Tag Archive | budget

ways to save money you haven’t thought of

I don’t know what these leaves have to do with the post, but aren’t they pretty? 🙂

I know this is going to shock you. But in our family, I am the one who has mini-panic attacks about handles the finances. I’m the one that says, at least every two months, “Honey, this is it. I just did the budget, and it looks really bad this time. We can’t spend any money. None. We’re done.”

Fortunately, everyone in our household is on the same page. However, Todd does sometimes accuse me of exaggerating (weird?!?!), and acting like the world is going to fall in once a week. (How is it my fault that almost does?!?!)

We just bought a van. Every time I have to write a check that large, I kind of hyperventilate, and then for a couple days I am on high financial alert. I start obsessively turning off lights when I leave a room, I scrape the very bottom of the ketchup in the name of frugality, and I (gasp) cut off that deliciously hot shower a few minutes early, fantasizing of the dollars I’m saving in for my sacrifice.

It usually wears off, unfortunately.

But this go-round I’ve actually discovered some really interesting ways to save money, and been reminded of some good ones I knew a while ago.

I’d like to think I’m not the only one who gets a sick feeling in my stomach when I think about how much (more) I need for retirement, and the unfathomable amount of food that must be needed to satisfy two teenage boys. Gulp.

So here are some ways to save some moo-lah. First, the FUN ones. I say that in the “teacher sense” of the word “fun.” Remember when your teacher said she had a “fun” worksheet? Think of it that way.

Fun ways:

  1. Have a yard sale. Serve hot chocolate, put out good signs, advertise on Craig’s List. Spend a few weeks going through each room in the house. Let your eyes fall on every object you own, and ask yourself: “Self, would I rather have (this object), or $1?” The only sticky part comes when one half of you would like to hang onto a rusting, corroding key chain collection, and one half of you unfathomably feels an emotional connection to said key chains.
  2. Use coupons. Oh, don’t roll those eyes. I use this link to see what coupons align with my local store, Harris Teeter. You don’t even have to do it every week! If you got your Sunday local paper, set aside the coupons, and drug them out for “Double Coupons” or “Triple Coupons” weeks at your grocery store, you’d be amazed how much free or next-to-free items you’d rack up.
  3. Set a reasonable but strict grocery budget, and get out cash for the month to put in an envelope. I was skeptical of this system. By biggest fear, aside from realizing I actually spend 4  times the amount I think I spend, was losing the envelope. So far, so good. It makes me so proud to know I’m staying in my budget! I plan to reward myself with a nice cold frappachino with part of my surplus. Ahhh, the many, many perks of being a stay-at-home mom. It’s a crazy life I live.
  4. Subscribe to the blog Money Saving Mom. I used to think she was only coupons and freebies. I have recently discovered that she is full of genuinely practical and helpful ways to make money from home and creatively budget. Everyday she has at least 20 different deals and tips. Truly amazing! So far (and it’s only been three weeks) I’ve won two giveaways, about 30 free ebooks, gotten a gift card, and made some blogging connections. Success, I’d say!
  5. Also subscribe to Free Homeschool Deals. It is far more than “homeschool deals.” Just today, I ordered about 10 free ebooks, about everything from homemade Christmas gifts to sharks and donkeys to everyday desserts.
  6. Use Swagbucks. If you use swagbucks to search the web (instead of google or whatever), you earn points to redeem for giftcards. I have friends who earn  over $100 a year in gift cards by doing nothing more than search the web. When you install swagbucks, send me an email so that I can get a referral! Their referral prizes are terrific. It’s been a month and I have a $5 gift card to Amazon, just by doing business as usual online!
  7. Sell books, etc on Amazon trade-in services. If you are like me and have old textbooks lying around, you can sell them for cash on amazon. Amazon even pays the shipping!

Now, the not-fun ways:

First, a story. {Isn’t it funny how you remember weird snippets from your childhood? I’ll never get out of my mind the time we were at an amusement park during closing time and the french-fry vendor gave us his leftover fries for free. Ah, what a wonderful memory.}

Also, one time my dad and I were cleaning out our car. He said something like, “You know, people don’t think it’s important to do maintenance on things. It’s the tyranny of the urgent – they only fix what’s broken. And it comes back to bite them.”

I’ve never forgotten that.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m horrible at it. But I know he’s right.

Here are the ways to save money, not but making money, but by not spending it. Gee whiz that sentence was deep.

  1. Keep anti-virus on your computer.
  2. Speaking of your computer, don’t let your kids play with the power adapter, don’t set drinks near your computer, and never set it on the floor. Where you will step on it. Or your kids will sit on it. Or drive a bulldozer over it. Etc. Etc.
  3. #2 above, for the cell phone. Add to not make phone calls on the toilet. (Who does that??)
  4. Keep the change. Literally, keep all the change you have/find/have been ignoring under the couch cushions. Get piggy bank.
  5. Keep your car in the garage.
  6. Change the oil regularly.
  7. Don’t grind up spoons in the garbage disposal.
  8. Don’t suck up paper clips and other plastic gunk in the vacuum.
  9. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth. And don’t (gasp, ahem, looking over at husband) run the shower for five minutes while you brush your teeth, go the bathroom, search for that perfect pair of boxers, clean out your ears, etc. etc. etc.!!!!!!! Wow. I guess that’s been bothering me. 🙂
  10. Only use HE detergent in your machine if it calls for it.
  11. Clean out the dryer vent.
  12. Replace the vacuum filter every six months, or whatever the manufacturer calls for. (Look, I warned you these were going to be boring!)
  13. Don’t let your kids “ride” your vacuum while you use it, even if seems like it is the highlight of their existence, because otherwise the “motherboard” gets damaged. (Who even knew non-spaceship items had “motherboards”?)
  14. Don’t drive places you don’t need to drive.
  15. Pay your bills on time.
  16. Repeat: pay your bills on time.
  17. When you’re buying something, look twice at the size/item #/thing you thought you were getting, to make sure.
  18. Brush your kids’ teeth after eating raisins. (I know, random. But they’re the worst, says a dentist I know. raisins = cavities = money.)
  19. Use a drying rack/clothesline instead of dryer sometimes. The dryer is your the biggest use of electricity.
  20. Keep your termite pest control treatments up-to-date.

I think I’ll stop there, because I’m starting to fall asleep. Did I just say “termite pest control?” I did. Anyways, you get the point. I realize this list is not going to become an overnight sensation on Pinterest or anything. But I thought we could all use a reminder to take care of the things we have! Listen to my dad!! Go change your oil!!! 🙂