I look around today at various people & feel as if everyone is very materialistic & always having to "out-do" their friends, neighbors, co-workers, family members & just everyone in general. Why? Why does everyone think that the key to happiness is money? My friend bought a new car, so now I MUST, my neighbor got a bigger camper now my family MUST. We have a saying in our house that also applies in this case - "Don't worry about anyone else, just worry about yourself." I have never been one of those "keeping up with the Jones's " kind of people. I believe that as long as you & your family are happy than that is worth more than anything money can buy. That being said as a stay at home mom I like to feel as if I am contributing to my family financially. I have found a few ways to cut back on some things & also have a few tips on how to save a few dollars in no particular order.
1. Monthly Meal Planning
My good friend had got me hooked on this about a year ago. I will be honest I thought she was a tad bit nuts in the head - I mean I don't have time for that, I barely have time for restroom breaks in the day let alone planning a whole month of meals! I gave it a try & now I love it! It makes it fast, easy & stress free for supper every night & saves a lot on my grocery bill since I no longer go each week & randomly pick up items.
2. Watch Your grocery Store Ads
Buy things you often use (cheese, bread & so on) & buy when it is on extreme sale. Stock up & freeze it.
3. Use Coupons
Yes use coupons! Every penny saved helps. We don't have double coupon day or anything like that around here, but still if you watch your local store ads & then have coupons on top of that you might be surprised how much you can save.
4. Don't Use Credit Cards!!
Don't ever, ever use credit cards! I have not used credit cards for about a year now. I didn't think it was possible, but trust me you find ways to make it work. You might say "but Heather I order a lot of things online & have to use my credit card." My response to you is this "I also order a ton of things online for my wedding decorating business, but I use my debit card in place of credit cards." Live within your means.
5. Buy Gifts Throughout the Year
yes that's right plan ahead. Buy birthday, graduation & yes Even Christmas gifts throughout the year so that you don't get hit with all that cost at the same time each year. Spread the cost out through out the year. What I do is keep a list of Christmas gifts we need to buy each year with what I got them last year and keep my eye out for things throughout the year. Or better yet MAKE YOUR GIFTS!
6. Buy Local
Let me explain. Not everyone will be able to do this one, but we are lucky enough to have a local dairy right by us. They make their own milk, cheeses, yogurts & so much more. They do sell it to all our grocery stores within a 50 plus mile radius & it is the best around, but the greatest part it that have a small "store" at their dairy farm that is half the price of what you buy the exact same product in the store. For instance milk in the store is $4.60, but at their farm store it is $3.50!
7. Limit the Number of Toys
I don't know about you guys, but we have a household FULL of toys everywhere, we do not need anymore! I have done a few things to try to put a cap on this issue: 1. I have the kids go through all their toys about every 6months, binge & purge gently used toys, and donate them to kids who truly need them. 2. when a new toys comes into the house another one has to go. 3. There are so many toys that they HAVE TO HAVE, so if they have to have it so bad they can buy it with their own money - it's amazing how their outlook on which toys they must have tends to change then :)
8. Stop Throwing Away Food
As Americans we throw away about 40% of all US food. that is just ridiculous! Eat left overs, or make bigger batches & freeze part of it for another nights meal, find a way to reinvent your current leftovers into something new & exciting.
9. Cook at Home
Stop eating out for every meal. It is astonishing to me how often people eat out. the average sit down meal is $12.00, the average fast food meal is $7.00 per person. Why not cook at home & save that money. Again plan ahead & you will not have those excuses like: I don't have time to cook, I didn't take anything out of the freezer, or I'm just too tired. Really people with all the great things you can make in a crock pot, you have no excuses. Throw it in the crock pot before you leave for work & it will be done & ready to enjoy when you & your family get home.
10. Say NO to processed, Deep Fried Foods
This is simple & non-explanatory. They are not good for you, they are do not really save you time, they definitely don't save you money, & those foods are SOOOOOO much better homemade.
Again, I am about getting back to the basics. I remember the saying "Happy Wife = Happy Life" well I agree with that but think it could also read "Happy Family, Happy Life."