10 Things I Do to Save Money
1. Find it free.
If I need something, I always, always ask friends, family and neighbors first to make sure they’re not trying to get rid of the thing I need. When we move, we sell almost all of our furniture.
Here are some things I’ve gotten free:
- 2 sets of tables and chairs
- coffee tables
- end tables
- shipping table (for our books)
- tons of free kids clothes and shoes
The house we moved into was in a new development. Just by asking the workers, we’ve gotten:
- free sod leftovers for our back yard
- free 120 square foot cement slab for our shed
- free wood for our shed
- rocks for our landscape
- containers for my plants
If we see something that we need sitting on the curb, we go up to the door and ask if they are getting rid of it. So far, they’ve said yes every time!
So ask and you might get it for free!
2. Buy used.
We buy ninety percent of the items we buy at thrift stores, garage sales or off of Craigslist. When I can’t get it for free, I buy most of my furniture used because I have four kids and kids are hard on furniture. If the kids ruin a $50 couch, I don’t feel nearly as bad about it as I will if they damage a $500 couch! We also buy all of the kids’ clothes used. Why pay $15 for a pair of jeans when you can get them for $2, especially when they grow out of them quickly! Buy used and it will save you thousands of dollars each year!
3. Don’t go out.
Entertainment is expensive. We rarely do activities where we have to pay. We usually only go to one or two movies in the theater each year. We also don’t go to plays, ballets or concerts, which often cost $80 or more per person. This saves us hundreds or thousands of dollars each year. I know those things can be fun but, if you can’t afford it, you shouldn’t be going. My husband used to get free tickets for a lot of these events. It was amazing how many people seemed to get stressed out about the event because of how much they paid for the tickets, especially when their kids didn’t enjoy the events as much as mom and dad expected.
4. Stop eating out!!
American families will easily spend $300-$400 per month just eating out. I know a lot of people who spend WAY more than that! Stop eating out! If you have to buy convenience items and use papers plates, it’s still much cheaper than eating out!
5. Stop shopping!
Only go to the store when you actually need an item. Don’t go to the store just to browse or entertain yourself. When you go to the mall, you can easily spend $40 just feeding your family, not to mention the hundreds of dollars that most people waste buying things they don’t really need. My oldest child is 14 years old and my kids have been to the mall four times in their lives. You will save thousands of dollars if you only shop when you actually need something.
6. We don’t often travel or take vacations.
We took the kids to Silver Dollar City for three days for the first time in 2010 when our oldest son was 12. That was the first “real” vacation our kids have had. We had a blast and loved the vacation but, up until then, we just couldn’t afford to pay cash for a vacation. When we lived in Kansas, we spent most of our vacation time visiting and staying with family in Colorado. The $5000-$10,000 that many families spend on vacations, trips and weekend outings each year can go a LONG way toward paying off debt. (Of course, if your finances aren’t tight and you don’t have to borrow, there is nothing wrong with taking a vacation.)
7. I cut the boys’ hair.
My daughter and I do have our hair cut professionally, but each month I cut all four boys’ hair and I color my own hair. The 20 minutes I spend cutting the boys’ hair once a month saves us $720 each year! Beauty schools are a great place to go for inexpensive hair cuts and perms, especially if you are afraid to color or perm your own hair. Yes, you can perm your own hair. Years ago, almost everyone did.
8. We don’t drink alcohol, soda, juice or milk.
I rarely buy juice and milk just goes on cereal. As a general rule, we don’t drink juice or milk on a regular basis. I might buy juice five or six times a year and our two year old will drink three or four half cup glasses of milk per week, but that’s it. I knew one family with a mom, dad and an 18 month old and the family drank one gallon of milk EVERY DAY!!!! Really?? That adds up to over $1000 a year just for milk!!
9. No Starbucks.
None! If you spend $5 a day at a coffee shop, that adds up to almost $2,000 a year!! For coffee???? Hello??? And how many Starbucks lovers think nothing of grabbing a muffin to go with that coffee?
10. If you can’t pay cash for something, don’t buy it.
Period! Really! Yes, we do use our credit cards but we make sure we have the cash on hand before ordering something and we pay it off right away. If you can’t pay cash for your vacation, new car, clothes, kids activities, school fundraisers, new furniture, cable, food and eating out then DON’T BUY IT! PERIOD! If you don’t have the cash on hand, you shouldn’t be going into to debt to buy things. Resisting the temptation to borrow is the biggest money saver of them all!
Go back to the old way of working and saving for something you need instead of charging something and then frantically working, hoping you can make enough to pay for what you have already spent. Don’t believe that little voice in the back of your head or anyone else that might tell you that you simply can’t live debt free these days and that you must use credit cards because “things are different”. They aren’t any different. The same basic principles apply. You always have to pay the piper. Just choose NOT to pay the piper with interest!
For more easy and practical ways to save money and get out of debt, check out Dig out Of Debt and learn more about how to keep more of your money.
Photo by: 401K