It's been said that it takes money to save money. I've felt the truth of this all too often, when I've contemplated the merits of owning a home versus renting, or having a complete solar and wind powered electric system. Unfortunately, those that need to save money most are the ones without spare cash to invest.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to laying out lots of money in order to save. You can make your own dehydrator or solar cooker out of scrap material and end up saving on food costs and electricity/gas without needing to purchase these appliances at all.
Then there are those products that are relatively inexpensive, yet can save you large amounts of money over time.
electric appliance that changes the temperature of something, be it a microwave, oven, air conditioners or electric kettles are big electricity guzzlers. Gas is much cheaper than electricity, so if you have a gas stove (and probably even if your stove is electric), stove top tea kettles cost much less money to run, and are very cheap to buy, even as little as 10 or 15 dollars. A great return on a few dollars spent.
Plastic Dishes. I know a family with many children who, though generally frugal, decided it was prudent to use only disposable dishes, as their kids kept on breaking dishes. They felt it was more cost efficient to just use disposables instead of continually replacing the broken dishes.
Fortunately, there is an alternative. There are nice looking plastic reusable dishes, that from afar, you'd assume were china or Corelle, but do not break easily. You can get these from a dollar store for a dollar a piece like we did, if you only want a small amount. Alternatively, you can use your Swagbucks to buy them from the Amazon link at the right and get 25 dinner plates and 25 salad plates for only 20 dollars.
Sewing kit. While a sewing machine is a very useful investment, it requires a large monetary outlay, and is therefore an unaffordable option for people looking to save money via sewing. Fortunately, you can buy a cheap sewing kit with needles, different colors of thread, buttons, scissors, pins, etc... for just a few dollars, enabling you to fix tears and buttons that fell off, make minor adjustments like adding snaps, hemming pant legs, or taking in a waist without needing to pay a seamstress to do the job or buying new clothes. (See a more complete list of how sewing can save you money.)
Thermos. When out of the house, not everyone enjoys eating sandwiches or cold food. Most people's answer to this is to buy hot lunches at the school or work cafeteria, or buying takeout food. This can add up to a very pricey amount.
People assume thermoses are meant just for taking along coffee (and it is a great alternative to buying from Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts), but with a wide mouth thermos, you can take along last night's supper and be able to enjoy a hot meal on the go, while being doubly thrifty (saving that food from the dumpster and not spending money on takeout).
Tool Set. No need to spend a fortune on this- a cheap hammer, screw driver set, some nails, screws and possibly pliers will do at first. With your new cheap tool set, you can repair broken cabinets and drawers, put up new shelving units, hang up pictures, build wooden things, salvage wobbly furniture picked up from your neighbor's trash, all without needing to call a handy man.
A tool set is probably one of the best investments you can make with your money, as it is very cheap and handymen usually change quite a hefty sum of money for something you can do yourself with your own tools and possibly the aid of a few youtube videos.
Batteries are an expensive consumable filled with lots of toxic chemicals that are added to the dump each time we finish one and toss it in the garbage. A much more green and cost efficient alternative is to use rechargeable batteries. These don't cost that much more than regular batteries, but can be used over and over and over... you get my drift. A charger also can be bought very cheaply.
Of course, even cheaper would be to stick to items that plug into the wall, as I prefer to do, but for some items you have no choice. In that case, it is vastly preferable to go with rechargeable batteries over their disposable cousins.
Glue gun. We recently bought a glue gun for use around the house. Although this may seem like a frivolous purchase, I include it in my list of cheap investments because it has many money saving uses.
You can use a glue gun to make crafts to be given as cheap birthday presents or holiday presents, but you can also use it to repair things. Broken cabinets, chairs, and shelves can often be repaired with hot glue, and recently my husband prevented himself from needing to purchase new shoes as he used his glue gun to reattach the rubber to the shoe.
Flourescent light bulbs go without saying. Nowadays there are flourescents to fit even standard incandescent light fixtures that can be bought for relatively cheap, that will end up saving you very hefty sum of money, both on your electric bill and in needing to replace the bulbs, as flourescent last a lot longer than incandescents.
You can probably buy most of these aforementioned items locally pretty cheaply at a dollar store or other similar bargain stores or thrift stores (though you should be wary of purchasing something like a thermos without reading reviews, as some don't keep food as warm, and with tools because some aren't strong enough to withstand normal usage- again, read reviews). However, if you decide to purchase via Amazon, note that these are affiliate links and doing so will benefit me financially. (No, you're not charged any more even though I do make some money from it.)
P.S. The purpose of this post was not to make sales. I just included these links so that you can purchase them at these great prices if you don't own these products already.
So, what other cheap money saving products have you invested in? What else can you add to my list? Do you have any of the things on my list, and how have they saved you money?