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14 Apr 2011   ·   55
Money Saving Mom

Reader Tip: We’re saving $200 per year by switching to “Time of Use” energy plan

Lisa submitted the following tip:

We recently switched to a “Time of Use” plan with our energy company. Rather than a flat rate for electricity, our rate now varies depending on the time of day. The rates for off-peak times are one-third of what they used to be, while the rates for peak times are twice as much. Programs vary, but our peak times are Monday through Friday from 10AM to 9PM. Everything else (plus designated holidays) is considered off-peak.

If you can shift 65% of your electricity usage to off-peak times, you will start to save. We now only do our big ticket energy activities (laundry and dishwasher) during off-peak hours. We’ve also shifted many other activities like charging the laptop and baking to help the savings grow. Note that this program is for electricity only, so our gas rates (which is how we heat our home) remain the same.

We also find that we’re more likely to play a family game rather than watch a movie or go for a walk rather than waste time on the computer. Regardless of the dollar savings, our family has definitely benefited from this program.

After three months, we have already saved 25% off last year’s electric bills. At this rate, the savings will be saving over $200 this year. -Lisa

photo credit

14 Apr 2011   ·   51
Money Saving Mom

15 Ways to Save Money on Gasoline (Part 2)

I started the 15 Ways to Save Money on Gasoline last week. Here are eight more ways to save money on gasoline submitted by Chrystal Turner from Sea of Savings:

8. Take it easy.

Rapid braking, punching the accelerator and other forms of forceful driving can cut fuel efficiency by as much as one-third at highway speeds and five percent in the city. Driving more carefully can save you up to $1 per gallon.

9. Carpool, if possible.

While this won’t work for everyone, if you can split the costs of gasoline with someone else, you’ll definitely save a bundle. Plus, if you share driving responsibilities, it will allow you to read, write or accomplish other work instead of always driving.

10. Lighten up.

Reducing the weight in your car by 100 pounds can increase your fuel efficiency by up to two percent, the EPA says, or up to $0.07 per gallon. Don’t haul anything unnecessary.

11. Don’t idle.

Idling wastes gas. The bigger the engine, the more gas wasted.

Consider going inside to order your lunch rather than waiting in a long drive-through line. Using cruise control and the overdrive gear at highway speeds will also help improve your gas mileage.

12. Get regular tune-ups.

A car that isn’t running well wastes gas. A tune-up and other repairs can improve your gas mileage by about four percent, or $0.15 per gallon, according to the EPA.

Fixing a serious problem can improve mileage by an enormous 40 percent. The repairs might be expensive, but at today’s gas prices, it will be cheaper in the long run to do the repairs.

13. Clean it up.

A clogged air filter can decrease your gas mileage by up to 10 percent, or $0.37 per gallon. And using the proper grade of motor oil can save one to two percent, or $0.04 to $0.07 per gallon.

14. Check your tires.

Properly inflated tires improve gas mileage by up to three percent.

15. Buy where it’s least expensive.

Finally, make sure you’re getting the best gas prices in your area by checking

Chrystal Turner is a mom of one little energetic 4 year old, wife, work at home mom and blogger. Her blog, Sea of Savings, features the latest coupons and freebies, and routinely features work-at-home jobs and tips for working at home.

13 Apr 2011   ·   285
Money Saving Mom

Reader Tip: How We Save $133 On Milk Per Year

Felicia from Mommy Excursions emailed in this tip:

The national average cost for a gallon of milk is $3.79, or $0.24 a cup. To make this stretch farther, we simply add four cups of water to half a gallon of whole milk. This will make an extra eight cups of milk per gallon resulting in the cost being $0.16 a cup. We use, on average, two gallons of milk each week so this method saves us around $133 a year!

If you are interested in trying this, I recommend that you always buy whole milk and always add the water before first drinking any milk from the container. Lastly, it can be hard to get used to. I recommend starting out slow by adding a half cup to one cup water per half gallon milk for a week or two, then go to two cups and gradually work up to adding four cups of water per half gallon. -Felicia

photo credit

12 Apr 2011   ·   208
Money Saving Mom

10 Simple Ways to Save Money at Home

Guest post by Shannon at Frugal Mom of Two

I’m always looking at ways to save money. In addition to using coupons, here are some other ways I save money:

1. Hang clothes to dry.

I use a shower curtain rod wedged between two walls in my hallway to hang clothes straight from the washer.

2. Use cold water to wash your clothes.

Hot water is a big energy drainer. Use cold water as often as possible to do your laundry, this will really save on your electricity bill.

3. Open the door on your dishwasher during the dry cycle.

I use a dish towel and prop it open just a bit. The heat/steam that has accumulated while washing will dry your dishes.

4. Make your own cleaners.

Instead of purchasing cleaning supplies in the store, make them yourself. Not only is it a lot less expensive to purchase the ingredients needed, it’s a lot safer to use because you know what the ingredients are.

5. Make your own laundry detergent.

Laundry detergent can be pretty expensive. It’s a lot more cost effective to make it yourself and it’s easy and lasts a long time.

6. Use “junk mail” envelopes.

Most everyone receives junk mail and a lot of time’s this junk mail includes a return envelope. Keep these and use them the next time you have to mail something.

7. Use “scrap” paper for printing coupons.

It doesn’t matter what’s on the back of the coupon, so the next time you print something in error or you have some leftover paper, use the back to print your coupons on.

8. Don’t throw those veggies out!

Turn leftover veggies into soup. Keep a large bowl in your freezer and each night after dinner, dump any remaining veggies in the bowl. When the bowl is filled, you have a great base for soup. I also like to throw in any leftover ham as it adds a great flavor to soup.

9. Use a crock pot.

A crock pot uses a lot less electricity that the oven. Food tastes great after cooking all day too and it’s a huge time saver! (Not to mention the house smells great!)

10. Use plastic grocery bags in your small trash cans.

There’s really no sense in buying small trash can bags when you most likely get plastic bags for free at the store. They are the perfect size and work just fine.

What are some simple ways you save money at your home?

Shannon is the frugal mom of two great kids, one boy and one girl. She has been married for 15 years to Garit, who is truly the love of her life. She feels incredibly blessed to be a part of such a great family. She loves to organize, throw parties, clip coupons and bargain shop. To read more of her writings, visit her blog, Frugal Mom of Two.

Photo Credit

12 Apr 2011   ·   76
Money Saving Mom

Reader Tip: Save Money By Starching Shirts at Home

Shauna sent in this interesting tip:

My husband wears a dress shirt every day of the work week, and after we married, I quickly realized how much he was spending on dry cleaning each month. After some online research ( was helpful), I found that I could starch his shirts at home using this method:

1. Wash dress shirts in hot water. Do not dry.
2. Boil some water in the teapot.
3. Meanwhile, mix a half cup cornstarch with one cup cold water.
4. Mix the boiling water with the cornstarch mixture in a large bowl,
and then pour the whole thing in the washing machine (turned on to a
rinse and spin cycle only).
5. Add the freshly-washed shirts.
6. After the rinse and spin cycle is complete, hang the shirts up until
they are slightly damp and then iron.

Not only are we saving hundreds of dollars a year (We save approximately $2 per shirt and he wears five shirts per week which equals $10/week in savings or $520 in savings each year), this method seems to keep his shirts in better shape than dry cleaning does. Corn starch is also a safer, more natural choice over the chemicals used in dry cleaning.

I purchase my corn starch in a 35 oz. container at Sam’s Club for less than $3, and this lasts me several months.


photo credit

11 Apr 2011   ·   76
Money Saving Mom

31 Weeks to a Better Grocery Budget: Using Coupons to Get Free Groceries

Here’s this week’s 31 Weeks to a Better Grocery Budget Video. Enjoy and my apologies ahead of time about the poor lighting/picture. We’ve been experimenting with different things as far as lighting goes and, so far, none of them are working. We’ll hopefully get the hang of this whole video blogging thing one of these days! 🙂

11 Apr 2011   ·   40
Money Saving Mom

Reader Tip: Make Gluten-Free Flour Using Your Coffee Grinder

Michelle from The Willing Cook emailed in the following tip:

When my husband tested positive for a wheat allergy a few years, I thought about trying the pre-packaged flours, but couldn’t come to terms with the price. We decided to start experimenting with making our own wheat-free flours. Instead of investing in an actual grain mill, we had a small coffee bean grinder that we thought might work well for grinding up whole grains.

We first tried old-fashioned oats ground in our coffee grinder as a substitute for wheat flour in a dessert recipe. We were amazed at how well the substitution worked and how delicious the outcome was!

Next, we tried grinding white rice for breading on fish. The flavor and crispiness were great!

We have since ground brown rice, chickpeas, tapioca pearls, blanched almonds and even Rice Chex! An old dusty coffee bean grinder and a little experimenting opened a whole new world for our frugal allergy family.

While the coffee bean grinder has worked well for us, one of the drawbacks is that the grinder we use is only a 1/2 cup size. If you need a large quantity of flour, it’s a little time-consuming to only be able to grind a half cup at a time. Also, if you use the coffee bean grinder for coffee beans, as well, you’ll want to make sure that you clean it really well when switching between grinding coffee beans and grinding flour.

The savings in grinding your own flours versus purchasing them pre-ground are significant:

  • Old Fashioned Oats purchased at Aldi and ground yourself are around 47 to 80% less expensive than purchasing pre-packaged Oat Flour from Amazon.
  • Rice purchased at Aldi and ground yourself is around 50% less expensive than purchasing pre-packaged Rice Flour from Amazon.
  • Whole Chickpeas purchased at an Asian Grocer and ground yourself are around 90% less expensive than purchasing them pre-ground from Amazon.
11 Apr 2011   ·   22
Money Saving Mom

9 Ways to Save in the United Kingdom

Guest Post by Sarah Jones from Delivering Grace

The UK has been hit, like many other countries by the economic downturn. Here are some ways I’ve found to save:

1. Generic brands

Many of these are just as good as the more expensive names. Even the store economy brands are frequently reasonable quality. Look out for value chocolate digestives and canned tomatoes. There may be some that your family don’t appreciate but it is worth a try.

2. Late shopping

There are reductions through the day on products with “sell by” dates for that day. The percentage reduction increases as the day goes on. The reductions are marked with special labels, usually yellow.

3. Economy stores

Aldi, Lidls, Netto. I only regularly use Lidls. Lidls are good for cleaning products, bread mixes and chocolate. I find that the economy stores don’t sell everything I need, especially for baking, so I tend to go to them about once a month and do a big shop of the items with the greatest saving.

4. Store reward cards and points

Many stores have these. Tesco Clubcard has points which are usually worth four times the face value mainly for treats. Zoos and other days out have queues of people clutching their Tesco vouchers. The points have to be redeemed for specific vouchers in advance. Nectar points (Sainsburys plus a few other stores) are similar although generally less good value for days out.

There are said to be thousands of pounds in various reward card points that are never spent. The best coupons often come with mailings from store reward cards, often money off or more points off basic items such as dairy products or fruit and vegetables. Stores tend to be strict about only accepting in-date coupons for precise items.

5. Store clubs

Both Tescos and Boots have baby clubs. These clubs send mailings with coupons off nappies and wipes. They have particularly good introductory offers. Tescos also have a group of parents testing baby products and completing surveys again for Clubcard points. The baby products tested are sent out free.

6. Farm shops

In my experience, the further from the main road and the more tatty the shop the better the reductions! The other advantage of farm shops is that the money goes straight to the farmer not to some middle man.

7. Markets

They can have value fruit and vegetables.

8. Cloth nappies (diapers in the US)

Councils have a big push on cloth nappies as they have targets for reducing the volume going to landfill. Many councils offer substantial discounts on cloth nappies. My local council gave us a coupon to the value of £40 off cloth nappies.

9. Using the washing line

A very British habit!

Sarah Jones is a wife and mother of five who lives in England. She blogs at Delivering Grace.

photo credit

11 Apr 2011   ·   121
Money Saving Mom

Reader Tip: Save Money by Buying Higher Octane Fuel

In Part 1 of the 15 Ways to Save Money on Gasoline article, I suggested buying lower octane fuel as a way to save money. Well, Kristen would disagree with me and it looks like she’s done her research to back that up. Here’s what she emailed in:

We’ve heard that by upgrading your fuel octane lever, you can get better gas mileage. Since one of our vehicles is a truck, we are always looking for ways to cut back on our gas costs. We actually spent a month calculating the miles we got at octane level 87 and 89. We found that while 89 was on average $0.03 more per gallon, we actually get better gas mileage with it.

My husband gets 11.6 miles per gallon on our truck with 87 and 12.6 miles per gallon with 89. We have a 26-gallon tank, so basically we get one more mile per gallon when using 89. That means we get 26 extra miles per fill-up! Looking at our mpg, we save about two gallons’ worth of gas each time we fill up (the amount will vary depending on gas prices; it’s anywhere from $6-$8 per trip).

For example:

26 gallons at $3.50 per gallon of 87 = 301.6 miles for $91.00 ($0.302 cents per mile)
26 gallons at $3.60 per gallon of 89 = 327.6 miles $93.60 ($0.286 cents per mile)

This might not sound like much, but when you purchase 100+ gallons of fuel per month, it adds up quickly. Depending upon gas prices and mileage, we will save at least $100 to $120 per year by using higher octane fuel.


I’m curious: have any of the rest of you calculated whether or not you save money by buying higher octane fuel?

photo credit

9 Apr 2011   ·   394
Money Saving Mom

How do you save $100? Share your tip and possibly be featured in my book!

I’m putting the final touches on my manuscript before it heads to the publisher for edits and I’d love to have you help me out. I’m looking for specific, practical ways that you save at least $100 per year.

I’m not looking for generic tips like “we use coupons”; I’m looking for tips like “We buy our eye glasses through for $12 per pair instead of paying at least $150 per pair to buy them locally.”

Fill out the form here to submit your tip. The more creative and well-written your tip, the better chance you have of it making it into my book!

If your tip is something I’ve not already written about in the book and I end up using it, I’ll give you credit and send you a free copy of the book when it’s published. Please note that all submissions will be subject to editing.

If I don’t end up having space to use your tip in the book, I may use it on my blog in the future.

Thanks so much for helping me out with this. I can’t wait to see what brilliant ideas you share!

photo credit

9 Apr 2011   ·   23
Money Saving Mom

Super Saving Saturday

It was a busy week around here with the garage sale, family in from out of town and — of course! — working on finishing up the book manuscript.

The garage sale ended up being our best sale we’ve ever had; the traffic was amazing! I’m not sure what to attribute it to. We usually have great sales, but this was fantastic. We are blessed to have a good location, the weather was great and we had a lot of great stuff to sell between the six families who contributed stuff. We also followed all the tips I shared last year for having a successful garage sale.

Truth be told, I only probably spent half a day all combined helping to run the sale, since everyone else pitched in, too. (One of the blessings of having a multi-family sale is that there are lots of hands to help out!) I’m so thrilled to have the clutter cleaned out of my house and love the motivation a garage sale always gives me to clear it out!

In book news, God brought an incredible literary agent to me last week (it’s a long story how that all came to be!). Sarah was willing to take me on as her client this late in the game and it’s been a huge blessing to me. She has years of professional editing experience with large publishing houses and she’s been helping me revamp my manuscript to make it ten times better than I could have made it on my own.

I’m beyond grateful to her and all the hours she’s putting in to make this manuscript the best that it can be before I turn it into the publisher. I’m learning so much through the process and am indebted to her help. By the way, if anyone needs a good literary agent, I’d be glad to hook you up! 🙂

As far as grocery shopping, we bought lots of fruit at Aldi and bread at Dollar Tree and that was it. We’re continuing to eat up our extras from the freezer and pantry and stick with simple meals. So far, it’s working well!

Did you snag any great deals or bargains this week or save money 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 and/or money you were able to save this week. In order to keep this weekly round-up focused on helping and inspiring others in their efforts to save money, links which have little-to-no content other than promoting affiliate links, etc. 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.

7 Apr 2011   ·   181
Money Saving Mom

15 Ways to Save Money on Gasoline (Part 1)


1. Have a cash budget for gas.

We used to always pay for gas with our debit card, but while we tried to stick with our allotted budget, we found it was easy to go a little over every month — especially with fluctuating gas prices. We switched to using cash only for gas last year and we’ve seen a decrease in our gas budget. Why? Because we are more mindful of our gas usage and because cash forces us to stick with our budget.

2. Buy lower-grade fuel.

Unless your vehicle requires higher grade fuel, there’s no need to spend the extra cents on it per gallon. While it might not seem like much, those extra cents add up quickly!

3. Observe the speed limit.

Each vehicle is different, but typically gas mileage plummets when you drive over 60 miles per hour. In fact, it’s estimated that for each five miles over 60 miles per hour you drive, it’s the equivalent of paying an additional $0.24 per gallon!

4. Combine errands.

Have a general rule of thumb that you won’t go out shopping or running errands unless you have at least three stops to make. Before you go, map out the most efficient route. Not only will this save you time, it will also lower your gasoline expenses. Plus, you’ll likely carefully consider whether or not that quick trip to the store for milk or bread is worth it or whether you can make-do with what you have on hand.

I’ve also found it helpful to limit errands and shopping to one or two days per week and to work errands or shopping trips into driving I’m already planning to do. For instance, if I’m going somewhere close to the health food store, I’m going to try and work in a stop there to save me making an extra trip later in the week. It only takes a little bit extra time and it costs me almost nothing in fuel since I’m already going to be driving by.

5. Drive a fuel-efficient vehicle.

If you have more than one vehicle in your household, use the vehicle with the highest miles per gallon as often as you can. According to

A vehicle that gets 30 MPG will cost you $880 less to fuel each year than one that gets 20 MPG (assuming 15,000 miles of driving annually and a fuel cost of $3.52).

Over a period of 5 years, the 30-MPG vehicle will save you $4,400.

Jesse’s car gets better gas mileage, so we’ve been piling into it for much of our driving as a family. With three car seats in the back, it’s a tighter squeeze than our roomier minivan, but the cost in gas savings is worth it.

Planning to buy a car in the near future? Aid your decision-making by using the Fuel Cost Comparison Calculator.

6. Travel during non-peak hours.

As much as you possibly can, plan your trips when it’s non rush-hour traffic. You’ll get to your destination(s) more quickly and you’ll conserve gas.

7. Consider using public transportation.

While public transportation might not seem feasible for you, if gas is eating your budget alive, it’s worth checking into. According to a study by the American Public Transportation Association, you can save close to $10,000 per year by using public transportation.

Of course, this number is going to be inflated for you if you don’t work outside the home and have a regular commute, however, it’s important to note that this figure was based on a $2.75 per gallon price. With most of us paying at least $3.50 to $4 per gallon, if you have a daily commute, the savings could even be higher than $10,000 per year if you use public transportation!

To be continued next week…

How do you save money on gas?

photo credit; photo credit

7 Apr 2011   ·   62
Money Saving Mom

How to Cloth Diaper for Practically Free

If the cost of diapers is eating at your budget but the cost of investing in cloth diapers seems too expensive, you’ll definitely want to check out this post from Cotton Babies on How to Cloth Diaper for Practically Free:

Over the weekend, a customer shared with us this news report from Manhattan’s NY1: High Cost Of Diapers Forces Some Parents Into Risky Practices. It breaks my heart because I personally know what it feels like to have to choose food OR diapers. When my husband and I started Cotton Babies, we were living on $30 a week for groceries plus a WIC check. That certainly wasn’t enough to buy a cloth diaper stash and it didn’t buy very many disposable diapers either. Thankfully, we were given three months of diaper service at one of my baby showers and then a friend gave me her stash of prefolds and diaper covers. Without those gifts though, we would have been looking for information about how to diaper your baby when you can’t afford disposables OR cloth diapers.

Read the full post.

There are many ideas and links shared in the post including a link on How to Start Cloth Diapering for Only $20.

photo credit

6 Apr 2011   ·   104
Money Saving Mom

Q&A: How do you get stuff for free at drugstores?

Lynn-Ann emailed in a great question this morning:

As I’ve received your e-mail updates, I’ve been a bit frustrated about the ECB/RR stuff. I will share with you what I mean: in the April 4, 2011 e-mail you share the following:

Buy 1 Colgate Maxfresh, MaxWhite or MaxClean Toothpaste at $2.99, Get $3 Register Rewards
Use $0.35/1 coupon from the 4/3 SmartSource insert
Free plus overage after coupon and Register Rewards

I get so excited when I see FREE. But basically it isn’t free when I go to the register and check out is it? Since I still have to pay for the toothpaste at $2.99 and of course I can use the $0.35/1 coupon, but I basically pay the difference, because I don’t even get the Register Rewards til after my purchase is complete. Correct?

-Lynn-Ann, Kansas City, KS

Hi, Lynn-Ann!

Many times, it’s a little confusing when you first begin the drugstore game because you have to outlay cash in order to start getting free groceries and household items. However, once you invest $10 or so and start building up some Register Rewards or ECBs, then you can just use these instead of cash to pay for your groceries/household items. And you just keep rolling these and rolling these and rolling these! Meaning, you pay for your order with the ECBs or Register Rewards you earned from the last transaction instead of paying with cash.

Yes, you usually can’t get your order total down completely to $0.00 — though I’ve done it before! — but you can get it pretty close. Back when we lived where there was a CVS store, I was able to get thousands of dollars worth of groceries and household items over the course of two years and spent less than $75 out-of-pocket for everything. I typically paid around $3 out of pocket for every $100 worth of purchases because I was rolling ECB’s from my previous transaction.

For example, this week at CVS, you could do something like this:

Transaction #1:
Buy 2 GUM Eez-Thru Flossers (75-150 ct) at $2, Get $2 ECBs (Limit 2)
Use 2 $0.75/1 printable
You’ll spend $2.50 plus tax after the coupon and you’ll have $4 in ECBs to spend on your next transaction.

Take that $4 in ECBs and use it to do a second transaction.

Transaction #2:
Buy 2 Oral-B Manual Toothbrush (1 ct) at $2.99
Buy 1 Crest or Oral-B Pro-Health at $3.49
Use $1/1 Crest coupon from the 4/3 P&G insert
Use 2 $2/1 Oral-B coupons from the 4/3 P&G insert
Use $4 ECBs earned from Transaction #1
You’ll spend only $0.47 plus tax out of pocket and you’ll then get back $4.48 in ECBs.

So, for an initial monetary invstment of $3 plus tax, you’ll have purchased five items and have $4.48 in ECBs leftover.

You can do another transaction to purchase ECB deals you’ve still not done for the week yet (like a second Oral-B — it’s a limit of two — or the Complete Contact Solution). Or, you can just hang onto the $4.48 in ECBs and use them for the ECB deals next week.

Walgreens is a bit more complicated, in my opinion, and it’s harder to get your totals down to under $1 — especially with the tax we have here in Kansas! But you can still significantly lower your totals by using Register Rewards from previous transactions to take off most of what you owe.

For more information, be sure to read Walgreens 101 and CVS 101 where I explain more in-depth how to maximize the mileage of your money at both of these stores.