Saving Money: Relearning The Idea of Community

by heather

In today’s new world of frugality, we’re having to come up with newer, more inventive ways to save money. Well, I’ve got a doozy for you. Why not come together as a community to save money?

Think about it for a moment. When was the last time you really asked your neighbors for help? Heck, when was the last time you even talked to your neighbors?

Most of us live incredibly busy, incredibly private lives. We feel that if we can’t go it alone, then we’d best not go it at all. Right?

Well, we’re facing some tough times ahead. Most people have stopped talking about the dreaded “R” word (Recession), and have started whispering the Big D (Depression).

Does this mean we should all panic and head for the hills? No way. I think with an open heart and a positive outlook, we really can come out of all this better and stronger than before. But, I do think that it’s going to take all of us pulling together and helping each other out to get there. Which brings me back to the nature of community.

Band Together To Save Money

So, how could your community come together to save money?

Well, this can be done on a small level. Let’s take a look at some money-saving strategies.

  • Establish A Community Tool Lending Library- I wrote a pretty in-depth article about this a few months ago, which you can find here. Basically, a tool lending library is a shed or garage stocked with tools that anyone can “check out” and use. This saves money because you don’t have to go out and buy a tool, and it helps save the environment because you’re not consuming more resources. Why does everyone on the street need their own power washer? Does every household need their own staple gun? Hardly. A community tool lending library is a good thing. And if you read my previous article, you’ll see that you can start lending libraries around anything: kids toys, movies, business clothing, kitchen appliances..
  • Combine Trash Pickups- If you’re an avid recycler, then you probably don’t have too much trash each week. But, some people pay $20 per month for trash pick up. If you’ve got a neighbor (or neighbors) who all recycle and don’t fill their cans each week, then why not pool your resources? Cancel your trash service and all of you can go in together and have one pick up. Simple.
  • Watch TV Together- Ok, I’m a realist. I know not everyone is going to be a fan of this money-saving tip, but just hear me out here. TV is expensive, and obviously canceling your monthly service is going to save a lot of money. But, what if you still want to watch football in the fall? What if you’re addicted to “LOST”, or “Ghosthunters” on SciFi? Well, why not see if you can watch those shows with a friend or neighbor that kept their cable? Football is always more fun with friends anyway.
  • Cook Together- Pancake night for four? Snooze. Pancake night for 12 with games and music? FUN! Banding together to cook large dinners saves money, IF you do it right. Obviously, steaks for 12 is going to be way too expensive to do. But what about a large “breakfast for dinner”? Or, what about salads and a giant pot of chili? Many meals can be incredibly cost effective for a large group of people. And, eating with friends and neighbors is always more fun than eating along.
  • Carpool Together- On your street, all of you might go to the same Target, the same grocery store, and the same library. So why not try to coordinate your schedules so that you could carpool together for some of these trips? Pick a different driver every week so that everyone shares the responsibility of driving and buying gas.
  • Share Childcare Responsibilities- If you’re looking for ways to cut back on child care costs, then chances are your neighbors are doing the same thing. Could you start a “baby sitting club” on your street and share these responsibilities with each other instead of paying a daycare?
  • Go “Costcoing” Together- Ok, only a family of 12 could eat 9 lbs of bananas in a week. But perhaps you and your neighbors could divide the food (and the costs) by breaking up some of these bulk purchases. You’re still saving money and getting a great deal, and you also won’t have to worry about the food going bad by the time you can eat it all.
  • Create A Community Garden This Spring- We’re seeing more and more people who are entertaining the idea of planting a home garden this year. And why not? It’s incredibly gratifying to grow your own food, and it can be a big money saver. Well, you can increase your “home grown love” by sharing food with your neighbors. For instance, you could grow tons of tomotoes if you’ve got a yard with full sun. If your neighbor has a shadier yard, perhaps she could focus on green peppers, which don’t need 8 hrs. of light. Another neighbor could grow salad greens. And, you could all swap food once a week.
  • Friends That Can Together, Stay Together- It’s going to be spring before you know it. If you’ve always dreamed of canning tomatoes, making jam, or pickling okra, then why not do it with your neighbors? Canning is a lot of work, but doing it with a group really breaks up the stress and effort of the task. And if some people have the big canning pots and others don’t, then sharing will save them from going out and buying one of their own.

Last Word…

Yes, we’re facing a very uncertain future right now. And yes, it’s a bit scary. But we can’t forget that we’re stronger together than we are apart.

Our neighbors are a resource. If we can pull together and relearn what it really means to be a part of community, we’ll be just fine. So instead of spending hours tonight surfing the ‘Net or watching TV, why not go talk to your neighbors? You never know how much you can help each other out unless you venture out your front door and take the first step.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jeff February 6, 2009 at 9:06 pm

A serious (and cleaner) way to save money is to get a Bathroom Bidet Sprayer from http://www.bathroomsprayers.com and you won’t even need toilet paper, just a towel to dry off! It’s cheap and can be installed without a plumber; it runs off the same water line to your toilet. . You’ll probably pay for it in a few months of toilet paper savings. And after using one of these you won’t know how you lasted all those years with wadded up handfuls of toilet paper, nasty. Now we’re talking green and helping the environment without any pain.

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