~I've really amped up my couponing. I'm not one of those women who gets $150 worth of groceries for $10, but I try to save between 25 - 30% of my grocery bill each week. I menu plan around what's on sale. One of our local stores doubles any coupon up to $1.00 in value and gives fuel rewards based on purchases. I shop on Fridays when the fuel rewards are doubled, which means I generally save another $8 - $10 on 15 gallons of gas. It's not always convenient, but it's worth the effort. If I have time, I go to another store for their sale items. I still make occasional trips to Walmart for some items, but I try to avoid it as much as I can. I also shop Walgreens frequently to take advantage of the register rewards program. Rebates are another way to save money, but only if I'm purchasing items I know I'll use.
~I've asked R to construct a clothes line. I've balked on this one for years, because I felt it would be too difficult to do given my work schedule. Now that CJ's older, bringing in the laundry will be one of her chores (and she's so very happy about it...let me tell you!). It's going to require more intentional planning on my part, but I'm sure the savings will add up quickly.
~I'm reading cookbooks more often, to keep family meals from becoming bland. (Family Feasts for $75 a Week: A Penny-wise Mom Shares Her Recipe for Cutting Hundreds from Your Monthly Food Bill is great!)
~I'm giving my small appliances a workout. This includes the bread machine, crock pot, stand mixer, and my new food processor. Homemade is much tastier, cheaper & healthier than store bought.
~I'm using Pear Budget to keep our finances in order. I most love this program because it requires no personal financial information (i.e. bank account numbers), but also because it's simple to use. It's a great way to keep track of where the money's going and how much to set aside each month for irregular expenses (i.e. taxes, etc.)
~I'm still setting aside my $5 bills. At first, I dreamed of saving enough to finance a vacation (or long weekend), but that didn't feel right. After much consideration, I decided this would be our "fun" money...for movies, entertainment, and that craving for Chinese food (or ice cream!). Anytime I get a little extra money (like rebates and consignment), I put it into the envelope. Just a couple of weeks ago, CJ & I went to a college girls' basketball game with some friends, and I can't tell you how rewarding it was to pay for lunch, snacks & gas with cash and know I wasn't putting a dent in our budget!
~I'm also setting aside the money I make as a Southern Living at Home consultant, to buy clothing, shoes, & gifts. It may be harder to wait on purchases, but it will be much easier knowing we have a defined limit rather than just buying whatever catches our eye.
Have you found some creative ways to save money? Feel free to share below!