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We just paid off a big debt this past week… It’s such an amazing feeling to cross these goals off of our list and it couldn’t happen without two things: spending less and increasing income (we’ve done this by increasing our real estate sales, blog revenue and rental property income). Recently asked my friends on Facebook “what do you do to save money?”. I had forty comments with really great suggestions… here we go! Hopefully some of these will be tips that work for your family.
One of the best books I’ve ever read on the topic of saving money is Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. We don’t abide by every single idea he spells out but I can definitely say the book is life-changing. I got it out of the library but wish I had my own copy to underline and dog-ear (hence linking it above).
E-Bates: You’ve heard me talk about E-Bates all the time because I love it. It’s a breeze to get money back from making purchases you would anyway or from simply referring your friends.
Ibotta app: I recently started using this app after seeing an Instagram post about it. I’m not a coupon cutter (because I rarely find coupons for things I like or would purchase) and this app makes it pretty easy to get money back on things… even non-processed things which is usually what I’m purchasing at the grocery store. Just this week I got money back on red peppers and broccoli… you never see coupons for those items in the Sunday paper! Just this morning I saved $3.50 off of mostly produce at the grocery store! For anyone who signs up through THIS LINK you’ll get $10 back.
Freecycle: I’ve saved a boodle using this free email service. You can read all about what I wrote about it HERE but I got a new car seat for Elle, a Christmas tree and loads of Christmas decor, and tons of Legos… all for free.
Kitchen / Dining / Entertaining Tips
Use real plates instead of paper plates for parties. -Brooke P.-
When we got married we got the Pottery Barn caterer’s set (12 of each plate and bowl) and it’s been amazing at helping us be prepared for large dinner parties!
Along these lines of saving money AND the environment make your own coffee at home (and creamers, if you’re so inclined) and then bring it to work in a reusable mug (we like Klean Kanteen because they stay hot long). Also, if you have to go to a coffee shop, some places give you a SMALL discount if you bring your own reusable mug. I used to buy a mocha frappe ever day when I was working in CA ( a long time ago) and then realized that I was spending over $50/month. I cut way down on that – to maybe once a month. -Jenna M.
Store lettuce in jars in fridge…stays fresh MUCH MUCH longer. -Maria B.-
then Jenna M. chimed in… store herbs (cilantro, esp) in cups in water – fridge or not, – I think. Cloth napkins, dish towels to wipe up spills instead of paper towels, etc. I’m not very good at this, really, but will think of some others.
Meal planning so you don’t waste food. Or take a week and only eat what’s already in your freezer and cabinets. -Brooke P (See THIS POST for how I’ve been trying to meal plan for a month at a time!)
Keep a list of perishables on your fridge. -Lisa B. (Brilliant idea! I always have things going bad because I forget about them in the drawers or at the back of the fridge!)
I love bringing restaurant leftovers home and making a “single portion” last three meals. -Lisa B. (I’m the same way, Lisa! I get a weird thrill out of it!)
Cook at home and bulk up on every day items when they are on sale. -Vicki M.
Get a CSA. We have one with First Light Farm in Hamilton (MA) and it saves us hundreds on organic veggies. -Cyndi M.
One thing that really helps us make food easier and cheaper is to “cook once eat twice” – when meal planning I try to plan to double or even quadruple a recipe so I can freeze a meal to take out later. Ends up costing less somehow, and we have meals to pull out and reheat! – Beth C.
Freeze things (like chicken broth, tomato paste, cookie dough, cheese like feta which is expensive and you only need a little bit of it at a time) if you can’t use it all up in one sitting. Make your own chicken broth by saving chicken bones in the freezer (you can use your slow cooker!). – Jenna M. (I always make our own chicken broth… it’s incredibly easy… just pop the entire chicken into a stock pot with water covering it and simmer it for a couple of hours!)
Drew’s sweater: Black Friday at Target | Drew Jeans: Old Navy (on sale now!) | Drew Shoe’s: Consignment |Elle sweater: Ralph Lauren at consignment store | Elle Jeans: Old Navy (on sale now!) | Elle Shoes: Kohls
The majority of the kids’ clothes are either gifts, from Old Navy or from a consignment store. We have several great stores around here (Kids Resale in Danvers and Fireflies in Gloucester) that have incredible deals. I only buy Old Navy jeans for the kids because they fit fabulously and often they will have fantastic sales on them. In addition twice a year there is a children’s consignment sale called Drop and Shop at some area location… I regularly go on the last day shortly after they open to get the 50% off nearly everything pricing. I’ve come away with fantastic Ralph Lauren and CrewCuts deals.
I’ve found the best way for me to save money is to actually spend more when I need something… obviously, this isn’t a hard and fast rule but after just cleaning out my closet after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up the majority of the pieces I decided to keep were ones that I spent more on… and as a result thought long and hard about if I really did want to buy them. I definitely have pieces in my closet from Old Navy on clearance but, for example, seven years later the J. Crew suiting dresses I purchased for more than double what I’d normally spend (and they were on sale!) still look fantastic. My general places to shop are TJ Maxx and Marshalls, Old Navy, J. Crew, H&M, Banana Republic and Gap (all my jeans are from THIS LINE, I adore them).
One of the most important things to remember…
Get on the same page with your spouse so that you’re a team working towards a similar goal of living fiscally responsibly. It would stink doing all these things to save money while your other half wastes all your savings on stupid crap. -Jon P.
More tips coming shortly… hope some of these help you! 🙂