Guest post from Sarah of Saving Money Never Goes Out of Style
When it comes to savings, we often spend a lot of time focusing on coupons, special sales, and the hottest deals of the week. However, some of us frugal moms know it goes much further than that! Saving money for your family isn’t just about hunting down the next deal, but about making small lifelong changes in your home.
Here are 7 simple ways to save money every day that are easy to implement into your daily life. While not all will work for every family, you’ll easily find some tips that are simple changes you won’t even notice or feel like you’re sacrificing.
1. Ditch Paper Towels
If you have kids in the house you know that paper towels can be a monthly investment. Between meals, cleaning spills, and wiping sticky hands you are throwing away a ton of money each year.
Instead of buying paper, invest in some nice cloth napkins for your kids to use at meal time. Grab some old hand towels and wash cloths and designate those for cleaning up spills.
Tip: Colorful bandanas make great color coded dinner time napkins for large families! Each person has their own color to use.
2. Turn Off & Unplug Electronics
This is a great way to save money. While the savings are small, they do add up over time. Turn off all electronics when not in use and make a habit of hitting light switches as you leave a room as well.
Go even further by unplugging in between uses, too. That toaster sitting out on your counter that is rarely used? Simply unplug it and save yourself some money.
3. Plan a Menu
Taking the time to make a menu plan will cut back on last-minute take out and wasted food. And don’t forget to utilize your slow cooker during the school year or a busy season!
By having a plan in place, you will use more of what you have on hand and cut back on extra spending. No more running to the store for that one ingredient you forgot!
4. Learn To Sew
This is a great tip for those with girls, especially. Old pillowcases, t-shirts, ladies’ dresses, or men’s shirts can all be easily revamped and tailored into dresses for little girls. Shopping the thrift shop for gently used clothes in different patterns and styles can also lead to fun new revamped ensembles with a bit of sewing.
If you’re not a seamstress, even something as simple as replacing a button instead of throwing an item out is helpful. Or, if you have a son like mine, when he blows out the knees in his jeans, you can easily make them into shorts for the next season!
5. Brown Bag It
Taking your own lunch consisting of healthy portions of leftovers or specific lunch items can really save you a lot of money over time. If you also learn to make your own snacks and gourmet coffee, you’ll significantly increase your savings.
Don’t have time to make your own snacks all the time? Buying a box of granola bars in store is far cheaper than buying a single bar from the gas station or vending machine.
Do your kids like Lunchables? Make your own! All it takes is Ritz crackers, some deli meat, and cheese singles, and you’re good to go.
6. Cook From Scratch
It may seem like it will take so much more time, but simple things like making soups and beans in a slow cooker can cost a fraction of what canned varieties do.
Grab dry beans for $1-$2 a pound and cook them in your crock pot all day. When cooked, a $1 bag of dried beans will often be the equivalent to 4-5 cans you would have purchased at $1each. Over a year’s time, that can add up to quite a bit of savings in your grocery budget.
7. Pay With Cash
Make a point of paying for things with cash. There is a lot to be said about the concept of not buying anything else for the month once you run out of cash on hand. It helps you stay within your means, and not rely on credit cards. It also gives you a chance to save that change in a piggy bank for rainy days, treats, or vacations.
No matter what your household budget is, you can easily put into place a few of these 7 simple ways to save money every day and increase the money in your pocket. These things can free up money to pay off debt, or simply help you stop living paycheck to paycheck.
What simple things do you do to save money every day?
Sarah is a stay-at-home mom of two wonderful children. From homeless to well-off, this single debt-free mom is most known for her ability to live well on $18k/year. Sarah loves encouraging others that dreams do come true if they are willing to consistently work for it. Follow her blog: Saving Money Never Goes Out of Style.
We have cats so I wait for Target to do their buy 2 get $5 gift card (or buy 3 get $10 if I’m lucky) and stock up on cat food and litter then save the gift cards for their toy clearance at the end of July. Both my kids have fall birthdays along with several nieces and nephews so I stock up for those and Christmas. It’s how we’ve had nice Christmases every year without adding a category in the budget.
One thing I love to do is save money! My electric bill (I live alone) is on average around $55.00. But, as soon as I read the tip to unplug everything not in use, I went around the house & unplugged everything that I haven’t been using. I need to save for a car, so when the one I have starts nickle & dime me, I can pay cash for another one. I’m not a mom anymore, & I’m a widow so I live comfortably on what I have. I wrote down several tips, & can’t wait to see how low I can get my electric bill. God bless us all!
Hey ladies, such great tips. However, I live by myself & have an income of $733 a month. After I pay rent, electric & my cell phone bill. Leaving me with $300 for the rest of the month witch I usually take $50-80 for house hold things, etc.. lucky I do get $100 in food stamps witch gets me practically nothing but is very big help. I’m new to this stuff, I’m trying to figure out how to budget, meal plan & make an extra income.. I don’t know where to start!
I disagree about the paper towels. I live in a drought state. We don’t need to be wasting water constantly washing napkins and rags. Also, to make them sanitary (no e coli or salmonella), you need to use hot water, which requires gas and/or electricity. Then there’s laundry detergent and bleach to get food stains out of the napkins. Paper towel does not seem so expensive when you consider all this. You can get paper towel for a buck a roll at dollar stores. Also, there are great bulk buys. Wal-Mart’s brand works great and they are inexpensive.
Jayleen Zotti says
I’ve been really good about turning off lights … now if I could only get the kids to remember;0) We have saved a lot this summer by eating from our garden!!!! Yay! We also have movie nights at home instead of heading to the theater. We are working towards paying with cash!
Stay away from the mall! Shop garage sales and thrift stores for anything I can. I keep a list on my phone of things we need or would like to have, that way when I see them in the thrift store or garage sale, I can get them.
Pay bills online or in person instead of buying stamps. I make my own laundry soap, salsa, apple sauce and Jams. I also am an extreme couponer so I stock up on stuff when I get them for free or really really cheap. I keep my eye out for yellow stickered meats and buy a bunch and freeze it in meal size packages.
I have probably saved the most money by couponing and keeping a stockpile. This allows me to buy most things only when they are on sale. I don’t do the MEGA stockpiles, but in my closet, I keep tp, paper towels, shampoo, etc. I have one shelf with food, and I have a shelf with diapers and baby wipes. I also: cook from scratch, freezer cook a meal or two over the weekend, and pack my and my husband’s lunches. I have my husband, who works second shift, set up one crock pot meal per week so I have a night off from cooking. I order children’s clothes with coupon codes and sales. I shop through ebates. I do swagbucks and cash in for CVS or Walmart gift cards to pay for groceries and diapers. This year, I saved money on child care by having my oldest son attend the after school program instead of daycare. It saves $48 per week. I do a weekly menu to save money and my sanity. I like to “treat” my kids when they have been doing well at school. My kids have been rockin’ this school year. All good behavior and the oldest’s lowest, yes lowest grade, on his progress report was a 96 – then one 99 and the rest 100s. I ended up buying McDs and then Dairy Queen within 2 weeks. I didn’t like that for financial and health reasons so I reconsidered my “treats.” Our next “treat” was a $1 toy at the Dollar Tree. My boys love it there and it saves me a fortune.
This was a great post!!! Several of the items on the list we do, but there is always room for more savings.
* I agree about unplugging everything that is just sitting around and not being used very often or at least not at the moment. Small kitchen appliances, side table lamps in any room, electronics (I can live with the blinking time light to save $$$$), electric tooth brushes, anything in a room that doesn’t get much use! This electricity is called Vampire electricity and while it is not stealing tons of electricity, everything little bit adds up over a period of time.
*Grown your own veggies if possible. Preserve them for future use by drying, canning, or freezing (if you have the space).
*Greeting cards are a monster of a cost and the best place I have found to get the best price are the discount stores such as Dollar Store, Family Dollar, and Dollar Tree. Some discount grocery stores have a small selection.
*Shop at consignment stores for clothing, accessories, appliances, and furniture. What is great is, these stores have a dual purpose. You can usually set up a seller account for a minimal fee and sell your items(check the shop for seller rules). By selling your items it will put money in your account and will remain there until you cash it out. However, what could be better is leave the money in the account and when you find something you need your built up cash covers the cost. You just walked out without opening your wallet.
Thanks again for the great post!!!
Informative post! I’ll have to look on those gift card sites, I haven’t done that yet.
And don’t get me started on the giant waste of money that are Lunchables. They go for $3.99 a package here and they’re not much more than air with a few crackers!
Sarah @ SarahTitus.com says
I agree Jennifer! My kids really like them, and two kids each, 5 days a week for snacks (not very filling) is $15 here. I thought, “Forget it! I’ll make my own.” They still get what they want and it costs me about $6 for two weeks! Saves me $48/month! That’s a household bill right there!
Rhonda Hall says
A few things we do: Crockpot cooking so dinner is ready when you walk in..No saying I’m tired I will just pick something up….
Take leftover for lunch…
Ask for gift cards for birthdays, Xmas .
Buy 1/2 beef off a local farmer ,always have meat so no running to the store
Drug store game for shampoos, deo’s etc..
Potlucks with family and friends…..we bought a pool so we have lots of cookouts, potlucks, picnics..cards, cornhole games..
Save our change and cash it in for Chrsitmas shopping.
Tia Robertson says
We use almost all of the tips you provided, and manage to live on a $30K single income (in an area that most people cannot function for under $45K). I make it a point to learn something new every day (for free, from YouTube, the library, or from friends and family).
I’ve learned how to make my own cleaners and laundry detergent, how to grow a full garden (so much FREE FOOD grown from plants starts from family!), make our own baby food, how to preserve foods by canning and dehydrating, how to rewire electrical outlets, etc. Last week was how to sharpen knives and scissors (eliminating the $6/blade charge I was paying prior).
I buy foods when they are close-to-date (and we store them in our chest freezers), saving at least $75/week on meats, cheeses, juices, and breads.
We cut the cable three years ago and haven’t looked back. Local free over-the -air tv, Netflix and Amazon Prime are our entertainment now, along with occasional free Redbox rentals (thanks to Money Saving Mom!). My “city-born husband” hasn’t complained once!
Sarah @ SarahTitus.com says
Way to rock it Tia! 🙂 Great job!
Re: The fact of buying a box of granola bars. My husband works at a grocery store and it is amazing how many employees will buy food from the vending machine. They could easily purchase something from the sales floor and save a ton of money over the course of a year.
Crazy, isn’t it? My husband likes soda, but will still slip and start getting an “extra” one out of the vending machine. I tell him, pack two in your lunch bag if you think you might drink two. I buy 12 packs when they are less than $2, so for the same amount of money, he can either have 24+ sodas stocked up in a week’s time or he could have 5 vending machine sodas. I make sure that if I am at a grocery store and someone gets hungry and wants a snack, we buy extra bananas. They are healthier than packaged snacks and much cheaper. I can’t believe that there was a time that I actually went inside gas stations for sodas, coffee, and snacks. lol.
My wife cans and we just started buying the fruit and vegetables off the reduced price shelf at the different grocery stores and can them. With canned foods rising in cost as well, we bought $6 worth of pears which gave us 11 quart size jars. The average cost of a large can of pear halves is around $3.99 times 11 is $43.89 a savings of $37.89.
1. Stay home. Cuts your gasoline bill and keeps you away from temptation.
2. Turn off the television. If you don’t see the ads, you won’t want to buy the stuff. (and it will give you time to cook from scratch, grow a garden, read to the children, exercise.)
3. Learn how to do something new. Go to the library and get books on something you would like to learn how to do. Watch a video on YouTube and learn how to sew or can vegetables or make biscuits from scratch.
4. Check out free entertainment–free days at the museum or zoo. Take a walk or a picnic to the park.
5. Use it up, make it do, or do without. Think, create, and get the children involved in both work and play.
#4–don’t forget to teach those sons to sew, too! 🙂 While in your home and when they go off to college/work it will help them save money. Plus, what a great way to impress a girl!
I second this! My mother-in-law taught my son how to cook, clean, and do laundry We NEVER argue about household chores, because he has been taught from a young age to pitch in and help alongside the girls… whether it’s activities at church, chores at home, etc. He doesn’t have the attitude that certain tasks are “women’s work”, and I so very much appreciate that. He is a great cook, very tidy, and oh-so-helpful around the house. I’m forever grateful for my mother-in-law seeing fit to teach her son some of the same skills she taught her daughter! 🙂
Oops… that should read “mother-in-law taught me HUSBAND”… not son. 😉
Oops… that should read “mother-in-law taught my HUSBAND”… not son. 😉
Crystal Paine says
Just to clarify, the author was referring to the fact that it’s pretty easy to re-purpose clothing into girls’ clothes so having some basic sewing skills can come in very handy if you have little girls.
I think it’s fantastic to teach all children how to do basic mending and sewing on buttons, etc. It’s a skill that will serve them well in life!
Yes! My husband’s mom is a great seamstress and tailor. She taught him to sew also. My mom didn’t do that sort of stuff so I never learned. By the time I get the machine threaded, I’m out of patience.
I would love to switch to colored bandanas but have not found any ‘nicer’ ones that would hold up wash after wash after wash. I don’t mind paying a bit more for them….does anyone have a website.
If you have a sheet that is thread bare in a spot or two, use it to make some of your own napkins. Just cut it down to size and hem the edges. You can make enough from 1 sheet to last several days before having to wash.
We were spending over $200/month on our cable/internet/phone bundle. We haven’t been successful with over the air TV (rural area) and we looked into downsizing, but even giving up most of the channels we watch barely shaved the bill. We bought a Roku 2 months ago and turned off the phone and the cable. Now with just the Internet (which I have to have for work anyway) and a subscription to Hulu Plus, we’re saving about $160/month. Even without Hulu, Roku offers loads of free channels.
Sarah @ SarahTitus.com says
Hmm, I’ve not heard of those. I’ll have to look into it. My phone/internet/satellite is quite spendy! Thank you for sharing Tricia! 🙂
What do you do for phone service? Just wondering …
I love sewing…it saves me so much money in buying gifts with baby showers, birthday, and Christmas. Like she said re-purpose sole other fabric into what you need. I love my friends website, she talks about sewing here: http://www.joy2sew.blospot.com
And Pinterest has a lot of free patterns or ideas to make wonderful handmade gifts that will mean lot to others years later 🙂
Great post, thanks!
Mary H says
I believe the correct IP for your friends blog is http://joy2sew.blogspot.com/ (no www.)
Christine @ Smart Chick Saves says
I love these tips, Sarah! I would also recommend cooking during the weekend when you have more free time. I always try to make big batches of lunch and dinner during the weekends so that I only need to minimally cook during the week.
Sarah @ SarahTitus.com says
Ohhh, that’s a great idea Christine! I will be sure to do that now! 🙂
Kiki @ Choosing to Cherish says
Thank you for the list. That’s the confirmation I need to switch to cash especially after my purse was stolen from a break in and I experienced the hassle of having to call and close down those “stores reward accounts”.
I’m sorry about the theft you experienced. But I would think that it’s all the more reason to NOT use cash. If your cash is lost or stolen, it’s gone. With cards it’s a hassle, but you have recourse.
My husband and I save money by:
*Secret shopping at our local grocery stores to save money on our grocery costs
*Not paying for cable – we watch movies/DVDs/Netflix
*Buying discounted gift cards for stores we frequent (i.e. KROGER!)
It’s great to read everyone’s ideas for inspiration!
Can you share where you’re able to find gift cards at a discount? That sounds like a great idea.
Sure! My go-to spots are Raise @ https://www.raise.com/raise-rewards/NzowOCAtMNjIzNTA= and http://www.giftcardrescue.com. I’ve purchased from both and have been quite happy!
Tia Robertson says
Another good website to check out for gift cards at a discount is Giftcard Granny (with the website of the same name). We buy small amounts of various retailers cards this way in order to save money around Christmas time or when we need home improvement supplies (Home Depot and Lowe’s cards are always a good investment when you own a home!)
Sarah, you’re bio is incredible! $18,000 doesn’t buy much these days, & I’m in awe that you find ways to live well on it. I feel humbled by your situation and a little wimpy that I feel less than content with quite a bit more coming in per year.
Way to rock it!
Sarah @ SarahTitus.com says
Thanks Becky! Glad I can be an inspiration, just be sure not to compare situations. 🙂 Everyone’s season in life is different. Keep in mind, I have no debt. Not a penny, so that helps a great deal. I can live on less because not as much fly’s out the window, and I don’t have a husband who likes to spend! That helps! 🙂
I use old towels for spills, but I never thought about using them for napkins. All of these are great tips!
When weather and time permit, I hang my clothes outside to dry. Clothes dryers use a lot of energy so the savings from air drying a couple loads of laundry will make a noticeable dent in your utility bills.
Christine @ Smart Chick Saves says
I hear that! I live in an apartment with shared washers and dryers, so while I don’t pay the utility bills for using them, I do pay to use them ($1.50 per use). I try to hang as much of my clothing in my apartment as I can to save on using the dryer – plus, it often saves me a last minute run out to the bank to get more quarters. 🙂