6 Things We Rarely Spend Money On

6 Things

Recently, I wrote a post on 6 Things Our Family Has Chosen to Splurge On. This post was one of the most-read posts I’ve shared the past few months and many of you asked if I could do a follow-up post listing things we don’t spend money on.

So, today I present you with the flipside post — 6 things we rarely spend money on:

1. Kid’s Clothes

I’m constantly asked how we save money on kid’s clothes and, to be honest, this is an area where we keep things really simple. My kids could care less about brand names right now.

They do have their own unique styles, but they willingly wear pretty much whatever I find for them on used clothing sites or through online deals. In fact, I can’t remember them really ever complaining about not having certain kinds of clothes.

It probably helps that we homeschool (i.e. they don’t feel left out or less than that they don’t have whatever is the current “hit item” or “hot must-have” item that everyone at school is wearing/talking about). I think it also helps that Jesse and I both are really simplistic when it comes to clothes and we wear the same things over and over again. So they pretty much follow suit.

6 Things We Rarely Spend Money On

{A few of Kaitlynn’s favorite pieces from our free Schoola order!}

So the truth is: in the past two years, we’ve gotten most of our kid’s clothes used from Thred Up and Schoola using credit that I’ve earned by sharing deals here.

You might be thinking that that’s not really fair since I do have a blog that a lot of people read and you don’t have a blog. Well, I bet you have some mom friends who would be excited about the current deal from Schoola where they can get $15 in FREE credit + FREE shipping just by signing up.

Sign up and share your referral link with friends and they can get free clothes shipped for free and you can get $15 in free credit for every person who signs up and orders! Score!

We also sometimes use our Amazon gift cards earned through Swagbucks to supplement kid’s clothes purchases — especially if I’m not able to find the right size, etc. on ThredUp or Schoola.

6 Things We Rarely Spend Money On

2. Snack Foods

Other than tortilla chips and Greek yogurt or yogurt tubes, we buy very little other prepared snack food. Instead, we usually make our own snack foods.

Some of our favorite quick and easy snacks are cheese quesadillas, popcorn, Energy Bites, hardboiled eggs, and fruit. I also try to have at least a few snack items pre-made and frozen all the time — whether that’s muffins, Banana Bread, burritos, cookies, or Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches.

We save a lot of money by eating mostly homemade snack foods. And as a side benefit, homemade is almost always healthier, too.

6 Things We Rarely Spend Money On

3. Professional Pictures

Confession time: We almost never get professional photos taken. I know, I know, that probably makes me a “bad mom” by some people’s standards, but it’s just never been a priority to us.

We do take lots of pictures and I try to document our daily lives on this blog, on Instagram, and on pictures I save on my computer. I prefer the real-life pictures that show some of the mess and chaos over staged pictures in a studio.

The few times we’ve gotten professional pictures done, it’s been so. much. work to get everyone looking presentable and smiling in pictures. The whole experience felt exhausting.

Plus, I’ve not really been too happy with the final results. So, for now, I’m just happy to mostly stick with taking pictures on my own camera and phone.

6 Things We Rarely Spend Money On

4. Nice Dinners Out

We budget for eating out once a week — which is definitely a luxury but something that we really enjoy. However, it’s usually an inexpensive meal at Chili’s, Chipotle, Cracker Barrel, or Chick-fil-A.

I can’t think of a time when we’ve taken the kids to a fancy restaurant and Jesse and I usually only going to a nice restaurant maybe once or twice a year, if that.

I’d rather stretch our eating out money as far as possible, instead of spending it all on one dinner every other month. :)

6 Things We Rarely Spend Money On

5. Movie Tickets

Going to the theater to see a movie is also a very rare occurrence in our family. I’d say we probably take the kids to 1-2 movies per year and Jesse and I probably go see one ourselves maybe once a year.

Some of the reason is that it’s expensive, some of the reason is that Jesse and I don’t get babysitters very often, and some of the reason is that we’re so picky about movies that it’s hard to find a movie we think would be worth seeing in the theaters.

Plus, while I love good movies, I usually find it more relaxing to enjoy them all snuggled up together on our L-shaped couch with blankets and popcorn. And when it cost us pretty much zero out of pocket to do so (thanks to free Redbox codes, free Amazon Prime movies, and other shows that are available free online), it just always seems like a better option than going to the theater.

6 Things We Rarely Spend Money On

The last movie I saw in the theater was Unbroken and that one was definitely worth paying to see in the theater.

6. Household Furnishings

You all know how minimalistic I am at heart and how much I just plain don’t care when it comes to furniture and decor. I mean, I like clean and uncluttered and I like fresh flowers, but other than that, I care much more about functionality and practicality than I do about how nice something looks.

So over the years, we’ve spent very, very little on home furnishings. The majority of our furnishings have come from Craigslist or have been given to us.

We have kids and we live here all day, every day, so wear and tear is inevitable. Because we’ve paid very little out of pocket for most of our furnishings, I don’t have to worry about something getting ruined or stained or ripped or nicked.

6 Things We Rarely Spend Money On

What about YOUR family? What are some things you rarely spend money on? I’d love to hear your list!

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6 Ways We’re Keeping Our Grocery Budget Low — Without Using Coupons

6 Ways We're Keeping Our Grocery Budget Low Without Using Coupons

So, I figure it’s high time I let you in on something that’s changed for us this past year. Some of you have probably already guessed this was the case. Some of you might be shocked and disappointed.

But regardless, I need to come clean about it. Because I don’t want you to assume something is the case when it isn’t.

So here’s the truth: I’ve basically not clipped or used any coupons on groceries this past year.

Nope. Nada. Zilch.

I had slowly been easing out of “extreme couponing” the past few years as life picked up its pace, we baby-stepped our way to fewer processed foods, and I fell madly in love with Aldi.

Then we moved to TN and lost our wonderful full-time assistant/babysitter. I had every intention of getting back into couponing, but with all of the transition and processing involved in moving + writing another book, Jesse ended up taking over most of the grocery shopping and cooking for us.

I would have never seen my husband as someone who would rock out as a chef (when we got married, I’m not even sure that he knew how to make toast!), but the guy has taken to the kitchen like white on rice.

In fact, he now runs circles around me when it comes to recipes. He loves experimenting with new ingredients and spices and he finds great delight in cooking things that require many pans and steps… which is the complete opposite of me!

6 Ways We're Keeping Our Grocery Budget Low

As a result, we more than doubled our grocery budget and we eat much healthier. However, we’ve still found many ways to keep our grocery budget relatively low without using coupons and while eating a diet comprised of lots of quality, whole foods.

I’ve been surprised and excited that we’re able to eat very healthfully for our family of 5 and only spend an average of $100 to $120 per week.

Here’s what’s working for us:

1. Shop at Aldi

I know I’ve sung the praises of Aldi over and over again, but I cannot help but include them on this list. When Jesse first started doing the shopping, I encouraged him to try doing most of the shopping at Aldi and then just shopping at Kroger for anything he couldn’t get at Aldi.

It took a few weeks of suggesting it, but he finally tried it. And he came home all stoked exclaiming, “I saved SO much money by shopping at Aldi!”

He’s now a diehard Aldi fan. Which is just one more reason to love him all the more. :)

6 Ways We're Saving Money on Groceries Without Using Coupons

Aldi has introduced so many new features and products in the last few years, including gluten-free foods, organic foods, and more. If you have an Aldi nearby, I cannot stress enough how much you need to go check them out. Just do it and maybe soon you’ll be singing their praises along with us!

2. Keep It Simple

While Jesse continues to add in new recipes to our weekly rotation, we still keep a lot of things very simple.

Breakfast is usually oatmeal, bacon & eggs, or cereal. Lunch is often sandwiches or leftovers. Dinner is usually just a main dish and veggies of some sort. Sometimes, we’ll throw in a side of fruit or sweet potatoes, too, but we’re good with just having a few options at dinner time. It saves time and money — and makes for less food waste.


3. Eat Up Your Leftovers

Speaking of food waste, one thing we work hard to do is to use up leftovers or to re-use leftovers in a creative fashion. We’ll often have leftovers for lunch and, if there are quite a few different leftovers, we’ll serve a Leftover Smorgasbord for dinner one night.

Our philosophy: why make new food when you have food still in the fridge waiting to be used up? Save yourself cooking time and money and eat that instead. :)

4. Make Things From Scratch

We don’t buy many boxed or canned foods these days. We slowed weaned ourselves off of them over the past few years and now we not only love homemade so much more, it also saves us money.

Plus, since we keep our means simple and Jesse and I both help out with the kitchen/cooking, it really doesn’t take a lot of extra time to make things from scratch.

6 Ways We Keep Our Grocery Budget Low

5. Cook With Inexpensive Ingredients

As I mentioned earlier, we keep food pretty simple. We do buy higher quality ingredients, but we stick to recipes that use (mostly!) inexpensive ingredients — and mostly ones that can be purchased from Aldi.

We eat a lot of eggs, sweet potatoes, oats, fruits and veggies that are in season, beans, chicken, and some beef and pork. Those are the basic staples that many of our meals include. Jesse does branch out and try new recipes, but he usually only buys a few new ingredients every week. The rest of the ingredients are things we may already have on hand or things that we routinely buy at Aldi.

6 Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill

6. Pay for Specialty Foods With Swagbucks

We do buy a few specialty ingredients — such as protein powder, Trim-Healthy-Mama approved sweeteners, and olive oil — and we get these with Amazon using gift cards earned through Swagbucks. It’s a great way to be able to afford a few of those high-quality ingredients we love to use in recipes.

6 Ways We're Keeping Our Grocery Budget Low Without Using Coupons

How do YOU keep your grocery budget low?

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“How we’re living for just $200 per month — all summer long!”

How we're living for just $200 per month

I’ve been so inspired by Lori from Moms By Heart over the years. Her post today on how their family of seven is paying for housing, utilities, water, garbage, cable, and internet for just $200 per month is really impressive.

Read her post all about how they are making RV living work for them and how they made the transition to this lifestyle over the past few years.

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How a Family of 4 Happily Lives in 700 Sq. Ft. Home


After I posted the guest post on Why I Like My Smaller House, Roni left a comment talking about how their family of 4 lives in a 650-square-foot home. I was intrigued and asked if she’d do a post on it sometime.

I loved the post she put together giving us a very thorough walk-through of their small home and how they make it work. It’s inspiring and if you are currently living in a small space or you are thinking of downsizing to a smaller space, be sure to read it here.

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