Saving money as a substitute for making money is not unusual, but it is less common than it was in previous generations. More often now, people look to spend less only when forced to do so by circumstance, rather than as a way to set aside savings for goals. That is the key, obviously. You have to actually save money when you spend less, and preferably in a separate bank account set up for that purpose. Otherwise you're just changing how you spend all your money each month.
The big ways to save, and to therefore make the money for your goals, start with the big expenditures. If you really want to build up that vacation fund fast, or put together a down payment for a house, or save for a business, you need to look at things like housing costs, utilities, car payments and anything that take a big chunk of your monthly income. Refinancing a house at a lower interest rate, for example, might cut your payment by a hundred fifty dollars monthly. That alone is $18,000 in ten years time. Renting a smaller apartment for a hundred dollars less per month, and saving another fifty on utilities because it is small, can add up that much as well.
But in addition to the large items in the budget, there are many small things you can do to save money as well. One of them is to look for other uses for things that you already have or might normally throw away. The rest of this article will list a few suggestions.
Repurposing to Save Money
Mouse pads are common enough now that they are often thrown away. If you have a couple extra ones around, though, you can use them as kneeling pads when gardening or doing projects that require you to kneel down. That can save you a few dollars versus buying the pads made for that purpose. They also work as jar openers.
Address labels are given away as part of direct mail campaigns. I get them almost every week, and you may also get them once in a while. If you have more than you will ever use for your letters, you can use them to label possessions. You can use them to stick up notes, with no need to tear off a piece of tape. They also work as staple substitutes. Fold a label over the top corner of two pieces of paper to hold them together.
Plastic gallon jugs that milk and orange juice come in have many uses. Tie a string to a cement block and the other end to a milk jug and use this to mark a good fishing spot. Cut the jug in half and the top half makes a good funnel for some purposes. Save the bottom half to use as a water dish for pets, or as a lightweight dishwashing basin for backpacking. Cut part of the top of a jug off diagonally and you have a scoop with a handle (leave the screw-top on), which can be used for scooping out dog food, or even as a sand scoop for the kids to play with. The jugs can also be used to store things like bird seed, rice, salt for the sidewalk, or anything that gets too messy in a bag.
Of course ideally you want to look not just for other uses for things, but for uses that substitute for something you would have otherwise bought. As mentioned, this is not a big way to save money, but if you find enough of these small ways, it adds up. And if you set aside the savings, this can be effectively the same as making money for your goals, but perhaps with less work than going out to earn more.