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The Simple Dollar

Four frugal projects to kick off 2014

The first weekend of the new year is the perfect time to tackle frugal indoor projects.Here are four of them, along with how much each project will save you over the course of the year.

By Guest blogger / January 4, 2014

Joel Tippens piles compost in the Ridgedale Neighborhood Association's community garden in Chattanooga, Tenn. Building a compost bucket for the kitchen can save up to $40 throughout the year on potting soil and fertilizer.

Allison Love/Chattanooga Times Free Press/AP/File

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The first weekend of the year is coming up. If you live anywhere in the northern half of the United States – or north of there – you’re probably going to be focusing on indoor activities for the weekend.

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The Simple Dollar is a blog for those of us who need both cents and sense: people fighting debt and bad spending habits while building a financially secure future and still affording a latte or two. Our busy lives are crazy enough without having to compare five hundred mutual funds – we just want simple ways to manage our finances and save a little money.

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Thankfully, there are a lot of frugal projects you can take on. Here are four of them, along with how much each project will save you over the course of the year. Incidentally, I’m planning on doing each of these this weekend.

Shorten Your Dryer Vent Hose
The hose that connects your dryer to the air vent is often one of the biggest sources of inefficiency for dryer use. Quite often, when professionals install the dryer, they use a flexible dryer vent hose that enables them to install the hose quite far away from the wall, then move the dryer close to the wall.

This means that, in some cases, that air vent is winding around behind your dryer, creating lots of elbows in the hose that can accumulate lint. The longer the hose, the harder the blower in your dryer is going to have to work to expel the damp air out of the dryer. Your dryer will have to work longer and harder.

Even if your hose doesn’t need shortened, getting back there and cleaning it out can help your dryer work more efficiently. All you have to do in most cases is pull your dryer out a few feet, reach back there and disconnect the hose from the back of your dryer and the wall, then vacuum out that hose and reinstall it. If there’s a ton of excess hose back there, you can trim one end of the hose. Here’s a guide for the process.

This Old House estimates that cleaning out and shortening your dryer vent hose will save you about $25 a year, on average.

Build a Frugal Calendar
This is something well worth doing more frequently than once a year, but it’s still a great project to sit down and tackle this weekend, particularly if you have a new wall calendar that you’re launching for the year. Time to fill it up!

All you have to do is look up free events to add to your calendar… then actually add the interesting ones to your calendar.

One good place to start is at your city’s website. Look for a community calendar, for starters, and browse through the next few months of entries. Do you see anything that looks good? Add it to your calendar. Check out your city’s parks and recreation department in the same way.

Another great place to look is at the website for your city’s library. Almost always, the library will have a calendar of upcoming events. Do any of those look interesting? Are there any groups there that seem like they might be worth joining? Repeat these things for communities near you. What can you find on their websites? When you find something potentially intriguing, stick it on your personal calendar.

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