Monday, February 3, 2014

Simple Money-Savers

I think it’s pretty easy to get into habits that have a money-saving alternative.  You know, like, you do something, and it’s fine, but you could save a lot of money by instituting a really simple change.  Sometimes that change takes getting used to, because there is a difference.  I know that I have written about some of these things before, so I’ll recap, and then tell you about some of the new things I’m doing.


1.  Freezer and pantry.  A couple of years ago, we bought a full-size, upright freezer for the garage and created pantry space in the garage.  I don’t make so many freezer meals, but I do buy in bulk at Costco when I can, something that saves both time and money.  My crockpot recipes are frequently large enough to have another meal go directly to the freezer.  Great tip for freezing soups: put them in a big ziplock and then lay them flat in the freezer.  Then they can be stacked like books!


2. Bread.  We get it (mostly) at the Franz bakery outlet.  I bet you have one in your town.  The idea is that this is discount bread, likely close to it’s due date, and still delicious.  I rarely spend more than $15, and I usually walk out with two or three bags of bread products, including bagels and English muffins, most of which goes immediately into the freezer when I get home.  I probably only go to the bakery outlet once a month, so it’s a time-saver, too.  Now if I could just convince Tony to stop buying bagels when he occasionally goes to the grocery store and instead just tell me he wants some, we’ll be all good.


3. Cloth napkins.  I can’t honestly remember the last time I bought paper towels.  A year?  Longer?  We rarely use them.  Instead, I have about 30 cloth napkins that are used at the table and go directly to the laundry basket when meals are done.  I’m not sure my kids would know what to do with a paper towel.  This creates less garbage, too, and in some places (here, for instance), downgrading your curbside garbage can size can save you $12-$15 per month.


4.  We buy in bulk, nearly everything.  We buy chicken stock, pasta, frozen vegetables, frozen fruit, apples, cereal, frozen meatballs, pasta sauce, condiments, chicken, and anything we can reasonably store, in bulk.  I almost always have exactly what I need for recipes.  One of the local Rotary clubs sells berries in bulk every summer – I eat lots when they come and freeze the rest.  Cheaper (about $2.50 per pound of strawberries, and they’re cut and clean) and helping a good cause.


5.  More bulk.  Last year, we signed up for Zaycon Foods.  We now buy chicken, bacon, and summer fruit in bulk and delivered fresh.  Next, I’ll be buying beef.  I can’t say enough good stuff about Zaycon boneless, skinless chicken breasts – it’s fresh, never-been-frozen, no hormones or additives, and delicious.  We package it in individual ziplock bags and freeze it raw for use all year.  40 lbs lasts us about 6 months.


6.  I have just recently switched to bar soap.  Now, this might seem like such a little thing, but bar soap is so much less expensive, and lasts so much longer, than liquid body wash.  And the amazing scents you can buy are wide and varied – just visit the organic section of your grocery store and you will be astounded at what is available!  My favorite scent is almond.


7.  Memberships and outside play.  We are members of the YMCA and the local children’s museum.  We can visit the children’s museum any time, and frequently do, all for the low price of $85 a year.  That ends up being pennies for each time we visit.  As for the YMCA, we get a discount on swim lessons and Bitty Sports, and the have a Bitty Open Gym time for the kids to play every week.  We often go to family swim, and Tony and I have a convenient place to exercise.  These memberships are totally worth it.  But otherwise?  We steer clear of events that cost money.  Instead of Chuck E. Cheese, we go on family bike rides or to a park.  In the winter, we frequently visit the library.  There are often science or math nights designed for preschoolers in our town, and we try to attend.  My two rambunctious boys need to be kept occupied, and there are so many great free places.  If all else fails, the open play area at the mall will get their wiggles out on a rainy afternoon.


We have to buy a new car this year to accommodate our growing family, so saving money will help make up that new car payment we’ll be adding.  Do you have any other money-saving tips for me?  Was any of this helpful to you?  Let’s share!


Janine said...

I buy rice and beans in bulk. It's so much cheaper to soak and cook your own bean for refried beans or chili or whatever. Costs about 1/3 as buying cans of beans. And same for tortillas. Costco has the super big bag for just over $5. Keep them in the fridge. And I have found with boys that eat a bunch (my double crockpot is enough for ONE meal) that rice (jasmine) is cheap and filling! And can be put in most things. I will have to check out some of your $$ savers.

Megan and Jeff Vogel said...

We ride the bus as much as possible (to work and to the city for weekend activities). Cloth diapers at home are also a big cost saver. Daycare won't do them, but I find cloth diapering to be pretty easy. We buy pet food in bulk (like 200-300 lbs at a time) when it is on sale and store in rubbermaid totes.

I really wish we could cure our not making lunch and then buying it habit. I need to get in the habit of making lunches at night. I am so lazy/tired at night though.

Amelia said...

Oh, yes! We buy rice, sugar, and flour in bulk and keep them in restaurant-quality ten-gallon cans with sealing tops (they look like garbage cans). And we love our cloth diapers - luckily for us, our daycare loves them, too!