After a conversation with a friend the other day about budgeting and frugality, I decided to write a list of fifty simple ways that anyone could save a little cash...because as the saying goes, "A penny saved is a penny earned".
And who doesn't want to earn a few more pennies? Enjoy!
1. Pre-plan: Plan meals in advance—freeze meals when you have time or use the crock pot on busy days so you are not temped to eat out or buy fast food; Also—when going to sporting events, don’t buy concessions—bring your own. Check out this great site for slow cooker freezer meals: http://wp.sixsistersstuff.com/?s=slow+cooker+freezer+meals
2. Eat oatmeal for breakfast instead of cereal. If you’re not a morning person, you can do that overnight in the crockpot too: http://crockingirls.com/recipes/overnight-slow-cooked-oatmeal/
3. Buy plain yogurt and add fruit rather than buying pre-flavored yogurt, or better yet make your own; http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/you-can-make-yogurt-in-your-crockpot.html (I use the same times/temps for a full gallon of milk)
4. Skip Starbucks and make your own coffee.
5. Cook as much as possible from scratch. Don’t buy pre-packaged, convenience foods.
6. Compare grocery stores and shop at the one that gives quality with the best value. Plus…always check the damaged stock—usually in a special area and greatly reduced.
7. Shop at discount food stores (i.e. ALDI) for staples like flour, sugar, crackers and cereal—you’ll never notice a difference in these
8. Limit shopping time. Only visit the grocery store two times per month or whatever works for you. Do the same with the discount store visits. When you run out of something, just do without until the next shopping time.
9. Get to know a farmer and buy ¼ or ½ of a cow. Freeze the beef cuts and use when needed. This is much cheaper than buying beef at the grocery.
10. Have your kids take their own lunch to school in reusable containers.
11. Never buy individually packed items like puddings, applesauce, fruit, and peanut butter. Just purchase tiny Tupperware containers and package your own.
12. Buy “baggies” for storing food, not Ziplocs. With the non-Ziplock type bags, you get almost double to triple for a fraction of the cost. Better yet, use Tupperware type containers.
13. Reduce paper products—use real plates, cloth napkins, and rags instead of paper towel
14. When traveling, check for rates of other motels and mention these rates when calling your chosen motels—they will often reduce their rates to be more competitive.
15. When planting a garden or flowers, start the plants from seed inside and transfer to soil when the weather permits.
16. When you have purchased something with which you are dissatisfied, return it. Many places take things back without a receipt by tracking your credit card purchases at their store.
17. Use a homemade vinegar cleaning solutions when cleaning your house. Vinegar is cheap and as effective as most purchased products. http://www.thenewhomemaker.com/vinegar
18. Make your own facial cleanser out of olive oil and castor oil http://simplemom.net/oil-cleansing-method/
19. Wash your hair with baking soda, rinse with vinegar http://www.care2.com/greenliving/no-poo-get-beautiful-hair-with-just-baking-soda-vinegar.html?page=2
20. Cancel cable/dish network or suspend for a season
21. Don’t go to the mall. Shop for quality items at Target, Wal-Mart, Kohl’s. You can often get everything you need at these one-stop shops and avoid entering lots of stores.
22. Shop for kids clothes and toys at second-hand stores and garage sales. There are lots of treasures for the finding at much less cost than new. Young kids don’t really care if they have name brands.
23. When kids’ clothes rip/tear, patch jeans to look “fashionable” or cut off pants to make shorts or capris. Maybe something like this: http://www.trinketsinbloom.com/diy-patched-jeans/
24. Minimize clothes. Your kids only need 2-3 pairs of jeans and 2 pair of shoes; tennis shoes and church shoes.
25. Shop online and minimize impulse buying while comparing prices to get the best deal.
26. Save school supplies from year to year and salvage needed items for younger children.
27. Always look online for store coupons. You can find big savings here: i.e.: Hobby Lobby, Borders, Jo Ann’s, etc. Here’s one for this week: http://www.hobbylobby.com/weekly/coupon.cfm
28. When shopping for a specific item, find one with a slight defect or some damage. Then, when checking out, ask the cashier it they could take 10 to 15 % off the article because it is defective. This almost always works and when it doesn’t, I don’t buy the item.
29. When you are impressed with a product, write a letter, complimenting the company. More often than not, the company will send you free products or good coupons. When you are disappointed in a product, send a complaint letter; you will often get free products for this too.
30. Go to auctions and furniture overstock sales for furniture and be creative. Could you use two matching footboards for a head board and footboard? Could that buffet top become a bookcase?
31. Take good care of what you have and teach your children to do the same. No need to replace what you already own if all is in good shape.
32. When filling up with gas, pay at the pump so you won’t be tempted to buy a soda or snack when paying inside.
33. Skip manicures and paint your own nails—or don’t.
34. Take inventory. Knowing what clothes, food, and toys you have will save you money when shopping. This way you won’t buy duplicates.
35. Use your local library liberally.
36. Cut your own kids’ hair while they will still let you.
37. Play together as a family with things that don’t plug in. Read a book, play a board game, or take a bike ride rather than paying for entertainment.
38. Buy greeting cards in bulk—you can get an assortment of boxed cards from places like Current: (even better, make your own) http://www.currentcatalog.com/~Greeting+Cards~Greeting+Card+Value+Packs.html
39. Check out places like Salvation Army and Goodwill when shopping for specific item like furniture, games, costumes, and toys.
40. At Christmas time, be creative with gift giving. Set a limit for each child—maybe one larger gift or a theme of smaller, second-hand gifts (i.e. several small things at goodwill will outfit a dollhouse)
41. Shop for children’s birthday parties in bulk right after Christmas (or any other time you can find toys on clearance). Then, create a gift room for these items and let the children “shop” every time they receive a birthday invitation. This saves LOTS of money and time! Do the same thing for Halloween costumes right after Halloween.
42. Have children make gifts for each other, or give coupons of time, playing, helping, etc.
43. For baby showers, give or make the same gift for everyone. Have several on hand so you don’t have to go shopping each time.
44. Give non-monetary gifts of regular prayer for someone, poems, drawings, promised time together, notes of appreciation.
45. Keep track of expenses. You can do this with a computer program like “Quicken” http://quicken.intuit.com/. Keep track of expenses and do a monthly output sheet with this.
46. Frame children’s artwork for decorating. Buy frames at Goodwill or rummage sales.
47. Always buy used cars.
48. Always pay cash for cars. By doing this, you will pay less for your vehicle because you will only spend the money that you have. When you take out a loan for a car, you will often buy more car than you need.
49. Always use cash. You will spend much more if you use a credit card. An envelope system like this works well: http://www.daveramsey.com/article/dave-ramseys-envelope-system/lifeandmoney_budgeting/
50. Donate unused items to charity organizations like Goodwill or Salvation Army. Keep a detailed list of donation (and get a receipt at drop off). Goodwill’s valuation guide is surprisingly generous with its estimates:
Send the list in with your taxes to get a nice deduction. This is much easier and more profitable than having your own garage sale.
The plans of the diligent lead to profit
as surely as haste leads to poverty.