I hear so many mamas say they need to find ways to decrease their spending and save money, but just don’t know where to begin.
I get it. It can be hard to know just where and how to cut spending and bulk up your bank account. Rest easy. It is doable.
Today I’m sharing eight simple steps that can help you become a more frugal family.
- Budget! Mark and I strive to follow a fairly detailed budget. Everyone’s spending will look a bit different, but it’s important to evaluate your financial goals and put pencil to paper. If you’ve never had a written budget, consider www.DaveRamsey.com as a starting place. His website has some wonderful free printable budgeting forms, as well as a free app, Every Dollar, that can allow you to track spending from your smart phone. We have used the envelope system to help us budget our money for many years.
- If you are able and have available storage space, buy ahead when items are on sale. We don’t stockpile a huge amount of anything, but we do usually have a small stash of personal care items. For example, I’ve purchased baby wipes for $1 or less, dental floss for $0.14 /package (randomly) at Office Max, and razors on super sale from Amazon.
- Take inventory and get organized. I’ve found that when I know what I have “in stock”, I’m not rushing out to purchase items. I keep all the diapers and baby wipes in one closet so I can easily take a peek and know when to buy more. Extra hygiene products are all kept in a certain drawer in our closet so I know when to buy additional toothpaste or soap.
- Use it up and make do! The Amish have this saying that I love: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Couldn’t we all learn from this? I can’t tell you how many times I thought I had squeezed the last bit of foundation (toothpaste, hair cream, etc.) out of the tube. However, when I trim off the end, there is several more uses remaining! Once I have cut end of a tube off, I keep it in a zip top bag to keep it from drying out. Rather than rushing out to buy something you need, take a look around. Is there something else you could use in its place?
- Buy used. This may be my favorite of all tips. I love yard sales, thrift stores, and consignment sales. In fact, about 90% of our boys’ clothes are purchased second hand. Since our oldest was born, I’ve found name brand clothing for a fraction of the cost of buying new. This rule also applies to toys and baby gear.
- Utilize your grocery store’s digital coupons and /or rewards program, as well as money back apps. Meijer and Kroger both have digital coupons I can add to my account prior to shopping. Meijer also offers a “reward” off certain purchases if you are an mPerks member. For example, one month, I might receive a $3 reward off my next purchase after spending $30 in the baby department. Cash back apps like (affiliate link) Ibotta and Walmart’s Savings Catcher are also wonderful places to start. These apps are easily uploaded onto your smart phone and are user friendly. Your reward dollars are credited to your profile and can be transferred to your Paypal account once you reach a certain amount (often $20).
- Similarly, any time you shop online, you can check (affiliate link) Ebates to see if they offer a percentage back for the site you are shopping from. For example, Kohl’s might be 6% cash back on any purchases you make. If you spend $100 on shoes for the family, that earns you $6 back and is reflected on your Ebates account. Ebates pays quarterly and you can choose to receive a paper check in the mail, or have your Paypal account credited.
- Make a list of the bills you pay each month. Consider how much you are spending in each area. Does the amount you spend on your phone plan make you cringe? Has your cable increased incrementally for the past three years? Don’t be afraid to call your service providers and discuss charges with them. I have done this several times for different reasons and have been pleasantly surprised with the results. When we moved a couple of years ago and switched internet providers, my husband spent about 30 minutes on the phone with a representative discussing the features we needed on our service plan. Our bill subsequently dropped $20 per month. Also, when I became a stay-at-home, we were able to decrease the data package on our cell phone plan. This continues to save us roughly $30 per month. At first glance, $50 a month might not seem like much. But $50 x 12 = $600 a year. That’s a lot to me!
- Are you an impulse buyer? Do you have one certain area of your budget where you always overspend? If you can identify your weaknesses (and everyone has them!) this can help you remedy the problem. I know that when I shop at Walmart or Meijer, I am more likely to get distracted by non-grocery items. And let’s not even talk about Costco… I have learned that I spend less money by shopping at Aldi or Kroger. These stores make it much easier for me to stick to my list and purchase only the grocery items I need. Again, this might be $5 or $10 in savings each grocery trip, but every little bit adds up!
- Probably an obvious one, but make your coffee at home, carry a water bottle, and pack your lunch. You can apply this principle in various ways. Does the drive thru call your name on the way home? If so, consider making a goal to have dinner in the crockpot 1-2 nights a week.
This list isn’t exhaustive, but I hope it will get you thinking about some simple ways to save your hard earned money. 🙂
Do you have suggestions for easy ways your frugal family saves money? I’d love to hear!