Some people get their adrenaline rush from running a marathon, climbing a mountain or winning the big game. Me? I get a rush from saving money. I know that may sound crazy but there are few things more exciting to me than getting to the end of the grocery receipt and reading “You’ve saved $77 on this trip”. I love it!
I have some tried and true secrets that our family uses in an attempt to save a few of those all mighty dollars. I thought I would share them here, on the off-chance that some of you are as thrilled by thriftiness as I.
1) Make your own laundry detergent. This seems to be the one thing we do that makes everyone’s eyes go wide with disbelief but it is one of the biggest day-to-day money savers at our house. We are a family of 5 and were buying the large concentrated version of our favorite detergent at the local bulk warehouse for approximately $18 every 3 weeks ($324 a year). The cost of making our own is about $11 a year! Besides the cost savings, it’s environmentally friendly along with being safe for my family and their allergies. There are many recipes out there but the one that I find the easiest and works best for us is the liquid laundry soap recipe found here http://www.duggarfamily.com/recipes.html. I add 1 cup of Borax instead of 1/2 cup. Other than that, I follow the recipe exactly. The key to making it great is to be sure to stir the soap & water mixture until the soap is completely dissolved.
2) Use coupons and combine them with sales. This one is an oldie but goodie and saves us a good deal of money with every trip to the grocery store. Some people complain that coupons are more work than they are worth but if you find a good method and stick with it, you can save some real money.
There are many methods of couponing out there, some more fanatical than others. Some people clip them all and file them in a binder while others clip nothing and save the entire coupon flyer until they do their shopping. The approach that works best for me is to search through the flyers when they come in, clip the coupons for the types of items my family uses and then pass the flyers on to other family members who then also share their left-overs with me. Be sure to search the store sale flyer before your shopping trip and combine coupons with sales. For example, during my last trip to the store, I had 2 coupons for $.75 off of 2 boxes of Barilla pasta and the store was running a 10 for $10 sale on the same pasta. I purchased 4 boxes, used both coupons (which the store doubled) and paid only $1 for all four boxes of pasta (regularly $4.96). You can also combine manufacturer coupons and store coupons for even better deals, sometimes getting items for free!
There are a variety of ways to get coupons. Like your mother and grandmother, you can still find them in your weekend papers which is a great resource but don’t stop yourself there. You can find great coupons online at places like www.Coupons.com and www.SmartSource.com. If you don’t have time to search through the tons of online coupons available then subscribe to a few of the great blogs out there run by those that make this their hobby and are willing to share their information. My favorite right now is http://moneysavingmom.com/.
3) Get group pricing for trips and events. If you and your family are interested in taking a trip, seeing a show or visiting an amusement park there are ways to go at a fraction of the price. This may take a little work on your part but if you have the time and energy, this can be a big money saver for you. Before you plan your trip, be sure to call ahead and find out if they offer group pricing and, if so, what are the particulars.
Our family loves to visit a few of the local amusement parks which can be very expensive ($54.95 per ticket). So every year I set up a “Friends & Family” group with the amusement park which allows me to purchase the tickets at a discounted rate. Then I send out an e-mail to our family and friends letting them know that I can get group tickets for almost 1/2 off. It’s a great deal for them and for us! The amusement park also wins because they get a few more families visiting than would have if they didn’t have the opportunity for the discounted tickets.
Now, this means that I have to collect the money and distribute the tickets when they arrive but the savings are worth it to me. You would be surprised how many places are willing to give discounted pricing to groups. Some will even give the group leader freebies or special deals which is an added bonus for all of your hard work!
4) Subscribe to Groupon. A friend told me about this and I love it! The premise is that local businesses will offer discounted pricing to those that purchase the offer of the day. If enough people chose to take advantage of the offer then the “Deal is on”. When you subscribe you will get a daily e-mail detailing the Groupon offer for that day. On most days the deal doesn’t interest me but I have found great deals on those things that do. For example, $7 tickets to the local zoo (regular price $14); $12 for 3 buckets of balls at the local driving range (regular price $24); $12 for 5 games at the local mini-golf (regular price $30). It doesn’t cost anything to sign up and you can choose from a list of cities in order to find the deals closest to you. Check it out here http://www.groupon.com/r/uu3912341.
5) Trade goods and services. This is the way people operated in the days of our ancestors and what a great way to do business! Do you have a business, special skill or talent? Everyone does and everyone is interested in saving a few dollars these days. Maybe you can trade babysitting services for piano lessons? What about offering to mow someone’s lawn if they will take a look at your computer problems? How about trading mechanic services for a few haircuts. The ideas are endless!
There are so many ways to save money if you open your mind and think out of the box. I would love it if you would post some of your ideas below! I’m always interested in learning of new ways to save a few dollars!