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Monday, April 13, 2009

Saving hundreds of dollars yearly.

You've heard it said, if you currently drink a $2 every day, you could save a huge amount of money simply making it at home instead of purchasing it. After all, a coffee at that price daily would come to a total of $730 per year. Keep in mind, that's just the coffee, not bagels, muffins, etc.... What if you're like our family and don't go for the average American frills such as morning coffee, cable tv, 2 vehicles, etc.... We do save a lot of money, but is there more we could be doing? Here is a list of things we do currently to save money. Please feel free to post your ideas below in the comments section.

First thing first....make a note of items you truly need and things you can do without. Almost any financial adviser would say to make sure you have something special or a little thing here and there that you don't give up - a frill. That way you don't go on spending sprees. If you need to do that, make sure this is a low cost item not done on a regular basis.

I'm sure I'll miss several but here goes....

Household items:
We make our own household cleaners, detergents, body care products, etc.. There are a couple things we still purchase such as drier sheets and dishwasher soap. That said, we save a huge amount of money per year on these items. For instance, our homemade dry laundry detergent soap is $4 for well over 150 loads of laundry. Not only is it an eco friendly recipe, it's cheaper. Below is your list of household items we make ourselves or do in a less expensive manor.
- homemade laundry detergent
- using vinegar for a fabric softener
- baking soda, vinegar, essential oils and lemon for many household cleaners
- baking soda and vinegar for drain cleaner
- baking soda and essential oils for carpet freshener
- peroxide for carpet stains
- washing all but whites and towels in cold water
- shutting off lights we aren't using at the time
- unplugging unused appliances, and other electrical items
- purchasing energy star appliances
- changing furnace filters regularly
- not overusing heat or air conditioning

Saving on Purchases
- purchasing "oops" paint at stores such as Lowe's, Home Depot, etc...
- shopping at closeout stores such as Big Lots
- shopping resale stores such as Goodwill and Salvation army for clothinog and household items.
- using freecycle. This is an online group to keep items out of landfills. We've gotten several wonderful items from here as well as given many away. Visit freecycle.org to find a local group.
- craigslist.com is a great place to find local free and used items anywhere from toys to cars and houses - plus anything in between.
- trading - I've done a lot of trading on online mommy forums. We've saved oodles of money this way.
- swapadvd.com and paperbackswap.com are great ways to get rid of unwanted books or dvds and get some you've been hoping to have.
- shop at stores such as bread outlets, save-a-lot, aldi and others like these. You can save a lot of money on food items. Many have asked me if this is outdated food, no it is not. It's cheaper food that tastes just as good as brand name.
- shop gfs and sams club - just remember, some of the deals are not that great. Make sure if you purchase a membership, that you save at least that much money throughout the year without purchasing things you normally wouldn't.
- shop sale ads - even if you don't get fliers in the mail for your favorite store or grocer, you can still access their ad online. make your meal plans for the week or couple weeks from items that are on sale.
- vitacost.com has great prices on health products as well as herbal remedies and vitamins. they have a flat rate shipping of $4.99. Order with a friend and pay virtually no shipping.
- bottled water - if you like bottled water like we do, purchase a few cases of bottled water such as nestle and keep in the car for trips. When it comes to drinking water at home, reuse your own jugs and fill up at places such as Walmart or Meijer with their reverse osmosis filtering system by Culligan.

Reusable Items
- use reusable napkins. If you don't want to purchase them, make some out of dollar walmart fabric or other fabric you may have laying around.
- not "paper towels" - in place of paper towels we use old cut up cotton sheets to use in place of paper towels.
- dishes and glasses/cups - stop purchasing paper/foam dishes and start using what you have in your cupboards. Saves money and waste.
- cloth diapers - these have come a long way. You can save lots of money, take better care of your babies bottom and keep diapers out of landfills. Check out Diaperjungle.com if you are wondering about these new changes in diapers.
- family cloth and mama cloth/diva cup - here is something we don't and won't do because it's just not for us. However, some people use/do it and love it. Look online for a more specific explanation.
- re-purpose clothing - you can make jeans into skirts, sweaters into diaper covers or toss bean bags, t-shirts into diaper inserts or breastpads, etc... We love re-purposing items in our home.

Make It Yourself
- Make your own muffins, pancakes and waffles. In fact, make lots and freeze some for later meals.
- Make your own desserts. They contain less artificial ingredients and of course taste better.
- Use your crockpot often. It's easy to use and if you have something already cooking, your less likely to go out and eat.
- Make your own cleaners like I mentioned above. I have several cleaning recipes that I posted awhile back. I think the name of that post is something like Do you know what's in our cleaning products.
- Make your own clothing. Granted, depending on the price of the fabric and other materials, you may be spending more. I purchase $1.00 yard fabric from WalMart and make my daughter peasant style skirts. Super, super easy to make. If you want the link for instructions, just ask:)
Basically, make most of your food homemade. I had someone tell me once prepackaged foods are cheaper. They might seem like it initially but once you pare up the cost pound per pound, they usually aren't. Plus the health benefits of fresh foods FAR outweigh that of prepackaged items.
- Make your own body care products. Very fun and easy to do.

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