Ways we Save Money

Ways we Save Money

Obviously, I don’t need to tell anyone that the economy hasn’t been the best this year.  David and I have especially been struggling the last couple of months, and with Christmas around the corner it’s even more important for us to budget and save money in any way possible.  Over the past full year, I have implemented many money-saving strategies which I am gladly sharing with all of you.

–          We buy generic brands.

There are a few things which we will only use name brands for (Splenda, Skippy peanut butter, Smuckers jelly, Heinz ketchup, and a few others), but for everything else we resort to store brand or generic brand items.  It’s a great way to save a good chunk of money off of your bill in the end.  We also shop at a store called Aldi which is like a discounted grocery store.  Many times, we can’t tell the difference between store brand and name brand, and if we discover a product we don’t like, then we go back to getting the name brand for that particular item.  We aren’t limiting ourselves this way, and we’re still happily enjoying our food!

–          I clip coupons.

No, I am not an extreme couponer.  I will never be one, but I do clip coupons on name brand products that we do use.  I do NOT clip coupons for things we do not need or like just to use the coupon – this just causes one to spend more money than they originally would.  I am known for saving coupons for chocolates and candles which in turn become gifts for other people.  Also, we don’t just clip “food coupons.”  In fact, David and I are both big advocates of sites such as retailmenot.com and couponcabin.com which offer big savings coupons for many online retailers.  I have saved approximately $50 on Christmas gifts by using codes from these two sites.

–          We take full advantage of our public library system

This will not work for everyone as this is quite dependent upon which state you live in, but our public library system is fantastic.  I have always visited the library for books (I’m a bookworm), but recently we have completely stopped renting videos from the video stores.  Instead, we put holds on DVDs we want to see, and then in a week or two they come in and we pick them up.  We get to keep the DVD for a week (much longer than a rental store or Redbox), and they offer this service for FREE.  We have cut a good $10 a month off of our budget by doing this (we are movie fantatics), and we’ve seen movies we never would have paid money for but ended up being a great film!  Check out your library system and see if they offer this great service!

–          We cut down to one car.

Again, this one will not work for everyone (in fact it won’t work for most people), but we have managed to cut back to one car.  Both of our cars were giving out at around the same time, and we didn’t have the money to buy two new cars.  Instead, we purchased one new car, and cut out $400 a year in car insurance costs by dropping the second car.  I drive David to work, and then I do my errands throughout the day and pick him up in the evening.  It can cause issues when I have doctor’s appointments, but we make it work and it makes us rely on each other more which has only strengthened our marriage.

–          I make to sure to always do rebates and look for freebies.

I use a site called allyou.com which offers a daily freebie for internet users to take advantage of.  There are many deals that I have no interest in, but there are some which are really nice.  I ended up recently getting a free sample of Nescafe coffee packets (including peppermint mocha)! They are usually little items and don’t add up to much savings, but they are nice treats that I would not otherwise pay for.  In addition, I always fill out mail-in rebates.  A lot of times, people buy items with a rebate, and the rebate collects dust on a cluttered desk.  I refuse to let this happen.  Free money is free money and I’m willing to cut out UPCs and make a copy of my papers prior to sending in these rebates! It’s definitely saved us some serious money!

–          I use deal apps.

If you have an iPhone, iPad, or smartphone of any kind look for deal apps.  I have an iPhone (which I know is NOT a money-saver) and I have downloaded apps such as WootWatch (also woot.com), Black Friday, DealNews, and iSlick which provide great discounts and deals on unnecessary items or gifts. We’ve used to sites a few times for Christmas already this year, and have gotten some GREAT items for discounted prices!

Although they’re not all HUGE money savers, they have definitely helped us to maintain our budget during the past year.  I hope you’ll be able to use one or two of these suggestions to save your family money as well! I’m also open to any money-saving suggestions that you may have to share with me.

Any good ones out there that I’m missing (I’m SURE there are)?

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7 thoughts on “Ways we Save Money

  1. Look for ways to save on utilities! My husband and I cut our bill from $160 to $39. We achieved this by using the ac/heater less, air-drying our clothes more and remembering to turn the lights off when we aren’t using them. Good tips!

    • ihavetriedit, this is GREAT advice. I have recently become much more conscious of our light and heat use. I am trying to cut back on that as well! I just checked out your blog, and I love it! I may have to link your blog to this post as it offers some fantastic ideas! 🙂 Thank you for the comment, and I look forward to following your posts.

  2. I do pretty much all of these. The other thing I did was stop buying cleaning products (I did it for health reasons and to save money). Cleaning products are really expensive so I only buy baking soda and vinegar for cleaning, which are dirt cheap. I do buy Windex for the windows but it lasts a long time cause I don’t clean windows and mirrors everyday. I also buy toilet cleaner too but I might stop that and just use the baking soda.

    I also stopped using paper towels to clean. I had so many kitchen towels that were brand new and not being used so I cut them into big squares and use them to clean, when I’m done cleaning I throw it in the wash. Again no chemicals are on the cloths because I only use vinegar to clean. And it cuts down on paper towel use. If it were up to me I wouldn’t buy paper towels but Kevin loves them. I also use Adriana’s bibs and burp cloths (she has hundreds) to clean her hands and face whenever she is done eating or gets dirty, saves on paper towels too.

    The library system is GREAT. We love it. We’re there several times a week. I also use it for work all the time. I need tons of workbooks on depression, anxiety, grief, self-esteem so I borrow them from the library and spend a good hour at work photo copying them in their entirety, it’s time consuming but it saves money since I don’t have to buy them…..which is what many clinicians tend to do. After I photo copy them I hole punch them, put them in binders and voila, I have my own copy of the workbook.

    • I tried the homemade cleaning compound since the chemicals of manufactured cleaning products were causing lung irritation. I liked the lack of chemical smells, but I didn’t feel like it cleaned as well. This could just be all in my mind. I will have to give them another try.

      The paper towel idea is AWESOME! I use a lot of paper towels and they seem to go by really quickly. We have started using napkins in place of paper towels because we can buy a package of 600 napkins for 4 which lasts us at least a couple of months.

      You originally were the one to introduce us to the library system and we are SO thankful for this. I can’t believe how many great movies we had missed out on previously because we were too cheap to rent them. I also can’t believe how much money we wasted in general on movies. Smart idea on your part with the photocopying!! I’m sure that saves a drastic amount of cash!

  3. The biggest money savers for Jim and me are groceries and utilities. Gas and electric combined we pay < $100 a month (our landlord pays water). We set the thermostat so the heat is lower during the day when we're not at the apartment, and keep things like our phone and laptop chargers unplugged when we're not using them.

    We buy everything from Aldi's, except for shredded cheese (which our Aldi randomly does not carry), Jim's lactose free milk (Aldi only has soy), and occasionally pop if Target has a good deal. We grocery shop twice a month, and I'd say we spend about $150-$200 a month on groceries.

    We also save a lot of money on gas because Jim rides his bike to work every day unless it's pouring rain. Even now that it's colder, he knows how to dress so he can still ride.

    Entertainment wise … we don't do too too much, just maybe one big thing every month besides occasionally renting from iTunes or Redbox. We do have a membership to Brookfield Zoo, which is nice because they have two big playgrounds and you can bring your own food in, so we can take Caiden there year round and he loves it, even if all we do is play on the playgrounds.

    • Katie this are great tips, and I really appreciate you sharing them with me. Do you buy meat at Aldi too? I’m never sure about the quality of the meat, and therefore have yet to try it out. I would save a lot of extra money if I switched to their meat.

      We don’t do much entertainment wise either. I love the zoo, and we love doing other free things such as state parks, or we go to the cheap show which is only a couple bucks each time.

      • First of all, I totally miss the cheap show in Joliet. I am trying to find something similar near us in Chicago, but so far, no luck!

        We don’t have a problem with the meat, and we buy the ground beef, pork tenderloin, stew meat, etc. I’ve been eating Aldi meat since I was a kid, so I have no problem with it, and Jim’s mom shops at Jewel/Dominick’s but he likes Aldi meat too. All the same to me! 🙂

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