Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Saving Money

Saving Money. It's an ongoing struggle that everyone faces to make the most of what they have. To even just have what you need can be a struggle. So we all find our own ways to save money and provide for our family. We have been a 1-income family for the last 13 months. I'm working now with my long-term sub position & I will be working full time in the fall, but we also now have student loans and childcare which can really put a dent in your budget. We've adjusted some things on our budget & we are trying to find some ways to save more money in ways that work for our family. The thing about budgeting & spending is that it's going to look so different for each family. Certain things take priority in some families that are easily expendable in other families. Here's where we are at this point & I'd love to hear your tips!

We bought the HomeBudget iPhone app because it offered the family sync option. We entered our budget into the app & we will enter bills and expenses as we have them. Our phones automatically sync the information to each other & we can daily see where we are with our budget. (I do understand that even having iPhones & data plans in general can be a killer in other budgets, but we've had them for years now & they've been in our budget for years, so they work for us!)

2. Meal Planning
I've done some version of meal planning before, but I've gotten much more specific with it recently. I'm never going to be a major coupon person, but I'm making an effort to use what I can. I plan my meals in advance & put on our shopping list only what we actually need to get us through the next 2 weeks. I'm also making a lot of things that are fairly cheap & will last for several meals. (For example, I have an awesome crock pot potato soup cooking downstairs that will easily last us 2 whole dinners & at least one lunch.) When we move into a larger house, I want to buy a freezer to keep in the garage so I can start making meals & freezing them or freezing more supplies when things are on sale.

3. Downgrading our satellite TV
Here's one thing about our family: we use technology & entertainment items majorly on a daily basis. We both have iPhones, we have high speed wireless cable internet, we have satellite TV with 2 HD DVR boxes so that I can record everything & watch it when I have time & am not playing with Isis. For a lot of families, one of the first things they cut when saving money is cable TV because it's just not necessary for them & I think if you can do it, do it. But for us, it's just not even a part of the discussion. But what we are doing is dropping down to the lower Directv plan & getting rid of movie channels, including HBO and Showtime. This will end up saving us about $40/month on our satellite TV.

We watch a lot of movies & TV, but we've stopped seeing movies in the theater as much. Usually now if we do go, we will go on Tuesday nights when our local discount movie theater has tickets for only $1.50. That way we can see the movies that we actually want to see in the theater for a discounted price - although this is rare anymore. We also get the Blockbuster Online plan. We chose the $19.99/month plan. We used to have the in-store plan that was $26/month for 2 movies or games at a time & you exchange in store. Now for $19.99 we can have 3 movies or games at a time & we can return them to the store that is right up the street & as soon as they scan it in, they mail out our next movie. Usually if I return a movie one day, like Monday for example, I'll have my new movie by Wednesday. This way not having the movie channels on TV is no big deal & I can watch whatever movies or TV shows on DVD I want!

5. CSA
Last year, I posted about our first experience with using a local CSA. We had a really great experience & it saved us a lot of money in the long-run! This year, we are going to do it again! Now that I know what to expect, I'm planning in advance & stocking up on some staples that can accompany your veggies & herbs from the farm. I'm going to try to dry & freeze some herbs this year. I'm going to stock up on pasta from Sam's Club so that we'll be ready to make lots of pastas with the veggies! I love it because it's about $500 for 20 weeks & we got to where we spent less than $20 at the grocery each week for things to accompany our veggies. That's less than $50 per week in groceries!! And you're getting local, fresh produce as well as supporting a local farm. I feel like it's win-win for everyone!

Other things I've found useful lately are:
Ebates.com, which gives you cash back for shopping online at places you were already going to shop!
Kroger iPhone app: look at current coupons, set up an account that includes your Kroger plus card number, then load coupons right to your Kroger plus card so that you just scan it at checkout & you automatically get the coupons!
Retailmenot: offers coupon codes at a lot of stores - always check it out before completing your purchases online

Blogs I read that are related to savings:




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2 comments:

Mary Joy said...

Today I wrote about a great money saving and time saving Web App that is helping me organize my homemaking. It can be used on your computer and syncs with IPhones too and it is FREE! Would love for you to check it out and share your opinions on it!

I am going to be checking out some of your great ideas too!

Thanks!

Mary Joy

mark.-Makeup,Beauty,Fun said...

Now following you from Mama's Little Nestwork on GFC and Facebook. Would love if you stopped by: http://meetmarkmakeup.blogspot.com/ http://www.facebook.com/MeetMarkMakeup

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