Sunday, April 26, 2009

More ways to be cheap

Awhile ago I posted some of my favorite cleaning money savers, and today I’m back with some other ways we save money around our house.

- Probably one of the best things we’ve done is figure out what we like and stick with it. We hardly ever buy anything impulsively at the store. That might sound really boring, but we have figured out how to use ingredients in different ways to shake things up. For instance, we might use Trader Joe’s organic marinara sauce one night on whole wheat pasta and another night as the sauce on homemade pizza. I also always look for recipes that call for the herbs and spices I always have on hand. We cook a lot of things with basil, garlic, parsley, cumin, dill, lemon pepper, and cilantro. At this point, I refuse to buy any exotic and expensive ingredients that might only be used once. If a recipe sounds great but calls for something I’ll never use again, I just leave it out or substitute with something else. It’s very freeing to realize you don’t have to follow most recipes to the letter.
- Convenience foods are super expensive and often full of things we don’t want to put in our bodies. We don’t buy pre-packaged pizza, hamburgers, salad, fish, etc. Yes, it sometimes takes a few extra minutes to make something from scratch, but it always tastes better and it’s a lot cheaper. Avoid the frozen dinner aisle!
- A huge way we save money is by not buying much junk food. We never buy soda and we usually only buy one salty thing like pretzels or pita chips and one sweet thing like sherbet or popsicles per grocery visit.
- We try to buy organic or natural products whenever possible. If it has MSG, partially hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, or a long list of chemical ingredients, it doesn’t go in our cart. I know it seems like it would cost more to buy organic, but Trader Joe’s and Wal-Mart have very good prices on these items. It also helps that real food is much more filling than junk food so you end up buying and eating less.
- When it comes to fruits and veggies, we buy whatever is in season. Sure, I sometimes long for blueberries in the dead of winter, but I’m not willing to pay five bucks for a few handfuls.

- I think my number one clothes rule is, “NEVER buy anything you haven’t tried on!” I am a very serious about trying things on. I take forever in the dressing room. I won’t let myself buy anything, no matter how good a deal it is, unless I’m comfortable in it. I practice walking, sitting and bending and if I have to tug down, pull up, or adjust anything I don’t buy it. I have also learned the hard way never to buy anything hoping it will shrink or I will. This also goes for shoes. If they pinch a little tiny bit in the store, imagine how they’ll feel after eight hours.
- If you have to say, “I just need…” don’t buy it. You know how this goes. You find a great pair of pants but you just need to find the perfect heels to make them work.
- If you’re not sure about something, walk around the store with it for about ten minutes. If you’re still in love with it, and it meets the above criteria, then go ahead and buy it. If you’re not that attached then let it go. This also works really well for home décor items. Sometimes we just need to feel like something is ours for a few minutes.
- Bring a friend who will be truthful. You need someone to say, “You know, I think you are way cuter than that shirt makes you look. Why don’t you try this one.” Or “Don’t you already have three green sweaters?”
- Shop your closet. I pack away all my out of season clothes, so that when the weather changes I feel like I have a bunch of new things. I love going, “I forgot all about that cute tank top!”
- Think about the total cost of something before you buy it. This is one of my favorite things. If a pair of pants is $50 then the first time you wear them the cost is $50. The second time costs $25. The third time costs $12.50, etc. The goal is to only buy things if you know you’ll get the cost down to 0. This keeps me from buying things so trendy that I know I’ll only wear them a couple of times. It also helps me justify buying things when I’m feeling cheap. If I know I’ll wear the $50 pants at least a dozen times in a season, then it keeps me from buying the $25 pants that aren’t exactly right.
- Last, but not least, I regularly check out thrift stores (I’ve bought so many things with the original tags still attached!) and discount stores like Rugged Warehouse.

So, there you have my money saving tips for two more categories. I’ll be back with some more soon! Do you have any to add to the list?


Masterson said...

You can actually save a pretty good amount of money buying certain items through wholesale clubs. We joined one mainly for the price on gas and milk, and within the first month had recouped our initial joining fee. I love getting our milk at prices like 2.15 when it's going for almost 5.00 at the Food Lion down the street (especially since we go through 2 gallons/week- that's almost 6.00 savings in a week on milk alone!). You just have to be careful to not buy everything there (particularly items that quickly go bad- at least for a family of two). We have found multiple things that are better deals than a regular grocery store and we know where exactly in the store to go to stock up on those items and we don't meander down other aisles to be tempted by more expensive non-necessities.

Anonymous said...

Grocery shop with coupons