50 Ways I Save Money
“How on earth do you do it?”
I get this question a lot. As a full-time working mom with six children, I suppose it begs the question. “How can you afford to feed, clothe, educate, and keep a roof over that many heads?”
I’ve put together “50 Ways I Save Money” to answer this question. These are some of my tried and true methods to cut corners and save - without eroding or impinging on a sense of freedom and joy within our family. As a word to the wise, being frugal is not the same as being a miser. If your motivation to save is based on fear or greed, I suggest you do some soul-searching. When trusting God to take care of your needs doesn’t come easily to you, consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. God takes care of them, and you are even more valuable to Him than they are, so you’ll be taken care of too!
With that in mind, if you want to be better prepared to weather economic storms, (or simply want to stop living paycheck to paycheck) then I hope and pray that my family’s best practices will be a blessing to you and yours.
- Every other day is a “buy nothing” day – it automatically cuts impulse purchases in half
- Never buy anything from a vending machine. Ever.
- Use Ziploc’s filled with snacks (bought in bulk) instead
- Use Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (they last longer & cut the electric bill)
- Better yet, use natural sunlight instead of turning on a light
- Get organized – seriously organized. Being disorganized wastes hard-earned money on late fees, overdraft charges & over the limit fees. Set up a system to pay bills on time. In 2009, U.S. banks will collect $38 BILLION in overdraft penalties.
- Shop Online and use the Free Shipping options. (Saves gas, $ and time)
- Google “store name + coupon” before buying anything – for online shopping or before leaving home to shop at a regular store
- Turn off & unplug unused appliances
- Make lunches at home
- Pay bills online (saves time, stamps, ink & paper)
- Drive the most fuel-efficient vehicle whenever possible
- When a grocery item is a “loss leader” stock up and get a rain check for more
- Use free printable grocery coupons at the grocery store – take advantage of double or triple coupon policies
- Buy generic if it’s cheaper than name brand
- Open a high interest savings account at an online virtual bank
- Set up an automatic withdrawal that goes straight to the savings account
- Use the local library for books and DVD’s
- Use a water filter instead of bottled water
- No cable or satellite
- Use Paypal Debit (but sign for purchases) to get 1% cash back
- Never order soft drinks at restaurants. Order water with lemon & use the sugar packets or Splenda at the table to make lemonade. (It’s free & healthier)
- Periodically evaluate the cell phone plan and switch to the most cost-effective one
- Started using Charlie’s Soap Powder for laundry – 13 cents per load for a hypoallergenic, non-toxic, completely biodegradable detergent/fabric softener
- Lowered our phone/internet bill $30/month by bundling them with the same company
- Buy items like toilet paper, napkins and tissues in bulk online
- Make my own (organic) bread with a bread machine. Total cost is $.50 per loaf.
- Turn off unnecessary lights. (Including the kitchen light at night)
- Get motion sensor “dawn to dusk” outdoor lights (cuts the electric bill & increases home security)
- Avoid using air fresheners or night lights that must remain plugged in (burns electricity & they’re expensive)
- We don’t turn the heat on at the first hint of cool weather – we put on sweatshirts
- We don’t turn on the air conditioner as soon as it starts getting warm either; we use the ceiling fans first
- Get a programmable thermostat that automatically turns down the heat or air conditioner at night & during the workday when no one is at home.
- When we’re out of town, we turn the air conditioning units completely off.
- If at all possible, I go grocery shopping ALONE. Studies show that moms spend more money at the store with children (or husbands) in tow.
- We shred our own cheese, chop our own lettuce and freeze our own dinners. Prepackaged convenience foods are a “no-no” unless the sale price is lower.
- Drive gently. Watch the RPM’s and try and keep them low. Stepping on the gas to unnecessarily accelerate makes the engine rev high – and wastes up to ten times the gas than when the car is idling.
- When pumping gas, before I swipe my card, I squeeze the nozzle into my vehicle. About a cup of gas usually comes out, left in the handle from the last person fueling. Then I fuel as normal. When I’m done, I get my receipt, and then squeeze the nozzle again, and get another free cup of gas.
- We stock up on whole organic chicken when it’s on sale. I oven-bake them then cut them into portions suitable for dinner and sandwiches for lunches.
- Then I save the bones to make chicken noodle soup or chicken & rice.
- Use the crock pot to make soups out of leftovers from the fridge
- Wash our clothes in cold water (saves the oil or gas cost to heat the hot water)
- Hang dry as much as possible
- Run the dryer during off-peak electric hours. (Rates per kwh are lower on weekends and from 10pm through 6am M-F in many areas.)
- We gratefully accept hand-me-down clothes from friends & family
- Annually donate the clothes we don’t need, get a receipt and take the tax write off
- We buy low-mileage used vehicles instead of new ones. We haven’t had car payments in over fifteen years
- Joined Samaritan Ministries as a low-cost alternative to regular health insurance
- Print out a copy of the $4 Prescription list from Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens, etc. and ask our Dr.’s to prescribe those medications when possible.
- Get as much fresh produce as you can from a home garden or local farms. It’s cheaper, (sometimes even free) and it’s fresher.
And that’s my list. Tell us how you save money by leaving a comment on my blog: http://www.sabrinaomalone.com. We will randomly choose one of the comments to receive a $50 Visa Gift card!*
*Void where prohibited.
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