Tips for Saving Money From a Frugal Mom
Everyone needs to save money in today’s economy. Everything we can do to help our families make the dollar stretch helps. Being frugal does not mean you are cheap; it simply means you are wise with your money.
Being responsible for our own spending is the key to gaining ground with the family finances. We must teach our kids the reality of what to expect and their own responsibilities in saving and spending money.
What Does It Mean to Live on a Budget?
Whether you have a lot of money or not, you need to be responsible and live on a budget. Creating a weekly and monthly budget helps you know where the money is going.
For instance, let’s say the pay checks come in during the first and the fifteenth of every month. For the beginning of the month you schedule your mortgage payment and set back money for those miscellaneous things, such as a tire blowing out or a school project that needs materials. For the mid-month you schedule your car payment, insurance, and utility bills, and you will also need to save some back for miscellaneous.
Of course, due dates will dictate how you divide your bill payment, but knowing what needs to come out of each check will be helpful. Anything saved for miscellaneous should be kept in that fund in case of an emergency.
Of course, you will have to budget for food and gas for both paychecks. One way you can save money is to create a menu for the week or the two weeks between paychecks. Go through your kitchen, see what you have, create a list of what you need, and go to the grocery store and stick to what is on the list. If you take your children with you, be strong and say, “No,” when they are grabbing things to put in the basket. An occasional treat is fine, but teach them not to expect a treat or a bunch of junk each time you go. If you want them to be disciplined with their money as adults, you must discipline them when they are hanging off the front of your grocery cart with arms shooting out to get what they want. It is a great teaching moment for you though your children will not appreciate it at the time.
If you have money left over from each check, put some of it into savings. Even if it is ten dollars every two weeks, that is a start. Also, a great tip for buying Christmas gifts is to put aside a certain small amount each check and tag it for Christmas and birthday shopping. You will be so relieved when it comes time to start your Christmas and birthday shopping.
Another great way to save money that seems minor is disregarding your daily change. Ladies, instead of putting your change in your billfold, just throw it into your purse - you know, that vast deep bottomless pit that you cannot find anything in anyway. Change gets heavy. You will either have to clean your purse out to lighten the load or switch purses. Have a container, like a big bowl or jar, you throw all your change into. Let your husband know where the bowl is so he can add to it, too. Another great place to keep change is in your car ashtray or console. You will always have it to fall back on when you need a few extra coins. At the end of the year, buy some coin rolling slips, put your coins in them, take them to the bank, and use them for whatever you want or need. You will be amazed at how much you saved throughout the year by simply throwing your extra change in a bowl. Buy your kids a piggy bank and teach them the same concept. Be consistent.
Coupons Are a Great Way to Save Money
Clipping coupons is not the most fun thing to do, but using the coupons is an effective way to save money at the grocery or discount store. Be sure to buy the Sunday paper for its coupon fliers and many Wednesday editions have coupon fliers, too. You might also go online and type “coupons” into your search engine and join a club that will send you coupons in your e-mail.
When you have several coupons, you need to keep them organized. Throwing them in your billfold and expecting to remember to use them is a good way to forget. You can buy an inexpensive organizer and either place it in your car, purse, or diaper bag. Coupon organizers are usually divided in the order of the type of product, for instance: canned goods, health and beauty, or baby items, to name a few. Before going to the store, go through your coupons, choose the ones you want, and put them in the front of the organizer for easy access. It is also good to try to put them the order in which the store is laid out, so you can pick up the item and know you have a coupon for it.
Do not forget to check the stores that you normally shop for a points card or a “membership card” that allows you discounted items. Also, any time you are able to buy coupon cards or books being sold as fundraisers, it is a great way to get tailored coupons for your area.
Buy Off-Brand Goods
Check out the off-brands when shopping. Most are close or even exact as the brand name. When buying food items, compare labels to see if the nutritional value is the same.
If you have a coupon, you may be able to get the brand name for cheaper but on the whole, the off-brand is going to be cheaper.
Use Rewards When Shopping Online
If you like to shop online, you will love MyPoints.com. When you join MyPoints, you go through their website to shop at the most popular places like Barnes and Noble, Lowes, Pet Smart, and literally hundreds of more stores. Each store has set a point value for each dollar spent. Barnes and Noble gives 10 points per dollar, some stores give 2 to 4 points per dollar spent, others offers give you a large amount of points for buying a product. Each year I buy Entertainment Books (a large coupon book that can be tailored to your area or for someone else's) for myself and gifts. I receive 750 points per book. What do I do with these points? Since I shop online for many things and take advantage of going through MyPoints.com, I get thousands of points a year. You get to choose from a variety of store and restaurant gift cards. Last year, I got my husband a $50 Lowes card, each of my three kids received a $25 Barnes and Noble card as stocking stuffers, and a $50 Kohl’s card for myself. I earned these points and gift cards by simply shopping for things I normally shop with the only difference being that I went through MyPoints' website.
Now, here is the part you may or may not like. MyPoints sends you several e-mails a day for you to click through. You get 5 points for clicking on each product or store offer e-mail. These 5 points add up quick. A tip on how to keep these pesky, but useful e-mails out of your inbox is to mark them as junk or spam. Check your junk or spam box each day or each week, go through and click on the MyPoint ads and you will accumulate a lot of points in a short time. Also, there are online surveys you can take, too, which will earn more points for you. Sometimes you will see one of your favorite stores or products is having a sale, so you benefit from the sale and the points you earn. In the beginning, I used to look at the site through MyPoints then go to the site to see which had the better deal. Shopping through MyPoints has always won out over going straight to the online or in-store retailer.
You can also get some great grocery store coupons through e-mail. Each time you get these, you click on the ones you want and print them. When you use them, MyPoints is connected to stores’ computer systems, and you receive points for using the coupons. I have printed all the coupons and take the ones I didn’t use and place them in the break room or have given them to people I know will benefit from them, such as diaper and formula coupons for those with babies.
The points add up and so do your rewards.
Check Out the Resale Shops
Oh the treasures one can find in resale shops. They are becoming more and more popular. There are specialty resale shops ranging from babies to teens to adults. When you have kids who want name brand clothing but you find that the brands are too expensive to buy, resale shops can be life savers. Going to resale shops not only saves you money, but it also allows you and your kids to wear what you want, or you can buy that home décor item that seemed to have an astronomical price in the retail store or online.
You do have to be cautious. Look at the clothing articles with a skeptical eye. Oh the whole, most of the good resale shops only accept items that are of the best quality. You can even take your clothes in to be placed on consignment, meaning you will either get paid when they sell or get a store voucher to come in to shop. The good shops will not accept anything from a discount store – usually only name brand – but they sell them at a discount price.
Ladies you and your daughters can find Coach purses and shoes for 1/10th the price you would find in stores or even their outlet stores. Gentlemen, you can go to a used lawn care shop and find mowers and tools for a lot less too.
Teach your kids to shop at resale stores, too. My kids love going to resale shop because they know they can get the name brands without the high price. They learn how to save money and spend it wisely. It is funny when your kids have a chance to spend your money, the sky’s the limit, but when it is their own money, they learn that frugal and good quality are best.
Shop at Salvation Army Stores and Garage/Yard Sales
If you are surprised by the treasures you can find at resale shops, you will be absolutely amazed at the great finds you will come across at the Salvation Army or garage/yard sales. It is true that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. The main difference is that you are going to have to dig for those great finds, so it will be more time consuming. Again, teaching your kids that it is alright to shop at the Salvation Army or to look in on garage/yard sales will save them money on the things they really can’t afford at full price but really want. These are great places to shop for first time apartments.
Another great use for the Salvation Army is when your kids have a program or need something to wear for a theme day at school. For instance, those expensive hand-knitted sweaters that many of the ladies bought in the 90’s can be found for $2 at the Salvation Army. Many schools and businesses even have an ugly Christmas sweater day.
Also, clean your closets and house out and donate to the Salvation Army, which is an excellent cause. They will give you a tax receipt for what you donate, and they take almost anything. Be considerate and throw away things that have a lingering odor or that have stains. I look at it and ask myself, “Would I wear this or want my kid to wear this?” If the answer is no, then pitch it.
Adjust Your Thermostat
One way to save money for your family is by adjusting the thermostat in your house. In the winter, put the thermostat as low as you can stand it so your furnace does not run constantly. Wear warm, comfortable clothing around the house, like sweaters or sweats, or you could even invest in a Snuggie. At night put your thermostat even lower and add a blanket. Many people sleep better when it is cooler.
In the summer, try to wait as long as you can before turning on your air conditioner. Once you do turn it on, remember that it is going to have to work harder to get humidity out of the house. Try to keep the thermostat up as far as you can so your air conditioner does not run too much.
When you go on vacation, don’t forget to adjust your thermostat accordingly. Be sure to make sure it is warm enough in the winter so you do not come home to burst pipes. If you live in an older home, open your cabinet doors up under sinks so the warmer air will reach the pipes.
Simply keeping your thermostat set either lower for winter, higher for summer, and accordingly when you are on vacation will help your electric or gas bill significantly.
Avoid Credit Cards When Possible
The last piece of advice would be to avoid credit cards if possible. Most of us need a credit card to establish credit. Using the credit card wisely will raise your credit score. Choose a card that pays your 1 – 2% cash back on grocery, gas, and/or dining out. Use the credit card exclusively for the items that are in the credit rewards agreement, keep to your family budget, and pay the credit card off each month. If you can help it, do not allow a balance. If you use department store credit cards because of the savings you can earn, buy the items on the card then pay the card off with a check or debit card before you leave the counter.
Good luck, and may your use of these tips help you save money and be more prosperous in the future.
How do you save money for your family?
More Great Frugal/Financial Tips
- 21 Frugal Living Tips for Single Moms
I learned these money-saving tips from watching my mom as I was growing up. She taught me how to live frugally, as I have incorporated many of these tips into my own life.
© 2012 Susan Holland