Saturday, October 13, 2012

62 Money Saving Tips

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1. Budget your money for the month. This is the most important way to avoid overspending. I absolutely love budgeting. If I could find a way to make a living by figuring out people's budgets for them, I would definitely do it. If I'm stressed, I work on the budget. There's just something about rearranging the numbers to make our purchases work that give me a huge satisfaction. It's weird, but it's one of the reasons my hubby loves me (because he doesn't have to do it).

2. Stretch the life of your hand soap. You can take regular liquid hand soap and water it down a bit to make foam soaps. Your regular liquid soap will last 3 times as long. Read here how to make your own DIY Foaming Hand Soap.

3. Menu planning is one of the top ways to save your food budget. If you find your freezer and pantry are decently stocked, save yourself from overspending on your weekly or monthly groceries by menu planning with the food you already have. Here is how.

4. Ditch the home phone. I kept our land line for a long time because it was my grandparents' phone number and I was sentimental about keeping it, but we were only getting sales calls on it and we preferred using our cell phones so we finally decided to ditch the land line and we're saving $20 a month.

5. Install a programmable thermostat and set the schedule so that it's not heating or cooling as high while you aren't home. We've been doing this for years and have noticed a dramatic change in our gas and electric bills.

6. Shut vents in unused rooms to save energy costs. If no one is currently using your guest room, why are you spending the extra money keeping it as warm or cool as the rest of your house?

7. Unplug appliances you aren't using. I typically leave the toaster, can opener, printer, baby monitor, and phone chargers unplugged unless I need to use them.

8. Brown bag your lunch. My hubby is a Taco Bell junkie and if we had unlimited funds, he would probably eat it for lunch every day, spending on average $40 a week. Instead, I make sure to stock up on plenty of lunch food items and he brings his lunch to work every day. This is much cheaper...and healthier.

9. Save your loose change in a change jar. If you can make yourself put all change aside, or even certain bills (like all $5 bills), you will be pleasantly surprised with your bonus cash when it's full. I use an old parmesan cheese container, and cash it in when I have quite a bit in it. Simply take it to the bank and use their free change counter. We typically see about $20-$30, and I don't even let it fill up all the way before I cash it in.

10. Save and recycle cans. I cringe when people throw their pop cans in the garbage - they're just throwing away money.

11. Pay your bills online and save stamps.

12. Make your own cleaning supplies. I have seen many versions of diy home cleaners on Pinterest, and I haven't tried them yet, but I plan to very soon. Store-bought cleaners can be so expensive!

13. Donate to your local thrift store. I love Goodwill because my store is so helpful unloading my stuff, they're friendly, and they give me a receipt that I can fill out and submit with my taxes. It's kind of like saving money later on because your donations will help fluff up your tax return, and those donations help out other people who are in need. Plus, de-clutter your mind by getting rid of excess around your home.

14. Sell your extra stuff on Craigslist, Ebay, in a garage sale, or on Amazon. Don't want to wait until tax time to reap the benefits of donations? Try selling your excess stuff on your own. This can become time consuming and disappointing if you don't sell as quickly as you want to, but why not take the time and give it a shot?

15. Avoid spending on last minute fast food with advanced meal preparation. Learn how to be a freezer cooker and prepare a month's worth of meals. If you already have a dinner ready to go, you'll be less tempted to go out to eat and spend unplanned money.

16. Don't waste leftovers. My hubby hates most leftover meals (with the exception of maybe 2 recipes that I make). I, however, love leftovers because it means I don't have to plan what to make for lunch and in most cases, all I have to do is nuke it. On my busiest days, leftovers are my rescuer. Too much food gets wasted as it is, so I'm teaching my baby girl now that leftovers make the best lunches. They're quick, easy, and don't cost a dime.

17. Invest in an extra freezer. Since we've had ours, I have been able to prepare many meals ahead of time and purchase certain foods in bulk when they were at incredible prices. This is one of those cases where you have to spend money to save money.

18. Carpool when you can. Gas is at astronomical prices.

19. Plan ahead when running your errands. Make it so that you don't back track too much when driving. I always plan my weekly trip to the library and the grocery store on the same morning because they are very close to each other. Save your gas and time.

20. Use shredded wrapping paper from birthday and holiday gifts to use as gift filler instead of buying tissue paper. Don't throw away that pretty paper - shred it and upcycle it!

21. Set a savings goal and stick to it. Whether you have something in mind that you really want (*cough cough an ipad cough*) or you just want to build up your savings, pay yourself first. I personally can only set aside $50 a month that we don't touch unless there's an emergency, but it adds up and I let it accrue interest. Speaking of interest.....

22. Find out if your bank offers any rewards programs. My bank has a free rewards checking account where I receive 3.09% interest and all I have to do is use online banking (which I already do anyway) and use my debit card 12 times a month (not a problem when you tally up gas and grocery purchases for the month). If there's a large amount of money in the checking account, this can be pretty profitable - just for doing what I normally do!

23. Make crock pot meals. On those hectic weekdays, sometimes the last thing you want to do is cook dinner. Avoid the temptation of picking up fast food on your way home by setting up the crock pot in the morning. There are oogles of slow cooker recipes online. Here is one that I made and it was delicious.

24. Upcycle. Find new uses for old items around your home. I turned an old baby formula can into a drum, a pringles container into a rainmaker, an old diaper box into a storage box covered in material, caps from baby food pouches into a sorting and counting game. Peruse Pinterest and get creative.

25. Pay off your debts. When I met my husband, he had about $5000 in debt with 4 different credit cards. I had it all paid off in about a year, even on a strict budget. I started by making the minimum payments on the large cards and a larger payment on the smallest card. This may seem backwards, but once I paid off the smallest card, I added the payment I was putting towards card 4 to the minimum payment I was making towards card 3. Then card 3 started shrinking faster and faster and once that was paid off, I combined that monthly payment with the minimum payment for card 2...and so on. He has been debt-free for 4 years.

26. Pack snacks for the car. When you spend extra time at the store or park then you planned, you may be tempted to purchased the quickest, most convenient snack to satisfy your hunger pains. I always make sure to have a granola bar, a snack for Cady, and water for both of us packed in the diaper bag. One time, I forgot and had to purchase a $2 banana for her. Lesson learned.

27. Clip coupons. You can find coupons in the Sunday paper, in certain magazines (like All You), and on the internet. Find a coupon organization method that works for you. I use a small photo book that has an elastic strap to keep it closed.

28. Combine coupons with sale prices for maximum savings. Often when a coupon first comes out, the product is listed at full price in the store. If you wait a few weeks, many of the products will go on sale. I will hold onto most of my coupons and wait and see if they go on sale in the stores, and if they don't, then I will use them right before they expire.

29. Combine manufacturer and store coupons. Some stores will allow you to use 1 manufacturer coupon AND 1 store coupon per item. You can score items for free (or close to it)!

30. Be on the look out for free samples. If you do some searching on company websites or product facebook pages, you can sign up for free samples. More often than not, the samples will also come with coupons. You can also try emailing or calling companies and ask for samples or coupons.

31. Enroll in rewards programs. Our grocery store offers $.05 off per gallon of gas for every $50 we spend in the store. We need to buy groceries anyway, so why not get the money towards gas? I also use a Panera rewards card. I swipe it every time I eat there (which really isn't that often), and I earn free items.

32. Start holiday shopping early. Black Friday offers tons of deals, but a lot of times you can get great prices by purchasing items in off-peak-seasons.

33. Shop around for prices. I buy a lot online (mostly Amazon). It's simple to compare prices this way and find the best deals. Often times people sell their items on Amazon at cheaper prices, plus you save on gas from driving store to store.

34. Shop through Ebates. If you're going to shop online, go through ebates first. They will mail you a check for a percentage of what you spend. You get paid to shop. What's better than that? We have saved a lot of money with the big ticket items we purchased. For example, we wanted to buy a snow blower from Lowes. I knew exactly which one we wanted, so I want onto, clicked on the link for, found the snow blower we wanted and purchased it to be picked up in the store (no shipping fee). It was ready for us to pick up the same day AND I got a check back in the mail for $36!

35. Wait for the deals. I love to shop at Kohl's, but I will wait until I get a 30% off card in the mail. Then I will purchase the items I need. I keep track of my spending while shopping so that I can maximize the benefits of Kohl's cash for every $50 spent (before taxes and not including the Kohl's Cares items - learned the hard way), then I will use the Kohl's cash with another % off I get in the mail. Then I make sure to budget and pay off my card right away...that's the important part. You have to use your card for the deals, but if this is a planned purchase, you can put aside the money for it.

36. Shop used. You can find great deals on the items you need or want by shopping resales, garage sales, or thrift stores. I really wanted to get a play kitchen for my daughter and after a couple months of searching, I found a used one in great shape for $3.68 (it cost $100 brand new).

37. Buy used books for you and your kids. Want to spruce up your child's book collection? Check out the library book sales or garage sales. I love finding books for just $.10!

38. Check out your local freecycle website. You can sign up for the emails or just check the sites when you want, but this is a great resource. You can offer your own items for the taking, or you can respond to the offers from others. So far, I have graciously received a felt board, a double stroller, an easel, and coupons for baby items. In addition, I have given away clothes and household items we didn't need anymore. Before you go shopping, list an ad on freecycle for the item you need and you may be surprised by the generous responses!

39. Make greeting cards yourself. Cards can be so expensive. Homemade cards can be much more personalized and fun to receive.

40. Start following someone who posts tons of deals and savings. Be in the loop when there are great deals on the products you love! Personally, I follow Mama Cheaps on facebook and through email.

41. Make homemade gifts. They are more personal and unique. You can find tons of great ideas on Pinterest. Here is the footprint art calendar that I did this year.

42. Make a shopping list before you go grocery shopping and stick to it. Impulse buying really digs into your budgeted amount for food. I like to use the Cozi app on my phone to keep track of my shopping list and then check off items as I pick them up.

43. Instead of going out to eat, invite friends over for a pot luck and have everybody bring something different.

44. Purchase holiday decorations right after the holiday passed. Need new Christmas lights? Wait until right after Christmas and get them at way discounted prices!

45. Buy generic. Try the generic version of items you use regularly. Sometimes the quality isn't the same and you'll have to bite the bullet and buy brand name. But most of the time, generic is just as good at a fraction of the cost.

46. Use cloth diapers. Of course, it has a start up investment cost, but it pays for itself in time (especially if you use them frequently or exclusively). You may be thinking "Cloth? Sounds inconvenient." But let me tell you, present day cloth diapers are so simple! We use them at least 2-3 days per week (it would be more often if my supply was larger and I washed them more frequently). If Cady uses about 6 diapers a day, that's 18 diapers a week (72 diapers a month!) that we don't have to buy - and that's just using cloth 3 days a week! Save your money and save room in the landfills.

47. Make your own baby wipes. You can save $150 a year by using my recipe for homemade wipes.

48. Make activities for your child. I like to make playdough, finger paint, melt leftover crayons together, stuff and tape up real food items (cereal boxes, plastic juice containers) for pretend play, etc.

49. Get free babysitting by trading off with another mom. It will be a play date for your kid and free time for you (without the $10/hour fee).

50. Make clothes or accessories for your child. I'm not good at sewing (at all!), but I make headbands for my little girl.

51. Make your own baby food. It can be time consuming (compared to just buying jarred food), but I loved knowing exactly what I was feeding my little girl and it tasted better than the jarred versions. Don't get me wrong, we used jars or pouches on occasions like when we went out of town and I didn't have a way to keep the homemade food cold. But 95% of the time, my hubby and I were making her food at home. We purchased a Baby Bullet (with a 20% off coupon at Bed, Bath, & Beyond) and many 4oz freezer/microwave/dishwasher safe containers (Rubbermaid from Walmart). Yes, it took time washing, peeling, cutting, blending, and dividing the foods, but we saved so much money! Grab a partner, start an assembly line, knock out a bunch of food and store it in the freezer. We made baby food once a week.

52. Love your local library. Check out movies and music for free. I go on my library website and put holds on new release movies a few weeks before they come out. They send me an email when I have movies ready to pick up, and it's as simple as that. Sometimes we get new release movies right away, and sometimes we have to wait a while, but I can't complain when they're free. Plus, don't you hate it when you spend the money to rent a movie and it turns out to be a dud? If it was free, all you wasted was a bit of your time.

53. Rent your textbooks from the library. Sometimes, you can find the textbooks you need through the library. Just renew it until you're done. I was lucky last year and found the book I needed at the library for one of my college classes. I saved $60 by not having to purchase it!

54. Go on daytime dates to the movies. Matinees are much cheaper than evening movie theater prices. We often go to the last matinee show time of the day so that it feels like date "night", but we spend half the amount.

55. Sign up for birthday clubs. Mama Cheaps posted an extensive list of birthday freebies. I know I sure enjoyed my free Noodles meal and free drink from Caribou Coffee.

56. Rent dvds from redbox. Don't want to wait for the free movies from the library? Redbox offers inexpensive movie rentals. If you sign up for the emails, you will get the occasional FREE movie rental. The only time we ever rent from Redbox is when we get offers for free or $.50 off. However, it's not a free movie if you forget to return it on time. Oops.

57. Find cheap or free events in your area for entertainment. Libraries offer a lot of free activities for children and adults (we are always going to story times and baby play). Some websites list free or cheap local events like festivals and craft fairs. Do a search and see if there is such a site for your area that will keep you posted on inexpensive entertainment. (I don't know about all locations, but I use Little Lake County and Chambana Moms.)

58. Find cheap gas. I use the Gas Buddy app on my phone to find the best prices on gas in my area.

59. Groupon and Living Social have great deals on local entertainment. These sites allow us to live our old lifestyle on half of the salary.

60. Save money when going out to eat. Purchase gift certificates through, especially when they have really good sales. There was one time when I got a bunch of $25 gift certificates for $1 each!

61. Be cultured without spending a fortune. See if your library has free museum passes. Our library had a summer program where you could check out museum passes for a week, so we took Cady to the zoo for her first birthday - for free! That's a savings of $30.

62. Set aside your grocery "savings". Does your grocery store receipt show you how much money you saved during your purchase? Try setting aside that money that you would have spent. For example, if your receipt says you saved $18 that day, set aside $18 in your bank account. Try doing this every time you go grocery shopping and you will be amazed at how much money you can accumulate with your grocery savings. I have yet to try this, but it is a goal of mine.

I hope this post has given you some ideas on how to save some extra money. Please feel free to list some ideas of your own in the comments section.


  1. These are all great ideas, but I must admit the thing that stood out the most to me was that you acquired a double stroller. Do you have something to share?

  2. Not yet. I need it for when I watch other babies, but it will come in handy eventually for my own offspring. I'm a planner. You know how I like to have things ready way before they're due...

  3. great ideas! Now I just need to put them to action!