Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Saving Money…the coupon free version

I have tried several times to continue my coupon clipping addiction after moving to New York City.  I was trying to fit my suburban training & experience into my new urban lifestyle.  What I discovered is that most of the time, my time and convenience are more important than saving a few cents with a coupon.  We do not have the stores that double coupons here and run amazing sales flyers like I had in Virginia Beach.  I do shop the sale flyer and stock up on items I use regularly, but I do not spend a lot of time clipping coupons.

This has meant that I have had to find other creative ways to pinch my pennies.  There are a few items which I use that are cheapest in bulk.  We had a Costco membership, but opted not to spend the money to renew.  I have a friend who picks up those few items for me when she is going anyway.  {This may change when I have three kids in diapers…I may have to renew}. 

Here are a couple of little things I do to stretch our money just a smidge:

  • Menu Plan – I fell off this bandwagon for a while too, and found myself running to the store more often and spending too much money.  I plan my menu for either two weeks or a month at a time, depending on what’s going on in life.  I factor in meals that I know we cannot eat in one supper, so that I can plan leftovers into my menu.  We regularly have soup & sandwiches because they are easy & inexpensive.  We also eat beans & rice {like a “naked” burrito} once a week.
  • Less Meat – while we all like to eat meat, I have found that in soups & casseroles you can easily cut the meat portion in half, and the family will never notice.  For a casserole to feed all four of us with leftovers, I use only 2 chicken breasts {sometimes less}.  Only occasionally do we have a “meat & potatoes” type of meal where the meat is the main course.
  • Samples – I do take the 30 seconds required to sign up for all the free toiletry samples I encounter online.  Money Saving Mom regularly shares links for these free items on her blog & Facebook page.  I can make a shampoo/conditioner sample pack last for about 4 days.  I usually sign up for 2-3 of these samples a month, so I get at least a week of “free” shampoo.  The body wash samples usually last much longer because they come in a small bottle.  And it is not rare to get a free razor or coupon for a free item at the drug store.  It all adds up!
  • Cleaning Supplies – I make my own cleaning products & laundry soap from inexpensive items like vinegar, borax, and baking soda.  See my post here for more information.  I try to use rags as much as possible instead of paper towels.  I also make my own foaming handsoap with a squirt of dishsoap and a lot of water – more details here {but I just use Dawn Hand Renewal instead of Dr. Bronners}.
  • Library – we go to the library often to check out books instead of shopping at Barnes & Noble.  Now that I have a Kindle I have also been utilizing both eReader Girl and Spirit Filled Kindle to download free books. 
  • Take My Own Portraits – Elaine is the only one who has really had professional portraits done.  I watched the photographer a couple of times, read a lot of blogs, and played with the manual settings on my camera.  The results are good enough for me.  I still have a lot to learn, and maybe one day I will own a DSLR, but for now I’m saving quite a lot by taking my own portraits of my kids.  I may take the twins to get their newborn pictures done at JC Penney because I know things will be hectic at that season.
  • Hulu – we don’t subscribe to Netflix or spend regular money on entertainment.  If we feel like watching something, we pick something clean from what Hulu offers for free.  On the rare occasion that there is a new release worth watching, we use a free code for the RedBox machine.
  • Free Printables – I have saved lots of money by downloading and printing things others have created.  Preschool materials for Elaine, planner pages, subway art for home décor, menu planning pages, and other items are often free online.  It saves me time and money.
  • Amazon – when I need to make a purchase, I usually check Amazon to see if it is cheaper.  Many times it is the same price or less as Target or another store.  If I spend $25 I get free shipping, and I have saved myself the time, gas, parking money, and effort to go and pick it up at the store.
  • Make It Myself – things like cookies, croutons, bread, cream-of-whatever-soup, hot chocolate mix, “bisquick”, and other items are easy to make at home from scratch, and they save a lot of money.
  • Upcycled Cards – I like to make my own stationery cards, but sometimes I don’t have much time.  When I receive cards in the mail, I often cut off the front and save it to “upcycle.”  When I need a card in a hurry I just remount the card onto a new piece of cardstock and I’m good to go!  Can’t remember the last time I bought a card in the store…

1 comment:

  1. These are all really good tips, some I had not thought of yet. BTW I'm really glad I'm no the only one who "Upcycles" cards :) I just have to make sure I don't send them back to the one who originally sent them to me!


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