Saturday, January 30, 2010

More Money Saving Ideas

In addition to my earlier post about saving money, I wanted to add some other ideas. 
  • Plan meals!  Having a plan for the week means not having to fall back on more expensive convenience foods.  It also means eating healthier which supports your overall well being.  I plan our meals the day before I do my grocery shopping and it helps so much!  Also it makes me take stock of what is hiding in the refrigerator so that less goes to waste.  If I am buying a specific ingredient (for example, cilantro) I try to plan meals throughout the week that will include it so that half of it doesn't hang around and never get used.
  • Stock up when things are on sale.  Things that are staples in your kitchen that are non perishable or can be frozen are worth stocking up on if there is a discount.  Just make sure that the sale price is not really just the same price you would find elsewhere (I have had the Kroger sale price for an item be the same as the Whole Foods everyday price). Also plan your meals around what is on special or what is in season.  Whole Foods puts their sale flyer online so you can plan before you go!  Speaking of seasonal, joining a CSA (community supported agriculture) is a great way to enjoy super fresh produce at a good price. 
  • Buy from the bulk bins!  Dried beans, for example, are so cheap and can be added to so many dishes either to increase their nutrition or instead of the meat.  I like to soak mine and sprout them, then cook and freeze for future use.
  • Make your own everything!  I know, that sounds overwhelming.  However if you just learn to make one thing that you usually buy and then another and another, before you know it you will be saving a bundle and probably prefer the higher quality of something homemade.  I have started making many of my own personal care items (toothpaste, shave oil, perfume, lotion, face masks, toner, body scrub, lip balm, etc) as well as things in the kitchen such as mustard, yogurt, granola, salad dressings, veggie wash, etc.  I am also learning to sew and have made some (really ugly) doublers for my daughter's pocket diapers and some bedding for her crib.  It is so rewarding to have made something by hand.  I think it really makes you appreciate and enjoy the item more. A great little (inexpensive) resource for getting started is a book called Make Your Place.
  • Sign up for emails from retailers you purchase from, brands you buy or coupon and giveaway newsletters such as Ecobunga.  I won a $50 gift card to Whole Foods when I signed up for Ecobunga's newsletter.  I was thrilled! Often retailers will email coupon codes for discounts or free shipping.  If you are looking for a coupon to use online, sites like Retail Me Not and Coupon Cabin are helpful.  Amazon has a subscribe and save program where you sign up for automatic shipments (that can be canceled right away) and get 15% off and free shipping on that item.  Not everything is eligible, but my Seventh Generation Diapers are and I have found Amazon to have the best deal.  (We use disposable diapers at night and when we are traveling and can't do laundry.)
  • Buy reusable! Cloth napkins, microfiber cleaning cloths (or old fashioned rags), cloth diapers, cloth baby wipes, and even cloth feminine pads save money over time.
  • Garage sales, craigslist, freecycle and consignment sales.  It is amazing how much less you will pay for things that are not brand new.  I love finding most of my daughter's clothes at consignment sales.  If you are able to shop around and possibly wait to find something these are all great ways to save.
  • Daily coupon sites such as Groupon and Living Social.  Not every city has them, but it is amazing if you do!  They negotiate deals with businesses (restaurants, salons, you name it) so that if enough people purchase the particular offer it is then valid.  So recently I purchased a $25 groupon for a $50 certificate to a local organic restaurant that we would like to try.  Once the minimum number of people purchase the deal they let you know that the deal is on.  Really fun!  Also offers similar certificates that are considerably reduced!  Always google for a coupon code because there always seems to be one for this site.

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