Question for families on a budget....

DelmaDelma Registered Users Posts: 1,121
What are some things you do to save money? I could really use some tips please.

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  • PixieCurlPixieCurl Registered Users Posts: 5,656
    The biggest way we save money is by never eating out. Don't have to pay for the meal or childcare. We literally go to a restaurant probably 1-2 times per year, since Solomon's been born. We do get takeout sometimes but it's usually pizza or fast food, so nothing expensive.

    For entertainment, we'll often have friends over for dinner. I can make a pretty good meal and provide wine for under $20. That way too, we don't have to leave our son, and our friends can stay and chat after I put him to bed.

    We accept hand-me-down clothes for Sol and buy just what we need. I do laundry plenty frequently so it's not like he needs 10-20 pieces for each season.

    Cloth diapering saves us a lot.

    We get books and movies from the library for free.

    I have a very part-time job at my local YMCA (teaching Yoga) so we get a discounted family membership for just $20/month. Mostly my husband uses it, but $20/month for a gym membership even for one person is pretty good.

    If I think of more I'll add on.
    Faith, 3Aish redhead
    Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy :love5:
  • inheritedcurlsinheritedcurls Registered Users Posts: 2,954 Curl Connoisseur
    My biggest save is meal planning. If I can buy groceries once and plan 5 or 6 meals plus formula, plus baby food..for 100.00 a week it's good.

    The biggest thing we've done that has helped is to take a certain amount of cash out each week. Once that is gone..spending is over for the week. I've found it very empowering to pay with cash instead of debit or cc. Of course, the sad thing is...some people take forever to figure out the change. :)
  • Jess the MessJess the Mess Registered Users Posts: 5,844 Curl Neophyte
    Coupons and be willing to go to multiple stores. My sister made me a coupon box years ago with tabs for everything under the sun including take out and restaurants. I also make a menu of dinners for the week and then base my grocery list off that. It ensures that I buy exactly what I need so nothing is wasted. I check the weekly grocery store specials and base where I will shop off of them. I usually start at the dollar store as there is a good selection of bread, produce, and other refrigerated items. Then I move on to our discount produce store and finish at the regular store. I also buy most of our paper products and detergents, etc. at Wal-Mart as they are much cheaper there.

    Some other suggestions are we use netflix instead of renting at blockbuster. We buy memberships to things like the zoo and aquarium. Two days ago we bought a family membership to the zoo for $80. Yes the initial payment was a lot but we can go all year as opposed to it costing $40 every time we want to go. We bought a membership to the aquarium for $110. It saves so much in the end and we always have something to do.

    Our local theatre has free kids movies every tues and thurs in the summer. We have a park with a water feature that the kids can play in. Our local parks also have tons of free events like "drive-in" movies and music in the park.

    I'm curious to see other responses too :)
    High Priestess JessMess, follower of the Goddess of the Coiling Way and Confiscator of Concoctions in the Order of the Curly Crusaders

  • nynaeve77nynaeve77 Registered Users Posts: 7,135 Curl Novice
    Mostly, we just pared back on stuff like going out to eat, etc. and only do that for special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries. I take DD to story hour at Barnes and Noble, which is free (they get to hear several stories and do crafts). We also got rid of cable b/c my husband had a tuner card for our computer which doubles as a dvr. We get all the local digital channels, and I watch any basic cable shows online. Coupons are good for boxed goods, hygiene items, etc. (of course, you have to actually remember to bring them to the store, which I always forget to do!). I also buy a lot of generic things when the quality is the same and it often is for stuff like mac and cheese or floss, for example.
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  • DelmaDelma Registered Users Posts: 1,121
    Thanks ladies, great ideas. Keep 'em coming!
  • DelmaDelma Registered Users Posts: 1,121
    PixieCurl wrote: »
    The biggest way we save money is by never eating out. Don't have to pay for the meal or childcare. We literally go to a restaurant probably 1-2 times per year, since Solomon's been born. We do get takeout sometimes but it's usually pizza or fast food, so nothing expensive.

    For entertainment, we'll often have friends over for dinner. I can make a pretty good meal and provide wine for under $20. That way too, we don't have to leave our son, and our friends can stay and chat after I put him to bed.

    We accept hand-me-down clothes for Sol and buy just what we need. I do laundry plenty frequently so it's not like he needs 10-20 pieces for each season.

    Cloth diapering saves us a lot.

    We get books and movies from the library for free.

    I have a very part-time job at my local YMCA (teaching Yoga) so we get a discounted family membership for just $20/month. Mostly my husband uses it, but $20/month for a gym membership even for one person is pretty good.

    If I think of more I'll add on.


    What kind of meals do you make for under 20? Please share!
  • PixieCurlPixieCurl Registered Users Posts: 5,656
    Delma wrote: »
    What kind of meals do you make for under 20? Please share!

    Well, I'm not a meat-eater and I don't really like to cook with it, so the most meat I'll do for company is chicken. We buy huge bags of frozen chicken breasts at Sam's Club for my husband since he eats it all the time, so it ends up being something like $0.20/breast.

    Just this past weekend for company I did chicken baked in olive oil and spices; penne pasta (which we buy in huge bags at Sam's) with canellini beans and baby spinach; homemade Italian bread in my breadmaker (I had the ingredients on-hand and they're dirt cheap); and a tomato/avocado salad (one tomato and one avocado, sliced with the avocado slices on top of the tomato slices). This fed 4 adults and 2 kids. We also bought one bottle of white wine (they're not big drinkers otherwise we may have gotten two). The other family brought over dessert.

    Vegetarian chili (beans, diced tomatoes, spices), cornbread, and a salad.

    My husband loves to have friends over and grill in the summer. If it's just one other couple/family, we can keep it pretty inexpensive between the meat/buns. I often make mac & cheese as a side dish (I use the Kraft stuff and everyone seems to love it!).

    If I think of any more I'll let you know.
    Faith, 3Aish redhead
    Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy :love5:
  • subbrocksubbrock Registered Users Posts: 8,212

    The biggest thing we've done that has helped is to take a certain amount of cash out each week. Once that is gone..spending is over for the week. I've found it very empowering to pay with cash instead of debit or cc. Of course, the sad thing is...some people take forever to figure out the change. :)

    we're pretty much a "cash only" family as well. in addition to using cash, we just started saving our receipts as well. it adds an extra bit of accountability as well as still allowing us to see what we spent our money on.

    also, when it comes to recreational activities (water parks, amusement parks, etc) buying season passes or buying a membership (children's museum, zoo) saves alot of money.
  • Brown_Eyed_GirlBrown_Eyed_Girl Registered Users Posts: 1,353 Curl Neophyte
    ITA w/ meal planning and Netflix and the library. I'm storing the zoo, etc. membership idea away for later. :-)

    I frequent the local thrift stores, Craigslist and the Just Between Friends sales for Lydia's things. Just some examples...I bought a turtle sandbox for $10, and barely-used jogging stroller for 1/4 of the original price. Last winter I bought a bag of girls clothes for about $2 an item. I bought all of her BD presents at the JBF sale in March. I try to keep a running list of things I'd like or she might need soon and then browse as I have time. Second-hand shopping doesn't work well for something you have to have right now.

    For meals, I'm not vegetarian, but I try to make one or two meat-free meals a week and/or use tuna for one. Many meals with meat, I try to stretch it out a little. For example, a stir fry with lots of veggies or a spaghetti with some meat in the sauce (rather than a whole chicken breast for each person).

    Also, I buy nice coffee beans and brew them myself rather than going to Starbucks (at least most of the time).
  • SigiSigi Registered Users Posts: 2,379
    -If it's a tight month, I'll cut out our extras like ice cream, beer, soda, etc from our grocery shopping.

    -Then for some things I'll switch to the cheaper store brand rather than the name brand.

    -I also try to stretch meats since they can get expensive. Soups and stews are a good way to do that since one batch will last 2 days.

    -My husband takes his lunch to work instead of buying.

    -Other ideas are to get rid of some cable channels; see if your cable, phone or internet providers are having any promotions/bundles; get rid of land line and just use cell phones

    I think this topic comes up from time to time at Mothering.com in the Frugality and Finances section. You might look there for tips too.
  • PixieCurlPixieCurl Registered Users Posts: 5,656
    Sigi wrote: »
    -My husband takes his lunch to work instead of buying.

    -Other ideas are to get rid of some cable channels; see if your cable, phone or internet providers are having any promotions/bundles; get rid of land line and just use cell phones

    Yes to both of these. I chickened out of cancelling our cable and landline altogether because when I called to do so, they kept offering me lower and lower deals until I finally said "OK, I'll keep them".
    Faith, 3Aish redhead
    Mama to two wild superheroes and a curly-headed baby boy :love5:
  • rainshowerrainshower Registered Users Posts: 4,420
    i make my own lunch.

    i do major grocery shopping once a month, and do fill-in shopping each week. i make a thorough list and don't deviate from it.

    we're not clothes hogs or product junkies.

    we don't do back-to-school clothes shopping. we replace our kids' clothes as needed throughout the year. for example, our son may get new tennis shoes, while our daughter still has another season of wear from hers.

    my job gives me free baseball tickets and museum passes.

    we actually put savings into our savings account(s). for example, when we paid off our car notes in the past, starting the very next month, the money that would have gone toward the car note, went right into savings and continues to go into savings. otherwise, we'd just have extra money sitting in a checking account slowly dwindling away on nonessential things.

    i don't go to department stores, shopping centers, or malls, unless i need something. this lessens the chance of me making impulsive and wasteful purchases.
    "Dogs stink too, but I like dog stink." ~ rileyb
  • webjockeywebjockey Registered Users Posts: 2,786
    no crib - co sleeping & mattress on the floor
    no changing table - on the floor on on the couch with a towel if needed
    no sodas
    water down juice at least 75%. I can't drink full strength juice now.
    I mostly make lemonade for juice. Even with Costco organic sugar, it comes out cheaper.
    Very few prepared foods. I make tomato sauce from scratch, stovetop mac & cheese from scratch, pancakes from scratch etc etc.
    Basic cable.
    Entertainment is going to the park or visiting animals at the local nursery (the ones here have chickens, donkey etc.)
    Dinner where meat is not the center of the meal (this is still a challenge for me)
    I only go to the mall 2x a year- during end of year clearance times to get basics like tee shirts and undies.
    Shop only at discount stores & ebay.
    hello.world.
  • sarah42sarah42 Registered Users Posts: 4,034
    We do weekly grocery shopping. I'll plan out a menu for the week, usually with a couple meat-less meals, and figure out how much I need to make so there will be leftovers for the next day's lunch. Those ingredients go on the shopping list, plus snacks and staples like milk, crackers, cereal, etc. That's what gets bought.

    We recently refinanced our house for a lower interest rate, so our house payment is about $150 less per month. We're paying that extra money into one of our cars so it'll get paid off sooner. Once that car note is paid off, we'll take the entire payment and add it into our other car payment to pay it off early. After all that happens, which will be about 1-2 years down the road, I think we'll start paying more into our house, or possibly put more into our 403b.
  • deezee02deezee02 Registered Users Posts: 1,509
    I LOVE krafts "5 meals one bag" that they have on their site for meal planning. Plus, since it makes enough for DH to have lunch the next day

    I stockpile with sales...so when kraft mac and cheese is on sale for 10 for $10, and I have a coupon for $1 off 4, I will stock up...same with all other dry and paper goods.

    I buy christmas and birthday through the year...DS is done already and so is much of our extended family
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  • MagooMagoo Registered Users Posts: 2,173 Curl Neophyte
    Once my son was born, I cut back to 3 days of work a week so in order to do that we had to cut back in a lot of areas. We're also trying to pay off my student loans and save at the same time so we've pretty much adopted an "every penny counts" mindset.

    Food and groceries are one area where a lot of families overspend so I really try to watch my spending there.

    We only order in/eat out once a week as a treat and most of the time it's at a diner or family type restaurant where the kids eat free or at a discount. Sometimes I'll just split a dish with my son since the meals are so big and he barely eats an entire kids meal.

    I try to cook with what I already have so nothing goes to waste. It's amazing how much food gets thrown out if you don't keep track of what you already have. I make a list of only what I truly need for shopping and stick to it. I'm also not particularly loyal to any one brand. I will see what's on sale and then use a coupon on top of that to save even more. If I don't really need it, I'll just wait until it goes on sale.
    I try the supermarket/generic brands. A lot of them are actually pretty good and stay away from prepackaged/convenience fo.ods For instance, I'll buy big bags of pretzels or some other snack and just divide them up into little snack containers for my son.
    DH and I are big water drinkers so I don't buy soda. We drink juice/ice tea occasionally.
    I'm also trying to cut back on meat dishes during the week but DH is a carnivore so that's been a bit tough.
    I like Costco for food items, especially the meat but I try to stick to the basics and not get tempted by all the other stuff they have. Also make sure you're actually getting a good deal on that giant tub of ketchup. It's not always less expensive than at your regular supermarket.

    I always pack a lunch for work, usually whatever's left over from dinner. Have coffee at home in the morning.

    I've recently gotten into thrift stores. They're great for kids clothes since they grow out of them so fast. I've gotten some pretty good deals on stuff that was brand new with tags still on them. Name brand stuff too.

    We don't use our credit cards anymore and use cash only. Try not to use the debit card unless we really have to. You're less likely to overspend when you have to fork over actual cash for stuff.

    We have basic cable and we cancelled all the extra services that come with our phone service. If it was up to me I'd get rid of cable altogether but DH would have a heart attack:icon_smile:.

    Love the library for books, movies and CDs.

    In the summer, we go to the playground a lot. Do picnics in the park, bike ride for fun. A membership to the zoo is also worth it if you go often. If we go out, I make sure to bring along snacks, juice, bottles of water so we don't end up having to buy it.

    When DH and I have the rare date night, we're lucky enough to have family close by that can babysit our son so it's free. We'll also have dinner at home and then just go out for coffee and dessert or even a nice walk in the park just the two of us. All we really need is to have some "kid free" time.
    3b/c fine, thick, porous, protein sensitive
    Modified CG, CJ Rehab, JCWDT, KCKT, VO5 Chamomile Tea Therapy, CJDF, HEBE Gel/Mousse, Bioinfusion Rosemary Mint shampoo, occasional protein

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  • DelmaDelma Registered Users Posts: 1,121
    Thanks soo much ladies for all the tips, they have really helped. we have been preparing more meals from scratch and watching sales more thanks to you all.


    Brown eyed girl, thanks so much for the craigslist suggestion I have izzy's fall and winter clothes all taken care of for a great price!
  • Brown_Eyed_GirlBrown_Eyed_Girl Registered Users Posts: 1,353 Curl Neophyte
    Delma wrote: »
    Brown eyed girl, thanks so much for the craigslist suggestion I have izzy's fall and winter clothes all taken care of for a great price!

    I'm glad it helped you!
  • shellibeanshellibean Registered Users Posts: 4,500
    We:
    -get hand-me -downs from my cousin's little boy
    -have laying hens so we never buy eggs
    -have friends with gardens who are always sharing their extra veggies
    -Eat leftovers all the time
    -Hang our towels & re-use a few times (saves on laundry loads BIG TIME)
    -Don't have a landline
    -thrift store shop
    -buy generic (unless I really prefer the brand name of that item) For example- I don't skimp on toilet paper b/c I think generic is scratchy, but for like cereal- it's the bag kind every time!
    A closed mind is a wonderful thing to lose.

    "...you could have a turd on your head and no one would notice."~Subbrock

    "I had an imaginary puppy, but my grandpa ate him."~Bailey
  • SystemSystem Posts: 39,060 Administrator
    Delma wrote: »
    What are some things you do to save money? I could really use some tips please.


    I shop online for certain things which I know are cheaper that way + I try to do it when there's free shipping.

    We use coupons.

    We check the sales racks first for clothing purchases.

    We eat out less.

    We try to do fun but free things on weekends...
  • poisonivypoisonivy Registered Users Posts: 1,551
    I shop at Aldi! I don't know if you have one where you live but the food quality is excellent and its so cheap. I also buy our bread at the bread thrift store. We have 5 kids and we go through a loaf to a loaf and a half a day. I'm also a regular clothes thrift store shopper. I rarely buy anything new. Meal planning and staying out of Target really helps too!
  • velvet pawsvelvet paws Registered Users Posts: 1,250
    The most important thing that we do to save money is to create a written budget at the beginning of every month and then sticking to it. We make sure to factor in money for fun things every month - pedicures, going out to eat, toys for the kids, etc, otherwise sticking to the budget would be about deprivation rather than putting our money to work for our family. We bulk shop, do meal planning and try to shop sales at and what not, but the budget has really been the single most important factor in helping us save.
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