Saturday, January 12, 2013

My 10 Favorite Money Savers

As is usually the case, January is when we cut back for a few months to make up for the more expensive months of November and December.  I thought I'd share a few of my favorite money savers, maybe you'd like to try some of them out yourself!

1.  Menu Planning  It used to be that I shopped without a list and used as many coupons as possible.  Unfortunately it ended up that I spent MORE that way.  Why?  Because by using the coupons I was buying things that we may or may not have needed and without the list I was forgetting key ingredients needed for a meal.  My husband used to look at me with a dumbfounded look and ask my why I needed to go to the grocery again when I was just there the day before!  Now I sit down and plan out a week's worth of dinners, add any other incidentals that we need for lunches and breakfasts, and shop from there.  I don't clip coupons much anymore (gasp!) because we eat almost entirely natural and organic and there are far fewer coupons for those products.  Before shopping I patrol my favorite coupon sites to see if there is anything that matches up with what I actually need and print the ones that work for me.  Even after switching to natural/organic and ditching the coupons, I actually see major savings by shopping only once a week and using a list!

2.  Home Haircuts  Yes, you read that correctly.  DH cuts the boys' hair about once every 4-6 weeks with a clipper set I got at Target for $30.  Once every 6-8 months we take them in to get it professionally cut and then in between he is responsible for the upkeep.  I trim Mistress's hair for her every few months and I even got REALLY brave a few weeks ago and chopped about eight inches off my own hair.  I went at it with the attitude that the worst that would happen is that I would have to go see a stylist the next day.  It worked though, so I saved myself an easy $50 and can get it cut professionally when I want to go a lot shorter in the future.

3.  Homemade Laundry Detergent  I've been using this for almost eight months now and will never go back!  One cup washing soda, one cup borax, and one bar shredded soap (I use Ivory) mixed well together will last me about 3-4 weeks and costs a fraction of what I used to spend on laundry detergent. I'm now spending about $3 for a batch that lasts me the 3-4 weeks instead of the $10-12 I used to spend on the Tide that lasted me 2-3 weeks.  It works just as well too!

4.  The Library  So this one seems like a no brainer, but it amazes me how many people don't go on a regular basis as adults!  Most people go for their kids, but stop when they've finished the kids section.  I tend to read 2-4 novels a week and I love to check out informational books so the library saves me a ton of money.  Ours even lends some books digitally which is awesome, has an interlibrary loan system to expand the materials you can get, and has great movies if you're willing to wait a little bit for them.

5.  Swagbucks  Over the last year and a half or so I've earned enough swagbucks for over $100 in Amazon gift cards.  I'm not consistent on it or I could earn more, but for a half hearted attempt that's not bad!

6.  Secondhand Merchandise  I am lucky to have a craigslist type site on facebook that is just for our neighborhood.  I can sell the clothes and toys the kids have outgrown easily and get cash to use for other things.  I've also found several things on there that save me tons of cash.  I love designer jeans but balk at spending $180+ a pair on them, but have gotten 2 pairs that retailed for $180 and $200 respectively for $20 and $25.  Still more than Old Navy, but fit much better, better quality, and will last a lot longer.  I've also gotten $1 DVDs and CDs for the kids, $3 kids boots (that retailed for $60) a beautiful used once 10 foot artificial Christmas tree for $30, a $20 floor lamp and $1-2 games, among other things.

7.  Prescription Roulette  We have a couple of allergy prescriptions that we fill every month, and I have no loyalty to any pharmacy.  I switch them around to whomever is giving away free money.  In the last 3 months I've gotten $115 in free groceries at two different stores and know that I can get $105 for sure in the next month and a half with the coupons I already have.  Totally worth switching!

8.  Ask For a Discount  We recently rearranged our living room and found that we wanted a small table in a spot that we hadn't had one before.  I found one I loved at World Market for $100, but didn't want to spend that much.  The next week it went down to $79, and when I called they said they had one left but that it was the floor model.  I asked for an additional discount, and was given another $10 off for some minute scratches that weren't all that visible and would probably have happened in a house with three kids anyway.  I got the table I really wanted for 2/3 what it cost in the first place!  (Plus we had some Christmas money and I make it a rule never to spend gift money on anything boring!)

9.  Plan Your Errands  By planning where you need to go, you save a lot of cash on gas.  If you find yourself constantly running out to get things that you forgot, you're basically throwing money down the drain with extra gas, mileage, wear and tear on your car, and wasted time.  I try to do all my errands in one day, or plan to stop at a place on my way to or from preschool each day.  Plus, if you run extra places you spend extra money on stuff you didn't know you needed.  (If you don't shop, you don't spend money!)  I use around 2 tanks of gas a month with this, and next year when all three kids are in school every day using the bus, I suspect I'll use even less.  Especially with the gorgeous SC weather and walkability of our community, since anywhere in our neighborhood is reachable by foot or bike including the kids' school.  I'm curious next year to see how long I'll be able to go between fill ups!

And last but certainly not least...

10:  Always remember my favorite motto:  Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!


  1. Great tips! How do you manage to read 2-4 novels a week with all that you do?!

  2. LOL, I'm a VERY fast reader. I tend to read when I'm eating breakfast or lunch and usually in bed at night if there's nothing on. After the kids are in bed I tend to shut down for the day and don't do much, and it's a favorite hobby for me. I figure that if I expect the kids to read on a consistent basis I should do the same!