Money Saving Ideas?

Posted by  | Tuesday, October 2, 2007  at 1:35 PM  
This topic is kind of misleading. In my opinion, the best way to save money is to quit shopping...with that said, hunting for bargains has long been a passion of mine. It can be a HUGE trap though and I have to be so careful!! Avoiding clearance sections unless I am hunting for a specific item is one way to keep from spending. I also hate clutter, so if I can't immediatly identify where something will live in my home it doesn't get bought.

Since becoming a mommy, I have definitely developed a greater desire to save money where we can and live well within our means. Currently, both my husband and I work. The plan is for me to not work once he is finished with school in May 2008. Because of this, our current income is considerably higher than we technically "need" and will live on one day very soon. We have been in the process of evaluating our budget and spending for a while now in order to weed out all unnecessary items. Some tips on creating and keeping a budget that have helped us save more money each month:

1. Ditch or reduce unnecessary services like:

Cell phone #2 - we share and whomever has Will generally takes the phone.

Home phone - for a long time we lived with just two cell phones. Now we have one cell and one home phone which is cheaper than two cells for us. Definitely get rid of features like caller id, call waiting, etc.

Internet service - shop around for the best rates. We recently switched to a different provider and slightly slower (yet still high speed) service and have been more than pleased! We pay $30 a month. This is definitely an expense that we could live without, but don't choose to at this time.

Cable or Satellite
- we have the most basic package offerred by Time Warner Cable only to ensure our local channels come in. We had trouble getting CBS with our bunny ears...It costs 12.55 a month and we get all of the local channels plus HGTV (my fav), USA and TNT.


2. Don't forget to budget for gifts! It's easy to leave this out and go overboard. I LOVE giving gifts so budgeting has really helped me stay realistic in this category. This is especially helpful when all of your friends are having babies and you have a million showers to go to!


3. Keep your AC/furnace serviced (if you own a home) and be knowledgeable about your specific unit. For example, we learned the hard way that we had a multi-stage heat pump and it is NOT more energy/cost efficient to use a programmable thermostat. Brought my husband to tears to see our power bill tripled the first month we used a programmable thermostat. We have sinced gotten a new heat pump (still multi-stage) and a new thermostat. Our bill is very manageable when we take advantage of ceiling fans and cool nights.


Now some general money saving ideas that have worked for us:

1. Leah's suggestion to make baby wipes and use cloth diapers are both GREAT ideas! However, I might add that if you use cloth diapers, cloth wipes are SUPER easy to use and make. I am short on time and sewing skills so I bought mine from cottonbabies.com. We simply keep a stash of washcloth sized wipes on the changing table with a spray bottle of water. The dirty wipe gets tossed in the diaper pail and washed with the dipes.

Really, they don't need anything more than water on their bums when changed. I've found that when I do go back to using disposable wipes (during travel or when he's sick) he is more prone to rashes. I've only recently purchased more wipes (again for travel and outings) since I started using cloth in March of this year!

Cost for 2 dozen cloth wipes - $24 (this was an expensive kind of cloth wipe)
Cost of spray bottle from Target - $1
Total for 6 months of diapering = $25


2. Being a working (and pregnant) mom, I often come home too tired to even think about dinner. Weekly meal planning has significantly reduced the temptation to just order out. Each week I plan our meals and do one grocery trip. I keep a list of the weeks meal options on the fridge and make whichever I feel like. Also, my husband knows whats for dinner and can start it for me if he is home.

I also have a freezer stash of meals that I either freeze when I double a recipe (like soups and chili) or make at a place such as Dream Dinners. These are great for quick thawing when I am really rushed or tired. Dream Dinners seems like a huge expense, but for us it is significantly cheaper than going out. I'll post more about Dream Dinners (and doing your own version at home) when we do a week on meals and recipes!

3. The Grocery Game. This is the best thing since sliced bread. It has honestly saved me over 60% on groceries by maximizing coupon use. I can't speak highly enough about this service and the time and money it has saved me. Check out the site and let me know if you have questions about it!

4. Mommy Savers Website. A GREAT resource for even more ways to save money. Lots of do-it-yourself ideas. I have the book she wrote as well, "1000 Baby Bargains" and I highly recommend it.

5. Like Leah mentioned, purchase (and resell) baby/kid items using websites such as ebay and craigslist OR garage/consignment sales. To avoid clutter or storage issues in a small home, simply resell the item when you child is done. You can always purchase it again used for #2.

To give you an idea, here are some bigger/expensive items I have purchase from Craigslist or Ebay - almost all at savings of at least 50% and in like new condition:

-shoes like Robeez (got one pair .50 at yard sale!! retail approx. $30)
-small travel pack n' play for #2
-400 Lansinoh breast pads (for $10, retail is approx. $50)
-cloth diapers (yes, they can be sanitized and I used craigslist and Diaperswappers)
-exersaucer
-high chair
-used stroller for plane travel
-crib mobile
-bouncy seat
-doorway jumper
-TOYS (got a FP Little People train set for $1 at yard sale, retails $50)
-my ergo baby carrier

To give you an idea of things I have SOLD online or by consignment:

-shoes like Robeez
-pack n' play (sold our yard sale one when we got a new one for a gift)
-strollers
-bouncy seat
-bottles
-maternity clothes
-doorway jumper
-baby bjorn and other slings
-cloth diapers

6. Using a wholesale club (like BJ's, Sams, Costco) but using it WISELY. These stores can also be traps because MANY items are NOT cheaper. Here are some items that I KNOW we save $$ on, especially when buying generic brand:

-diapers and wipes (when using disposable)
-baby formula, jar foods
-paper towels and toilet paper
-some toiletries
-some dry goods (cereal, flour, sugar, etc)
-organic milk and eggs

7 comments:

Sanders said...

Thanks, these Money Saving posts have been a good challenge for me! I'm definitely looking into the clothe wipes and I LOVE the Mommy savers website! My mom told me about: http://www.couponcabin.com/index.htm. I'm really enjoying all of your posts!! Thanks for taking the time ladies!

Christina said...

Glad you're enjoying the posts! They are fun to write (although its easy to get long winded :) I LOVE the coupon cabin site too. That site is great for getting coupon codes for online ordering. I refuse to order online without a coupon code. :)

Leah said...

Doctor's appointments are another thing to add to your budget. In the first year of your child's life, you have about 9 scheduled appointments, not including illnesses! That is a lot of money out of pocket, so it helps if you set it aside. You also can check with your or your husband's employer about a Flex Spending Plan, which allows you to contribute money pre-taxes to an account that later reimburses you for medical expenses, including co-pays, prescriptions, and more. It is still "your money" but it comes off the top of the paycheck, and reduces your earnings so you are taxed less. It can be very helpful, especially if you know of bigger medical expenditures that are upcoming.

Christina said...

Good idea Leah. We have a medical category in our budget, but I do remember that we blew that out of the water the year Will was born. Even though we tried to anticipate the added medical expenses...

Another category that we recently added was a "Will" category. We created a separate category to account for all the items we have to find as he reaches new stages. For example, when we bought baby gates (used I might add) or new sippy cups or an extra carseat for the sitter. By making our budget categories as specific as possible, its really easy to keep our spending in check.

Leah said...

I love the idea of a budget category for your child--that would be so helpful for us as we go through the same purchases (baby gates, 'big girl' plates/cups, necessary clothes for the bigger sizes)! Thanks for the tip; I will be adding a "Georgia" budget line for my little girl as soon as I have time.

The Hartzog's said...

Have you tried the website www.cutouthunger.org instead of the grocery game? It's about the same idea and it's free. There's no fee to pay. Check it out and see what you think.
Kimberly Hartzog (friend of Hollie's)

Christina said...

Kimberly,
Thanks for the link to the coupon mom site! It is basically the same idea. At first glance and comparing the grocery game list to the free list there I noticed a couple of things:

1. The coupon mom list did not include coupons that came out the week the list came out. For ex. free list gave a 49% savings on the Hungry Man dinners, but there was a coupon in the Sunday paper making it a 62% savings. (I noticed this b/c I bought these for my husband :) I despise those things normally!

2. Overall, the savings seem higher with GG. But since you have to pay for GG services...I guess it evens out! :)

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