carefree, Always, and Tampax, and countless one-time-use perfumes. Several companies have Facebook pages where they give away full sized samples once a week, or once a month. Dove, Olay, and Secret all have “Free Stuff Fridays” once a month, and Tampax has “Tampax Tuesdays.” Can you stop buying all of these products completely? Probably not. But every little bit helps!
- Plant a bunch of seeds inside, and sell the plants come spring. How many of us wait until warm weather to start gardening, and go buy tomato plants at $5 a pop? Well, in February, my fiance and I started tomato seeds indoors under a plant light, in cardboard egg containers he got free from work. For $1.28 in seeds, we got nearly 30 tomato plants. Some Farmer’s Markets require a license to sell goods (Indianapolis’s going rate is less than $40 for a whole season) or you can sell them from a stand in your yard, or online. This also works for flowers. You can visit your local thrift store for extremely cheap baskets, and your local gardening center for soil. A few months of growth and BAM! You have a $25 hanging basket of flowers.
- Recycle! There’s always collecting aluminum cans and selling them by the pound, but that’s not what I’m talking about. If you have the littlest bit of creativity in yourself, it would be rather simple to find free/abandoned things, fixing them up, and selling them. I’ve done this several times with “rescuing” (aka Dumpster Diving) furniture when the college kids up-and-leave and trash everything in their rooms. Some things don’t even need fixed up before selling. We’ve found side tables, coffee tables, electronics of all kinds, clothes (wash thoroughly several times!) a full sized beer-pong… ahem.. Ping Pong table, and much more stuff than I can list. You can even hang onto it and sell it back to the new students who move in next fall, or just have a couple yard sales.
Poor economy might have many of us scrounging my any ideas to get through. With a little creativity, and a little sacrifice, it’s actually fun to find new ways to pay a bill. You never know, you might be a master gardener, or furniture re-finisher. Or plasma-giver.