Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Money Saving Strategies

Recently, I said I would share the things I do on a regular basis to save money. To some, these might be a little extreme. To others, not extreme enough. That's okay. I think we each need to find what works for our individual situations. For instance, my husband is on a high protein, low carb diet that his doctor told him about which includes some pricey protein "shots". (When I go to the Vitamin Shoppe to buy them, I ask for the website price because it's cheaper than the price in the store, but still costly.). He has lost almost 40 pounds and his blood pressure is no longer high, so it's worth it to us to accomodate the extra expense.

My daughter has stomach problems which have not been diagnosed yet (we are seeing a GI doc in a few weeks so hopefully, we will find out something), in the meantime, we have found that drinking lactose free milk, taking Lactaid before eating dairy, taking Align supplements an adding fiber seem to help. All of which add expense to our grocery budget.

We have pets. A cat and a dog. They can be costly as well.

AND then there are the unexpected expenses. Just this past week, I had to take dd to the doctor since she had been running a high fever. Another expense, unplanned. The juice, the soup, the crackers, Dayquil/Nyquil, prescriptions, a second doctor's office visit when the fever had not come down and more prescriptions. Totally unplanned. And many of those things were not stocked on our pantry shelves or medicine cabinet. In fact most of them weren't.

But such is life. And these will be the challenges I face during this challenge to myself. We all face them so, if you have any tips & tricks up your sleeve, please share!

Anyway, off the top of my head:

1) I scan the weekly ads to my nearby grocery stores, write down the best deals and plan our meals around them. I make a loose/flexible menu plan. I shop at more than one store as long as I'm a) in the area and b) I have the time (I don't go out of my way wasting time & gas).

2) I use coupons but I try not to pay for them. I don't normally buy a Sunday paper. I'm not a "coupon queen".

3) I use less shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, laundry detergent & fabric softener than "they" recommended. (But I probably use more dish soap than I ought to-I need to work on that.)

4) I do practice the proverbial washing of the ziploc bags. But not if they're greasy & gross. I just won't go there. They have to be fairly easy to swish in bleachy, soapy hot water or I toss'em. After all, time is money & I don't want to wast too much time on jobs that will only save me a couple of pennies. I want my "hourly wage" so to speak, to count for something!

5) I try to improvise when cooking. For instance, while making a cake one day, I didn't have the applesauce it called for but I did have a bit of apple butter but still, not enough!) and some fresh apples on hand. I ground enough of the apple in my blender with a bit of water & added it to the apple butter to equal the amount of applesauce called for in the recipe. It turned out great! I was able to use up the apple butter that might have otherwise gone bad and some of the apples no one was beating down the kitchen door to eat.

6) I try not to waste. Anything. If I can help it. Fruits threatening to go bad? I freeze 'em and use them for my fruit smoothies. And frozen bananas are great in banana bread & pancakes. Veggies on the verge? A spoonful of veggie leftover at dinner? I save 'em for soup (in the freezer as well). We invested in a Food Saver a couple of years back and I believe that thing has paid for itself many times over in preventing food waste! Meat bones (chicken, beef & the like make delicious, hearty stocks that can be used in many recipes) are saved in the freezer as well.

7) I've learned to listen to my inner mama that says "no" to most of the impulse purchases I'm tempted by. (most!)

8) I try to do any shopping that needs to be done without my daughter. That alone saves me not only money but stress. Speaking of my daughter, I have also told her what I'm doing and have asked for her cooperation in this endeavor before we step foot in any store together. This way, I hopefully, she will be more accepting of her mama saying "NO".

9) I try to use what I have on hand and make do with what I've got before running to the store to buy whatever it is I "think" I need.

10) I try to guard my eyes & ears against the constant onslaught of advertising by cutting down tv time, staying out of stores & malls as much as possible and being careful of the publications I browse. (Have you noticed you can barely walk three feet in WalMart without those nuisance tv thingys loudly blasting us with advertising?! And they aren't the only ones. We are constantly bombarded with sly, ingenious-dare I say subliminal?-advertising tactics these days everywhere we go.)

11) I'm not afraid to ask for discount or reduction in price. And more times than not, I get it. (If you notice a cheaper price elsewhere or on the company's website or if you want to buy something that has a minor defect...ask! The worst that can happen is that they say no...don't take it personally.)

12) This ties in with #11. Ask, ask, ask! Knowledge is power! (and can save you money!) For instance, (and I'm sure many of you know this...what can I say?) I just found out I can use more than one JoAnn's coupon per transaction as long as the numbers at the bottom of the coupons are all different. I just used 6 at one time the last time I was there! (This is embarrassing but in the past, I would have my daughter check out an item, I would check out an item and use the other coupons during other visits. Oh the time and trips I wasted! P.S.-my mom informs me that not all JoAnn's will let you do this so I would ask first to save any embarrassement or hassle at checkout.)

So there. Just a few.

What do YOU do to save money?

Thanks for visiting!

1 comment:

JennyMay said...

Hey Doll....long time no talk...I LOVE these money saving strategies! We need it right now in this economy. I have learned how to stretch a dollar by using whole wheat pasta or brown rice mixed in with ground turkey or lean meat to make all sorts of things. I also use less than the recommended amounts of soaps. I always bring my lunch to work..usuallly leftovers from the night before. That's another one...we eat leftovers...It's called Refrigerator Review!

Kisses,
JennyMay

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