If you don't know those things save money, you're not really poor anyway. Definitely above 80% of the poverty level anyway. If you have money to install geothermal heating/cooling than great, you go do that. I would too.
Here is a list of some things I came up with that will really save you money. You're likely reading this from a library computer and have a 20-30 minute limit so I will use succinct language. I'll start with the tips for your home life and then tackle what to do while you're out of your nest.
- Decide if you really have to flush the toilet every time. Teach your kids what requires flushing and what doesn't.
- Toilet paper is way cheaper than kleenex (usually), so buy the cheap soft stuff during cold season. It is cheaper than paper towels too but in the long run, paper towels do their work better than TP can, so go ahead and splurge if you have the $5-$8 to spare.
- Always pay your energy bill before your internet bill if you have one. Why? Modems and routers need electric to work anyway.
- Don't be the jerk who uses all your EBT/SNAP/Food Stamps for one day's worth of meals.
- Pasta with red sauce is the ultimate recipe for stretching your dollar/benefits. Buy some jars of the cheapest brand and then add cooked vegetables. Cook the pasta and mix it altogether. It will keep in the fridge for awhile and you can eat it for every meal and your kids will still not develop an iron deficiency or be snack-riddled sugar zombies.
- Turn the lights off in rooms you're not in. I know, this one is on all the other lists but it is a good one. TURN 'EM OFF! And going back to the first bullet point, you probably don't need to turn the light on to successfully navigate using the toilet. Peeing in the dark and not flushing? It was like you were never even there!
- If you use the oven in the winter, leave the door open after you finish cooking something. Make sure kids can't get near it and no cats or hamPsters jump in there. Better to shell out more for heat than argue with the hospital collections people.
- Heat rises. If you can just get your body higher up, you'll be warmer.
- You CAN freeze milk but you can't be a wimp about the texture that results.
- Kids will survive, surprisingly enough, without Dora the Explorer beaming up at them from their bandaids/shoes/lunch box/rustic camping cook set/t-shirt.
- Leaving your shoes on will maintain your core body temperature better than leaving a hat on. Leaving both on? EVEN BETTER! You will be sweating your way through January.
- If you're hot, take off clothes. (We're talking body temperature here people).
- If you're hot, find some ice water. Ice isn't free, neither is water, but it is cheaper than air conditioning.
- Never look at Pinterest.
- Sunshine coming in windows will heat a room. Uncover or cover windows appropriately to suit your temperature adjusting needs.
- If you can find a hobby that is low cost that will distract you from more expensive pursuits, do it. (Warning: Smoking is not considered a low cost habit. Even if you roll your own, later in life oxygen tanks are mucho dinero hombre) (FYI: Walking is free but if you need to drop $4 on gym shoes at St. Vincent De Paul, do it).
- Be healthy as possible (see some one else's list for tips on this).
- If there is a mess to be cleaned up, decide if you really need to use a paper towel or if you can use a peice of laundry that is headed to the wash anyway. (See next tip)
- Don't wash your clothes every time you where them. (Exceptions: Underpants, toddler clothing because those guys are gross, socks, and any clothes belonging to people in food service or people who are big sweaty sweatballs).
Now for some tips for when you leave the domicile
- GO HOME. No where is cheaper than going no where.
- St. Vincent De Paul is less expensive than Goodwill.
- Don't visit stores if you don't *NEED* something.
- You only ever *NEED* food, water, toilet plungers or hand soap. Everything else is pretty much frills.
- In the event you find yourself driving a vehicle, try to coast as much as possible. I don't ACTUALLY know if that preserves fuel but in my head, it makes sense.
That is all I can currently think of (that wouldn't scandalize everyone). Good luck.
Note 1: This list isn't just for poor folks, rich people can try it too.