Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I get frustrated when I can't find ways to save or make extra money.  Of course, if we were ever in desperate need, I would return to work and / or we would make some real cuts (i.e. cellphones, Direct TV, etc).  But, as we are now, there isn't much I can do.

Here are the things we already do.  Most of these we both do naturally, and the side effect is the savings.

  • Go out to eat 0-4 times a month.  Mike makes a lunch for work almost every single day.  (I did too when I was working).  We eat dinner at home the vast majority of the time.  
  • When we go out, we are cheap.  We never get appetizers.  Usually we don't get adult drinks or dessert.  We usually use a gift card and sometimes a coupon.  
  • Meal plan.  Meal planning helps us save money a few ways.  First, we only buy what we need at the story on the weekly shopping trip instead of guessing.  Second, if I have a plan a week or more in advance, I'm less likely to need to make an extra shopping trip at the more expensive local store and make impulsive buys while there. Third, we are less likely to go out to eat if we have a plan. 
  • We don't: smoke, drink coffee, drink beer or wine.  
  • We use the library for almost all our books and for movies for the kids.  
  • We conserve.  For example, we print on both sides of the printer paper.  We return our bottles for change.  Use a dry over night diaper a second night.  Use both sides of the Swiffer wet cloth.  If I use a wipe for a small spill, I use the whole wipe to clean other surfaces before throwing it out.  Make sunbutter and jam sandwiches with the ends of the bread facing in. 
  • Try to keep electricity and gas use down.  We only turn on the hot water if we will run it long enough for it to become hot because every time it turns on, it uses gas.  I also chase after the kids all day turning off lights.  In the summer, I wait until its above 80 in the house before turning on the AC. 
  • We buy used clothes for the kids, and recently for me, too.  (Mike almost never buys clothes, so he buys new).  When we do buy new, we rarely buy name brand clothes, especailly for ourselves.  We absolutely never buy clothes at a store in a mall.  
  • We buy a large percentage of toys and books used for the kids.  
  • We give our gently used (or never used) items as presents at children's birthday parties or baby showers when we have something appropriate.  
  • I've started avoiding using paper towels in favor of rags that go in the wash.  
  • We have reward credit cards, and we plan the gift cards to cover expenses when we can.  For example, getting Loews card before redoing our bedroom and getting Kmart card before the kids' birthdays. 
  • We have wishlists for the kids' and ourselves so that we get the things we want or need for gifts instead of buying them all year long.  
  • Just buy stopping using parking meters for going to the library I saved $50 a year, not to mention the risk of getting a parking ticket if we are gone too long.  
  • We started using coupons for items we will definitely use when we have them even if it means "stock piling."  Common items we do this with are juice for the kids, cat food, kids' vitamins, and cereal.  
  • We try to sell our things before donating them.  
  • We don't go on vacation.  While this one will probably change when the kids are older and we are back to two incomes, we have only been on one trip in the last five years.  
  • We use frequent shopper cards at places we go frequently, like the movies and car maintenance. 

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