Wednesday, December 03, 2014

The Saving Money Game

Saving money can be a challenge in today's economy, but I like to make a game of it. I give myself mini-goals to accomplish, like:

- How low can I get the grocery bill this week? First, I see what I have on hand in the freezer and pantry. Then, I check the sale ad and start forming my meal plan. Do I have coupons for any of the needed items on sale? Perfect!! Extra savings and a lower grocery bill. Sunday, I spent $88.94 for a week's worth of groceries to feed our family of four.

- How much extra can I add to the savings account? Anything that does not get spent at the end of the week, gets transferred into savings. Plus I try to tuck away at least $25 out of each paycheck.

- How much can I shave off the electricity bill? I can keep the house cooler in winter by wearing layers, usually just an extra sweater indoors. And if I'll be sitting for a while I'll add a lap blanket. Right now we are having Spring-like days so the windows are opened and I leave the central air conditioner off until we go to bed. I love getting the electricity bill as low as I can. It feels like I'm beating the "man" at his game!

- What is the least amount I can use? From dish washing liquid to laundry detergent and more, I experiment and see what is the least amount I can use without a noticeable difference in performance, or in the case of food, taste. If I use less, I am saving money because I don't have to buy as often.

- Can I do this myself? I can wash and vacuum my car myself instead of paying for a car wash. I can paint the rooms in my house instead of hiring out that work. I can chop my own vegetables instead of buying pre-chopped. I can do my own yard work instead of hiring a lawn-care service. Cha-ching! All ways to keep extra money in my pocket. 

- Do I  really need this? This is one of the questions I ask myself before buying anything. Do I already have something similar? Will I use this or will it go to into the charity box soon? More often than not, the item stays in the store, but then I don't go into the stores very often these days. I have no need to. 

- I make use of freebies. I download free Kindle books and visit the library for reading material. I scour the internet for inspirational and DIY articles on the subjects I'm interested. I make use of food and beauty samples. I stock up on B1G1F deals, especially when paired with coupons.

- I try my best to avoid paying full price for anything. Now that I'm home full time, I have more time to search for the lowest prices. I plan to go to second hand shops for clothing. I always ask the places I do business if they offer a military discount (usually 10%)....the worst they can say is no.

- I am getting back to cooking and baking from scratch. It is cheaper, more filling, and just plain tastes better. And it warms the house up on chilly days!

- Stop buying. I have enough makeup and lotion to last me a year or close to it. Those items are going on my Do Not Buy list until they are gone. Instead of letting things languish and expire, I'll use them up and save that money instead.

Those are just a few ways I make saving money fun and adventurous. I'm still learning new things all the time. It is such a good feeling to pay less than retail prices and to make the most of my husband's earnings. It helps that he gets excited about my saving abilities! 

What ways do you use to make saving money fun? 


Tammy said...

Tracy - We've been saving quite a bit on groceries by price matching, which you could combine with your coupons. It does take a bit more time, and depends on where you shop, but so far has been worth the effort.
My DD also has the WalMart price catcher app on her phone and scans all of our receipts from WM. In just a couple of weeks we have almost $10 credit from price matches we didn't know about.
Good luck in your endeavor!

Theresa F said...

love this post.I do most of these things. I need to learn to bake and cook from scratch more. I tend to buy convenience foods more than I should.

allisamazing said...

I like to use pretty much all of the ideas you posted - they are all such great money savers. My favorite is "never pay full price for anything!"

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

Those are all really good money savers and that's a great way to approach being frugal - challenge yourself and make a game of it!

Patricia @ Corn in my Coffee-Pot said...

I'm always on the look out for ways to save around the house. With groceries-- I like to see how far I can make one cooking session last.
For instance 1 whole hen-- cooked and de-boned at home for us, can make 3 sometimes 4 meals depending on the menu. The other day-- I made chicken and dumplings-- what didn't get eaten for lunch (meal #2) the next day, went into the freezer for lunch another day (meal #3)-- The chicken was divided into 3 seperate portions before I even cooked the Chicken and dumplins-- so the other 2 bags of chicken make meal #4 and #5 for us...with possible lunches or leftovers later on. All from 1 chicken!
Also part of the broth was saved and frozen for use later. The scraps cooked down were given to Buster... he counts too! So that is meal #6!
That's just one way I try and save. ;)
I like your tips and ideas Tracy.
I'm like you I compete with myself on all these budget busters and try and get them as low as I can.
With electricity-- don't forget about 'phantom electricity' anything with a light on pulling current! Use power strips and unplug some of those things.

Debbie said...

Great ideas! I love to think of this as my "job" and that I'm actually making money by saving and spending in the most frugal ways.

It's a great challenge, but it can be fun!

Mrs. Miano said...

This was a great post! Like you I try to use as little as possible.....easy way right up front to I am looking for things I already use that can pull double duty and help me to make my own. Some examples are my dish I buy a giant generic one and use it not only as dish soap but I use it to make laundry soap and some household cleaners. Baking soda not only for cooking but cleaning and beauty stuff (scrub and bath soak- tooth powder, hair wash) I now use my hair conditioner as a CO wash (conditioner only wash) for days I dont wanna shampoo, leg shaving cream ( old lotions you dont like work great for that too) and sometimes I'll thin it in a large bottle with water and some vinegar for fabric softener. I am currently looking/interested in DIY makeup Not only double duty items like lipstick for blush, or face powder for hair powder but also making some of my own. I have make a decent dusting powder for my oily skin with just a T cornstarch with about 1/4t cocoa powder and tumeric added for a nice fleshy color. It works great and I had to buy zero! I have read from the victorian era that you can mix 1t-1T of sugar in water and use it like hairspray. I may try this when my current pump bottle gets empty....I always buy sugar...I wouldnt miss 1T!!! Thats the kind of things I am looking into currently. I would LOVE to get life down to a few basic staple supplies that I could then make all I need or want :)