Money Saving Ideas

Posted by  | Monday, July 25, 2011  at 9:43 AM  
I wanted to share a list of Money Saving Ideas that I keep in the back of my monthly planner. I refer to this list any time I'm feeling frustrated about finances and need to be reminded of some basic ideas of how to save money. This is my go-to list that I share when someone asks me how to save money (and most of these can be done without clipping coupons).

1. Make a menu that repeats. I use a menu that repeats every two weeks. I plan for 6 dinners a week, leaving room for leftovers, a night out, or a night at someone else's house.

2. Stock up on non-perishables. If you are sticking to a basic menu, you know things that you can always have on hand. When there is a sale on something that I use weekly, I purchase in multiples. My stockpile currently contains canned fruit, pasta sauce, ketchup, oil, Italian dressing for marinade, paper towels, and Ziploc bags.

3. Double meals & freeze. Meg is actually the best at this I think! I have mini meatloaves and lasagna in my freezer because we don't need to eat the entire recipe at one meal. So instead of making lasagna in a 9x13, I make it in 2 8x8 pans and freeze one for the next time. Same with the mini meatloaves - I cook all 8 for dinner, but then freeze half of them to be eaten later.

4. Check Comcast.com for special offers. If Comcast (I think it is actually called Xfinity now) is your cable provider, be sure to check in at comcast.com periodically to see if they have any offers for current customers. I had heard other people say that they would call Comcast and negotiate a better rate. I have tried this quite a few times (even threatening to drop my service) to no avail. But then I discovered an offer on comcast.com for current customers that cut my bill for basic cable and high speed internet from $55/month to $30/month.

5. Lower your cell phone bill. I am new to the cell phone world, but I know this is an area that can save money. Evaluate how many minutes you are actually using per month. Then visit MyRatePlan.com to shop around. I use a plan through Virgin Mobile. For $25/month I get 300 anytime talk minutes and unlimited text/data/web. I bought my phone (LG Rumor 2 with slide out keyboard) for $30 from walmart.com. The best part for me is that there is no contract, so I can back out of it whenever I want. And I was able to buy $100 in Top Up cards (used to load money onto my phone) at the grocery store and receive a $20 off my next order coupon for the grocery.

6. Buy Secondhand. Always step back and ask yourself if there's anyway you could do this cheaper - baby furniture, clothing, cars, furniture, etc. Craigslist and the Salvation Army are my best friends.

7. Check for on-line coupons/discounts. Before making an on-line purchase, check out RetailMeNot.com for a coupon code. I also check in at the coupon database on Hot Coupon World. Even if you don't clip coupons, check out this site. Often times it will have links to Internet Printable coupons that you can print off before heading out.

8. Keep a Gift Closet. I try to maintain a gift closet with toys, games, etc. that I find for a low price. This helps save money on the last minute gift purchases for birthday parties. My gift closet currently holds 2 Zhu-Zhu pets and 4 board games, as well as a cute baby girl dress I bought on super clearance from Target.

9. Check MoneySavingMom.com for grocery/drugstore weekly deals. She has a link to almost all of the grocery/retail/drugstores in the nation as a collaborative effort with frugal bloggers. Even if you don't clip coupons, there are helpful deal ideas to be found. This is a great time of year to be checking in as she posts about Back To School deals (few of which require coupons).

10. Evaluate your cable/internet/cell-phone/gadgets/etc. These items eat up a large portion of a family's monthly income. Consider what you could do without for 1 month, 3 months, 6 months. Cancel that service for a pre-determined amount of time. After you have been away from it for a time, re-evaluate whether you really miss it or need to bring it back.

Do you have any ideas to add? Do any of these inspire you?

4 comments:

Carol Seitz said...

This is Leah's mom. Her dad is the ultimate in bargain hunting but I'll give you a couple ideas for eating out. You can eat out as cheap as eating at home on an occasional basis. First and foremost, drink water. The cost of sodas really adds up when eating out. And then just order from the value menu. Taco Bell is our favorite. Watch for specials. Last week they offered Burrito Supremes for 99 cents. Also, our McDonalds is offering 6 piece Chicken Nuggets this summer for 99 cents on Tuesday and Thursday. We order these along with the value menu salad, cut them in fourths and put on top of the salad greens. If you order the Sesame Ginger dressing they give you sliced almonds. This makes a great Asian Chicken Salad for only $2. With water, the bill for 2 of us was just $4. It was almost like an Applebee's salad at about 1/4 the cost.

Leah said...

Here's a McDonald's order for you:

1 Double Cheeseburger $1
1 Chicken Sandwich, plain $1
1 Caesar Side Salad $1
1 Value Fry $1

I take the extra patty out of the double cheeseburger and put it on the bun from the chicken sandwich - voila, 2 cheeseburgers for the boys. Then I take the chicken patty and cut it up to put over my Caesar salad and I have a chicken Caesar salad for myself. I pack my own fruit and veggie for all of us and I can feed 3 of us for $4.

We eat at McDonald's maybe 3-4 times a year, but it's an affordable way to do it!

Meg said...

Great tips, Leah! I especially love the idea of stock-piling gifts ahead of time when you find a good deal!

Karla said...

Leah, love all your ideas. Thanks for sharing. Really like the one about having gifts handy and the one on the cell phone (will look into it).
I hope you are doing well. Think about you often. Hugs!

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