Can you use 25 ways to save money? My family sure can! Mark and I have always set goals to achieve each year. One area that is really tough is the grocery budget, good grief, the prices keep going up. How do large families feed themselves, I think about this all the time.
When I walk up and down the aisles of any store, I think about the stuff they are selling. How much stuff do we really need? Then I think back to when I was raising my family, nothing has really changed. If I compare our income to expenses back then, we made every dollar stretch. I’m sure you do as well. We have to, right?
As I read comments from my readers many of you have done the same thing. Has life changed? The first thing that may come to mind is the entitlement. Sometimes parents rescue their family members by paying their rent, buying groceries, etc. This is okay occasionally, keyword, not every month.
It’s a lot easier to write a check to someone than to teach them to be self-reliant. This is a statement my good friend told me, he teaches families to take care of themselves. In other words, to be self-reliant.
Teach a Man To Fish
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” is a quote from the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, founder of Taoism. End of quote. (Chinese Proverb)
Ways To Save Money
1. Savings Account
Set up a savings account with an automatic payment. If you can only afford $1.oo a week, that will add up over many years. This account can be for emergency needs. You will not miss the money, I promise. Besides, the interest will compound, which means earning interest on interest. Compounding interest is added onto the principal balance and it keeps on adding interest. After many years this will add up to a very good sum of money.
2. Holiday Savings Account
Set up a savings account for birthdays and Christmas gifts. Start by writing down how much you can afford to spend for the coming year on gifts. Then divide it by 12 months and put that amount in your Holiday Gift Savings Account each month. If you have to use a credit card, stop, you can’t afford to buy gifts. Period.
3. Vacation Fund
Set up a savings account for road trips, and vacations. At the beginning of the year, make a plan for ideas you would like to see for the year. Calculate the expense and see if it fits in your budget. If not, have a stay-at-home vacation. If you have to use a credit card for trips or vacations, stop. You can’t afford to travel today, but maybe next year.
4. Write Down Your Expenses
This may be a rude awakening for some people. When I was working at a bank, I would counsel people on how to budget and cut expenses. A few of my clients had no idea they were spending $1000.00 a month or more on eating out or $300.00 a month at a local convenience store for sodas each day.
If you take a small notebook or whatever works for you, write down every day when you pay bills or spend money. You may or may not be surprised at what is going out the door each day so to speak. When you write something down it makes you aware of your spending habits.
5. Envelope System
You may have heard me talk about my envelope system for spending. I have done this for almost 50 years now. It works if you do it. Grab some small envelopes and put the money that you spend every month in individual envelopes. For instance, I have envelopes for haircuts, groceries, and spending money. These are my ways to save money every month. When the money is gone so is the shopping. If I have any leftover money it goes into my savings account.
I use my debit card for gas purchases so I don’t have to leave my car after filling my gas tank.
6. Unsubscribe To Emails
It may be tempting to buy that sweater, dog leash, or whatever that pops up from websites that are selling everything almost daily in your inbox. It’s crazy since the internet has become so popular ads to buy stuff we don’t need or want are popping up everywhere. Yes, I have them on my website to help cover expenses to run my website. If you don’t want to see them you can block ads.
7. Make Gifts Instead of Buying
Do you love homemade gifts as much as I do? My daughter used to make 20+ loaves of bread to deliver to neighbors for Christmas, the people couldn’t wait to get their homemade loaf of bread with that red ribbon on it.
What about that jar of salsa? Or that jar of raspberry freezer jam? I know some couples in my neighborhood that would love a casserole delivered in a disposable dish. Life is good when you do something from the heart to help others. It’s a blessing for them as well as the giver.
A single mother/dad would love some help cleaning their home or apartment. If he or she has small children under five they may need a little more help. A dinner delivered or a basket of fresh fruit rocks with joy!!!
8. Turn off the TV and Lights
We can save a few nickels and dimes just by turning off the TV or lights in the rooms we are not using. Change your furnace and air conditioning filters to keep your units working smoother.
9. Make a List
Sometimes when we make a list to go shopping we are really thinking about what our needs are. If we head to the grocery store without a list, we don’t have a plan. Lists help with our budget and therefore we stay on track to save money. Lots of money.
10. Stay away from Stores
What I’m really saying is stay out of the stores, if you go to stores to purchase the things on your list, that’s awesome. It’s when we are tempted to throw stuff in the basket or try on stuff to buy we really don’t need. If it’s on sale, great. But do we really need it or want it?
Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean we need to buy it. We can only wear so many shirts, hats, blouses, or shoes. Please remember, every time we go shopping and buy stuff we really don’t need we are teaching our children to be reckless with money.
If we go every day to get a drink from the corner convenience store we are teaching our children it’s okay to spend $5.00 or more every day on stuff. Do we really want to do that? I don’t. Those dollars add up big time.
11. Repair Clothes over Buying New
If you can purchase a sewing machine to repair clothes instead of tossing them, you will save a lot of money. If you use a needle and thread that works too. My recommendation for sewing machines would be a Janome, Bernina, or Singer. You can buy a used one and get it serviced. Sewing is a great skill that everyone should learn. It’s too bad they don’t teach Home Economics at least in Utah schools anymore.
12. Plan Menus for your Meals
If we make a plan of meals for the week or month, we know how much money can be spent when shopping. Here again, if we write it down, we have a plan of action. If you missed my post on budget meals, here it is. 100 Budget Meals and also Dirt Cheap Budget Meal Planning
13. Learn to Make Bread
If you have celiac or gluten issues, I’m so sorry. I could not fix the meals I do if I didn’t make bread to stretch my budget. Anyone can make bread if they have fresh ingredients and the right ones. Please, note flour goes bad after about 12 months. Yes, flour goes bad unless you purchased it from commercial stores in #10 cans. Then the shelf-life typically is about 5 years if stored in a cool (55-70 degrees) dry room.
If you purchased 50-pound bags of bread flour like I do and place it in 5-gallon buckets with Gamma Lids, it will go bad after approximately 12 months. It does not last forever. I only purchase what I can use in one year. I make more freshly ground whole wheat bread than I do white bread. But, I love white dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls and so much more.
Here is my post about how easy it is to make, all of my recipes are no-fail if you follow the ingredients needed and the freshness of the products. No-Fail Bread Making
14. Quit Using Credit Cards
Do you really want to buy something with a credit card? Debt owns us as well as the banks charging the interest. If you can’t afford to pay cash, you can’t afford to buy it. It’s as simple as that. You may think that the item or items are on sale, but are they if you are paying 12% interest or more? If you pay off the balance every month that’s a different story. It’s when you carry a balance that never goes down.
15. Stay out of Debt
About 9 years ago, Mark and I decided to cut back our expenses and we eliminated one car. The car was paid for but I still had to buy insurance, car repairs, keep the car maintained, and fill it with gasoline. Keep in mind I do not have children at home now, so I’m not running kids to lessons or school. We decided we could get by with one car. Was it hard? Maybe a little in the beginning but now I can’t imagine having more than one car.
The good thing is that we have saved enough money to buy another car, but we do not want to buy one yet. This 2009 Honda CRV is still running great and we are good with one car.
16. Learn Not To Want Stuff
I’m a crazy lady that loves kitchen gadgets, well I’m not really crazy, but you know what I mean. Have you read anything on learning to be minimalistic? It’s really hit me to declutter and let go of stuff. Another reason is that I don’t want my kids to have to get too many dumpsters to empty my house when I die.
It actually feels awesome with less stuff. If you think about it, everything we have in our possession we have to take care of somehow. Yikes, if you think about it, all our stuff we have to clean, put back where we got it, store it, or whatever. Now, I laugh as I put away some of my stuff, and think, do I really want to take care of this or not? Just something to think about.
17. Cook from Scratch
It’s been brought to my attention through emails that a few readers do not know what “cook from scratch” means. I’m so grateful that my readers know I will answer any question they send me. I was raised by a mom who cooked from scratch. Cooking from scratch means being able to make bread, dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, pasta, cook rice, make casseroles from memory, or use a recipe, etc.
Yes, most people can steam chopped vegetables and grill a piece of meat. But to cook from scratch to me means cooking and baking with a frugal mind with or without a recipe. Obviously, it doesn’t mean driving through fast food eateries. Cooking from scratch is a family affair, planning meals, setting the table, cooking, and eating together at the table.
Do you love grabbing a cookbook and flipping through the pages to find just the right recipe for dinner? I have daughters that have become better cook-from-scratch moms than I was. I am humbled by their diligence to find ways to save money and cook the right food for their family. I’m choked up as I write this, examples are powerful. You never know when your kids are watching you. Please teach your children and grandkids to cook from scratch. We need to keep this skill going from generation to generation.
18. Downsize Your Home/Apartment
If at all possible, downsize your living quarters. Most of us do not need the space we have and could probably live in a smaller home or apartment. It’s crazy, I’m still trying to talk Mark into a Tiny Home but then he asks, “Where will we put our food storage and emergency preps?”
If you can double up on kids and live in a smaller place, you may spend less on utilities, insurance, and taxes as well. I challenge you to look around your home and see if you could downsize. You may not be able to but if you can, it may save you money that you can put in the bank every month. You will have money for your future to use years down the road.
19. Grow a Garden
If you can learn the skill of gardening you will not only eat healthier but teach your family how important it is to be self-reliant. There is nothing better than a fresh tomato, or potato from the garden. You can learn how to improve your soil and grow even more vegetables. Oh, and plant some fruit trees, oh my gosh, picking peaches from your own trees is the best thing ever!!! Any fruit tree is awesome if your weather is compatible to grow them.
20. Eat Less Meat
This area would be very easy for me to cut down on our food budget. Mark is a meat lover so, I still purchase meat sparingly. I only buy meat in the clearance section when it has a buy one get one free going on. This actually happens quite often. I partially fill my freezer when I see the meat prices slashed.
Once I had a cute neighbor who ate salmon two or three times a week. Here’s the deal, she never had any money. I didn’t have the heart or guts to say, quit buying salmon. Mark and I can’t afford salmon. We eat a lot of beans and rice, I’m good with that.
Plus, the meat I buy ends up costing less than $2.00 a pound. If the beef is a tough cut, I cook it in the pressure cooker. You can also cut it up and make soup in the slow cooker as well. Just so you know sometimes I luck out with beef steaks for less than $2.00 a pound. Yay!
21. Buy Basics in Bulk
Do you buy your pantry basics in bulk? You can sometimes save a lot of money when you purchase larger amounts. Flour, oatmeal, and rice are a few that come to my mind. Please remember, flour will last about 12 months if you store it in buckets with an airtight lid. White rice can be stored for 4 or 5 years. It may last longer if vacuum-packed.
I have read where people say it stores indefinitely. Here’s the deal, rice can go bad if it smells throw it out. My philosophy is “When in doubt, throw it out.”
Oats will last about 2-3 three years if stored in an airtight container in a cool dry place. I tend to go on the safe side of shelf-life times. Salt never goes bad but if it gets wet it will clump and stick together. Keep it dry and you will always have salt. Sugar and salt are great to store in your pantry but do not use oxygen absorbers, your salt and sugar will become bricks. That is not fun.
22. Save for Retirement
If you can save just $25.00 a month from the day you turn 25 years of age, you will be a wealthy retiree. You may not even miss the money if you start that habit when you are young. There is something awesome about having money in the bank. No matter what the balance, it keeps you saving more money month after month.
23. Calculate Hours To Work To Purchase One Item
Let’s pretend we want to buy a sweater that costs $50.00. If you earn $10.00 an hour then you will need to work 5 hours to pay for that sweater. If you make $25.00 an hour you will have to work 2 hours in order to pay for it. Now, this is just one item. This gives you an idea of how much you have to work to pay for the items you decide to purchase. I just rounded the dollar amounts to make it easy to calculate.
24. Pay Your Bill Through Auto-Pay
If you set up automatic payments for the bills that are applicable your bills will never be late and will not cost you expensive late fees. Of course, make sure you keep the amount of money in your checking account so the bills can be debited. If you can set up “equal pay” for your ongoing utility bills, you will know what to budget for each month.
25. Designate One Day a Week a No Spend Day
This task is a simple one, choose one day a week, so that no one in the family spends any money on that one day each week. Plan a homemade pizza night with popcorn and watch a movie on TV. Or play a board game or two. Life is good when you have fun as a family.
Thanks again for being prepared for the unexpected. Let me know some of the ways you save money. We learn from each other. May God bless this world.