Our journey to become debt free has brought me to a lot of research and ideas on how to save money. I have read many, many blogs, read tons of Dave Ramsey advice, spoke with friends, learned somethings from my parents, and prayer. When we first started on our journey I had no idea where to begin. To me, it seemed like all these bloggers were experts in saving money and award winning cook in the kitchen. I wanted that. I wanted to learn all their tricks and trades. One thing I have learned is that I am still learning. As humans we can always learn new things. Sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zones to learn new things, but when we do we are amazed by what we have learned.
I wanted to share with you ten ways that you can become more frugal and save money. You do not have to start with all ten, you can adapt to one or two, or even more. Just remember you know what works for your family and what your family needs. The list of ten is what I started with and continue to use today. A couple of them (laundry and dishwasher soap) I have done before and stopped because the recipe just was not working for us. However, just this week a close friend of mine shared her recipes that she used and I LOVE them. Prior to using the homemade soaps I would wash dishes by hand and let them air dry in the dishwasher. This way I am saving on water and not having to buy the expensive dishwasher soap as often. Just a couple of months ago I ran out of dishwasher soap and never bought more.
1. Homemade dishwasher soap (sharing recipe this week)
2. Homemade laundry soap (sharing recipe this week)
3. Re-use Ziploc baggies. If you use sandwich bags or the gallon bags, you can re-use them as long as there is no raw meat stored in them. All you have to do is wash them. I do this all the time. I do not even need to tell my children because they automatically save them.
4. Thrift stores. Yes thrift stores. Some people do not like the idea of thrift stores but let me tell you. I have saved quite a bit of money shopping at thrift stores. I have found some great items for real cheap. Such as this item or this. Just the other day I was able to pick up my daughter a nice pair of London Fog snow pants and snow boots for $13.50. In reality I paid $8.50 because I sold my daughter's old snowboard pants for $5. Snow pants at Wal-mart are about $18!
5. Coupons. I just started couponing this past summer and have saved a tremendous amount of money and built a stockpile. I have couponed in the past but this summer I learned how to coupon. I saw that I needed to stack my manufacturer coupons with store coupons while there is a sale going on. My husband is even all about coupons. My blessings have told me that they will coupon during college because they do not want to eat ramen noodles their entire college years. The best part is I have gotten some items for free or paid just cents for an item or two.
6. Meatless dinners. Each week I try to plan a meal or two without having to use meat. Meat is the most expensive part of a meal if you have meat as the main course. Usually our meatless dinner may be breakfast, we call this breakner. Or another meal may consist of fettuccine alfredo. Or you could make spaghetti without meat. I have done that, but not knowing meat was suppose to be added (did not learn how to cook until I was married). My step-dad does not let me live that down. Who knew back then that it was frugal :)
7. Homemade snacks. I try to make homemade snacks for my family. This may consist of breads, muffins, cookies, homemade applesauce, fruit smoothies, or popcorn. Along with this I make a large batch and freeze most of these items along with pancakes, waffles, and french toast.
8. Menu plans. When I menu plan we are less likely to go out to eat. Also, it is important to look at what you have planned. You do not want to go to make dinner and realize you did not take out the meat you needed. Or if you have cinnamon rolls for breakfast and you have to be out the door before they are ready. I have done both of these.
9. Turn lights off when not in the room. We have always turned lights off when we leave a room but since we own our house it is even more important. When we lived in military housing we did not have to pay the electric bill so if a light gets left on by accident it was not such a big deal to me. Well, that has changed. My family teases me about being so strict about turning off lights, but it is one bill that we can keep low and plus it helps the environment.
10. Stop spending. Yes we are still working on this one. This is ongoing for us. An important part to saving money is to stop unnecessary spending. The other day at the thrift store I had to stop myself from buying my son a shirt. He does not need anymore clothes. I was just buying it because it was a good deal. Sometimes we have to pass up good deals if it is not a need. Spending a dollar here and a dollar there does add up to be a whole lot of dollars in the end. So ask yourself next time you are shopping if you really NEED this item.
Do you have any frugal tips that you would like to share?