I have said many time that it is the little things that save money. So after realizing how far behind I am on blogging this month, I thought I would make a list of things we are doing this summer to get our budget back under control.
- Menu planning- We have switched to a month long plan. One of the best parts of this is that we can switch around days without having to worry about if we have certain ingredients or not. Our menu plan is based around the meat in our freezer’s at the first of the month. Fruit and veggie are most like what we have either in cans or fresh or as in today on sale.
- Not shopping- This one sounds so very simple and actually makes the most sense. I know that if I go to Costco, I can always find a good deal on snacks and cereal or other foods that we don’t usually buy. Sales are great but I realized in January that we needed to consume the great deals. I have been able to reduce our food budget by over $150 by simply not shopping. I have a list that can be added to if we run out of something and my goal is to shop Costco once a month. I also have been stopping at Aldi about every other week to grab things in smaller quantities or pick up fresh items. Yesterday, I grabbed 2 containers of blueberries along with some lettuce, poptarts and sausage.
- Planning ahead which really goes along with menu planning. We have a pool membership that we pay yearly and this year, we purchased season passes to the water park. I have purchased chips and cookies and other convenience foods to take with us as treats. We will usually take either a pasta salad or wraps or sandwiches for lunch. I did some research on our last visit to the water park and the best deal was $25 for a pizza and 4 drinks. I spent $24 at Aldi yesterday and grab more than enough stuff to finish out 3 meals instead of one. The kids are enjoying our special treat such as a package of cookies and we are not breaking the bank.
- Not eating out. This by far is our biggest down fall. We enjoy eating out. At the beginning of our budget journey we would honest eat out 3-4 times a week. When our income was reduced to one, we have been slowly decreasing the times we eat out. I was so excited to find out that we have eaten out twice in July. Once for Kendall’s birthday with my parents and once yesterday.
- Stockpiling- When I do shop, you will find that I don’t shop like a normal person. I shop the deals and then stock up. It is not usually for me to purchase 10 2-liters at a time or 10 bottles of ketchup if the sale is the right one. I am finding that sales are becoming fewer this year but I am still able to shop with my price list.
- Wasting as little as possible- This week on Wednesday evening, I saw three very wipe bananas on the cabinet. I knew we needed to use these ASAP. I was able to make banana bread and top with strawberry jam for breakfast on Thursday. We also are trying to preserve as much of our garden harvest as possible. This week alone I have made 2 batches of spaghetti sauce and a batch of frozen cucumber relish. This does requires some flexibility with our menu planning but it seems to be working for us.
How are you saving money today?
The weather has been warm and sunny the last week. This has made Saving a little bit easier for us. We decided to turn off the heat and air around 2 weeks ago and managed a solid 10 days without the use of either until today. I am hopefully that we can again turn it off next weekend. My goal is always to go an entire month without use either which will reduce our electric bill by approximately $100 for the month.
The warmer weather has also got me thinking about our garden. I purchased some new netting and some lawn fabric to use. The netting is specific to square foot garden but is also much cheaper than wire so I am hoping that it will last for several years. I am also trying something new this year. We still have sweet potatoes from our harvest in the fall, so I am trying to start a new crop from the ones we have. The kids enjoying helping with this project. I am not sure if this will give us enough but I am thinking that once I see it working I may start a second batch as well to equal the amount we planted last year.
I read last month that you could grow romaine lettuce using a similar water method. The red cup you see is out second head we have attempted. Last week, Zach and I planted the first one in the garden.
I realize that we may not be able to have a continual harvest and most like will only get a few extra leaves from this but as I have said before, every little bit helps.
Other areas of saving is our grocery budget, so far we have managed to spend $125 out of pocket for the month of March in addition to less than $1000 for the entire year so far. This has been the best and most controlled my grocery budget has ever been. I will admit that monthly meal planning helps but we also are buying on a rotating schedule. Our March spending should remain well below $200 however I will need to purchase meat in April so the budget will again be higher.
Finally, I am attempting to save money by using Swagbucks. My goal for each month is to earn one $25 gift card.
What are your saving secrets?
Thursday’s have turned out to be the day that we end up shopping especially for groceries since we have to travel to Winston (30 minutes) most of the time for the best deals. Today we went to CVS, Harris Teeters (2 orders) and Costco. By far the best trip saving wise was CVS.
Matt noticed this morning that he was out of shaving cream. After a few minutes of thought, I decided to use the 5 ECB I earned for completing a survey on line to buy the shaving creme. I used Southern savers to find at least one coupon. I was pleasantly surprised when I scanned my card at the red box and got another 5 ECB for beauty club purchases. Here is what I purchased for $0.36
I used a 0.55 coupon on the edge, the gum was on sale BOGO. I ended up grabbing these at the checkout so I would not waste any of the ECBs. So I saved 95%, have 9 ECB left for next week and earn 0.25 for using my green bag tag.
Well worth the extra 5 minutes and stop at CVS
Today I decided to try out this website Swagbucks
The concept is cool. You earn 5 swagbucks for signing up..then when you go through the site to search you can win 1-5 swagbucks randomly. I did 2 searches and won 1 swagbuck. You also earn these same swagbucks if someone you referred wins from a search as well.In addition, they “hide” bucks on the site 3-5 times a week. So I am going to tell you how to earn the swagbucks as I come across them. 45 swagbucks is equal to a $5.00 gift card at various stores including Amazon.com which has EVERYTHING! So if you decide to sign up for swagbucks then use my email firstname.lastname@example.org as your referral PLEASE!
Here is where to locate the swag code for today
There is a new Swag code out worth $1. It expires 1/21.
You need to go to the main page of Swagbucks.com.
Click on Ways to Earn.
Select special offers.
Click on the No Obligation Offers box.
Notice it says this at the top of that page:
Welcome to Swag Bucks Special Offers. Sign up for the free money-saving offers you like,
feel free to skip the rest, and find a special swag code reward at the end.
Skip all the offers by clicking the skip button beneath the advertisement.
After about 7 pages, there will be a Swag code worth $1.
Enter it on swagbucks.com in the Enter a Swag Code box.
Thanks to Couponing to Disney