How full is your piggy bank?
If you’re looking to save up for a vacation, put some extra money away for the future, or just cut down on costs generally, one of the best the best ways to do this is to first of all analyze how much you spend. Put together a spreadsheet, write it in a notebook, or use an online budgeting site! Calculate your monthly transportation and/or gasoline costs, how much you’re spending on groceries, eating out, etc. Sometimes it can be a shock to see how much you spend vs. how much you really should be spending, but in order to be more financially savvy, you’ll have to face the reality and look at all of the numbers in order to know what needs to be cut back and come up with a game plan!
Some expenses are frivolous. Did you really need to go out to dinner 4 times that week? Or perhaps you could’ve waited for a sale before grabbing those expensive shoes? Each family is completely different when it comes to the extra expenses and how they work them out. If eating out is important to your family, don’t stop it entirely! Perhaps just opt for less expensive restaurants, share large dishes, or cut down a bit on the number of times you go.
Other costs are just plain necessary (like gasoline, groceries, etc.) but there are obviously ways that you can cut back on them, too! For example… Carpool, take the bus, meal plan before grocery shopping, use coupons… etc etc etc.
Those are just a few tips – here are a few more!
1. To save money on utilities, disconnect all the electronic household appliances when they are not being used. The microwave, televisions, and even computers that are turned off but still connected to a charger in the wall can still be using up electricity. Even though it’s a small amount, it adds up!
2. Also, you can reduce gas consumption and electricity by turning off the thermostat in winter season and using the fireplace instead (depending on the type of fireplace you have). Or just opt to not have the heat on as high at night and layer everyone up with a few extra blankets and warmer pajamas. As long as everyone is still comfortable, changing the temperature by just a few degrees can make a big difference!
3. When it comes to furnishing your home, buying clothes or household items, try to purchase second-hand whenever possible. Many people sell their objects and furniture online or at yard sales, and you can usually find quite a few pieces are are in almost-new condition! (I once bought barstool chairs for super cheap, and they hadn’t even been used! The previous owner bought too many a while back, and just stored them in her garage.)
4. Or, instead of buying anything at all, do some research and figure out how to restore or even just repaint your current furniture, or learn to properly clean your old shoes or patch up worn-out clothing for cheap.
5. As mentioned before, to cut back on gasoline costs, try to find someone that may want to carpool – whether that’s a carpool buddy for work, or perhaps a group of parents that trade off taking everyone’s kids to school. Not only are you spening less on gas, you’re also helping the environment as well! Woohoo!
6. And, also as mentioned before, try to find ways to cut back on food expenses as well. Simply look for ways to not to leave each day to eat in restaurants – packing lunches for work, taking turns with cooking to lessen the meal-making burden, and simply setting a limit for how many meals can be take-out or eaten at a restaurant.
7. When grocery shopping, check the supermarket ads before you go to see what is on sale. Also, learning how to use coupons can help you save so much! Plus, never go to the store hungry, and try to have recipes already planned out so that you don’t end up wasting money on items you don’t even need.
Those are just a few specific tips that have personally helped me to save money. Each family is different, with different expenses being more important, so be sure to take some time to see what would really help you best!
If you have any tips on saving more money each month, leave them in the comments! I’d love to hear what you do, and I’m sure other readers would as well!
Hate throwing out moldy berries?
Every time I head to the grocery store I seem to end up with at least on package of berries. Whether they’re for a recipe I’m planning to make, some smoothies, or just as a snack, I love keeping my fridge full of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries at all times.
Berries can also be a big pain, though. I find that unless they’re all eaten within a few days they go bad and I’m forced to throw them out. It’s particularly sad when I know I spent nearly $5 on an 8oz carton of raspberries, and they’re all going to waste!
After doing a bit of research, I’ve come up with 3 tips that can help all you berry fans out there save some serious money and make sure that you never have to toss out moldy berries again!
Stock up during sales
It’s rare to find a coupon for berries, but if you do, run to the store and use it! Also, check the weekly ads from your favorite grocery stores to see if anyone is offering up a sale. When the prices have been cut on the berries you like, stock up! Don’t worry, even if you grab 5 packages of blueberries, I promise none of them will go to waste if you follow the other 2 steps…
Soak in a vinegar bath
I’ll admit, when I first came across this “vinegar bath” tip for extending the life of your berries, I was skeptical. But now that I’ve tried it and have seen raspberries last in my fridge without any mold for nearly two weeks… I’m sold.
Simply mix 1 cup white vinegar with 3 cups water in a large bowl. Place the berries inside the mixture and let soak for at least 2 minutes. Afterwards, rinse off the vinegar and pat dry. The pH of the vinegar is what kills off any mold spores and bacteria – greatly extending the life of your berries.
Store extras in freezer
Place the amount of berries you expect to be able to eat in the fridge and then store the rest in an airtight freezer-bag. Berries stay good in the freezer for around a year! I love to add a cup of frozen blueberries to my warm oatmeal for breakfast, or I make smoothies or berry pie!
There ya go! 3 simple tips to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to berry-buying! Let me know what you think in the comments below! 😀
I’ve never been a vinegar gal. Well, that’s not totally true… My favorite chips are the salt & vinegar flavor.
But when it comes to the kind you buy in a bottle – I’ve always been totally clueless. I hardly touched it for cooking, let alone used it to clean! Pinterest came around and helped to change that, though. Suddenly I saw pin after pin that exposed me to all of these uses regular old vinegar could have when it came to cleaning your home!
The one cleaning solution I was most anxious to make was one that involved Dawn soap in order to create a shower glass cleaning spray! My shower has always driven me nuts since we have such hard water where we live, so it always looks insanely dirty. And yes, I have invested in a squeegee, but that didn’t always cut it! I’ve tried half a dozen different shower-specific cleaners, and they usually left me inhaling chemicals without even accomplishing much! Because of that, I decided to give the vinegar shower-cleaning solution a try… and LOVED it.
I wish I had taken before and after photos to show you just how nicely this solution works! Anyways, it’s super easy to make – simply mix 1 part Dawn with 1 part white vinegar and pour into a spray bottle! Spray your shower with the cleaner and let sit it for at least a couple of minutes. Scrub at the heavily soiled areas a bit, and then rinse clean and watch with amazement as the hard water deposits, dirt and soap scum disappear!
Have you tried this DIY cleaner on your shower? Let me know what you thought of it!
There are many ways to earn point rewards. There a click sites, sites to watch videos, and sites where you get rewarded to use a search engine. Most of them also have ways to help you spend your points before they become rewards, but that isn’t the point of point rewards when you are a Thrifty Diva. Here is how I avoid overspending my reward points.
Sweepstakes are a great way to gamble away all your points a little bit at a time. You start out spending a few points here or there to get 25,000 points. The only problem is unless you win you don’t get anything. The alternative is to keep saving up those points for a reward that you are certain to get.
The Best Offer For Use
When it comes to my Bing Rewards I used to get five dollar gift certificates for 475 points. I could have gotten fifteen dollar gift certificates, but they were for stores that I didn’t shop at. What I finally settled on was spending 420 reward points on a month free for Hulu Plus. That meant we could get rid of our Netflix Subscription, still have our television entertainment, and not have the price of it come out of our budget. Not only that, I spent less points on my reward enabling me to get more for my reward points.
Be Picky With Offers
I only choose the offers that are free, but my definition of free may be different from others. If an offer pays out at least an equivalent amount of points to the cost of an offer, that’s free to me. If it costs less it’s not free. If I need to pay shipping and handling it’s not free, but if the point rewards are more than shipping and handling charges, it’s free. In short, unless I’m breaking even or making a profit I won’t use an offer.
What are your favorite reward points sites?
Yay! We have made it to the week of Christmas, but we still have a few people to shop for. We still need to wrap gifts…and send out cards…and get to the very busy post office. It is the season crunch time and there is still so much to do. Here are a few ideas to keep the stress down while finishing your holiday chore list.
Wrap For Donation
There are charity organizations, such as pet shelters, that offer wrapping for a donation. You can choose the amount you are willing to pay for their service. You get your presents wrapped without stressing out. You don’t have to buy the stuff to wrap presents yourself, or at least , you don’t have to buy quite as much as you would have. Plus, knowing your money goes to a good cause is just an added bonus.
Buy Gifts In Bulk
Places like Sam’s Club or Costco have items such as gourmet hot chocolate as several boxes packaged together. There are some packages that come with up to twelve types of tea in their own decorative tins. If you are still searching for gifts for a number of friends get one of these packages and break them down to the individual box or tin. Stick a bow and card on them and give them out to your friends. It will save you both time and money and you will still be able to get your friends’ gifts out in time for Christmas.
I know it seems impersonal to give gift cards, but consider the benefits. It’s likely that you haven’t a clue what to get most of the people that you have put off buying a present for. When giving a gift card you know they will be able to get something that they will like. Buying gift cards is also a good way to stay in budget. Often at the last minute we are in such a hurry to get a gift for someone, we spend more than we should. Gift cards are for a specified denomination of money. You don’t need to worry about going over budget too much.
We all want to be able to give our children some of the things that they want, but often it seems we find ourselves saying no instead. Here are a few ways to say yes that won’t break the bank.
Children that watch a lot of television end up watching a lot of commercials. They watch commercials for cereal, toys, theme parks, and movies. For the most part children don’t know they are being manipulated to bug mom and dad to buy these items for them. They only know that the toys, theme parks, and movies entertain them. They want the sugary goodness that comes with that brand name marshmallow cereal.
The funny thing is without the advertisements the product loses its power over your children. You could take them down the cereal section of the grocery store and buy generic healthy cereal and your children won’t even blink. Get a Netflix account. It costs less than ten dollars a month. You also determine what television programs your children watch. Which shows have more merchandise on store shelves? Which are educational programs? What franchises are you willing to invest in? These things are in your control. The more you take that control the less you will have to say no to your children about purchases without giving in to something that is overly expensive or inappropriate.
Make it at Home
There a many craft supplies and toys that can be made at home. For example, I have found recipes online for silly putty, sculpting clay, finger paint, and play dough. Keep a file of these recipes and when your child asks for one of those products tell them yes. Let them know that you are able to make the item at home and will do so. Make sure you follow through with your commitment to your child. Without following through you child will learn it’s just easier to buy the item than wait for it to be made as promised. Invite your child to help make the item. This saves money for you and teaches your child not to buy something they can make themselves at a lower cost.
Delayed Gratification and Choice
Teaching a child delayed gratification works especially well with a choice attached to it. For example, let’s say the family may be planning an outing. Choose a definite day that this outing will be happening in the future and let the family decide together on where you will be going. Treat delayed gratification as something to look forward to rather than something to wait for.
Exercise shouldn’t cost as much as it does. There are a number of franchises dedicated to getting in shape. There are gym memberships, DVDs, and exercise machines and equipment. The secret these companies don’t want you to realize is that you don’t need any of these things to get in shape.
Contrary to what you may have been told you don’t need a yoga mat to practice yoga. You don’t need blocks and you don’t need the belt. You don’t even need yoga pants. What you do need is instruction and you can get that free at doyogawithme.com. If you feel the need to see your yoga space, use a blanket instead and if you want to be on a block use two equally thick books or a folded blanket. The more you progress however, the less you will need these items. The only reason you may need a mat at home is if you have slippery floors.
If you have kids one of the best ways to lose weight is to play with them. Many schools that have been underfunded for a physical education class know the value of basic exercises like jumping jacks, push ups, and sit ups. They also know the value of getting children to play games with each other. Go outside and play tag and red rover. Find bleachers to climb together. Not only will you keep in shape, your children will have a first hand example on being physically fit. It will also teach them that physical fitness is fun, not a chore.
The most basic exercises often are the best. Many people get a thrill from walking or running. Pick a time you enjoy and a place that is public and pretty. Have a partner to share the experience with, or compete with. The only items you may need for walking and running is a pair of sneakers and clothing that breathes.
There are many ways to cut corners when it comes to household costs. My favorites are finding a use for something that I already have. I don’t need to buy an extra item and I get more use out of the items I have. It reduces clutter and increases the room in my shopping cart.
The Fridge Instead of Dry Erase Boards
If you have a standard white fridge don’t buy a dry erase board. Dry erase crayon and marker comes off of your standard white fridge just fine. It’s also a high traffic area so it’s very likely that if you leave a message for a family member on it, they will get the message. For our shorter family members it’s a treat to be able to write on the fridge and only takes a wet cloth to wipe away. You can draw a calendar on your freezer door or write down emergency numbers for the babysitter. It’s a great way to get more use out of your fridge.
The Cleaning Sponge Instead of Wash Cloths and Loofahs
Sponges were made for cleaning and that includes your body. They absorb more than enough soap and water to get your skin clean. If you want to exfoliate use the ones (lightly and gently) that have a the green scrubbing pad on one side. They come in a variety of colors so that you can tell each family member’s sponge from another. If the color system doesn’t appeal to you, you could just get a six pack of sponges and cut them into different shapes for a useful kids crafts. They will love their custom sponge and you will love using the leftovers as cleaning supplies.
Cook Wear Instead of Mixing Bowls
This is a great tip for those with limited cupboard space in their kitchen. Don’t get mixing bowls. Instead use pots to mix up your cookie dough, or mix ingredients for your latest casserole recipe. Your cookware will work just as well as mixing bowls and using them saves both money and space.