Considering Starting a Garden to Save Money? Here Are 5 Tips to Help!

Starting a home garden can help you save money and get closer to nature. Even a few basic homegrown herbs and vegetables can positively impact your budget and overall health. While there’s no way to go around certain upfront costs, there are steps you can take to maximize savings from your garden after the initial setup. Here are five tips to help you save money on your home garden.

1. Sow Seeds Instead of Seedlings

While seedlings save you time, seeds save you money. You just need to be organized and plan ahead because it takes time for seeds to germinate and grow to a point where you can transplant them. However, you can harvest more plants from a packet of seeds compared to a punnet of seedlings. Although seed packet prices vary, most edible flowers, sprouting seeds, microgreens, herbs, and vegetable varieties go for two to four dollars on average. For some varieties, you can get hundreds of seeds in a packet, enough to last a lifetime or to swap or sell.

2. Choose the Right Spot for Your Garden

Regardless of where you decide to put your garden or the plants you intend to grow, there are two fundamental requirements your chosen spot must fulfill for the best success: light and water. Vegetables, like other plants, rely on the sun to initiate photosynthesis. Vegetables that grow fast generally require at least six to eight hours each day in direct sunlight without obstruction from fences, shrubs, or trees. According to Arbor Day, areas under a tree’s shade can be 20 to 45 degrees cooler. That’s why planting sun-loving vegetables in shady areas won’t yield much.

If your garden receives partial shade, plant herbs, and vegetables that can withstand those conditions. These include thyme, parsley, cilantro, chives, spinach, chard, kale, and lettuce. If your chosen spot gets at least four hours of sunlight a day, consider root vegetables such as beets, radishes, and carrots. If you have a sunny patio, container gardening is a better fit. This approach allows you to place sun-loving herbs and vegetables like rosemary, dill, basil, beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes, where they’ll thrive.

3. Mulch Your Garden

Mulching your garden can work wonders for your budget. It conserves water and prevents weeds from sprouting, so there’s less weeding and no need for herbicides. To protect your established trees and shrubs from the effects of weather, surround them with a layer of two to three inches of brown compost, birch chips, wood shavings, or dried leaves.

4. Attend Plant Swaps

Plant swaps are events where plant enthusiasts come together to trade specimens. Attending these events allows one to swap a plant you don’t want for one you love for free. You can also find free plants by logging on to your town or neighborhood online forum for local gardeners.

5. Pick Plants with Multiple Functions

If you’re working with a small space, make cautious plant selections. Grow plants that serve at least two purposes, which means you’ll need fewer plants. For instance, blooming herbs such as chives, basil, and mint taste great. When they bloom, they attract helpful insects like hoverflies, ladybirds, and bees that feed on pollen and nectar. In turn, these insects provide crucial ecosystem services, such as pollinating food crops and managing pests such as aphids.

You don’t need lean beef to get your recommended daily amounts of 10 key vitamins and nutrients, including B vitamins, riboflavin, selenium, niacin, zinc, magnesium, and iron. You can get your nutrients from your garden! You should also consider planting oilseed rape, cotton, soybeans, and maize, which make up 99% of global crops worldwide. Get started on your vegetable garden today and it won’t be long until you start reaping the benefits.

When Does It Make Sense to Move to a Low-Cost Area?

If you’ve been keeping up with news headlines over the past few years, you’ve probably come across the claims that millions of Americans are relocating from the suburbs to low-cost areas of the country in response to the pandemic’s effect on the economy. According to qBotica, inflation reached a high of 9% in 2022 and is predicted to continue on this trajectory through 2023.

Perhaps you’re considering moving to a less expensive area to see whether it can benefit you as well. While the amount of money required to meet basic expenses may be lower in some regions of the nation or the neighboring county, it doesn’t necessarily translate to more savings or an increase in your net worth. How much more you can save depends on your current location, where you plan to move to, the type of housing you can find, and your household expenses.

1. You Live in a Flood-Prone Area

If you live in a flood zone, moving to a low-cost area makes financial sense. Flood insurance, which is often a requirement in flood zones, can be expensive. According to Bankrate, the average annual cost of flood insurance is $771, but the premium may vary with location. Even with flood insurance, flood damage remediation costs may not be fully covered by your policy.

That said, flood zones are updated constantly, and roughly 25% of flood damage occurs in places that aren’t deemed high-risk flood zones. As long as flooding is a possibility in the area, purchasing flood insurance to provide coverage where your homeowner’s insurance can’t makes sense.

2. You Can’t Afford Your Current Residence Anymore

Owning a home is one of the greatest achievements for most adults. However, a loss of income or a reduced income coupled with higher taxes can make owning a home in the suburbs financially challenging. While there are potential solutions such as refinancing or finding new employment, moving to a low-cost area is also a good idea. It’s an effective way of saving money to get you through the transition. If you’re lucky, you may find a bigger or similarly sized home at a lower price.

3. You’re Expecting a Baby

Housing and childcare costs make up a significant chunk of a new parent’s budget, with the cost of childcare alone adding thousands of dollars to a family’s expenses annually. According to a New York Times survey, young adults cited the cost of childcare as the most common reason for having fewer children.

While mortgage payments nationwide are relatively affordable compared to historical averages, mortgages in some major markets are not as affordable as they used to be, with others getting closer to the tipping point. Saving on housing by moving from the suburbs to a low-cost area when expecting a new child is often a smart financial decision. You may also want to move to a low-cost area because it’s closer to family, there are bigger but affordable homes, or it’s close to your preferred school district.

4. You’re Venturing Into Business

Venturing into business is a significant financial commitment. According to Shopify, small businesses spend about $40,000 on average in their first year of operations. On top of that, it takes an average of two to three years for a business to be profitable. If the startup costs are on the higher end, it can take even longer. There’s no better time to move to a low-cost area than when you’re starting a new business. Doing this will allow you to focus your efforts and resources on growing the business.

According to HomeData, around 33% of renters move each year. With remote work increasingly becoming the norm, moving from the suburbs to somewhere more affordable has never been easier. However, make sure the move will be worthwhile before making any plans.

How to Stay On Top of Your Finances While You’re Out of Work

It takes a considerable effort to live within a budget while you’re employed and have an income. It becomes crucial to do so when you’re out of work, so it’s important to double your efforts in these times. This may help you to keep better control of your finances while you look for a source of income to keep relying on. If you’d like to see some tips on how you can stay on top of your finances while you’re out of work, read on to see.

Look Into Financial Assistance

When you’re out of work, it’s important to note that you have options as far as assistance and financial aid goes. With this in mind, take time to look for any financial aid for which you qualify. Unemployment benefits may not replace your paycheck in full, but they can have a positive impact on your life. Start applying as soon as possible so that you don’t have to wait extremely long before you begin to get some cash flow.

If you lost your income as a result of a work injury, you should know the process to follow in order to get justice and have the settlement that’s due to you paid out. In this case, note that just 4% to 5% of personal injury cases make it to trial. In the United States, at least 95% of personal injury claims are settled before trial.

Make Energy-Efficient Upgrades

While this may not be the right time to start making upgrades to your home, you may have a good reason to do so. When you do, make sure to only work on upgrades that can help improve your home’s energy efficiency. This is going to help you save money in the long term. For example, you can save up to 25% on your monthly energy bill if you upgrade your garage door model to one that’s more energy-efficient. Do research to find out the specific upgrades that could make your home more energy-efficient and plan well for them. This can help you save a considerable amount of money that you may have had to spend to meet your home’s energy needs.

Avoid Wasting Resources

In order to have better control of your finances and live within a budget, you need to avoid wasting resources. One of these resources is water, so have a plumber inspect your home and fix anything they find to be out of place. Note that a leaky faucet dripping just one drop per second can waste over 3,000 gallons of water every single year. This is the amount of water that’s needed to take over 180 showers. The same goes for your electricity. As mentioned, you should upgrade your home’s appliances to those that don’t need a lot of energy to run. You should also switch your light bulbs to more energy-efficient ones.

Search for New Income Sources

Last but not least, it’s important for you to look for new ways to make money. This may take you some time, so it’s important to get started as soon as you can. When you finally get an income source, you can rest easy and adjust your budget accordingly. This is not to say that you need to start spending lavishly, since you never know what awaits you down the road. Instead, come up with a budget that is going to enable you to save enough money to get you through a possible similar situation in the future.

Use these tips to stay on top of your finances when you don’t have an income source. Doing so can teach you a few important lessons and enable you to avoid falling into financial distress.