- Personal Finance
Money Saving Tips for Busy Moms Who Like to Find Bargains
Have you noticed a difference in your grocery bill? Have you noticed that every time you shop the prices just seem to get higher and higher? It seems like everything is going up these days… everything that is, except for our incomes!
What do we do when our income either stays the same or decreases? How can we continue to make ends meet when it seems as if those ends get further and further apart each month?
Well, if our income isn’t getting any greater, then it’s time to take a serious look at what we are spending. Where is our money going? How can we take back some control over our finances?
Take a look at some of the suggestions below. You might find some of them useful in these tough economic times.
Learn how to create a budget from experts like these:
Create a budget and stick to it.
I believe that the best possible way to take charge of your expenses is to create a budget. There are all kinds of budgeting software and resources that you can use to help you take a closer look at your finances. You may be surprised to find you’ve been spending in some areas that can be eliminated. Here are a few simple steps to get you started:
- Record everything you spend for an entire month, bills, utilities, groceries, gas, fast food, coffee, and all of those little quick runs to pick up items that you’d forgotten.
- Take that list and sort the expenses into categories to see how much you spent in each area.
- List your income and subtract those amounts to create a new budget for the next month. If your expenses were more than they should be, look for areas that you could trim.
- Be sure to add a savings plan to your budget. You might be surprised to see how a little amount each week can add up over time.
- Giving to charitable organizations such as your local church should be included as well. A good rule of thumb is to give 10%, save 10%, and live on 90%.
- Put the budget somewhere where you will remember to look at it. Always know how much you have budgeted for certain purchases like groceries or clothes and only spend within that amount.
- Review your budget regularly. How are you doing? Are you keeping within the guidelines? Do some of the guidelines need to be adjusted?
- If things are really tight, you might want to consider talking to a financial adviser. They may be able to come up with some creative solutions.
My motto in life is “Never pay full price”. I repeat it every time I enter a store with my teenage daughter. Her and her friends may laugh and think I’m crazy, but I really don’t care. Why on earth would I buy a sweater for $20 when I can wait two weeks for it to go on clearance and get it for $10 or less? When shopping for clothes you might want to try a few of these steps:
- Check out a second-hand store or consignment shop. I have found some amazing deals just by browsing. You can really stack your wardrobe or even decorate your home by the amazing finds. It’s definitely worth a try. Garage sales are another fun hobby, especially if you’re in the market for kids’ clothes or baby items.
- When entering a clothing store, go directly to the back, don’t even look at all the new and cute trendy items that are displayed in the front of the store. If the rack doesn’t say “clearance” or “only” or have some type of % sign, then pass it by. I have often been amazed at the fashionable, in-season clothes that I can find on a clearance rack.
- Take advantage of buy one get one %50 off sales. If you don’t need two pairs of shoes, go with a friend and split the difference.
- Shop off-season as much as possible. I know it’s difficult to purchase a winter coat when the thermostat is inching in the 70’s, but by the time winter rolls around again, you’ll be nice and warm in your awesome deal!
Save money at the grocery store.
Break out those scissors and start clipping those coupons! In my house coupons are as good as cash and I rarely make a grocery purchase without one. Here are few tips and tricks to try:
- Only use coupons for items that you need or would buy anyway.
- Combine coupons with store sales for even great deals.
- Know which stores double coupons or quadruple them up to a dollar and shop there.
- Check out some on-line coupon systems like Coupon Sense. Click here to read more on saving money with coupons.
If coupons aren’t for you, there are still several ways to save:
- Make sure you use your frequent shopper discount cards as the local grocery chains.
- Utilize Wal-Mart’s price matching guarantee. If you know that milk is on sale at a different store, tell the cashier and they will match the price. (It’s good to have the sales ad with you in case there is a question.)
- Stock up on meat to fill your freezer when stores have a buy one get one free sale.
Here are a few other grocery store tips:
- Never shop hungry. Most likely we all know that, but could use a little reminder! Snacks and extras always look better when you’re hungry.
- Shop alone. Leave the husband and the kids behind if you can. Even if you are a “Food Nazi” (like my family not-so-affectionately calls me) they can still find ways to needle extras into the cart.
- Plan your menu for the week before you shop. This will help eliminate the extra grocery store runs during the week.
- Always, always, always shop with a list. Know what you are going to buy before you walk into the store.
- Take advantage of local fruit and vegetable co-ops if you can. Click here to read more about local food co-ops.
Use the internet to save money on outings and trips.
There are so many web sites that can help you save when planning your next vacation or even your next dinner out. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Priceline.com: I never ever ever go anywhere without pricelining the hotel rooms. This works best if you’re visiting a major city. I love being able to choose my own prices far below retail value. We have stayed in some very fancy hotels for only $50 a night. It’s awesome!
- Restaurant.com: Sign up for their e-mail list and they will send you deals. You can purchase $25 gift certificates for as low as $2. There are restrictions and rules, so make sure you read them. If you are hosting a family dinner out or are going out with friends, this is a great way to save and have a great dining experience.
- Livingsocial.com: The trick with this site is to not give in to spontaneity. Sign up on this website and they will send you a deal of the day every day. If it isn’t something that you need or will really use, just pass it up and delete the e-mail. If it is something you need, however, the deals are usually really amazing. You can use them as gifts too. They also have incentives such as getting three friends to purchase and then your purchase is free.
- Groupon.com: This one also comes with a lot of temptations. But if you stick to your guns and only purchase the deals that are useful, you can save your family a lot of money.
- You probably have several free activities or destinations in your area that you can explore as well. Use your favorite search engine to find out what’s available for you.
A few other ways to save
Some of these may take a little time or a little research but in the long run you should see some decrease on your expenses:
- Make sure you are signed up for the best plan with your utilities. If your electric company offers different plans for on-peak and off-peak hours, find out what options your have and which one would fit your family the best.
- Speaking of utilities, make sure you don’t have any water leaks and that you are being as energy efficient as possible. Many electric companies will send someone out free of charge to look for ways to make your home more energy efficient.
- Call your cable or satellite company and ask for discount. You might be surprised to find the lengths they will go to keep you as a customer.
- Get rid of cable or satellite all together. If you can't do that, consider downsizing to a basic plan. Do you really need all of those channels?
- What type of internet service are you getting? Can you opt for a slower service for a better rate? Chances are you won’t even notice the difference.
- Shop around when it comes to cell phone purchases and plans. Make sure you are getting the best deal and the best service.
- Eat at home. Stop running through the drive-through and spending incredible amounts of money on dining out and pizza delivery. Busy moms should check out my hub on freezer cooking. If freezer cooking isn’t for you, the crock pot can be a life-saver. You can read more on crock-pot ideas at this link.
- Watch movies at home. With Netflix and Redbox so available, spend some evenings at home with your own popcorn and save the theatre for special events. When you do go out to see a movie, why not go to a matinee or maybe a discount theatre that plays movies that have just finished their runs at the box office? Are there any drive-ins left in your area? Those are a great place to go with your family or a group of friends at a much lower cost.
There are so many ways to save! These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg. How does your family save money in these economic times? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comment section below. Thank you so much for reading! If you found this hub useful, please be sure to vote it up and share it with others.