Friday, January 7, 2011

10 Practical (some a little gutsy) ways to save money this next year!

After Christmas is always tight for everyone I think but, living on one income can make it especially tight!

So, every year, like so many of you, I do the "I'm going to cut out every coupon I see" thing. I mean it to and truth is I do it......for about a few months and then I get behind and suddely those little dotted lines on the edge of those coupons seem soooo tiny, the scissors feel a bit too heavy in my hand and suddenly I don't need those clorox wipes! Even though I am using paper towels and bleaching what's left of my everyday T-shirts!

So, this year along with several new things I am willing to try in an attempt to keep the few remaing shirts that I own, well those without holes, spit up stains from either boy or some kind of food I have spilled down the front of me (I am messier than my boys!), I have decided to keep to the coupon thing and share a few of the ways that I have been able to stretch the dollar over the years. Some you all will know, or have heard about but, if it puts a bee in your bonnet and gets you thinking....and sharing, then I'm all for it! :)

1) Coupons....yes those dreaded things that we all cut, sometimes use and can easily forget about. The trick to it though is this, keep them organized! I bought a few years back for a dollar, one of those little, plastic, accordian wallet things for just such a thing! I keep the cleaning products in one pouch, canned food in another, etc. I found that for me, as I shop usually at one store, even dividing them by the aisles I've come to memorize was good!
The other trick to them is to routinely clean them out. Every two weeks or a month is good. Nothing is more of a letdown than finding a great coupon and realizing that it expired 3 weeks ago!

2) Shop some place that price matches! I know the concept was a bit foreign to me all those years ago when I started doing that but, you can save so much gas by not running around to several different places. Obviously if it is a store brand, you have to travel to that particular store but, I can't tell you how many Tuna, Chicken or Hamburger Helper brands I've gotten for less than a dollar by doing this and it begins to add up! Most places keep the local adds on hand so that they can find what you're after, some don't even bother, knowing that most of us either show up with add in hand or written down.

3) Store brands, depending upon what it is can be just as good as name brand! Sometims a little spices, sauce or pinch of this or that can help but, in the long run, you save so much money it is worth it!

4) Always compare bulk and single prices. Most of the time we all know that bulk ends up being cheaper but, seriously If I am going to pay $6 for a single vitamin bottle of 200 or pay $9 for a two pack that houses 80 each....which comes out to be only 60 caplets more....$3?! That's just a bit ridiculous. That is half the price of the regular bottle and you're not even getting half more, you know? Now, sometimes if I've got the cash on hand, I don't fret that stuff but, more and more I see deals where it is cheaper to buy two single packages than to buy the bulk. You just have to be mindful.

That being said, it is hard to pass up the bulk of chicken on sale but, also when shopping in bulk, try to keep in mind what you will be cooking til your next shopping trip. A lot more of us live paycheck to paycheck so, those little extra dollars for things that we're not going to use this pay period can almost break you.

5) I know we all know this but, I can't stress enough, take a kitchen inventory and make a menu! You don't necassrily have to stick to it, but it give it go. Often times I a surprised what I still have in my kitchen that I can make. This most especially includes your freezer items! For example, this week, I literally didn't have to buy any meat except a package of ground turkey! I found roast, pork breast, hamburger, bacon, etc. in my freezer. Wrote down what I had and the menu for the week just came to me. So, I could then take that money and buy things that might serve the house better, like Clorox wipes! :)

6) This next one is a relatively new concept to me but, I love the idea! It's called copycat grocery shopping. This is when you find a blog of someone who lives locally and is great at pinching a penny, stretching a coupon, etc. They tell you where to go to get the best deal, a coupon, even how much they spent on items or total at the store! These blogs are a bit easier to find in bigger cities but, it is most definitely worth looking into.

7) Bundling your services. We all know this but, it can save hundreds if your smart about it. Even cell phones, some lines are only $10 more! You really can't beat that!

8) Here comes the part where you take a leap of faith with me! The thought is a tough one, especially when you've not got a lot of time with the TV but you still have "your shows". DROP CABLE or dish! Are you screaming at me yet?! :) The thought was foreign, terrible and horrible to me at first. I mean seriously?! Who does that?! I NEED to know who made what on Iron Chef! I NEED to know who wasn't ehe Biggest Loser!! These are NEED to know things!! Right?! :) Well, in this day and age, it is soo much simpler to go without dish or cable and we're so clueless we've no idea!

Netflix comes into play here a lot! :) For $10 or less, you can have streaming TV to your laptop, computer and Wii or whatever game device you have! Serious, less than $10! I believe it's really only like $8 but, for $2 more you can get DVDs to your house.

Internet access also comes into play. With most major stations have some kind of reply of the episodes on their sites now, you can simply watch online what you missed the night before. Some episodes are only available for a few weeks but, what most of us can find time in a couple of weeks to sit down and watch our favorite show! Well, at least when you're not hearing "mommy look", you can watch! Also, my favorite site, I'm sure you've heard of, Hulu. Offers loads of different shows there as well!

Between the two you really don't miss a whole lot at all! :) And some of us are savvy enough to know how to download episodes from Itunes or whatever else there is....I'm still working on Twitter!

9) Phone....again bundling services is a great idea or simply only have a cell phone. If you can afford it, as I mentioned before, sometimes a second or third cell on an account is only $10! Research a bit before you just jump in though, make sure that it is a fit for your family.  If you're financially challenged having a bunch of cells for everyone and paying upwards of $60+ a month is just astounding! So, here's how the Blue Collar House does it now, again it's a leap so try and not freak out just yet! We do phone over the internet. I will not say the product name but, there is a "jack" that you can get that plugs into your computer and like "magic" you can all almost anywhere in the US, Canada, US territories for free. It also allows cheap international calls on a prepaid basis. It is not for everyone and I always suggest reading every FAQ you've the time and patience for but, the best thing of all is that when you buy it, you're already paying for the year of service plus the device! So, no phone bill for a year AND it is less than or close to a month of regular phone service for a whole year!

There are also things out that like companies that offer you phone service for less than $30 a month, that start with a "V" that also are quite useful. Again, I stress that this is not for everyone so make sure you check out all of their FAQs! Like 911 service, 411 service, etc. Make sure that you have every questioned answered before you decide and never be afraid to research these products online. If there are any reported problems, see if they've been resolved or what was done to compensate. Things like that and most importantly, pick up the phone and give them a good old fashioned call! That is what they are there for.

Another resource we've all heard of is Skype. You can have a phone number through there and make cheap calls to and from most places. I don't know all the details but, a few friends of mine swear they love how cheap it is. I think though then that most of your calls would have to go through your actual computer though. So, again, I advise reading all the FAQs before deciding if any of these are a fit for you!

10) Lastly THE most important thing, never live above your means! We all want nice things, we want decent things but, the truth is we all can find some mediocre things and make them into INCREDIBLE things! Look at all those fabulous blogs out there that show us all how! The trick to it is to know what you can "make do with" until you can rightfully afford to get something better; to know what you can redo and make into an amazing decoration, useful piece of furniture or something truly brillaint. Again, I know we all know this but, it's not always easy to do when you see those Paula Deane pans staring at you for half price across the aisle or those RR orange handled knives you wanted for two years at 30% off....or that bag of dark chocolate calling your name while you're in the checkout. It's just a means to be practical.

There is nothing wrong with giving your wee ones used clothes from a consignment shop or garage sale, as long as you can see that they are in good shape, no stains, etc. Hand me downs are perfectly good too, as long as they are decent.

No reason that all your appliances HAVE to match.....*sigh* If they stove still works, use it until you've got money enough, that won't tax your resources, to buy another. *sigh again* :) The truth of it is, the stove, the last 90s off white appliance in my home has never really attracted a lick of attention, really. It's not the first thing I see someone looking at when they walk in. I'm sure that they notice eventually but, they are usually looking at my Coca Cola red walls, that are trimmed in the middle with the 50s black and white, checkered border, I painstakingly handpainted all the way around the room. The big windows I am fortunate to have in my kitchen and even the dark pink spots on my ceiling from when my oldest was 2 years old and I shot his penicillian up there! :)

Being practical and not over spending when you can help it, will always help keep you from going under.

What do you do? Feel free to share, we all can learn something new daily!


  1. Thanks for the tips!!! I use too! If you go to it on your computer you can watch reruns of shows!

    Simple As 1-2-3

  2. I'm glad you liked them! I'm a hulu addict myself! :)

    I love your blog by the way, so honored that you stopped by!!