Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How We Save Money

I love to write.  There is something to be said about putting pen to paper (or I guess in this day and age, fingers to keys) and letting your creativity explode upon the pages.  My husband has told me for years now that I should write a book.  It sounds like a fun concept but my lack of grammatical knowledge drives me crazy, so I know that a high school teacher could sit down and rip apart my work.  But regardless I love to write just the same.  So I have decided that I am going to start writing more about whatever pops into my head.

In the past month I have had a few people ask me for tips on saving money so what better place to start writing then about money haha!  

SO here are some things that we do to save money around our house:

1. Shop in bulk!  I am a huge fan of Sams!  I go about once a month to stock up on household things like diapers, wipes, toilet paper, paper towels, dog food, cleaning supplies, cereal, bread (just freeze what you know you won't eat right away), beer, and meat (again FREEZE it and thaw it out when you are ready to cook it!)  The total hurts when you are there but in the long run buying in bulk saves lots of money!  Plus you don't have to worry about buying all that stuff during your grocery trips.

2. Grocery Store.....plan out your meals for the week and then make a list of what you need.  I allow myself to get 5 things that aren't on the list but if I stick to the list I save TONS of money because I don't impulse buy.  Also only go once a week!  The only time I break that rule is for milk.  AND look at the prices....learn to like the off brands because it saves SO much money!  Make an exception for Jiffy!  I mean the jar makes a million mouth watering sandwiches anyway right? 

I use this to help me plan out my menu and to write out my list.

3. Garden:  The seeds for our garden cost us 15 dollars.  It will save me hundreds this summer in fruit and vegetable expenses!  

3 Raised Garden Beds and one little one for our corn right next to the Shed

4. Buy USED!  Don't be too prideful to shop craigslist, garage sales, Good Will, and other second hand stores.  I SERIOUSLY was one of those people who said I would NEVER shop at those places.  But then I became a stay at home mom living off of a one person salary.  I quickly realized that I had to change something or I would spend us out of house and home.  Now I buy brands (Gap, Old Navy, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic) that I never would have spent the money on back in the day at next to nothing prices.  You have to be willing to be patient if you are looking for something specific like a piece of furniture.  But if you are looking for clothes, toys, or decorations you can have a little fun with it.  

I found this on craigslist for $40, slapped some paint on it, and found knobs on sale at Hobby Lobby and Anthropology!  Still waiting to find the perfect chair! 

I have tubs by size for my daughter at the top of her closet.  When I find clothes that I like for her at a second hand store or garage sale I wash it and then throw it in the right size bin.  So, when she reaches that size she will have clothes that I payed next to nothing for.  Seriously like kids clothes at garage sales are 50 cents or a dollar...you cannot beat that!  Good will they are 2-4 dollars.  I love spending next to nothing on Old Navy, and Gap clothes.  It makes my heart soar!

5. Have garage sales to make extra money, or take your things to second hand stores that will buy the baby stuff/toys/clothes from you.

6. If you or your husband can build it or fix it yourselves then do it.  We have built our fence, laid our flagstone patio, constructed our outdoor bar, built our outdoor furniture, and by doing this we have saved thousands!  Just research how to do it and ask friends and neighbors for a little help if they have experience.  

Patio, Bar, Adirondack Chairs were all built by my husband!  (Chairs around table garage sale finds which I have spent a total of $31 dollars on so far....the cross hanging $1 at a garage sale)

7. We have one major credit card.  We pay for every single thing that we can possibly pay for on this card because we get a percent back.  We make hundreds every year off of spending money.  I LOVE it!  Pay the entire bill off every month too!  If you can't afford it then don't buy it!

8.  Homemade dinners take time but they save you tons of money.  Fast food and restaurants are so expensive.  Y'all spaghetti is easy to make, you can make tons of it, and it's super cheap.  For working moms....make meals you can freeze so you just have to pull them out to defrost while you are at work and then throw in the oven when you get home!  Umm...plus there is this amazing invention called the crock pot.  Dinner ready when you walk in the door working mommas! Oh, and LEARN TO LOVE leftovers!

Stuffed Zucchini and Broccoli Bacon Pasta YUM

9.  If you have dept make it a priority to pay it off!  You are throwing hard earned money out the window with that interest!  We have no dept except our house right now...and we are making bigger payments then we have to on it because we want to be done giving money away!

10. Set your bills up to be paperless, and to come out of your account automatically.  You get an e-mail before it is taken out of your account so you can check it, you don't have to waste time thinking about it, and you never have to worry about late fees!

11. If you aren't in the room turn the light off!  During the day if it is sunny use the sun as your light.  From the time we wake up in the morning until about 6:00 at night we don't turn a single light on and it saves us tons on our electric bill!  

12. Don't shop for Christmas just in November and December.  Find a place you can store your purchases, and shop throughout the year when you find things on sale.  Keep a list of the people you buy for and what you have bought them.  If you buy second hand toys for your own kids this method saves so much money it isn't even funny.  Last Christmas my daughter had a tree with lots of presents under it and I only spent 50 dollars on her!  Those same toys new would have been hundreds of dollars!  (This goes for your children's birthdays too!)  I just have an area in our attic I put my daughters "future" toys.  When it gets close to a holiday I go up there and see what I want to give her and how much more "shopping" I want to do!  

13. Find free and cheap entertainment for your kids.  Library, Park, Board Games, movies in the park or at your house, bike rides, fishing, hiking, lake swimming, camping in your backyard.  Be creative.  If you look online you can find tons of amazing ideas that cost nothing.  Look here for some creative ideas of inexpensive things to do with your kids: http://pinterest.com/jennifercweber/fun-with-the-kids/

Fire in the backyard with free wood!  Cost: Marshmallows, Chocolate, Graham Crackers

I few smaller things:
-My husband cuts his own hair and I quit dying mine.
-Take your dog or cat to a mobile clinic for vaccines instead of the vets
-Keep your cars for a long time but when it is time to buy another one buy it used!
-If you have a baby breast feed and then make your own baby food when it is time for solids.
- Don't walk into Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohls, or Michaels without a coupon....they send them all the time and you can print them online.
-Get on Victoria Secrets Mailing List...I probably get 12 free underwear coupons a year.  I just go in and get my free undies and LEAVE!  :)

I know there are tons more ways that we save, but those are the big things that we do to make sure that we are living within our means, leaving room to give, and to breath easy.


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