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100 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year – Part 4

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Here are just a few more ways we've saved at least $100 per year:

17) Switch to cloth diapers. When my husband was in law school and we had our first child, I was wondering how on earth we were going to afford to pay for diapers. This was a year or so before I discovered CVS and I was still learning how to stockpile and we had a very meager budget to work with (think $17-$30 to spend on groceries and household items each week). 

God has always been faithful to provide for us, though, and one of those ways He provided was through some friends giving us a whole stash of Fuzzi Bunz cloth diapers shortly after our daughter was born. Once I'd used up the disposable diapers we'd received as gifts, I switched over to cloth diapers exclusively.

Since we didn't pay for the diapers, we mostly definitely saved much more than $100 for the two years our daughter was in diapers. However, from the calculations I've done, if we had invested in them ourselves, I'm still quite sure we would have saved at least $100 per year–even if I were buying diapers on sale with a coupon. And if you use the cloth diapers for more than one child, the savings really can multiply.

If you are interested in reading more on cloth diapering, go here and here.

18) Buy contacts online. If you're like me and you much prefer to wear contacts as opposed to glasses, you can save a bundle of money by ordering your contacts online instead of buying them from your eye doctor. In fact, by using the tips I've learned below, you'll likely save somewhere between 20-60% off what you would usually pay at your eye doctor.

Almost every brand of contact is available online. I've purchased contacts through VisionDirect.com as well as 1800Contacts.com. Their prices are pretty comparable, but each site seems to have a little bit of variation in what they carry and the specials they offer.

When checking out prices online, be sure to consult RetailMeNot.com or another such online coupon code site to determine what specials and coupon offers are available for that particular online store. You can usually save at least an additional 10-15% off by using an online coupon code when you checkout.

In addition to finding the site which has the lowest price when
using an online coupon code, also make sure and purchase your contacts
through your eBates link so you'll get a little cash back for your
purchase.

Note: In order to order contacts online, all you will need is an
up-to-date prescription. The online site will not process your order if
they can't verify with your eye doctor that your prescription is valid.

19)
Skip grocery shopping every 5-6 weeks and challenge yourself to use
what you have on hand and put the extra money into savings.
This is something we routinely do, as many of you probably have picked up on from following along with my Super Savings Saturday posts or my Eating From the Pantry Challenge this week.

If you are regularly stocking up on items you'll use over the next few weeks or months when they are at their lowest price, it should be relatively easy to take a week off from grocery shopping once a month or once every other month. In fact, you may find it's almost a necessity to do so in order to wisely use what you have on hand!

And just think, if you regularly spend $50 on groceries per week, taking a week off from shopping once every other month will save you $300 per year!

If you missed the first parts of this series, you can read them here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

photo by Refracted Moments

Eating From The Pantry Challenge: Day 2

It's day 12 of not stepping foot in a grocery store and it's day 2 of our Eating From The Pantry Challenge.

Here's what we ate today:

Breakfast: Baked Oatmeal with frozen strawberries and milk (Recipe is here–this is so easy to throw together the night before and stick in the refrigerator to bake in the morning for a delicious hot and fresh breakfast!)

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Lunch: Scrambled eggs and hashbrowns with cheese, whole-wheat toast with butter, apple slices

Snack: Quaker Rice Snacks

Dinner: Stir Fry over brown rice (concocted with some fresh veggies I needed to use up)

If you're eating from your pantry this week, I'd love to hear what was on your menu today!

Guest Post: How to Save Money When Eating Out

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photo by josef stuefer

Guest Post by Jennifer from Joy Ever After

One of our favorite things to do as a family is eat out. No cooking and
no dishes–what recreation! However, there is a problem when there is
also no money. We have learned some tips and tricks on spending less when we go to a restaurant.

::Know the specials. Many restaurants offer specials on certain days. For example, a barbecue restaurant in our area is giving $4 off a combo meal on Mondays through April. A few other restaurants have "Kids Eat Free" nights. Sometimes all it takes to save a significant amount is to read the white board as you enter the restaurant. Beware though, because sometimes those are just "features" from their regular menu at the regular price.

::Look for coupons. Several restaurants offer Buy One, Get One Free coupons in the newspaper. If yours doesn't, it might be worth it to buy an Entertainment Book for your area or an area you are vacationing in. These have many restaurants from fine dining to fast food with Buy One, Get One offers or 50% off.

::Share meals. I have grown tired of ordering two kids' meals only to have them both picked at and basically wasted. Sure, I can finish the food, but is that really saving the money?

Unless a meal is very small or the kids are unusually hungry, I split one between them. This can also work for my husband and me if a meal is large. Some restaurants offer smaller portion meals as well. One family I know buys a large meal at Cracker Barrel, orders one extra side and splits it between their four children. This is much cheaper per person than four individual kids' meals or even splitting two kids' meals.

::Skip drinks, dessert, and appetizers. This is a tough one if you are "celebrating", but ordering water and saying "No, thank you" when asked if you want an appetizer or dessert can knock $4-10 (or more) off your bill.

::Go out only for an appetizer or dessert. The exception to the previous rule is if that is all you are ordering. Of course it's much cheaper to buy coffee and a piece of pie than a full dinner or to replace the dinner with an appetizer portion. The latter option is healthier, too, providing you stay away from the deep-fried onion rings!

::Save "fancy" restaurants for special occasions. We budget a maximum of $35 for our family of 5 when we go out to eat. This includes the tip and everything.

Obviously, this cuts out some restaurants. Our rule of thumb is to avoid restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages. Even if you don't drink, you are paying in some way for their liquor license since the whole menu is generally higher.

::Join all the birthday clubs. For my latest birthday, I got free ice cream, free coffee, and two free entree coupons at two different restaurants. I didn't even have time to take advantage of all of them. Signing up for these "birthday clubs" is easy online or inquire about them at your favorite restaurant. (Go here for a list of freebies you can score on your birthday.)

::Go to buffets. These are great when your children are small because all you have to do is buy two adult meals and everyone gets as much as they want to eat.

::Combine savings tips. Here's a scenario we've done before: Saturday is kid's night at Denny's. We got the Buy One, Get One Free coupon in the paper. We ordered full kids' meals for the kids, two entrees for us and drinks (if we were really on a tight budget, we could have skipped the drinks). By getting the kids' meals free on top of using a Buy One, Get One Free coupon for the adult meals, we ended up paying less than half of what our bill would have been.

Important note: remember to always tip on the full amount you would have paid before the specials and coupons, though. Your
server does not do less work when you use savings strategies.

::Do it less. This is perhaps the toughest and most helpful tip of all. If you are accustomed to going out three times a week, cut it down to once. If you usually go out once a week, go every other week, and so on. You'll find when you do go out, you'll enjoy it a lot more.

Jennifer Self has been married to her best friend, Jeff, for almost ten
years and is mommy to three little blessings, Jessica (6), Jeffery (3) and
Jerrod (6 mos.). She blogs to encourage Christian women in
their roles as wives and mothers at www.joyeverafter.blogspot.com.

From Crystal: How do you save money when eating out? I'd love to hear your tricks and tips!

Eating From The Pantry Challenge: Day 1

Day 1 of our Eating From The Pantry Challenge is almost over with. So far, it's been 11 days since I've been to the grocery store. Think I can make it for another 4 days? We'll see.

Here's what we ate today:

Breakfast: Grape Nuts and milk, apple slices

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Lunch: Leftovers, whole wheat bagels with peanut butter and jelly, carrot sticks

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Snack: Warm Delights Minis with Breyer's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream (Yum! We got some samples of these in the mail awhile back and we needed a pick-me-up this afternoon so I pulled these out to make and eat during our afternoon read-aloud time. Needless to say, the girls were more than thrilled!)

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Just-made pizza ready to stick in the oven!

Dinner: Homemade Veggie and Cheese Pizza, cucumber slices

And we'll likely have an after-dinner snack of popcorn.

If you're eating from your pantry this week, I'd love to hear what you served today!

Menu Plan Monday: Eating From The Pantry Challenge

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I ended up not going grocery shopping at all last week and while we're getting low on some basic supplies, I decided it would be fun to challenge myself to see if we could go another five days without going to the grocery store. So welcome to the Eating From The Pantry Challenge!

My personal rules for this challenge are that I cannot dig into the After-the-Baby Freezer Stash and I also must try to use up as many odds and ends as possible. In addition, I'm going to try to come up with fairly balanced and nutritious meals, though they might be a little different and less-varied than our normal fare.

I'll be blogging what we eat each day, along with pictures and maybe even some recipes. My hope is that we not only make it until Friday of this week without hitting the grocery store, but also that this challenge to myself might inspire you to stretch what you already have a little farther or be more creative with what you have on hand.

Sometimes it's so easy to become accustomed to going to the store every week (or multiple times per week!) that we aren't as good of stewards with what we already have in our cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer. This can not only lead to waste, but unnecessary expenditures.

To aid me in coming up with meals for this week, I made up a list of meal ideas to work from based upon things we have in our cupboards, freezer, and refrigerator which need to be used up. We may or may not use all of these this week, but they will certainly serve as a springboard for ideas.

Here's the potential ideas list:

Breakfast Ideas:
Baked Oatmeal
Cream of Wheat
Pumpkin Waffles
Organic toaster pastries
Biscuits and gravy
French Toast
Bagels

Lunch Ideas:
Grilled cheese sandwiches
Baked potatoes
Shrimp
Beans and rice
Egg salad sandwiches
PB & J sandwiches
Leftovers

Dinners:
Stirfry
Steak
BBQ Beef sandwiches
Spinach rice and cheese casserole
Lasagna
Cheese and veggie pizza

Stay tuned for the daily scoop on what I concoct using what we have on hand! For more menu ideas, check out Organizing Junkie.

Super Savings Saturday: Saving by enjoying and using what we already have

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We haven't gone shopping yet this week. Instead, we've been busy finishing up all the cooking and baking for our After-The-Baby Freezer Stash (it's done and our freezers are stuffed plum full!), finishing up the final preparations for Baby coming, and spending lots of special family time together.

The girls and I have also been enjoying a number of books we've gotten free, thanks to PaperBackSwap. Have I mentioned recently just how much I love that service? We're building our children's library for practically free thanks to PBS!

While it's great to snag bargains on items you need, some weeks it's nice to just stay home and enjoy what you already have. Meredith has a great post up on Simple Mom today which reminded me of just that.

Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save in other ways? If so, be
sure to post about them on your blog and leave your link below. Please
remember that this weekly round-up is to share deals you personally got
this week and/or money you were able to save this week. Links which do
not specifically relate to this will be deleted. Also, to make it easy
for everyone to navigate quickly through
the links, your link must link directly to your Super Savings Saturday
post.