As my oldest son edges closer and closer to college and my husband nears military retirement, beefing up our family savings has become a top priority for me. I started making most of the obvious changes:
- Clipping coupons
- Menu planning to avoid eating out
- Substituting free family entertainment (e.g. hiking, sports, board games) for pricier alternatives (e.g. water parks, renting movies, bowling)
- Re-evaluating insurance, cable, and cell phone plans to get the best values to meet our needs
Ways To Trim The Budget
Once I made these changes and squeezed a few extra dollars out of our household income, I looked for other ways to trim the budget. A few things I did were to:
- Carpool for everything. Most of us work out a carpool for one or two of our kids’ activities simply because we can’t be in two places at once. However, if you start to look at it as a way to save on fuel and vehicle maintenance costs, you will realize you can leverage the efficiency of carpooling for anything–grocery store trips, running errands, going to the gym. Sure, it takes a little schedule accommodation with someone else, but it’s a great way to use less gas and save some wear-and-tear on both of your vehicles.
- Use less water and electricity. Okay, this might be an obvious one to most people, but to me it was astonishing how wasteful we were being once I focused on using less. I had completely underestimated how much money we were throwing away and how easy it is to save money by making a few simple changes.
- I typically scrub my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher because I’m slightly OCD and don’t really have faith in the dishwasher to match my elbow grease. Instead of running water as I scrubbed each plate and fork, I fill up one side of the sink with warm, soapy water and scrub them there. Since I only run the faucet for 2-3 minutes to fill the sink versus 10 minutes (the average length of time I use to run it while scrubbing the dishes), I’m saving tons of water every time I do dishes (usually twice a day). For those of you who don’t share my affliction, it’s actually recommended that you bypass hand washing and rely solely on the dishwasher which uses far less water to clean dishes.
- Installed power strips for all areas where we have multiple electronics so that we can easily unplug them all at the end of the day. Did you know many electronics and appliances continue to draw power even when they are off? The only way to prevent them from sucking energy is to unplug them but who wants to wrestle behind the entertainment center every night to unplug six different components? Not me. I’m much better about doing it when I only have to unplug one power strip in a few rooms (for us–family room, office, kitchen, playroom).
- Adjusted the thermostat by 2-3 degrees, up in the summer, down in the winter. You save about 3% on your heating and air conditioning bill for every one degree change.
- Replaced the light bulbs in rooms where the lights were used the most with energy-efficient bulbs. I hate those fluorescent bulbs, mostly because when I flip a light switch I like it to turn on light. The fluorescent bulbs act more like a sunrise, generating very little light and slowly growing brighter. Horrible lights for the bathrooms, hallway, laundry room and closets. The dreaded slow glow bulbs went everywhere else in the house though in my meager effort to save money and the planet.
- Get as much as you can for free. I started doing this by signing up for rewards programs at stores where I was already shopping. That’s how I came to create this list. Then, I signed up for various birthday freebies for my kids at various restaurants and stores. Finally, I really hit my stride and found freebies everywhere.
- I signed up for free samples wherever I could find them. Samples I don’t need for myself I use to stock a basket of extras that I keep on hand for guests (e.g. shampoo, soap, toothpaste) or I donate to local food pantries, domestic abuse shelters, and animal shelters.
- Institute a one-week rule. If there’s something I am tempted to buy, I add it to a wish list on my phone (a notepad and pen would work just as well) and I have to wait one week before I can buy it. If I really need or want it, it’s worth going out of my way to go back and get it. Since I am a major impulse shopper, this strategy has saved us LOTS of money.
Looking for more money-saving tips? Becky Mansfield from Your Modern Family has written an e-book chock full of them titled “Money Saving Tips for the Stay at Home Mom.” She tells you how to save on almost everything including shopping, phone service, preschool, travel, and prescription medication. She also tells you how to get tons of things for free. My favorite section of the book is her explanation of how she uses coupons. I’ve struggled to find a system that is easy and effective and her method is both. Also, she helps you decide how much you should save and explains why. Best of all, at the end of the book she consolidates all the savings tips she’s collected from budget-savvy mom bloggers with reputations for finding great deals. Click here to view more details.
37 thoughts on “Money Saving Tricks To Help Trim Your Budget”
Great tips! I am a huge coupon clipper, not extreme but enough to save my family over 70% a week in items we buy anyway 🙂
Jenn, that is amazing! I really need to learn some couponing tricks. I am too lazy and disorganized to do extreme couponing, but I really would like to take advantage of coupons and save more. Love your site for that reason!
Thanks for the tips, i will def use them 🙂
Have a great week
Love these tips! I really need to start saving for my daughter’s college education.
Great tips! I need the 1 week rule! I’m an impulse buyer 🙁
Great tips! Thanks for sharing.
Great tips! I do alot of those as well, I unplug things like mixer, toaster and other small appliances when Im not using but didn’t think about the power strip to turn off daily. I am going to start doing that to save more. Thanks for the awesome article
I agree! Menu planning can save you so much money. Also calling companies like your insurance and cable and simply asking for a better deal usually works. We just got $50 off each month on cable and get HBO for free just because we called and said that we might want to switch haha
These are some great tips. I would also recommend switching to LED light bulbs if you have the money, you save more as they use less power and last longer. They are expensive, but coming down in price and you don’t have the sunrise effect!
These are all great tips! I use a lot of them already, especially using coupons and using utilities like electricity as frugally as possible.
Great tips! I didn’t realize some electronics still draw power even though they’re turned off. I need to start unplugging stuff myself!
These are some really great tips!!! Great Post!
Great tips. I love the tip about the power strip! I try to keep appliances unplugged, but at times, I don’t want to go through the effort. Shame on me! This tip would make it much easier.
We always scrub our dishes before putting it in the dishwasher too and we make sure the faucet isn’t running while washing it too. It has to be in the sink basin with stopper so that saves more water and bills.
I’ll have to try the one week rule. I always am game for money saving tips!
Great tips! Always looking for more ways to save money!
Okay I love the one week rule. That would be a great help to us. Car pooling is a must in our family too. Thanks for the great tips. Congrats to your son and hubby!
When my husband and I married, we were grad students living on college loans. Needless to say, the budget was TIGHT! We instituted a $5 rule. If either of us wanted to spend more than $5 on ANYTHING — even shoes and lunch — we had to check in with the other first. That was 23 years ago (yesterday was our anniversary) and while we have tried increasing the base amount, we still live by the very same rule! It keeps us out of trouble. 🙂
Thanks! One thing we will definitely be doing is carpooling. We could definitely use the extra money!
I love the wait one week rule. I really need to do that and I probably would be able to save quite a bit of money.
Fantastic tips 🙂 We also pop something in the toilet cistern so each flush doesn’t use as much water 🙂 x
Great tips! I especially love the one about E-Clubs. Going to check out that list. We get a lot of coupons and great things with the ones we are signed up for!
I’m a very impulsive shopper as well and that one week tip might really help me. Thanks for sharing that. My kids waste electricity and water. Something is always left on, the tv, the bathroom sink tap. I guess I need to be a little tougher on them as well.
That one week rule sounds like a good one for me–I tend to be an impulse buyer also. Since I only go food shopping for me it is difficult to find the smaller sizes but if I could I wouldn’t have to throw out as much.
What a wonderful post. I love all your tips. Most I already knew about but have forgotten. We do not use a dishwasher. With just three in our home we do not use enough dishes to run one daily. I could of course use one when all my grandchildren come to visit. Lol.
Great tips! I am about to try and lower my home owners insurance after speaking with my neighbors at how much less they pay!
You know, I should be using coupons. … and I do clip them, but I forget to use them.
Since my Hubs has decided to make a lifestyle change by eating healthier, we don’t eat out as much, but it sure is expensive to eat healthy.
Just yesterday I cleaned my purse and went online with all of my store cards to update address, contact. I had let go so much money in reward points I had because I signed up with old email or did not update address!
Erinn, that’s great advice! It never occurred to me that I was losing points by not updating my contact info. Thanks for sharing this tip.
So glad to find out that someone out there also scrubs their dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. My fiance and I have had arguments about why I feel like I must do it and it’s for all the reasons you detailed! High-five fellow OCD dish scrubber!
These are all really great tips for saving money. I need to get better with couponing. I watched an episode of Extreme Couponing and I am totally envious. I need to learn how to save so much money with coupons, but it seems like so much WORK. Sigh.
Vindication! I knew I wasn’t the only one. I agree. I don’t have the commitment to extreme coupon. Becky’s strategy is much easier for those of us who don’t want to plan our whole week around coupon strategy.
Good sound advise. I am the penny pincher. We do really good at all the above except water. My dh is a waster of water. he runs water the entire time he is shaving, brushing his teeth, his hair whatever, it runs 20 minutes or more. Drives me NUTS
The whole one week rule, we just started that too a few months ago. It helps with the kids wants too. If they see something that they think they want, they have 7 days to look around, online, newspapers, etc to find it cheaper and to decide if that is what they really want. It works great!
Nice! I agree we don’t notice what we are wasting until you sit down and look at it.