Okay! First real post! :) --- I have to say. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and I have a million ideas that I want to post RIGHT NOW :) ha... but alas... I have to "keep it real" and make sure that this doesn't take place of spending time actually doing the things I'm posting about and spending time with my family :) - So... with that said, LET'S START! I have about 15 minutes right now and I thought I could kick it all off with just a few simple ideas to cut expenses by keeping it real.
Think about what you buy. Remember that conveniences are just that.. conveniences. In essence, we are paying big companies to make things easier for us, just like we would pay a maid to clean our kitchen. - If you can do it yourself. Do it. :)
Paper products: - plates, cups, utensils, napkins, paper towells, baggies water bottles...think about it.. the list goes on.... But chances are, even though you are buying those on a weekly or monthly basis, you already have a closet full of real towells, real plates, real cups, real utensils..... why to we keep buying them again and again just to throw them away? .. Again, don't get me wrong .. I'm a realist.. some days you just NEED a paper plate dinner, I'm just saying keep them away from the kitchen so if it's not one of those days, you aren't tempted to use them... It's better for the environment and your wallet! :). Keep them on hand for just in cases, but make them last by only using them when you need to :). -- It's worth investing in sandwich size Tupperware and little containers for snacks for the kiddos.. you only buy them once! I know what you must be thinking ...... Oh man.. I don't have time to be doing dishes all of the time - just change your mindset- you have a choice on each dollar that comes your way, you can either spend it, or save it.
Okay, this next one is going to sound a little crazy... and maybe it is.. maybe it's not.. BUT I am willing to do what ever it takes to make the money we already have work. I make bread each week (I'll post the recipe soon). I go through bread bags and twist ties like crazy. Now I just wash them really well when I'm finished, set them out to dry and fold them back up for the next time :) - I also make my own mixes and put them in baggies: waffles, oatmeal, muffins. You can just store them so much easier in the baggies and I need my tupperware for other things.... so, I just save all of the baggies and do the same thing.. wash them out and re use them. - I remember going to a friends house when I was younger and I must've been eating over or something because I went to there silverware drawer and found a bunch of plastic utensils .... if you can wash them, do. Some days are rough and it feels good to throw them away and not worry about it, but if you can do.. then the next time you're having a bbq you can use clean ones and get another use out of them before you throw them away... (I know, I know, weird .. but who cares? I'm not caring anymore what other people think! I just want to keep my job.. a stay at home mom.. and a husband that gets to come home at night.. we will live within our means, WHAT EVER that means. :)
Couponing is excellent and you can save LOADS of money! There are a few.. disclaimers though...one... if you wouldn't normally buy it - DON'T. Don't even cut it out. - The next one is the important one. If you aren't making enough to make ends meet right now... this is not the time to be stock piling. You are in survival mode and should ONLY be buying the things you absolutely need. Couponing has the tendency to make you concentrate on purchasing, not saving. You do save, but even though you got 12 body washes for the price of 4, you could've used the extra 5-10 bucks you spent getting the 12 bottles you wouldn't need for a while on the fruits and vegetables that your family needs NOW. Again, this is if you are in "survival" mode, if you have a little extra, by all means! Build your storage! That is so important too :). I do know how to coupon and for those who aren't in survival mode, I will do a post on "how to coupon" a little later :).
This next one is the one I'm working on right now and I'm amazed at how much it has helped. It's hard.. but hard is OKAY. :)...... Make an entire MONTH of meal plans and stick to it. Go to and do all of your shopping except for produce for the entire month in one day. This saves on time, gas and if you are anything like how I tend to be.... you know, you make the list.. but then end up getting everything on your list and a handful or two of other things you see while you are there... so you save a TON of money as well. Staying home will also open up a TON of time to make things from scratch and spend good time with your kiddos. :) - SO - Make a detailed list of what you need, take inventory and make sure you won't run out of toothpaste, shampoo, toilet paper, diapers, and get it all in one shabang! Then, you can have your husband pick up the produce you will need for the week on his way home. I promise, if you can do this, you will save SO much. Those small impulses that add up will be gone!
Mike is selling his car and he will be taking the bus. His car was paid off and got like 45 mpg, he has to get an express pass which is pretty pricey, but we would STILL be saving money with gas, repairs, oil changes and insurance! Imagine what it could save if you had a payment and were only getting 25 mpg or less! With some of the money from the car, we are going to get a new bike for him to ride to the bus stop. - He'll get his exercise in, he'll get to read his scriptures on the way, or any book for that matter and he will be to work and home at the same time every day!! Doesnt' that sound fabulous? In the winter, he'll most likely take the van to the bus stop (It's about 5 miles away) but if I'm only going grocery shopping once a month, I don't need the car very often, and if I know I will need it, I can take him to the bus stop in the morning, it will be hard to get the kids up, but for the few times a month it will actually happen and the money will be saving, it will be worth it! Hard is good. :) We can do hard things! :) The more we try to take control the better life seems it will get. :)
We are keeping a gas/mileage log. We decided how much money a month I could spend on gas, did the math and figured how many miles a day I can drive. Taking shopping out of the routine (I would go 2-3 times a week.. I KNOW) I can save up my miles and basically go every where I was going before and still be within the budget :) For example. I can drive 20 miles a day and round trip mileage to my parents house is 42 miles. So, if I wanted to, I could go there every other day... this does not make me feel stuck! :) - If I wanted to take the kids to Salt Lake to walk around the temple, I can work it in and make it happen :).... It just feels like I have more control over the situation. :)
Consider wants and needs. I know, I know, it's nothing new, but obviously we all have a problem with it. I'm a pro at justifying just about everything. For example. Last year when we moved into our home, we had money set aside to put in our yard... well, one unexpected expense after like a million... we couldn't... so, again we did the same thing for this year and it again, life happened. - So! We need to put our front yard in so we don't' get fined, the backyard.. as much as I have been dreaming about it will have to wait until next year. Mike did all of the sprinkler system designing and installation, we are spreading the topsoil ourselves and actually seeding it ourselves..... 2500 dollars on the low side for sawd, about 700 dollars for hydro seeding, about 60-100 dollars to seed it yourself. It may take more time to grow in and we'll have to seed bare spots in fall and spring (probably another 20 bucks) BUT, it's okay to be patient. I'd rather have my husband at home at night and be with my kids in the day and to keep our credit cards at their zero balance.
We NEED clothes. Last month I swallowed my pride and went shopping at the DI. I found the CUTEST clothes for Sammy and Claire and they were like 1.00 each. I like things new, fresh and in style, but my kids don't care what I am wearing and they couldn't care less what they are wearing... but we still lucked out and found really nice like new things for both of them. When our kids look back to their early childhood, they aren't going to remember the details of the things they had, especially clothes, but they will remember when we spent time with them and when we let them "paint" the bread dough with butter and when we turned cleaning into a sing/dance party...... if you have the money to buy new and even expensive, great!! I'm just sayin' keep it real! :)
A few months ago I bought clippers (or what ever they are called) so I can cut Sammy's hair myself. I was spending 15 dollars every month and a half and half of the time he looked shabby because his hair got so long so fast.... so.. I tried cutting it myself... all I can say is thank goodness he won't remember that first haircut... it was .. well. a mess. But the 2nd one was FABULOUS and he doesn't get shabby anymore because I can just do it my self. Stick him in a booster, turn on his favorite movie and give him a sucker - wa-la! I paid the clippers off in 2 cuts..... now I just need to get Mike to let me cut his hair! :0) hehehe... He wants me to get a little more practice in~
I stopped spending 100 dollars on my hair and spent 6.99 on a great clips cut. I know that's daring and I have had some bad cuts from there... SO- you have a few bad cuts until you find someone you like.. but then you find someone you like and you are only spending 7 bucks. It's worth it. ---- My sisters in law are so talented! They've set up a "trade" system where one is a great hair stylist and the other is a great digital scrapbooker. Camille keeps on Crista's hair and Crista keeps up on Camille's scrapbooking! Take advantage of your talents! :)
You can make anything you want from scratch. I make my own bread, crackers, bagels, muffins, cakes, baby food, frozen meals, beans, raisin bran, granola, ..the list goes on... I have recipes for laundry detergent (20 dollars for a year supply! can't beat that) dishwasher soap, body wash, etc..... I haven't tried them yet as I am still stocked from my couponing days... but I'll let you know how it goes! ------ Did you know you can use distilled vinegar as a rinsing agent in your dishwasher instead of jet dry? I've tried that one and it totally works!
Take advantage of city events! They are usually free and they are all through out the summer! Fireworks, parades, concerts, movies at the park.. the list goes on.
O blast.. my fifteen minutes has turned into about 25, so I had better go :) - These are just a few ideas to get your minds spinning, I have so many more, but not the time. I'd like to hear what you do as well!
Again - don't be discouraged - Think of this as liberation. Closer to self reliance.. not relying on the stores, or credit card companies... You CAN do this. It just takes a shift in thinking and then it is exciting :)