52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Stay Home More {Week 51}

Stay Home More

Every week for 52 weeks, I’m sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

My number one tip for keeping things simple and saving money is to stay home more. Staying home is one of the easiest ways to have more time, spend less money, accumulate less clutter, and well, to plain just live a less frantic lifestyle.

Staying Home = More Time

A lot of times I’m asked how I get so much done. Let me tell you, I’m no wonder woman, but I do know that one of my “secrets” to efficiency is that I stay home a lot.

I love quiet days at home and I find that we function best when we have at least a few days every week where we are home all day. It’s not always possible for this to happen every single week, but I do my best to make it a priority that we have at least 1-2 full days at home every single week.

I’ve purposely said “no” to a multitude of outside activities and opportunities because I know that running around with three children not only wears me out, it is a surefire way for me to spend more money (i.e. trips through the fast-food lane while we’re out, swinging by to check out a sale I see signs for when I don’t really need anything, or ordering carry out for dinner because I’m exhausted and didn’t have time to make anything for dinner) and get less done. It’s just not worth it, folks.

Now, am I saying you need to cut out every outside activity and commitment and never step foot outside your doorstep? No. What I am encouraging you to do is to carefully evaluate all outside commitments and see if there are some that are really necessities or if they are just cluttering up your life for no good reason.

Save Money By Staying Home More

Staying Home = Fewer Expenses

It’s pretty much always true that the less you shop, the less you buy. Stay out of the stores and you won’t be tempted to purchase things you didn’t know you needed in the first place!

Challenge yourself to stop spending money for a period of time — whether that’s a day, a week, a month, or longer. {Well, start small if this is a brand-new idea to you!} You’ll likely find that you begin to have a whole new appreciation for what you already have… and you’ll realize that you spend a lot more money than you need to.

When you think that you need to buy a replacement or just something new altogether, see how long you can make do without it. I’ve sometimes gone for years without replacing something that I once that was a must-have!

When you feel like you “don’t have anything to wear”, shop your closet before going shopping at the mall. See if you can come up with some new outfit combinations that you hadn’t put together before. It will feel like you went shopping — and you didn’t leave your house or spend any money.

Not only are you less tempted to spend money on things when you don’t go out shopping, but you’ll also spend less money on gas and have less wear and tear on your vehicle. It’s a win all around!

Staying Home = Less Clutter

One of the nice side effects of shopping so rarely is that we don’t have a lot of clutter. In fact, some would probably think our home looks really bare, but I’d much rather have only things we need, use, and love taking up residence in our home, than to have our rooms bulging with stuff we don’t need, haven’t used in a long time, and don’t like in the first place.

And when you have less clutter, you don’t need as much space and you will save money by being more organized.

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I want to end this post by sharing a post I wrote back in 2008 on how much I learned from our law school years when we didn’t have money to spend and I spent almost all day, every day at home:

A lot of you know that my husband and I spent the first three and half years of our marriage with him in law school and us living on a part-time income. We never went hungry and we always had a roof over our head and clothes to wear, but it was a very lean time.

During those years, we lived in a little basement apartment that only had four windows on one side. I could plug the vacuum cleaner into one outlet and vacuum the entire apartment without ever switching outlets.

We only had one old vehicle almost the entire law school tenure and Jesse usually used it for transportation from work and school. We knew hardly anyone in town we lived in–in spite of many efforts to try and make friends–and there were really not any safe places I could walk to from our apartment.

It would have been easy to have been swallowed up in despair and I won’t pretend there weren’t moments when I felt sorry for myself or wished we could be living in a little better circumstances. However, I decided, with God’s help, to try and make the most of what might seem like a less-than-ideal situation.

Maybe we didn’t have money to go out, but I challenged myself to think up creative ways we could still have fun without spending money. We’d check out a movie from the library and have homemade pizza. In the winter, we’d brew some coffee, pop some popcorn, and play a board game. Sometimes, we’d go to the park with a picnic or we’d browse the book selection at Barnes and Noble.

We didn’t have money to spend on decorating our home, but I still found ways to make it homey and inviting. For starters, I tried to always keep it clean and clutter-free–even if it wasn’t very pretty, at least it could smell nice and look clean! We tried to have music playing in the background and that always spruced up a rather bare home, too.

We couldn’t afford fancy foods or restaurant meals, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t eat well. I had fun trying new recipes, searching out good deals, and stretching our grocery budget as far as possible. I discovered AllRecipes.com and enjoyed using their ingredient search feature to come up with new recipes to use what I already had on hand.

Instead of going out and buying things, I’d go to the library and check out a stack of books. Sometimes we’d check out CD’s too, so we’d have new music to play in our home throughout the week.

It was also in this little basement apartment that I first began blogging and tinkering around with online entrepreneurial things. Had it not been for the free time and lack of friends, I would have never even considered pursuing blogging or had the time to learn about basic web design, online marketing, or producing an ebook or ecourse. Little did I dream that in a few years, those same skills would allow me to help supplement our family’s income by doing something I very much enjoy while keeping my priorities as a wife and mother first and foremost.

And guess what? It was holed up in this little basement apartment with sometimes only $20 to spare for groceries for the week that I was searching grocery deals online and came upon this store called CVS that everyone in a now-defunct savings forum was raving about. I could never have imagined what that simple search would uncover for me that day, nor how many thousands of other individuals I’d have the opportunity to introduce to CVS, as well!

Yes, living in that little basement apartment in an unfamiliar town barely squeaking by financially would never have been something I would have chosen for myself, but I’ll always be grateful God allowed me those three and half years of learning to be content, learning to love simplicity, and learning to make the most of what I had.  And I hope I never forget those lessons.

A cheerful attitude can go a long way in less-than-ideal situations; you can either complain about the thorns or you can savor the roses which bloom in the midst of those thorns. Choose to bloom where you’re planted–even if it seems like it’s among thorns!

How does staying home more save you money? I’d love to hear!

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52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Eat From the Pantry {Week 50}

Eat From the Pantry Challenge

Every week for 52 weeks, I’m sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

One very simple way to save money is to skip shopping for a week or two and use what you already have on hand. We call this Eating From the Pantry at our house and it’s something we try to do at least once a quarter.

Here’s how it works for us:

Make It a Game

Instead of approaching eating from the pantry as a difficult thing, we make it a game on occasion to see how long we can survive without going to the store. When you view it as a fun challenge, it makes it exciting and interesting. And it can help bolster your spirits when you find yourself eating some rather interesting meals. :)

Set a Goal

Set a goal not only for how long you’re going to try to go without stepping foot into a store, but also set a goal for what you’re going to do with the money saved. Maybe you’ll put it toward paying off some debt, or use it to pay cash for an item you’ve been saving for, or even put it toward your Vacation Savings fund.

You could also consider donating the money to charity — which can give a lot of extra purpose to this challenge!

Inventory Your Supplies

Look through your cupboard, refrigerator, and freezer to see what you already have on hand. Dig really deep and make sure you’re pulling out all the possibilities.

Once you’ve inventoried what you have on hand, use the ingredient search feature on AllRecipes.com to get some recipe ideas for using up what you have in your pantry. I love that you can type in what you have on hand and what you don’t have on hand and it will generate a list of recipe ideas for you!

Go For It!

Once you’ve set a goal and inventoried your supplies, it’s time to dive right in and start using up what you have on hand and staying away from the grocery store.

And remember: even if you end up breaking down and going to the store before you your goal date, you’ve still saved money and used up a lot of what you already had on hand. Also, you probably learned some valuable lessons in the process — or at least were challenged and stretched in your creativity a little. :)

Eatin From the Pantry Challenge

My Friend Kelly wrote a guest post on her family’s one-month experiment with Eating from the Pantry and the lessons they learned back in 2010. Here’s part of the post:

At the end of November, I embarked on my own challenge to clean out my pantry and freezer. I am proof it can be done even if you’re not a master baker or planner. If this pantry month seems too difficult let’s start with a new perspective.

This is not a challenge, it’s an adventure! Adventures are fun and exciting, full of surprises and exploration. Here’s just a taste of what you might learn on this adventure:

Re-discover Creativity

Remember the days when an empty plastic container and cardboard from the paper towels could entertain you for hours? Or times in college when you made pasta in the coffee pot and grilled cheese sandwiches with an iron?

It’s time to get creative again! Whether it’s breakfast for dinner to finish up some pancake mix, using stale bread for croutons, or finding substitutes, cooking is about enjoying the process and breaking out of the mundane.

Creativity comes when you have seventeen cans of tuna and need a new recipe. Creativity is testing new sauces on pasta and trying new recipes, ingredients, and styles of cooking.

Discover Thankfulness

As we settle into our routines, grocery shopping can become a tedious chore. Take this month to focus not on what you don’t have in the pantry but what you do. Instead of focusing on the deals you might miss, enjoy the ones you found already! It’s simple to grab chili on sale and celebrate a great deal but it’s a little harder to make chili and cornbread or chili on a baked potato three times a week to use it up.

Look at all the opportunities we have to buy food and utilize discounts, coupons, and rewards. It’s easy to take that for granted. When was the last time your family gave thanks for having a local grocery store, fresh produce, and the funds to pick up a treat or two?

Discover Usefulness

Once you embark on the Eat From the Pantry “Adventure”, try a little trick I call ‘spelunking.’ Simply dig through your stock and find something you can use in place of going to the store. Crunchy salad toppers can be used in soup. Top macaroni and cheese with the last tablespoons of bread crumbs. Turn mushy apples into applesauce and juice into popsicles.

Try Amy Dacyczyn’s Universal Casserole Recipe. Or, if you get stuck without an “essential” ingredient this site on substitutions is one of the easiest to reference.

I know my great grandmothers would be ashamed to see the amount of food I let spoil each week. They didn’t waste; the mantra was to ”use it up!” In that spirit during my Pantry Month I rescued a ham from the work potluck that was to be thrown away. Ham omelets, sandwiches, added to beans and soup helped stretch many meals. If you’re thinking your stock can’t possibly last 31 days give it a shot and find out how long it WILL last. The worst that can happen is you’ll find your answer.

Read the full post here.

Have you ever tried an eating from the pantry challenge? If so, how long have you gone without going to the store?

photo credit; photo credit

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YouNeedaBudget.com: Free for college students!

YouNeedaBudget.com: Free for College Students

Need some budgeting help? If you’re a college student, you can sign up for YouNeedaBudget.com for FREE right now. Here’s what they said in their blog post:

More kids are graduating from college absolutely weighed down by student debt. I don’t know what portion of their debt is avoidable, but I’m confident that if those students were following YNAB’s Four Rules, they would graduate with less debt.

Starting today, if you’re a college student (even only part-time), we’ll let you use YNAB for free while you’re in school.

How to Obtain Your Free Copy of YNAB

  1. Write to us at support@youneedabudget.com and include proof of registration at your college.

  2. We’ll send you a special license key, good until the end of the calendar year.

  3. At the end of the year, just shoot us another email if you’re still cranking away on your schoolwork, and we’ll send you a new license key that’s good for the entire next year.

Find out more details here.

Many of my readers have highly recommended this program! If you’ve used this program, I’d love to have you share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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Stretching the Grocery Budget with Eggs

stretching the budget with eggs

Guest post from Tanya of  Springs Homestead

Eggs are not just for breakfast, they make great snacks and delicious dinners. Although the price of a carton of eggs has increased some; they are still cheap and healthy. Plus, they are loaded with protein and vitamins B12, A, D, and E.

If you’re looking for a simple way to stretch your grocery budget… here are some ways eggs can help you do just that!

Eggs for Breakfast

Eggs can be served in numerous ways for breakfast. There is the basic scrambled, fried, and poached. Or, if you would like to get really creative try a frittata, omelet, or soufflé.

Eggs really are a great way to start the day and there are numerous breakfast egg recipes.

Snack Time

I like to keep hard-boiled eggs in our fridge for anyone looking for a snack. They can be packed into lunch boxes for school, work, or for us on-the-go homeschool moms. Eating a hard-boiled egg after a rigorous workout can also give you that much needed protein boost.

Snack time, with eggs, can be simple, nutritious, and kind to the wallet.

Dinner with Eggs

During the spring and summer, my hens lay many eggs. In order for my family not to grow tired of eggs, I have amassed quite a collection of egg recipes. I never knew there were so many ways to serve them. Even if you are buying your eggs, these are very economical dinners.

Here is a recipe that we particularly enjoy.

What are your favorite ways to serve eggs?

Tanya married a farm boy named James and together they are restoring his family farm after 20 years of neglect. When Tanya is not homeschooling their three children or working on the farm, you can find her concocting something in the kitchen or writing on her blog  Seven Springs Homestead.

photo source

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4 Ways to Combat the Urge to Spend

4 Ways to Combat the Urge to Spend

Guest post by Jessi of The Budget Mama

Once upon a time, there was a girl, who thought she needed designer jeans, Ray Ban sunglasses, Coach purses, sports cars, and a California King size bed.

In order for her to acquire these items, she had to max out her resources. She swiped those eight different super shiny, color-coordinated credit cards like they were going out of style. She was a pro at signing her name, and at the “bill me later” game.

Oh but how the mighty have fallen. That same girl no longer drives a GT Mustang, owns a single pair of Ray Bans or a Coach purse, and no longer has room for that California King bed.

That girl had to give up all those super nice things because she was dead broke. She may have looked like a million bucks and been able to play the part well; but the truth was, she had no money.

She had accumulated over $11,000 in credit card debt alone. That was over half of her salary as an Administrative Assistant. She had to learn the hard way that there is a fine line between appearing to have money and actually having money.

That was a tough lesson, but it was a lesson learned nonetheless.

Does she regret her choice to sell off all of those fancy items to help pay back the debt? No. Did selling those hard earned items pay back all of her debt? No, she still had to work hard and throw every extra penny and tax return check at her debt to pay it all back.

I am the girl in this story, and I was dead broke at 21 with a mountain of credit card debt. I was raised in an extremely frugal household, where I got the crazy idea that I had to have designer items and huge inventory of stuff, I have no idea.

Wherever that idea came from, it has been hard to keep it out of my head.

We all want things. Maybe it is because of our society that we want so much, or maybe it is something else entirely. What matters is that you learn to control that voice that wants you to spend money you do not have.

These are the four ways I combat the urge to spend money:

  1. I carry cash with me whenever shopping and leave my debit card at home.
  2. I always make a shopping list. Even if I am going clothes shopping for my boys, I make a list of the items needed and I stick to it. In fact, I carry the list around in my hand as I am walking through the store. This keeps my mind on my list and helps keep my eyes from wondering.
  3. I remind myself that most people do not know the difference between designer and no-name brands. Would you honestly know the difference between a pair of shoes bought at Ross and a pair bought at Macy’s? Probably not.
  4. I focus on the fulfillment and freedom I receive from paying cash. Paying cash for something that you once could only afford with a credit card is a life-changing experience. I had racked up $3,000 on a credit card for furniture. Fast forward five years later; I paid $5,000 cash for new furniture. That was a very liberating experience, which I remind myself of whenever the urge to spend creeps up.

If you are fighting the debt monster, keep going. It is a long, bumpy road but it is very worth it in the end. I hope my story will encourage you on the road to becoming debt free.

Jessi is the author of the frugal lifestyle blog, The Budget Mama. She is an avid budget fanatic and dedicated to helping others reach their full financial potential. Jessi shares her real life on a budget along with DIY projects, recipes, organization, and more.

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Study finds Aldi has the lowest prices (I’m not surprised at all!)

aldi-supermarket

Business Insider posted a study citing that Aldi has the lowest prices. I’m not surprised! Here’s part of the article:

The German grocery chain Aldi has the cheapest prices compared to Wal-Mart and Kroger, according to a new study.

Cheapism, a product review site, purchased 37 items from each of the three chains’ locations in the Columbus, Ohio area to compare prices.

Aldi’s basket total came to $72.30, compared to Wal-Mart’s $85.88 basket and Kroger’s $93.73 basket. With savings available from the Kroger Plus Card, however, Kroger’s basket total dropped to $86.78.

Read the full article.

And if you’ve not shopped at Aldi yet, what are you waiting for? Read my article on how we save close to $1,000 per year by shopping at Aldi.

Thanks, Kathi!

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