There are numerous ways to save money, some are big and some are small. Sometimes people will tell me that the things I do really don’t save much money, and I agree. I might not save much money, but I am always saving little bits of money. Eventually those pennies do add up.
Here are some little things you can do to save your pennies.
Reuse foil, ziplocs, and food containers. Much of my tupperware cabinet is filled with yogurt containers, and other plastic containers that I use over and over. (Do not reuse plastic containers that have been microwaved)
Switch from white meat to dark meat. I know, I know, we live in a white meat society, but prepared correctly dark meat isn’t so bad. During my last trip to the grocery store I noticed that chicken legs were $0.85 a pound. You can buy about 14 legs for under $3. That is a huge savings!
Skip convenience foods. It is cheaper to buy a big container of yogurt and divide it into smaller containers for lunches. All those prepackaged snack foods were invented to make money. If you are short on time, take an hour on Sunday night to divide up the bulk foods into lunch portions for the week.
Simplify your life. Elaborate get-togethers, birthdays, vacations, wardrobes complicate and cost you time and money. Host a potluck or progressive dinner. Have people over for dessert instead of dinner. Plan your own parties and skip the food. Especially for children’s birthdays, these things have gotten so out of hand. Most kids are happy with some wrapping paper rolls to sword fight and a homemade cake. Most families (at least the ones who read this blog) cannot afford expensive vacations. Find less expensive or free things to do in your area. Even better have a “stay-cation.” Stay home and be a tourist in your own town. By simplifying your wardrobe you will save time and money. Especially if your clothes require dry cleaning. Keep it basic and simple. Even when I had a closet full of clothes I wore the same few things regularly anyway.
Hang it out. Invest in a clothesline (they even make indoor ones for those of you who live under HOA rules). This saves so much money. I believe it costs about $0.25 to dry a load of clothes, plus it heats up your house, which is the last thing you want to do in the summer.
Adjust your temperature. I know this is a tough one, but see if you can raise or lower your thermostat one degree every few days. I also noticed that on cool mornings you can open all your windows and lower the temperature of your house. When the day warms up, close the windows. This will help keep your house cooler during the day.
Cold showers. Okay, not really, but lower the setting on your hot water heater a few degrees. Plus, the side benefit of this one is that if the water temperature is a little uncomfortable your shower will probably be quicker. It will make a difference in your bill. While you are at it, buy a hot water heater blanket. They cost about $30 and you will make back your investment in a year or two. Especially if you live in a cold climate.
Evaluate extra-curricular activities. I realize that little Sally has begged for ukulele lessons, but if it means you will be living with her when you get old because you didn’t save for retirement she might have reconsidered. If you can afford it, great. But if you are struggling financially these types of things need to be the first to go. Not only do they cost you in fees, but there are usually fund raisers,uniforms, snacks, other incidentals, and the gas it takes to get to the activity.
Learn to love second-hand items. Almost everything can be purchased for less at a thrift store or yard sale. I have been to yard sales where someone could have purchased every baby item they would ever need (except diapers) for under $150. Items for younger kids are plentiful at yard sales. You can find items for big kids too, it just takes a little more work. I am always amazed when I go into someone’s beautiful house and realize that almost everything was purchased second hand. If you don’t have a knack for decorating, find a friend who does.
Stop your subscription to Netflix and stay away from Barnes and Noble. Today’s libraries are awesome, especially in metropolitan areas, and everything is free. If you are serious about saving money, and money is tight, cancel your subscription.
I take it back, the first thing I would do is cancel cable. This is my own personal opinion. Please do not email me and tell me how much your family loves watching shows on the Discovery channel and discussing them. I am sure that is true. This isn’t a debate about television. We went for 8 years without television and I didn’t miss it at all. We also saved around $3000, by not watching television. I am not trying to beat up on cable television. I am just making a point about the little things adding up.
Eat at home. Eating at home is healthier and cheaper. Plus, you save gas by staying home.
Make your own coffee. I almost didn’t type this because I am not a coffee drinker so I have no love for Starbucks. But, five bucks for a cup of coffee, that adds up! Once again, if you can afford a five dollar coffee, then go for it, but if you are struggling, spend five dollars on a coffee maker at a yard sale and make your own. I have seen the people who work at Starbucks, I know people who work at coffee shops. They do not have years of coffee training. You can make good coffee at home, I know people who do it all the time.
Get out of your comfort zone. Many ways to save money are a matter of changing your perspective. You might think you don’t like chicken legs because you haven’t prepared them correctly, you might think you couldn’t live without Netflix because that is all you have ever known. Going to yard sales might be uncomfortable at first, so go with a friend and make it fun! You might not be a good cook, but most people can follow recipes. Experiment with new things until you find your own cooking style.
I once had a reader comment that I must have exceptional willpower in order to live a frugal life, believe me, I don’t. I just have a different perspective than I did years ago. I feel like I live a very full and exciting life even though our family does things differently sometimes. I don’t feel deprived of anything nor do my kids. Part of this is because my hope is not in the things of this world, and the other part is because I am looking to the future. I want to change my financial future for my kids. I don’t need to be rich, I already am, although not with money. God, family, and friends make me the richest person in this world. I am a penny pincher, but my life is so full I am overwhelmed with thankfulness.
Our lives have changed significantly for the better since we called Dave Ramsey on October 26, 2007 and screamed. “WE’RE DEBT FREE!!!!!!!” on the radio. The main reason we save money and are thrifty is so that we may bless others. If our money was tied up in debt and bills we would have little left to give away. We want our children to grow up in a paid for 🙂 house where serving others is a high priority. Living debt free is truly freeing.
$5 Dinner Mom says
I have been thinking so much on the subject of simplicity and getting back to the basics! I lived overseas for 6 years and did not have to deal with much of the “complexity” that exists in the US today! I am constantly thinking and praying for guidance…how can I simplify things for myself? What can I do/change to have less to worry about or stress over this or that? Implementing little changes one at a time…whether a saving $$ thing, or a structure/routine change…can have a profound impact! When I am caught up in the stresses of the complexity of life, my focus shifts from the Lord. That’s never good! I simplify so I can keep my eyes fixed on Jesus!
Normal to Natalie says
I didn’t even know until recently that you could “rent” movies at the library for free! Wow, what a resource and huge money saver!
As an author, I love B&N and Borders but there are other bookstores that have the same books at much discounted prices. But I definitely understand the need to be frugal and save money. And while I am an avid reader and addicted to books, I only buy when I get the 20, 25 or 30% off coupons or on the bargain tables. Or I ask for the books I want as birthady or Christmas presents, sure I may have to wait a few months for the book but by then they are usually discounted anyway.
The library is a wonderful resource too. I’ve found many new to many authors there. It’s a great way to test out new authors or other books. Then you can buy at the bookstore if you think the book is a keeper.
Another option is ebooks and audio books, most are greatly discounted then the print price and you can read them on your pc, cell phone or palm most of the time if you don’t have an e-reader. I recently bought 5 books as e-books that I would have spent on one print book.
I love your site. And great tips.
I agree with you. I have lived overseas twice and life was much simpler during those times. I have also lived in a very small town, (less than 300 people) and it reminded me sometimes of living overseas. It was over an hours drive to the nearest big store so you really had to plan and make do with what you had. It was a great place to save money. Now I am living in a big city and I find myself tempted to run out for every little thing as well as participate in many more activities. I think sometimes it is harder to prioritize and save money in a large area because there are so many distractions (of course you have access to more discounts too).
AMEN SISTAH! I am a minimalist. Meaning I like it simple. I hate buying things new, especially things I KNOW I can find at yard sales or in the Bulletin Board 🙂
I would LOVE to stop my cable, but my dh won’t let me. We utilize our library too for free books. I don’t buy books except as gifts.
Also, along the same lines of the simple bday parties, we rarely get more than one gift for our kids. And it is usually something they’ve been wanting for a while, like getting their ears pierced. We don’t just up and do it. We wait for the bday, and make it their gift 😉
ALSO, we do not have tons of xmas gifts either. The kids get one or two things, and a movie and/or a book.
I hate clutter, and xmas always brings in more of it! UGH. Why make it worse, ya know? 😉
I am with you on being content. I love my little house and my simple, (nearly) uncluttered life 🙂
I would LOVE to be debt free. But, alas, you have to have the leader on board with ya for something like that. :-p
Comment from Nancy @ http://militarymoms.today.com/
I can’t say enough about adjusting the thermostat. Where I live, electric rates have gone up 82% since June 2007. That’s a lot. I set a personal goal of keeping our bills as low as possible – we used our fireplace extensively over the winter (homeschooling helps – we can keep the fire going), and we’ve had our summer thermostat set at 80 degrees most of the time. I thought we’d save $20 or so per month, but it’s been more like $40 – $50.
Awesome, awesome, awesome, Toni! I’m right there with you, except for the “stay-cation”. That would take us all of 2 seconds here, lol. But you know what? If we spent the day together hanging out at our library, our park, our OWN YARD, and going for bike rides… our kids would love it MORE than a vacation!
Katie @ 3 Blondes and a Redhead says
Great list – I love getting ideas from other frugal mamas out there!!!
It is really the small things that do add up. We have debt and once we realized we had a problem we made changes fast. We canceled our cell phone and got a pre-paid phone. We cut our cable bill in half. I gave up reading the newspaper, which I love, but I love the $25 extra we have at the end of the month. We shopped around for new car insurance. I am learning to figure out what works for us as a family and sticking to it.
Munchkins and Music says
These are great! I would have never thought of these! Thanks!
After reading your post, I could not believe how much of it I do, except for cold showers. One that should be stated is “learn to live without”, buying too much stuff that is not needed! Thanks for the post, great info.
We have been trying to cut back quite a bit, but I see where we can cut back even more. It is funny you mention cable. I’ve been trying to talk to hubby about this, but he can’t seem to give up his golf channel that we are paying all this money to get as we don’t watch much of any other tv. Oh, well!
I have been thinking of cutting Netflix and using our library for movies.
AFter our commitment on our cell phone, we are going to just pay for minutes. We are spending $100 a month for 3 cell phones on all these minutes we don’t use. Ugh!
I cook/bake almost everything from scratch nowdays including those wonderful pita breads you posted the recipe for. 😀
I have almost talked my husband into giving up the satellite dish. We just stopped Netflix. We already do a lot of the things you mentioned.
Great tips! I have two Blockbuster Online movies sitting in my kitchen that have not been watched. think I’ll cancel, as my library has terrific DVDs. I get most of my books from the library, and I’m still wondering about that $54 monthly cable bill. I only watch TV during hurricanes (I live on the coast) and political conventions. Today I’m getting coffee for my staff, but it’s coming from a generous gift card a client gave to me. In fact, one of my staff members used to work for Dave Ramsey.
Keep the advice and inspiration coming!
We do a lot of those things already.
Library is great as long as I return them on time. LOL
Canceled dish over a yr. ago. Don’t miss it.
Unless it rains or snow on the ground it is outside drying.
If there is a breeze the windows are open.
We burn wood so thats a free weight training program.
The eating out is a killer. Dh is bad for this one. But he is taking no for an answer more often.
with the big move we’re not going to get a dish right away. we’re going to try just watching the antena channels and see how well that works.
We have started down this road. 🙂 We just cancelled cable and got a slower internet connection (we only realize it’s slower when downloading). We’ve been eating more at home, and I’ve been more creative about using leftovers. I do make my own coffees at home (including copycats of the BK Mocha Joe and McDonalds vanilla iced coffee). We’ve been using the library more for books since I can place holds online and they call when they are in. I should attempt the movies – we still get Netflix. And because of this list, I am looking up indoor clotheslines. I think my Grandma used to just hang up a regular clothesline across her basement, but before the baby gets here and all the cloth dipes – it’s going on my list. Thank you so much for this one!!
We have cut back on many things this year because of an income shortage. Now our income has increased a little, but we are so used to doing things frugally and pinching our pennies that I am not going back to wasting money! I refuse! I want to be debt free, but I’m not so we are going to use any extra money we have to be debt free!
Great ideas. We are doing some of these already and I will look in to trying some things you suggested. Thanks.
Our latest…switching completely to filtered water and filling our sports/bike bottles before we leave home. Less $$ spent on water bottles and no recycling worries! (Over 80 percent of plastic water bottles are not recycled, isn’t that ridiculous?)
Audra Krell says
These are really great tips. It’s nothing short of overwhelming to have so much stuff, it’s such a burden. I’m working on reducing……thanks for the encouragement.
We are trying these types of things, too. Love our library system!
Just put the clothes line out a couple weeks ago.
Also, opted not to get “caller ID” on the home phone – this saves us $100 a year!!
And, got rid of the two cell phone plan of over $100/mo. for a prepaid plan (tracfone) where we spend about $200 for the whole year – savings $1,000 per year!!!
Dave has a great ministry – thanks to him (and God!!)we are debt free except for the house!
I love the idea of teaching children how to save! I never learned that growing up. I had to learn it the hard way!
while the library is a fantastic resource, you gotta be weary of their multi-media freebies. Their fines for being later are astronomical (at least here in so cal they are). It’s .25 cents a day for a late book. Forget that movie? book on tape? Game or the like? It’s a DOLLAR a DAY! Check out more than one and BOOM, your bill can get more than netflix right quick. Be sure to check it out, before you check it out 😉
You make some good points about late fees, they are high. But you would have to rack up a lot of late fees every month to compete with the cost of buying books from a store or renting movies. I have a system that we use to keep from paying these late fees that I will try and share in a blog post soon.
Thanks for reminding my readers to return their books and movies on time. It makes little sense to save money at the library only to spend it on late fees!
Thanks so much for all of the great tips. My husband and I are really trying to cut back. The prices of everything is getting out of control. I love having a big family and I think cutting back on the little things and in the long run it will help a lot.
There is a great deal of FREE entertainment on the web today. Including legal TV shows at sites like http://www.hulu.com/ and http://www.joost.com/ As well as games at sites like http://disney.go.com/index So you can cancel Cable TV, NetFlix and Xbox and still get many of the same benefits for free online.
Carmen at Old House Kitchen says
I am horrible at remembering to return movies to the library. We only go into town once a week and our library movies can be renewed only once so I pay $1 for a late fee on all the videos we check out. (The way the calendar works out we take them out on a Wed. and with renewal they are due on Tuesdays.) Since our “town” (not even a stoplight!) doesn’t have a library we have to pay to use another. We pay $76 a year for our card. We have netflix, but only the basic subscription of 1 dvd at a time and instant whenever. There are so many educational things (from TLC, Discovery, History channel) to watch on there that the $11-ish a month that we pay is really worth it for us. We have a digital box and don’t have cable. All that to say I’d much rather have netflix than the fee for each movie from the library. Also the library movies are usually scratched up.
We have been living simply for almost 2 years now. There are 4 of us left in the house.We moved from a 3,000 sqft home to a 1,600 sqft home. We canceled cable, stopped buying processed foods, and did all that you mentioned. I have to say we are HAPPIER people as a family. We love our library, and I think it is a wonderful responsibility lesson for everyone to make sure they are returned in time, so another card holder can check them out. Our library has up to date movies and books, and I have saved hundreds of dollars. We also homeschool on a budget. As someone who used to live frivolously, I can attest that living simply is just the best! Thank you for the reminder! Oh, and without the cable we play more family games, go on more walks ect…
We’ve been loosely following Dave’s philosophy for a couple of years now, and last January we were able to scream, “We’re debt free!” (And that is on one income, and a pension income at that). It was wonderful this past summer to visit family and know that the money to do so was in the bank already….we even came home with some left over to put toward next year’s visit! My 8yo son is very proud of his ability to do laundry and to cook, and I’ve found that a lot of household tasks are calming and zen-like, particularly breadmaking and hanging clothes on the clothesline. Lack of tv has resulted in more family game time. I won’t give up my computer/internet, though.
OK, I really want to know from those who line dry their clothes. Do you get bugs in your clothes? My dh won’t let me line dry our clothes because he thinks bugs lay eggs in them.