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52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 This Year: Bake Your Own Bread (Week #1)

Every Monday in 2013, I’ll be 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.

Week #1: Bake Your Own Bread

There’s something about the smell of homemade bread wafting through your house. Not only does it smell so welcoming, but fresh-from-the-oven bread is beyond delicious! Best of all, you can save over $100 per year by making your own homemade bread!

I love to use my homemade bread machine to mix up the dough for homemade bread. It makes it so simple — and it takes less than five minutes to measure and dump all the ingredients into the machine and clean up the little bit of mess you made.

What If You Don’t Have a Bread Machine?

If you don’t have a bread machine, don’t go out and spend a bunch of money on one. Instead, ask around and see if any of your friends have a bread machine they aren’t using that you could borrow. Or check area garage sales, Craigslist, or thrift stores.

You can also use a KitchenAid or Bosch to mix the dough. Or, you can just do it the old-fashioned way and just knead it by hand — but that does make it more time-consuming.

How Much Can You Save By Making Your Own Homemade Bread?

Kristen from The Frugal Girl did a very thorough investigation into how much it you’ll save by making your own homemade bread. She estimated that you’ll save at least $0.50 per loaf if you typically buy the very cheapest bread on the market (that typically sells for $0.99 per loaf). However, if you typically buy a little bit higher quality bread (that usually retails for $2-$3 per loaf, than you’re going to be saving $1.50 to $2.50 per loaf.

So, if you usually buy 2 loaves of bread each week, that’s a savings of $156 to $260 per year. And if you make all of your own homemade breads, such as cinnamon rolls, pita pockets, breadsticks, rolls, and more, you’re going to save even more!

My Favorite Simple & Easy Homemade Bread Recipes

My Favorite Homemade Bread Recipe

Homemade Breadsticks in the Bread Machine

Homemade English Muffin Bread

Homemade Pita Pockets

Easy Italian Breadsticks

Bread Machine Buttery Rolls

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls

Do you make your own homemade bread? What are some of your favorite homemade bread recipes?


52 Ways to Save at Least $100 This Year: Make Your Own Coffee at Home (Week #2)

Every Monday in 2013, I’ll be 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.

Make Your Own Coffee at Home (Week #2)

This week’s way to save $100 per year is a no-brainer for many of you. In fact, some of you probably haven’t seen the inside of a coffeeshop in years.

But I have a pretty good idea that a number of you are regularly frequenting your local coffeeshop — and it’s probably making a fairly big dent in your wallet.

Relax! You Don’t Have to Give Up the Coffeeshop Habit Completely!

Don’t worry! I’m not going to say that you can’t ever step foot in a coffeeshop. I think it can be a fun treat on occasion, but you’ll save a whole lot of money if you can learn to make the stops at the coffeeshop an occasional treat rather than an almost-daily habit.

How Much Can You Save By Making Coffee At Home?

The Simple Dollar estimates that the cost of a 16-oz. brewed at home cup of coffee will cost you no more than $0.50 to $0.60 each, including the cost of energy, cream, sugar, etc. When I calculated it myself, I was coming up with the same costs for high-quality coffee. If you get a good deal on the coffee beans, your savings is going to be even higher.

So, if you’re typically paying $1.50 per cup of coffee, that’s a savings of around $1 per cup five times per week — or $20 per month or $240 per year. If you typically pay $4 for a fancy cup, you’re saving at least $17.50 per week, $70 per month, or $840 per year! Crazy, eh?

How to Make a Fantastic Cup of Coffee at Home

After lots of practice, I’ve learned how to make coffee at home just exactly how Jesse and I love it. In fact, we both agree that I can brew a better cup of coffee than any coffee shop we’ve visited.

Here are some of my tips:

1. Invest in Good Coffee Beans

I personally love Starbucks Breakfast Blend, Starbucks Pike Roast, or Avodah Mocha Java. Experiment and try different blends and kinds until you find one you love. Or, just purchase what you typically drink at your local coffeeshop.

It’s probably going to cost quite a bit more than some off-brand at the grocery store, but it’s worth the extra cost if it means you’ll actually make coffee at home!

2. Grind Your Beans Fresh and Coarse

There is a huge difference in taste and freshness when you grind your own beans. And coffee bean grinders are very inexpensive to purchase (you can pick one up at Walmart for around $20) and so worth it.

3. Use a French Press

The French Press makes coffee much more flavorful. It’s totally worth the investment (you can pick one up at Target or Walmart for around $20 to $30) — especially compared to a regular coffeemaker.

However, don’t go invest in a coffee bean grinder and French Press unless you are sure you will actually use them on a very regular basis. Consider borrowing these items from a friend, if you know someone who has these on hand and isn’t using them. Or, you might check your local thrift stores.

4. Use a Coffee Cup You Love

I know it’s a little silly, but I find it’s so much more enjoyable to enjoy a good cup of coffee when you are drinking it from a cup you love. So reward yourself for two weeks of drinking coffee from home by purchasing yourself a coffee cup you love. (By the way, if you’re looking for a good to-go cup, we love the Copco cups.)

Coffee Recipes: How to Make Your Own Homemade Latte Without an Espresso Machine and Homemade Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

Do you make coffee at home? If so, what tricks and tips do you have for making a really amazing cup of coffee?

52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Ditch Your Cable Package {Week 3}

At the beginning of every week in 2013, I’ll be 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.

You knew it was coming… I just couldn’t write a series on ways to save $100 or more per year without going there.

Yup, we’re talking about ditching cable TV this week.

Some of you are thinking, “Of course. We ditched cable a long time ago.” Or maybe you’re like us and you’ve never even had cable.

But others of you are clinging pretty tightly to your cable package and hoping that you can find a way to justify keeping it. 🙂

How Much is Cable Really Costing You?

Well, if you need a little motivation to consider ditching or downsizing your cable package, how about you do something for me, okay?

Go get your latest cable bill. Yes, go get it — or look it up online. See how much you’re spending per month and multiply that by 12. That big number you’re seeing? That’s how much you’d save per year by giving up cable.

Stop and consider what you could do with that kind of money if you weren’t sending it into the cable company every month.

Now, every cable package is different, so I can’t tell you exactly how much you’d save, but I took a poll on Facebook over the weekend and do you know what the average amount people were spending on cable TV per month is? More than $46.

That’s over $550 per year. Multiply $46 per month over five years and you’d come up with $2,760 in savings.

That’s no small potatoes we’re talking about here!

And some people are spending more like $68 per month. That translates to spending $816 per year or $4,080 over five years!

What Could You Do With the Time You’re Spending Watching TV?

I’m going to stick my neck out and say that I believe Americans, in general, could survive just fine without watching as much TV as they do. In fact, I think many Americans would be much more fulfilled, more active, healthier, and happier if they spent less time sitting in front of the tube for a few hours or more per day.

I hear so many people lament their lack of time to pursue their dreams or start a business. And yet most people seem to find plenty of time to watch their favorite shows. Is there possibly a disconnect there?

Less TV watching not only frees up more time and encourages you to be more active, it also brings less of the consumerism mentality into your home. If you’re not watching all of those commercials, you don’t know what “amazing” things you “need” to buy! This, in turn, can help you become more content — all while saving a hefty amount of money, too!

Three Alternatives to Paying for Cable

Now, hear me out, I’m not saying you can’t ever enjoy a TV show. We have a few we enjoy watching occasionally and I think some of the things on TV can be educational or clean family entertainment (though the commercials sometimes ruin the “clean” part unfortunately! :()

However, we have found ways to watch TV without having to pay for it (other than our monthly Netflix bill). Here’s a guest post that Jenae from I Can Teach My Child wrote in 2011 on three alternatives to cable that I thought was so helpful that I’d just post it in its entirety here…

There are so many alternatives to paying lots of money for cable each month. Here are three we’ve found to be helpful for our family.

High-Definition Antenna

What if I told you that you could still watch most of your favorite shows for free? ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS and even a few other random channels can all be received for free in most areas* with a high-definition antenna. After a little upfront cost, you can watch these channels for the rest of your life. All you need is a converter box (if your TV does not already have an HDTV tuner — every new TV has one) and a high-definition antenna (which can go in your attic, wall or outside).

High-definition antennas range from $40-$150. You can purchase them at your local home-improvement store (Lowe’s or Home Depot). You can also go here for more information and to purchase one as well. And if you’re really handy (or you know someone who is), you can supposedly even make your own HDTV antenna for less than $10! It might be worth a shot!

If you own a TV that was manufactured after July 1, 2007, it should already have an HDTV tuner. You only need a converter box if your analog TV is older than that. Converter Boxes start at $40 and go up from there. Go here and here for a few converter box options.

*I realize that good reception depends in large part due to where you live. If this isn’t an option for you, you could still opt for the cheapest plan from your cable or satellite provider and implement the other two suggestions.

Netflix & Redbox

Many of you know that you can receive unlimited DVDs in the mail for about $10 a month from Netflix. But did you also know that they have thousands of movies on instant play as well? We’ve watched entire series of very popular shows instantly. You can stream it to a Blu-Ray player, XBox or Wii, or you can just watch it on your computer. Netflix is also a great resource for children’s television shows. The best part is that there are no commercials.

Redbox (a $1-per-night video rental kiosk that can be found outside many McDonald’s, Walgreens, and Walmarts locations) offers at least one free rental each month (usually the first Monday of every month) when you create an account on their website.

Borrow

Libraries are not only a great resource for books, most libraries also have movies as well! And the best part is that it’s free! You can browse most titles on your library’s website. Another option is to borrow movies from friends.

We’ve gone without cable for our entire married life (almost seven years). At first, we simply couldn’t afford cable and opted for bunny ears. Now that our income has increased and we could afford if we really wanted to, we still choose not to. We enjoy enough television and movie time without spending all that money every month!

Jenae is a wife, mother of two boys’ ages 3 and 15 months, and former first-grade teacher. She loves spending time with her family and sharing fun and educational activities for young children on her website, I Can Teach My Child.

There are also options like Amazon Prime and Hulu to check out now, too! For more ideas, check out Amy’s post on How to Ditch Your Cable Bill.

By the way, if you have sports fans at your house, you’ve got to check out this piece on A Coach Without Cable. Thought-provoking stuff!

photos from Big Stock

52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Order Prescription Glasses Online {Week 4}

Save over $100 per year on prescription glasses with this one simple tip -- buy eyeglasses online!! Check out the top 3 online places to buy prescription glasses!

At the beginning of every week in 2013, I’ll be 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.

This tip won’t work for everyone because some of you are blessed to not have to wear glasses and some of you won’t need to buy glasses this year. But for those of you who need to buy glasses or who end up needing to buy glasses, this tip will definitely save you $100+ this year.

Buy Prescription Glasses Online (Week #4)

A number of years ago, when I first started blogging here, a reader emailed me recommending I try purchasing glasses online. Truth be told, I’d never even considered ordering glasses anywhere but from the eye doctor, so I was thrilled to consider that there were other options.

I didn’t need to purchase glasses at the time, but I posted the tip because it seemed legit and I thought other people might benefit from it. To my delight, I discovered that other readers had tried ordering glasses online and they’d had good experiences, too.

I don’t know about you, but when I stumble onto an outside-the-box money-saving tip like this, it gets me so excited. And it reminds me that there are always new discoveries to be made in the world of frugality — especially in the age of the Internet.

Since I didn’t need to order glasses right then, I tucked away the tip for later. Not too long afterward, my toddler broke my glasses beyond repair — and I was ever so thankful that I knew there were options out there for saving money on prescription glasses!

Where To Order Prescription Glasses Online

While there are a number of different online sites that you can purchase prescription glasses from, three that I’m very familiar with and have purchased from personally are GlassesUSAZenni OpticalCoastal Contacts.

1. Zenni OpticalThis is my go-to site for ordering glasses online. In fact, we’ve purchased three pairs of glasses from them so far. Not only have we always been pleased with our orders from them, but on our second order from them, there was a shipping delay so they sent out another free order — which meant we got two extra pairs of glasses for FREE! That level of customer service really left an impression on me.

Most of the glasses from Zenni Optical are under $20 total for the frames and lenses. They even have some glasses that are as low as $6.95! Shipping is just $4.95. If you need to upgrade your lenses, it will be extra. But I promise it will still be much, much less than buying prescription glasses in-store.

2. Coastal Contacts. I also recommend checking out Coastal Contacts. If you’ve never ordered from Coastal Contacts before, they offer new customer coupon codes when you sign up for their newsletter.

They also frequently offer sales and coupon codes on their site for existing customers. What I like best about Coastal Contacts is that if you receive the glasses and they don’t fit, return shipping is free.

GlassesUSA.com - 2000+ Styles - Free Shipping

3. GlassesUSAThis is another go-to site for buying eyeglasses online. They almost always have a promotion running where you can get deep discounts on prescription glasses. For example, right now they’re running a buy one, get one free sale! I recommend checking the site frequently to score HUGE savings — especially during holiday sales.

Pros & Cons of Ordering Glasses Online

As with any purchase, there are pros and cons to ordering online versus ordering in-store. The price is fantastic, but one of the downsides of ordering glasses online is that you can’t try them on ahead of time. If you wear glasses full-time or struggle to find glasses that fit your facial shape, ordering them online might be more difficult.

However, if you only wear your glasses part of the time or aren’t incredibly particular about how they look, definitely save yourself some money by ordering glasses online. In addition, I’d highly recommend ordering glasses online if you have children who are prone to go through pairs rather rapidly.

The other thing to keep in mind when ordering glasses online is that you have to do all your own measurements to submit to them. We never found it difficult to do these measurements, but I know some people have had trouble with getting them right.

All in all, our experiences of ordering glasses online have been very positive — and we’ve saved hundreds of dollars over the past four years by doing so!

Have you ordered prescription glasses online? If so, I’d love to hear about your experiences — either positive or negative.

photo credit


52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Your Own Homemade Cleaners {Week 5}

At the beginning of every week in 2013, I’ll be 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 of the easiest ways to cut your spending is to stop buying stuff you usually buy.

Let that brilliant {ahem!} remark sink in for a moment.

While it might seem like it’s the most basic of basic statements — and it is! — we sometimes forget to apply it. Or, as is often the case, we don’t even consider an alternative to paying for what we normally buy.

Homemade cleaners are one such example. None of us wants to live in a dirty home (or, at least I certainly hope none of us do!). Because of this, we buy cleaners because, well, that’s what everyone else does.

Here’s the thing: commercial cleaners are often pricey. And the manufacturers are smart. They play on our desire to have clean homes in the most efficient manner so they create products for every single cleaning project known to man.

Whenever possible, they make super slick gadgets that require refills so that you have to constantly be spending even more money to purchasing refills so you can keep cleaning your house. Before you know it, you are literally washing hundreds of dollars down the drain each and every year.

This is why I’m a fan of homemade cleaners. Unless I can get some amazingly sweet deal on a cleaner by paring a coupon code with a sale, I just plain don’t buy commercial cleaners. In fact, after making many of my own cleaners, I’ve come to believe that almost every commercial cleaner on the market is a rip-off.

Baking Soda & Vinegar Are Your Best Friend

Instead of spending tens of dollars each month on special cleaners that are designed for one specific job, go to the dollar store or Aldi and buy some vinegar, baking soda, and spray bottles. These are just about all you’ll need to clean almost every item in your home. Seriously.

You can get a little fancier and make actual homemade cleaner recipes if you’d like. But you don’t have to. You can just spray on vinegar and water and wipe off or scrub most tough stains with a little baking soda and elbow grease.

Earth Easy has a long list of how to clean your house using just baking soda, vinegar, soap, borax, washing soda, alcohol, and cornstarch. You might have to make a trip to Walmart to pick up a box of washing soda or borax, but I bet you already have all of the other items on hand already.

How Much Can You Really Save By Making Homemade Cleaners?

How much you can save by making your own cleaners is going to vary widely, depending upon which cleaners you make, how much you usually spend on cleaners, and how many people you are cleaning up after!

But let’s say you have an initial upfront investment of $30 to purchase the supplies listed above and let’s estimate that these supplies last you for 12 months. That’s like paying around $2.50 per month for all of your cleaners. If you only use baking soda and vinegar, it’s going to be significantly less than this.

If you typically buy commercial cleaners on sale, I’d say there’s a good chance you are purchasing an average of 4 cleaners of some sort each month, at around $2-3 per cleaner. At this rate, you could easily save $100+ per year.

Now obviously, your situation might be completely different. If you’re typically only buying cleaners for pennies each by pairing coupons with sales, it might not save you any money at all to make your own cleaners. However, you will for sure be using fewer chemicals in your home and you will also not have to worry about chasing down deals and pairing them with sales.

But Doesn’t It Take a Lot Of Time to Make Homemade Cleaners?

Actually, most homemade cleaners can be made in less than a minute. And if they save you $1-$2 per minute of time invested to make them, that’s like making an hourly wage of $60 to $120 — and it’s tax-free money.

In my book, that’s definitely worth the return on investment. And some cleaners don’t even require that much time because you just spray the vinegar on or dump some baking soda on and scrub. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Where To Find Good Recipes

I’ve linked to a number of homemade cleaner recipes below, but the internet is truly a goldmine of homemade cleaner recipes. Honestly, you can find a recipe for just about any and every cleaner you usually use.

Just Google it or type it into the search engine on Pinterest. Now, I can’t guarantee that the first recipe you try will be a home run success. But if you keep experimenting, I bet you’ll find a good homemade recipe to replace just about every one of your favorite cleaners — all for pennies on the dollar!

Recipes: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Here are links to homemade cleaning recipes I have tried or want to try. My honest reviews are alongside those I’ve tried. Not all homemade cleaners are all they are supposedly cracked up to be, so I hope to save you some effort by letting you know which ones I didn’t find to work well.

If you have amazing recipes for some of the ones I found to be “meh”, I’d love to have you link them in the comments!

Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner — This looks like it would work well!

Homemade Window Cleaner — This one works really well.

Homemade Shower Cleaner — I’ve heard rave reviews on this one and hope to try it soon.

Homemade Scrubbing Bubbles — I found out after I made this that the two ingredients cancel each other out so it wasn’t really effective at all.

Homemade Dishwashing Detergent — This was was okay. Not stellar. Just okay.

Homemade Laundry Soap — This one worked decently, though I found that I had to wash my clothes in hot water for them to get clean and, even then, some of the stains didn’t come out.

Homemade Foaming Hand Soap — This is the easiest recipe ever and works SO well!

Homemade Oxiclean — This one worked alright but didn’t work quite as well as Shout.

Homemade Miracle Kitchen Cleaner — I can’t wait to try this!

Have you made your own homemade cleaners before? What are your favorite recipes? Share the links or details in the comments.

52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Your Own Homemade Mixes {Week 6}

 Save over $100 per year by making your own homemade baking mixes!! Check out these tips and tricks plus get easy recipes!

At the beginning of every week in 2013, I’ll be 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.

Save Over $100 Per Year By Making Your Own Homemade Mixes

Making your own homemade mixes is such a simple thing, but the majority of families who don’t cook and bake completely from scratch would likely save at least $8-$10 per month by making their own mixes instead of buying them pre-made.

Of course, if you typically get boxed cake mixes for pennies with coupons, you’re likely not going to save too much. But if you’re routinely paying for cookie mix, biscuit mix, pancake mix, taco seasoning packets, and more, you’ll save quite a bit. And every little bit adds up.

Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets

Not only are homemade mixes themselves much more economical than buying them pre-made at the store, but they can also save you money by encouraging you to eat at home. If you have pancake mix already made or pizza dough in the freezer, you have fewer excuses to go out for breakfast or order pizza.

Homemade Mixes Can Save You Time

Take a little time on the weekend or some evening to mix together the dry ingredients for your favorite homemade cakes, muffins, brownies, cookies, or pancakes. Doing this ahead of time will cut your prep time in half or more — and make cooking and baking from scratch a breeze!

Homemade Mixes Are Healthier

Aside from the time and money saved, one of the big benefits of making homemade mixes is that you have full control of what you put into the mixes. You don’t have to worry about chemicals or other unwanted ingredients. This is also a huge plus if you are dealing with food allergies at your house.

Freezer-Friendly Pizza Dough

How to Get Started Making Your Own Homemade Mixes

If you’re new to cooking and baking from scratch, don’t try to make everything from scratch. Just pick a few recipes that you think you’ll love and start with those. If they don’t work or you don’t like them, move on to another recipe.

Pinterest is a loaded with homemade mix recipe ideas. You could even create a board specifically to pin homemade mix ideas on as you find them. You can see a few of my favorite tried and true recipes below.

As you find recipes that work well, keep making them and slowly add new ones. Eventually, you’ll hopefully get into a nice rhythm of always having a good supply of mixes and doughs made ahead of time and waiting in your freezer.

Homemade Baking Mix

Be Sure to Label Your Mixes!

Make sure to label your mixes clearly, though, so you don’t end up having the disaster I had when trying to make rolls for guests with what I thought was flour, but was actually pancake mix!

Recommended Homemade Mix Recipes

13 Easy Homemade Bread Recipes (Freezer & Budget Friendly!)

Freezer-Friendly Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

Homemade Baking Mix

Freezer-Friendly Pizza Dough

Knock-Off Betty Crocker Brownie Mix

Homemade Pancake Mix

Glazed Cinnamon Scones (I’ve made the dry ingredients as a mix, or made the scone dough and frozen it.)

Freezer-Friendly Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

What are you favorite homemade mix recipes? I’d love to have you share them in the comments so I could consider trying them myself!