- Bargain shop, hit sales, and use coupons.
Find the cheapest local grocery store and get your grocery items there. You will not believe how much money you will save. For one, I am a huge fan of Aldi’s. For the same price, I can get at least twice as much there as I can at Walmart. On average, things are at least $1 cheaper. $1 does not seem like much until you save $1 on 60 items. Look at that: $60 of saving!
Bent-and-dent stores are scattered all around. If you don’t mind a small dent in your soup can, or a box of cereal that is scratched up, you can save literally hundreds of dollars a year because these “rejected” items are sold at such a reduced price.
When you get those fliers or coupons in the mail, use them. It’s essentially free money. Save $1 here or $2 there, guess what, those savings could very well have just paid for your next date night.
- Don’t always buy brand-name items.
There are some things that should not be skimped on – like paper-thin toilet paper – get the real stuff. Other things really do not matter that much. Sandwich baggies, cotton balls, aluminum foil, spices, etc. do not need to be name-brand and neither does hand soap. You can save lots of money by buying off-brand items. Rinsing out snack baggies after using them for chips or apple slices can save money too when you are not buying more each week.
- Avoid using paper products.
Handwashing dishes can be a nuisance, but paper products are not cheap! Imagine how much money is spent on paper plates for all those meals each week. Make the switch to using real dinnerware. Stop using paper towels and napkins; instead, use washcloths at the sink and table, and rags to clean up messes, then toss them in the laundry. Washcloths and rags do not pile up in the laundry and you not only save money by not buying paper products, but you create less waste in the environment.
- Buy multi-purpose appliances.
Instead of buying a blender and then getting a food processor, just get a two-in-one. This saves money since you are not purchasing two individual items and it will also reduce the clutter in your kitchen.
- Hang-dry your laundry and wear clothes more than once.
In an effort to save money on our electric bill each month, I decided to hang-dry my laundry instead of running the drier all the time. During the warm summer months, I would hang the clothes outside; during the winter, I hang them to dry on a line in the basement. I have not used the drier in about 7 months.
Wear your clothes more than one time before tossing them in the laundry. Some people will not like this idea while others are okay with it. My husband works construction and gets sweaty in the summer – of course, if they are smelly or dirty, wash them! But if it is chilly in church and you only wear your sweater for 2 hours, hang it back up and wear it again next time you go out. This will dramatically reduce the amount of laundry you have to wash and the amount of soap you must use.
- Turn off lights and appliances when you are not using them.
Another way to cut down on your electric bill each month is to turn off the lights when you leave a room. Having lights on all over the house when no one is even using them is a waste of electricity, extra money being spent on a higher electric bill, and a shorter lifespan for your lightbulbs.
- Turn down the heat in the winter and the A/C in the summer.
If you have a furnace, this applies to you (those with a coal or wood stove, it does not.) Keeping your thermostat set at a lower temperature causes your furnace to run less and will keep your heating bill at a manageable price in the winter. Our thermostat is currently set at 65 degrees Fahrenheit. This uses less electricity and oil. We wear hoodies around the house and have blankets on the couch. (This is also a great excuse to get to cuddle more with your spouse, children, or pets.) In the summer, our A/C is set higher than most at about 70 degrees which means the unit runs less often and draws less electricity.
- Condense trips and use less fuel.
Gas is not cheap. Condensing trips will save you tons of gas money each week and will put less wear and tear on your vehicle. If you are already running an errand, try to make several stops while you are already there instead of driving to town five different times. The nearest Aldi’s is about 40 minutes from us so I do not go often…but when I know we will be in the area, I always stop and stock up on things since they always have sales. When I drive to my in-laws’, I always devise a list of things to do while there: stop at the store for groceries, deposit paychecks at the bank, etc. instead of making three different trips.
- Car pool when possible.
Again, gas is expensive. You will not believe how much money you can save by catching a ride with someone else or meeting someone to ride together instead of both driving there separately. Not only does this save lots of money in fuel, but wear and tear on your vehicle and it is better for the environment. When we visit my parents, we all go to church Sunday morning. Brian and I squeeze into their van with them instead of driving separately to church and back.
- Eat in more often.
My husband and I were tight on finances when we first got married which made dinner-dates tough to come by. But romantic dinners can be had at home, too! It is nice to get out sometimes, but who says a nice candle-lit dinner at home can’t be just as nice…and you can save $30 a pop, too.
- Eat more rice, potatoes, beans, and eggs.
Because we were having a hard time financially at the beginning of our marriage, I found ways to replace rice with less meat. This may sound boring to some people, but really, rice is amazing! In casseroles or stir-fries I would include only half of the meat requested on the recipes and would substitute it with rice. Potatoes can be prepared countless ways; we took advantage of those too. After living in Puerto Rico for two months, I discovered so many wonderful meat-less rice and bean recipes – they are now family favorites. Eggs are cheap – $.79 – $1 depending on where you shop. Replacing cereal in the morning with eggs is not only a cheaper option, but a healthier one, too. Eating more chicken and less beef, along with these minor changes, has saved us a ton of money on our weekly grocery bills and has expanded our horizons when it comes to new recipes.
- Keep leftovers!
Reusing leftovers is a fabulous way to save money at every meal. Often, I misjudge how much rice or vegetables I need for a recipe and usually have extra. Instead of throwing them all in the garbage, I put them in the fridge for later. The next time I cook, I add the scraps of rice and vegetables to my soup or casserole or Brian takes it along to work for lunch.
Even if I get too much food on my plate at a meal time, and cannot finish it, I don’t waste it. I put it in a container and that is what I eat for lunch the next day.
- Cut sweets out of your diet.
Desserts are not cheap, and they are not necessary. No one needs a piece of cake after dinner. Save $3 dollars on a pack of cookies or $10 on that cake. Its adds up fast! Sodas and juices are not necessary either. They also create body fast and cost several dollars each. Water, however, is free and actually promotes weight loss. While juices, sodas, desserts, and candies are okay for an occasional treat, lots of money will be saved if they are not purchased regularly – and your family will be healthier for it.
- Grow a garden and can or freeze your own food.
Having a garden requires some work, but it is an extremely cheap and healthy option. It is only $1 or so for a pack of seeds that may last a few years and yields up to $100 of crops. Our garden flourished last summer (after we got rid of the groundhogs and raccoons) and literally kept us in green beans all summer – saving us about $50 if we had purchased canned veggies. Our tomatoes and peppers went crazy – so much, in fact, that we canned gallons of spaghetti sauces, pizza sauces, etc. because we could not eat them fast enough, fresh. I’m guessing we saved at least $100 in produce, not to even mention the corn that we eat fresh, and froze. I think we spent $20 on the seeds and little plants and got about $200 worth of produce in return. Not a bad trade-off if you ask me!