Are you looking for ways to save money without having to do anything too extreme? These tips will help!
When we decided to move to Florida, I quit my job to be a stay at home mom and living off one income was a big adjustment. I’d never been much of a penny pincher before but needed to find ways to save money to make the transition a little easier. It turns out that it wasn’t as hard as I’d thought. There are lots of little things that you can do on a daily basis to save money. While it may not be enough to jet off to Paris every month, it does add up.
1. Menu planning
I love menu planning! It’s nice to be able to plan all your meals for the week and only make one trip to the grocery store, especially when you have to drag the kids along each time! Not only does meal planning save time and the hassle of deciding what’s for dinner each night, you save money by not constantly running to the store. If you’re like me, you go in for one thing and end up with $40 worth of other food…that’s definitely not good for the budget! You can check out my meal planning series for lots of delicious dinner recipes and you can also get a free menu planning printable to help keep up with it each week.
2. Buy Generic
If you consistently buy the same brands, ask yourself why. Do you buy them because they really do taste better or is it more out of brand loyalty and habit? Once in awhile you may find that the brand actually is better but more often than not, there’s really very little difference. Along those lines, I’ve also discovered a lot more ways to save money on groceries and none of it involves couponing (which is great if you do it but I’ve just never had the patience).
3. Skip individually packaged snacks
I pack a lunch for my girls every day so I totally get how much easier it would be to buy the prepackaged snack bags. You can just throw them in the lunchbox and you’re done. However, it only takes an extra minute to put those snacks into reusable containers and it will be worth the money you save. I fill all the containers at the beginning of the week so that when I’m packing lunches, that part’s already done and I can just toss them in…almost just as easy as buying them that way.
4. Just say no to random toy purchases
It is so tempting to buy toys for my girls when we go out and about. I’ve been known to bribe my kids with the dollar section at Target just to get them to come along willingly. Those dollars add up though, especially since many of the items in the dollar section are now $3! They forget all about those toys by the next day anyway so why not save that money for something more worthwhile. Plus, that’s one less thing you’ll have to step over when you walk through their rooms!
5. Go Consignment Shopping
I used to be a consignment snob. Then my good friend, who’s frugal by choice not necessity, told me that she bought kids clothes at consignment sales and stores all the time. When I finally went to my first consignment sale, I was hooked. Where else can you get a $30 Gymboree dress for $5? I’ve found that consignment sales (pop up sales often found in churches) usually have the best deals because they don’t have the overhead. However, you can still find some really great bargains in the consignment stores, too. Holiday dresses are the best bargains of all! Why pay $50 for something that your child will wear once or twice when you can get it for under $10. Chances are, it was only worn once or twice to begin with. You can also find great deals on baby items and toys (start shopping early for Christmas).
6. Make your own home decor
When we moved into our house, we needed so many different things that we couldn’t possible buy everything at once. Furniture and decor, especially the ones we always like, can be expensive. I’ve never been a DIY person but when I saw a $10 table at Goodwill, I couldn’t resist. I didn’t even know I had it in me but I turned that ugly table into a cute, coastal themed bedside table for our guest room. If I can do it, you can too. For more inspiration, check out my DIY home decor and furniture board on Pinterest.
7. Conserve Electricity & Water
This is one of the easiest to do and my hubby has even stopped calling me “Lisa Leave The Light On”! I’m finally trained but now we have to get the kids on board! I’m also careful not to let the shower run too long before getting in and I turn off the water when I’m brushing my teeth. Now that I’ve gotten in the habit, I hardly even think about it anymore. Plus, not only am I saving money, I’m doing a little good for the environment too.
8. Cancel Services & Subscriptions You Don’t Need
If it’s a service that you use regularly, then you should definitely keep it. However, if you find yourself paying a monthly fee for something you rarely use then maybe it’s time to give it up. We subscribe to both Netflix streaming and the DVD service but we only use the latter for Game of Thrones and Homeland. Once we catch up on those shows, we cancel our DVD subscription and renew when the new seasons come out. That way we’re only paying for about two months instead of an entire year.
This also goes for magazine and newspaper subscriptions. When I had my first baby, I kept saving my magazines thinking that I’d have time to read them “one day”. I eventually cancelled them all when I finally realized that “one day” might be the day the kids go off to college.
9. Buy In Bulk
I love saving money by shopping the warehouse stores like Costco and BJ’s. You can save even more by using the coupons that they send in the mail. I usually don’t keep up with coupons but these are always worth it! Plus, it’s convenient to have a months supply of toilet paper on hand!
10. Go To The Library
This is such an obvious money saver that I don’t know why I wasn’t doing it all along. I’ll occasionally give my daughter money to shop the school book fair (it’s for a good cause) but we try to get most of our books from the library. She can read as many as she wants and it’s completely free. Just be sure that you get them back in time because those late fines add up. After our whopping $8 in late fines awhile back, I’m very careful to keep track in my planner when those books are due and, knock on wood, we haven’t gotten any big surprises like that since.
11. Quit The Gym
Let’s face it…gym memberships aren’t cheap. My old gym was $35 per month, more when I added in the childcare. I usually only ran on the treadmill and did floor exercises anyway, something that’s just as easy to do on my own. If you like the classes or need the childcare, this may not work for you. However, if you’re able to swing it, you can save $500 or more per year.
12. Pack a lunch
If you have a day trip planned, eat breakfast at home and pack a lunch. You’ll save a lot of money that way, especially if you’re a family of four or more. One thing we splurged on when we moved to Florida were annual passes to Disney World. However, most of the time we’d just go for the day so we’d eat a big breakfast and bring sandwiches, drinks and snacks to carry us through dinner. While our Disney passes have expired, I still do this anytime we go on a day trip to the zoo, a museum or other theme park.
13. Give Creative Gifts
Sometimes the most creative (and inexpensive) gifts can be the most fun! One of my favorite new gifts are personalized bottles of wine. They are inexpensive, it’s fun to design your own label and the only real cost is the wine. You don’t even have to buy an expensive bottle since the label is hidden anyway. If you’re really crafty, you can make your own just using your printer. If you need more ideas for inexpensive gifts, just hop on Pinterest for a few minutes (or hours). There are so many creative ideas that you may have a hard time narrowing it down to just one.
14. Find Free Things To Do Around Town
Most newspapers have an entertainment section listing events around town. If you check regularly, you can find concerts, festivals and other events that don’t cost a thing. Check the websites of your local museums too…a lot of them offer free admission on certain days of the week or month.
15. Enjoy Happy Hour!
I’ll admit, this one is my personal favorite! Yes, it’s even more thrifty to stay home altogether but we all need to have a little fun sometimes, right? There are lots of ways to save money at restaurants but I really love searching out the best happy hour specials. You can often get half priced wine and a couple of appetizers for dinner instead of an entrée, which I prefer to a big meal anyway. You will have just as much fun…actually no, you will have MORE fun because you’ll know you’re saving money while enjoying your night out! Just keep in mind that many restaurants require you to sit in the bar area to get the happy hour specials so it might be best for a date night, not a night out with the kids.