My first money saving post brought a lot of feedback and ideas that I thought you’d like to hear. I also have few more I wanted to share. Because they say “Time is Money”, I thought I’d throw in some Time Saving Tips too!
1. Make things from scratch. – This was a biggie in the comments on my previous post. I agree with this most of the time but if you are a big couponer and often get stuff for free, there is a chance this is not always the case. I have recently found a great site with many “Fake It” recipes. This may help in making things from scratch while copying some of your favorite store bought items.
2. Call your utility companies and see if they will give you a price break. I watched a segment on the Today show a few weeks back about calling the phone company and seeking a price break on your bill. They encouraged people to call and speak to the Retention Department to see if they would lower the cost of the service. I did this a couple years ago with my garbage pick-up service.
When I called, they offered me a major discount if I payed my bill annually as opposed to quarterly. You can see the entire post here.
We recently cancelled our cable tv service but when we called to cancel, they did offer us a discount to stick with them. We didn’t take them up on the offer because I was getting rid of it for more than that reason but it encouraged me to try this with other services as well. (I’m not encouraging you to be deceptive or threaten to leave a company to get a discount…just be informed and see what your other options are!)
3. Shop for produce in season. Food cost is such a HUGE one for all of us. In my last post I mentioned couponing or buying large quantities when things are on sale. Some other ways to save on food costs and “the good food” is to buy in season. Strawberries, oranges, and pineapples right now are dirt cheap!! Enjoy these treats now and wait for the next “in-season” produce to go on sale. My kids have been asking for apples lately and I had to break it to them that they need to wait a little longer.
We buy our apples at a local orchard and we buy them in BIG quantities (I bought over 100 lbs last fall). Let me tell you how…My local orchard sells apples (shocking, I know). They sell regular apples, seconds (that are not perfect), and my favorite…deer apples. These are the apples that are too small, too big, have funky spots or the like. They are perfectly good to eat, they are just not very pretty. I buy them for about $4 for 20 pounds…yes, that is not a typo! I make apple butter, apple sauce, and yummy desserts. So ask your local orchard or produce stand about this type of produce. It can save you a bundle.
Another way to save on produce is proper storage. When you buy potatoes at Thanksgiving, you can get them for a little bit of nothing. Buy a small ton at that time they will last if you store them in a 45-50 degree area (garage, well house…). This works for apples too! Joyful Homemaking offers other produce storage tips.
4. Don’t shop this week. If you are anything like me, you go into the grocery with the intent of getting milk and chocolate bread and you come out spending well, way more than the $5 those items would have cost. The best solution to this is to avoid the grocery all together. I sometimes think this is impossible but seriously, by searching your pantry, cabinets, frig, and freezer, I bet you can come up with more meals than you thought you could. Think outside the box for dinner…pancakes and french toast, biscuits and gravy, eggs and toast, soup, or a hod podge casserole.
5. Make more than one. This tip saves money and time. When I am making casseroles, soups, or anything that freezes well, I make more than one. This saves time by not having to pull all the ingredients out and cleaning up again.
I then freeze the other to pass on to someone that needs a meal or save it for another day. If I have a crazy day ahead of me, I just pull out one of my freezer meals in the morning and it will be thawed by dinner time for a quick reheat. I save money by avoiding the impulse to stop for pizza or fast food.
6. Stop buying cold cereal. This may not benefit some of you as much as it does my family but if you are a large family, you have probably realized that too much is being spent on cold cereal. With 4 hungry boys in the house, a box of cereal is devoured in one meal (if that!) Although cold cereal costs a small fortune, the ease and convenience is nice. Our alternative to that is to make up baggies of pancakes and freeze them. I place three pancakes in each baggie so they can grab a baggie, pop it in the microwave, top with peanut butter and go. By freezing over 100 pancakes at a time, I only have to do this about once a month.
We also make egg burritos in bulk and freeze them. Quick Oats is also a good alternative to cold cereal.
7. Consolidate your trips to town. This too is a money and time saving tip. I would never leave the house if I didn’t have to. But when I do need to go out, I try to do it all at once. My Princess has gymnastics one day a week so I choose that day to go to the grocery, library, post office, bank, and any other stops that need to be made. I plan ahead, make lists, and organize my day in town. Try to eliminate those extra trips out…this will save on gas and any additional money you may spend when you are out and about and will obviously save you a ton of time.
8. Plant a garden. Sizes of gardens will vary. Whether you plant in pots on your porch, window boxes in your kitchen, small raised beds, or a massive garden, after the initial cost of set up, these will all save you money. We have three raised beds and plan to ad another this year. My beds have produced enough that I have had green beans and tomatoes all winter long.
I have grown lettuce in window boxes and tomatoes in flower pots. Neither of these require much space but the rewards are great.
9. Do the jobs you can do. I am blessed to have a wonderful handyman for a husband. He is willing to try just about anything and my house shows the results of his creativity.
I can count on one hand the times we have had service men in our home. He does most everything himself. I know this is a privilege.
However, I know that we can probably all do more than we think we can. One time, my mom and I came across frozen pipes at their vacation home. When we turned on the water, the pipes burst and we had leaky plumbing and spraying water. Since it was just ladies and kids there, we called a plumber…OH NO WE DIDN’T!!!!! We headed to the hardware store, bought plumbing and supplies, and came back and fixed the plumbing ALL BY OURSELVES! NO LEAKS!!
So, give your project a try…I bet you can do it!!!
10. Avoid debt. We have had to learn this the hard way. Early on in our marriage we accumulated debt…lots of it. Many year ago, we made a commitment to pay off that debt and although it took us four years, we payed off every penny of our unsecured debt. We no longer have car payments either. This has saved us more than I know, I’m sure. Incurring debt on high interest credit cards will cost you…BIG. Avoid it if at all possible.