I hope you learned something on saving at the grocery store! It’s funny how once you start cutting down on your budget it kind of becomes a game… So let’s see if we can find a few other areas you can keep those well earned dollars in your checking account.
First, we need to talk about the “B” word. Yep. Budget. Do you have one? You need one! A budget needs to be something you use, change, discuss, change, and use on a regular basis. I have used tons of different techniques over the years and thanks to Pinterest I have compiled a system that works for us. We are on a strictly cash only system right now. I have tried envelopes with actual cash but for me that just is dangerous (especially with a few little munchkins who get into EVERYTHING). So our ‘cash’ is our debit card. This means we have to be extra careful at tracking expenses. Luckily, I found a gal that has put some super cute worksheets to keep track of everything! I added the budget pages into my Mommy Binder and away we go. Every time we swipe the debit card, I deduct the amount from the correct ‘bucket’ of money.
It can be kind of hard keeping up with it and I’m not gonna lie, some weeks did not end up so well for us, but that’s why the budget needs to be tweaked sometimes. The most important thing about living ‘cash only’ is making sure your monthly expenses are LESS than your monthly income.
This may mean making some sacrifices.
SIMPLIFY – SIMPLIFY – SIMPLIFY
Take a few minutes (hours) and go through a few past bank statements. Decide if there are some things in your life that can be scaled back or even eliminated. Below are some ideas of how you can cut back or cut out unnecessary expenses in your life.
Utilities – Take a few minutes and go online to each of your utility companies and look for ways to save. Most of them now are more than happy to help you cut back. Our power company has some simple tips you can check out here . The gas company has some tips here http://www.southwestgas.com/energysavingtips/ . Most of these tips can be easily adapted to your home life without changing your lifestyle.
Phone Bill – Do you have a cell phone AND a land line? Think about cutting out that land line, cause who really uses that anymore right? If you have to have a land line for security system reasons, cut out all the bells and whistles – call waiting, caller id, call forwarding, etc.
Cable – Don’t get me started. We are counting down the months until our DirectTV contract is up. Such a bad decision. I’m not even going to tell you what we pay right now, but just know that we will be freeing up at least $100 a month when we go back to basic cable and get all our movies and favorite TV series streaming in through Netflix that costs us $8 a month! Hubby will be sacrificing the most during NFL season, but that’s called ‘taking one for the team’.
Insurance – Don’t be afraid to shop around for the cheapest plan, and sometimes, the best deal isn’t going to be the big companies you see on TV. We actually found a broker who’s job it is to keep us on the cheapest plan possible. My favorite call from her is, “We switched companies because you can save $50 with these guys.” Yes please!
Clothing – Get friendly with the sale rack! I have a saying when I’m shopping. “If it’s on sale and it’s my size, it’s meant to be!” I struggle with mommy guilt when shopping so when I can go to Kohls and buy 3 blouses, a pair of pants, some sandals, and earrings for less than $60 I’m thrilled!! I seriously do NOT buy anything that is full price. You can take it a step further and plan thrift store outings. Goodwill has specific days where certain items are an additional 50% off http://www.sngoodwill.org/resources/pdfs/calendar.pdf . Go without the kiddies so you can spend some time to find some great pieces. Some things you may have to look at as ‘potential’. Learn how to do some simple alterations and you could add so much to your wardrobe for very little money.
3 R’s – Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose – I seriously have started saving everything from jelly jars, to paper towel rolls, and even my bread bags! Pinterest is no help either because now I can put gifts in a jar, make wall art out of TP rolls, and now when I make my bread I can simply use the nice long bags from the store (again). Sigh. Best and worst thing to happen to my life. Pretty sure I don’t need to go on.
Gym Memberships – Do you really need to keep it right now or can you switch up your routine and jog around your neighborhood? Check out some workout videos from the library for free and workout in your jammies.
Haircuts & Manicures – After my first baby was born and we lost my income, we knew we had to completely cut out some expenses. We were able to save $75 a month by me not getting my nails done anymore (not gonna lie – I kinda miss them) and if I learned to cut his hair. So we did just that. I bought a hair trimming kit that had a how-to video and I laughed my way though the first few cuts (I giggle when I’m nervous). It didn’t take too long before I got the hang of it and now I can say that since that time and now with 3 more boys in the house, I have saved over $9,300. Not a bad investment for a $50 kit, eh? Now I don’t have as much mommy guilt when I spend money on me and my girls.
BACK TO THE BASICS
Make your own Laundry Soap – It’s funny how life goes in cycles. When I originally did this post it was out of complete necessity. I have to say that I really liked this detergent. I actually only made about 2 more batches after this because we were doing pretty well financially for a bit and I decided to splurge on some super yummy smelling detergent. That dang gum cycle has come around to bite us in the rear and I am so glad I have this in my back pocket. Aside from groceries, I would guess that laundry is one of the next biggest expenses. If you add up the cost of laundry detergent and the cost per load it takes to dry each load, you could be easily spending $30 + a month just to clean your clothes. Make your own detergent, and dry your clothes for ½ the normal time then hang them to dry the rest of the way. You will save money at the store as well as your utility bill! Update on recipe… add ½ cup OxyClean per batch. Makes such a difference on grease stains.
Bake your own Bread – This is one of my favorite chores now. I have a few favorite recipes that I love, love, love. What I have noticed with my family is they don’t care which recipe it is, according to my hubby, they are all like crack. In a good way. So yummy you have to make an extra loaf that is eaten in its entirety right out of the oven. Since we go through at least a loaf a day, baking bread myself saves my family about $12 a week or over $600 a year!
Honey Whole Wheat Bread – Outback copy cat
(For both, I mix the dough in the bread machine and then bake in loaf pans)
Cleaning Supplies – I personally use Norwex for most of my cleaning needs. They are a bit of an investment for a crazy awesome microfiber cloth that is imbedded with silver which is an antibacterial agent. I clean everything from my mirrors, countertops, wood furniture, floors, toilets, even the car with these things. Even my hubby is impressed with how clean they get things with so little effort. There are some jobs that require a bit more finesse and that’s where it pays to be frugal. Make your own grout cleaner, fabric softener, or soap scum remover. I’m thinking that if you invest in vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and dawn dish soap you can pretty much clean your house top to bottom with very little effort.
Home Remedies – I believe that God created the internet so we could do a little bit of triage with our kids so we don’t have to take them to the doctor for every sneeze and fever. I’m sure I’m not the only mom who dreads the trip to the dr. when 9 times out of 10 you are reciting the response you will receive in the waiting room. “It’s just a virus. Nothing we can do. Give her Tylenol and come back in a few days if it’s not better.” Ugh! Wasted hour and wasted co-pay money. Now as a mom of 2 NICU babies, I am 100% for modern medicine! But mommies…use your gut. The Lord blessed you with the ability to know what is best for your babies. Don’t be afraid to try some home remedies first. If you are at the point where you are questioning whether or not to go to the doctor you probably have your answer already. Some ailments though, can be easily treated with things you already have on hand. I recently read that local raw honey and cinnamon can help knock a cold on it’s rear. And did you know that you can put a cut onion on your child’s ear to draw out an infection? See? I just saved you $10.
Fix it Dear Liza – Remember that little limerick? I think it was actually ‘fix it dear, Henry’ but in my house Liza seems to do most of the handy work. If there is something wrong in your house, car, or closet that needs repair, find a nice tutorial on YouTube and get to work. If it’s already broken or torn, most likely it can’t get worse no matter what you do so give it a whirl before you spend money on a repair man. You may just surprise yourself. And if you do break it beyond recognition, then that’s just an excuse to go shopping right?!
It Takes a Village – Did you read my post in May about mommies? Check it out if you have a minute. At the end I mentioned a babysitting co-op. This is such a great way to set up a system with friends and neighbors to help each other out with this major expense. I’ve been tempted to sell this as a kit on my blog, but I think I will just give it to you guys and let me know what you think. I am giving you a copy of our bi-laws as well as a spreadsheet that will track hours.
So, this post has gotten a little out of hand… I’m sorry for the length of it. I am just a little bit passionate about saving money and I truly hope that you try at least a few of these ideas to free up you money for the really important things in life.
Jen Morris- Coupon Coach
I am a Coupon Diva! I most recently have been featured on Extreme Couponing All Stars on TLC. I write regularly for The Review Journal in Las Vegas in their couponing section, and am over Grocery Smarts for Nevada and California.
My name is Jen, and I have a crazy obsession with saving money! I am wife to Joe, mother to 5 amazing children, and The Grocery Geek. I was introduced to the world of couponing at the end of 2008 and I haven’t looked back! Just by changing a few simple strategies, I was able to cut my grocery bill in half and save HUNDREDS of dollars a month at the grocery store. I thought if I could do it, so can others, and why keep a great thing like this to yourself, right? So, in early 2009 I started teaching in-home couponing classes across the Las Vegas Valley. I now manage an amazing team of instructors who are ready and waiting to share with you and your friends the fine art of couponing with ease! Join me on this blogging adventure as I share with you how simple it is to save tons of money, and who doesn’t need to do that these days?!
Web Site: http://thegrocerygeeks.com
Let me know if you have any questions, and Happy Savings!!