Save Money on Your 2021 Preparedness Efforts

 

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the importance of being prepared for an uncertain future.

In fact, this year has been the poster child for this subject. From the coronavirus pandemic and extreme weather events to wildfires and civil unrest, we’ve seen what happens when life explodes on us. And it isn’t pretty.

We need a preparedness plan for 2021 that will ensure our ability to handle whatever emergencies come our way.

Now, we could spend a lot of money getting ready for every potential problem. But saving money should also be one of our goals. So, today I want to look at ways to save while getting prepared for any eventuality.

Saving money on food

Let’s start with food. Here are seven ways to save money while acquiring food to use now and during an emergency.

Make a list. Grocers know how to position products so shoppers will purchase them. If you have a list, you’ll know just what you need. Avoid shopping when you’re hungry.

Buy store brands. Buying store brands can take a huge chunk out of your grocery costs. Sometimes there will be a brand name item or two you can’t do without. But more often you won’t notice the difference, other than the lower price.

Buy in bulk. This isn’t about warehouse stores with membership fees. It’s about buying more of items you use often when there’s a significant sale. If it means you shop less often, this can add up to even more savings.

Freeze meals. If you’re buying in bulk, make sure your food doesn’t go to waste. You can freeze many items including bread and chopped vegetables, as well as whole meals. There are even cookbooks with recipes for freezing meals in bulk. When you make a meal, cook enough for two meals so you can serve one and freeze the other.

Use digital coupons. Many stores offer digital coupons not available in the newspaper. To acquire these savings, you’ll likely need to set up an account and check off the coupons you wish to use each time you shop.

Stick to the store perimeter. Center aisles have many expensive, processed foods full of salt, sugar and other additives. The outside ring of the store is where you’ll find more foods such as produce, meat and dairy.

Use fewer ingredients. Sometimes the simplest food tastes best. But you wouldn’t always know it looking at some of the complicated recipes out there. Sites such as AllRecipes.com are great for finding different options for your favorite recipes. Usually the top reviews will include tips on how to make them even easier.

Saving money on power

Next let’s discuss saving money on your power needs. In addition to the thoughts below, try to use as many solar-powered items as you can. Gaining power from the sun beats paying the utility company for electricity any day of the week.

Insulate. Thermal insulation wrapped around your water heater can reduce heat loss, and walls and ceiling insulation will also save on heat and cooling. To see where you need insulation, check your roof after the next frost. Dark spots indicate where heat is escaping.

Eliminate leaks and inefficiencies. Make sure you aren’t losing heat through drafty doors or windows. Your local hardware store has plenty of cheap solutions. Keeping blinds closed in summer makes rooms cooler. Closing off unused rooms also helps use less energy.

Be eco-friendly in the bathroom. Many people save on water costs with low-flow toilets. Some even adopt the “If it’s yellow, let it mellow” policy. Avoid buying expensive bathroom cleaners, instead making your own 10 percent bleach solution. Diluted vinegar also works wonders on windows and glass.

Make small changes around energy use. We don’t always notice all the little ways we use excess energy. For example, laundry doesn’t always need hot water. Cold water gets the job done while preserving colors. Hanging clothes up after a few minutes in the dryer also helps clothes last. Lights on appliances that are not running are also energy vampires. Unplug them when you can or use a power strip.

Saving money on water

Most of us don’t give a lot of thought to the money we spend on water. The water bill comes and we pay it.

Hopefully we also have water stockpiled for an emergency – 1.5 gallons per person per day for at least three days. And hopefully we also have a water purification system to handle water contaminations in a crisis.

But we may not have any strategies for saving money on the water we require. Here are a few that may be helpful.

Repair pipe and faucet leaks. Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If it changes, you probably have a leak that needs repairing. Other signs of problems are damp walls, excess mold, a drop in water pressure, pavement cracks and high water bills.

Use sprinkler timers. It’s easy to forget your sprinkler is working. And that can waste hundreds of gallons of water in just a few hours. Setting a timer for an hour or so saves water. And a rain sensor added to a sprinkler will tell it to skip an irrigational cycle if there was rainfall.

Install a kitchen sink water aerator. Easy to install, this aerator will limit water flow to a non-splashing stream. Slowing the flow will save water. Simply screw the aerator onto your kitchen sink faucet head.

Install a new showerhead. This is an inexpensive way to save money and an easy change to make. Older showerhead models deliver about eight gallons per minute. Unless you’re putting out a fire, that’s rather excessive. Newer models deliver about 2½ gallons per minute.

Saving money is always a great idea. Getting prepared for an uncertain future is also a great idea. Combining these two great ideas could be the best way to set yourself up for success in 2021.

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