Thursday, October 30, 2008

Money Saving Tips

I would like to share some of the little things I do around the house and as I'm shopping to save money (or to spend less of it). If you have any suggestions that you'd like to share, I'd LOVE to hear them. Please also feel free to share any websites that you use that have good deals, tell you how to save money etc. I'm looking for a website where I can find coupons for things I'll be buying. So far, I haven't found one that I like. Any suggestions?

1. MEAL PLANNING. The biggest thing I've started doing lately is monthly meal planning (I wrote about it awhile back and I still love it). This has probably cut our monthly grocery bill nearly in half and it's made it SO much easier to plan and cook meals.

2. DRIER SETTING. When drying my clothes, I always used to turn the heat on for the full cycle (More dry). I thought it needed that long to get dry. My dad suggested that I try "Less dry" and see if my clothes got dry. I always set the setting to "less dry" now and my clothes are almost always completely dry. Sometimes a load with jeans or thick towels might need a little longer, but usually they don't when I use it with tip number 3.

3. DRIER BALLS. I purchased the blue spikey drier balls at Bed, Bath & Beyond and love them. I don't have to buy drier sheets (which I don't like using anyways) and it fluffs the clothes and dries them faster. *Save all your Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons because they never expire (even though they have an expiration date) and you can use up to five at a time if you buy at least 5 things. That's great savings!

4. BABY FOOD. I've made all of Taeya's baby food except for when we traveled to CA. It is SO fast and cheap to make baby food. Not to mention it has better flavor and is better for them. Although she's not really eating baby food any longer, I'm still buying sweet potatoes and squash that I cut up, cook, puree and freeze. Think of the savings. I just bought 8lbs of squash last night at .58/lb. That means I spent about $4.64 on 8 lbs of squash that will last for probably a month. If you puchase baby food in containers, two 2 oz containers cost $1.00! That's 4 oz for a dollar vs. nearly 2 lbs of food for $1.00. It works well to freeze the baby food in icecube trays and then store in plastic bags in the freezer or sometimes I use old yogurt containers and just dethaw one at a time in the fridge.

5. SOAP DISPENSER. I saw a suggestion last year to purchase a foaming soap dispenser and when it is gone, you just fill it with water and a small squirt of dish soap. If you use too much soap it will clog the pump and not work correctly. I use this in my kitchen for both washing dishes and my hands. It really saves how much soap you go through and you waste so much less. Small savings but they add up.

6. BUY IN BULK. Although many people wouldn't want to buy in bulk for just two people and a baby, I think the savings are worth it. I take a trip to Costco about 1 time every two months to stock up on household items and food. I buy things like toilet paper, paper towels, toothbrushes, toilet cleaner, flour, sugar, pizza ingredients (we make pizza once/week), and other things that I can either store or freeze.

7. INSULATE YOUR HOME. I live in an rented condo so I'm not going out and putting better doors and windows on my home. However, there are still some ways I can save energy and insulate my home. In our living room, we have 3 glass sliding doors that let in a lot of heat in the summer and cold in the winter. This past summer, I invested in insulated curtains that help us save on air conditioning/heating bills. They really do make a dramatic difference in the temperature of the house throughout the day. Also, Taeya's room is the coldest room in the house as it's on the corner of the building so it's more exposed to the elements than other rooms are. I have yet to try it, but I just purchased a roll-on window kit for her room to help keep some of the cold out by insulating her window. I don't think I'd do this to every window in our place because I think it would probably look a little tacky. However, it's important for Taeya to stay warm at night and it's not in a place that we'll constantly notice the plastic so I'm giving it a try.
EDIT: I put up the plastic and it looks great. You can't even tell it's there unless you look closely around the edges. Wasn't too difficult to do by myself either. I'm hoping the doublesided tape comes off easily at the end of the winter season. It wasn't super cold last night so I couldn't tell if Taeya's room stayed warmer or not.

8. BUY USED and COMPARE PRICES. Living in a rural area, I don't have many choices of where to shop. We pretty-much have a Target and two Wal-Marts within a 30 mile radius. These stores are often picked over and don't always have what I need/want anyways. I end up buying many items at local thrift stores or online at amazon, craigslist or ebay. Freecycle is also a great place to get used items for free or give away what you don't want anymore. (It doesn't work all the great where I'm at just because there's not a lot of people using it in this rural area.)

9. HOME HAIRCUTS. I started cutting Phil's hair in college when he didn't have the money to afford to go to a salon. This saves us $20/month in hair cutting costs. I'd let him cut my hair but he won't touch it. :)

10. WASH MY CAR BY HAND. Phil and I don't always do this (especially in the winter when we need to wash our car but it's 15 degrees outside) but it's fun to do as a couple and it looks so much better than a drive-through carwash. We just keep all the supplies on hand and on some Saturdays when the weather's nice we give a good detailed wash and sometimes wax to both of our vehicles.

11. CRAIGSLIST TIP. This works best if you're looking for something small that can easily be shipped. If you want to search craigslist for more areas than just your own, go to google and on the bar type in "craigslist." You should get a little box on the google page where you can search ALL of craigslist for what you're looking for. This is how I got Taeya 30 pairs of shoes for less than $30 (including shipping...they're 7 different sizes so they'll last her for a few years). There is more risk on your end because you have to pay for the item and hope the person ships it. I did get burned once. Try to pay with Paypal if you do it this way because it does help protect you but there's still risk involved.

Websites that I like:

Please remember, I'd love to hear suggestions from YOU!


Georgia said...

great ideas, Megan! i already do a few - make my own baby food, give all the haircuts in our home - including my own, we reuse the foaming soap dispensers (though i use half water and half softsoap), and we wash our vehicles ourselves.

Rebekah said...

We use cloth diapers at least 75% of the time, make our own wipes, and make our own baby food. I also shop sales and in the past was a major coupon user. Now that I have a car again, we'll start using them all the time again. We also use cash for everything except gas.

I also buy all Steven's clothes either second hand or off the clearance rack, and Mark hasn't paid for a haircut in over 5 years.

We also went over 5 months without a second car, but that's not something I'd necessarily recommend :)

In light of our upcoming adoption expenses, we're cutting back on our cable and canceling our home phone. We already keep the thermostat low (programmable thermostats are wonderful. . .and fairly cheap!) and have energy efficient appliances.

We're learning to do without (no more Frosties!), but it's worth it to have another baby. We're also getting insurance quotes from other companies--we've been with State Farm for 12 years, and they seem a bit pricey.

I love hearing what others are doing. With our horrible economy here in Michigan, saving money isn't just an option anymore.

Shannon said...

way cool. I need to think if I have any extra tips for you.

Becca Sports said...

I agree about buying used. Craigslist, garage sales, and ebay are great. Also, once upon a child resale stores are great. :)

Another great tip is to sell anything extra that you have lying around. For example, we had extra play food that I had accumulated over the past 3 years from garage sales and gifts. I picked through and only kept the best and sold the rest. I've done the same with extra clothes, toys and other items.

As for keeping your energy bills down, I agree about the thermostat. We dress the kids extra warm and give them heavy wool blankets (from Mexico trips). This allows us to keep the house cooler at night and then the heater comes on around 5am about an hour before we get up.

I started making door draft blockers for customers who need to block air drafts under doors and windows. If you know anyone who is interested, you can email me! :)

Great ideas!!!

Ryan, Michaela, and Liam said...

On the sidebar click on Grocery Deals by State. Read the section on "Cut your Grocery Bill in Half." There are a lot of good, easy, practical advice. Theen read the Grocery Deals by State. You will see how to best use the weekly coupons at the grocery stores in your area. I have started to use this, and it is great to see the grocery bill drop before your eyes. The "Coupon Mom" was on Opera, and we saw her take a 150-ish grocery bill down to $38. I'm certainly not at that point, but I have saved a bit!