Friday, June 3, 2011

Money Saving and Being Frugal

I love to find new ways to save money and be frugal.  Some people call it being cheap, I call it having good sense, haha, especially now that I'm not working.  Why spend money on things you don't have to when you could take the money your saving and use it for something else.  Every now and then I like to google ways to save money or be more frugal and see if I can find anything new.  In times like these when the economy is like it is we could all use little ways to save a little.

Here are a few ways I save money.

The #1 way I save is using cloth diapers with my 7 month old.  I was fortunate enough that my mom bought me quite a few all-in-ones off the internet that are just as easy as using disposables.  I also use the old school prefolds with rubber pants over top.  I ended up getting about 20 of them as baby shower gifts.  The only thing I'm not comfortable with is using the pins with the prefolds so my mom bought me Snappis and they are super simple to use, I love them.  The only time I use disposables is at night and when we go out places.  I  tried using the cloth at night and as he has gotten older he pees way too much while he is sleeping and I end up having to change his clothes, sheets, blankets, etc which is not worth it to me.

#2- I have went green with my cleaning products.  My main reason was not because it was better for the earth but its better for my son.  I don't like the idea of having to lock up cleaning products and try to find places he can't get to them.  So I don't used bleach or ammonia.  Instead I use vinegar and water with lemon to spray down the kitchen counters, bathroom counters, mop the floor, etc.  The tub gets cleaned with water and baking soda which actually works better than any store bought product I have found.  I also have different recipes for glass cleaner, dusting spray, and wood polish.  All of which use basic ingredients you find around the house.  I found all my recipes by googling homemade cleaning products.

#3-  I quit using the dry cycle on the dishwasher.  Instead, when the dishwasher is done cleaning I simply open the door, pull out the drawers and leave them open for a few hours.  I like to do this at night and then they are completely dry by morning.

#4- I only do large loads of laundry except for my diapers and I always use cold water except for towels, sheets, and diapers.

#5- Freezer meals.  When I go grocery shopping I never buy just 1lb of hamburger meat, I usually buy 5lbs.  When I get home I seperate it to make meals that are easy to freeze such as meatballs, taco meat, sloppy joes, meatloaf, etc.  The last 5 lbs I bought I used to make hamburger steaks one night, mixed up 2- 1lb meatloafs, a batch of meatballs, and browned some for spaghetti sauce.  So in about one hour I had 5 meals ready to go in the freezer.  Having freezer meals can be a real life saver, especially now since money is so tight.  I love that I have multiple meals in my freezer to fall back on when we don't have as much money to spend on groceries.  I can't say enough about freezer meals, I absolutely love, love, love them!!

#6- We stopped buying bottled water.  We were buying 2- 24pkgs of water each week and they are about $3 a pkg.  That's $6 a week and $24 a month, may not seem like much but it adds up.  Instead we bought a Pur water pitcher with a filter and refill plastic, BPA free, bottles.

#7- We don't buy canned soda.  Here in Tennessee you can't really find cases of soda for less than $3 a case and we were buying 2 cases a week at times.  Which is another $24 a month in our pockets.  Now we make sweet tea and kool-aid instead if we want something other than water, milk, or juice.

#8- I make our Laundry Detergent, dishwasher detergent, and baby wipes. 
#9- I use cloth wipes for cleaning up after wet diapers.  This has made my homemade wipes last 2 to 3 times as long.

#10- Menu planning.  I really hate menu planning but I do it every week.  Here is my menu "plan"; I have 1 night of leftovers, 1 of breakfast for dinner, 1 of a pasta, 1 of soup (usually already made in the freezer), 1 of beef, and 1 of chicken, and 1 left for grilled cheese, hotdogs or any other easy meal.  I keep a magnetic marker board on my deep freezer with all its contents on the inside so I know what freezer meals I have inside and what kind of meat I already have on hand.  So first I go to the freezer and see what I already have and try to make at least 1 meal, but usually 2, from what I already have.  Then I plan on having leftovers 1 night, and breakfast food 1 night.  We usually always have the ingredients for breakfast foods already on hand so there are 3-4 dinners without spending a penny.  Next I look online at the sale ads and see if there are any killer deals on anything, especially meat.  Then I  pull out the cookbooks and recipe box and see what I can make with the contents of my cabinents.  I try to stick with recipes that don't require ingredients we rarely use or ingredients that are expensive.

#11- I make my own baby food.  Using Ziploc steam bags and my Magic Bullet I have successfully made both fruit and veggies for my son.  When fresh food is on sale it's the perfect time to stock up and make some for freezing.  If fresh food is not in season then you can always use frozen bags of veggies and some of those come in bags you can already steam the food in.  I bought some Walmart brand corn the other day that was labeled "steamable" on the front, so no need to use my Ziploc bags.  You can easily spend a couple dollars and get a weeks worth of veggies or fruit.  I didn't realize how quickly the cost of jarred baby food adds up until Grant started eating both fruits and vegetables.  At about $0.50 a piece you can spend about $7 a week just on baby food.  Every little bit helps so if I can make my own for half that it's worth it to me.

#12- Coupons! After seeing the show Extreme Couponing on TLC I have a little obsession with couponing.  I am completely amazed these women get so much for a little of nothing and I am determined to figure out how they do it.  Now I can honestly say I will not ever purchase 30 sunday papers a week, and I will probably never have enough coupons to buy 100 of any one product.  However I have started getting some items for free here and there.  For instance I bought 12 boxes of pasta for free a few weeks back a kroger just by signing up at the companies website and then received coupons.  I am currently trying to master CVS and Walgreens by using store coupons, manufacturer coupons, and their extra care bucks and register rewards. 
Our grocery budget is about $40 a week, or $120 a month for 2 people.  Now there have been times when we go over this (which really irritates the budgeter in me), especially when a week comes along where we need toilet paper and paper towels at the same time.  Those 2 things alone are $6 a piece.  $12 might not seem like much but when we are talking about $40 that takes a good chunk of it.  I try to buy meat when it is on sale and at it's cheapest but sometimes that is not always possible.  I usually only buy one kind of meat a week and just buy a large amount of it.  For example if ground beef is on sale and the meals I want to cook that week require 2 lbs of beef, I buy 5 lbs so I can use the other 3lbs for another week.  Likewise the other week chicken leg quarters were $0.39/lb and split chicken breast were $0.98/lb so I had to buy a good bit to put in the freezer for future meals.

I'm sure there are men and women out there who have many other ways to save money and I'd love to hear about them!

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