I’m a big fan of “every little bit helps,” especially since Liam and I are the appreciative Bread-Eaters to our beloved Bread-Winner. I found a few ways to cut home/family costs and I’m looking for more, so I thought I’d break from my usual reflections for a little nickel-n-diming. The income we have has been a huge blessing for us and it’s so important to be excellent stewards and managers of God’s gifts.
Take It Back
I read on Dave Ramsey’s website that there is always new, unused merchandise in any given house. With those things fated to collect dust, the money spent goes to waste, BUT not if you return them. Getting a refund or store credit is a great way to put that otherwise trashed cash back in your pocket so you can really put it to work (depending on the situation, you can even return merchandise without a receipt). I thought, great idea! but I don’t have anything like that laying around here. After a little digging, however, I found a couple of rolls of shelf liner, some unopened furniture pads, two picture frames, and unused home decor. All purchased over time from different places, but they were forgotten or unnecessary. Not only did returning these items put about $50 back in our pockets, but it also cleared a bit of clutter from the house as well. If you can’t take it back for one reason or another, Craigslist!
Turn it Off
While I’m home during the day, I try to use as little electricity as possible to keep our monthly bill down. Our house has plenty of windows so keeping the blinds open allows for a delightful abundance of natural light, eliminating our need for lamps and overheads; I also have big weekend plans to put up a laundry line so we can reduce how frequently we use our dryer; and I keep the A/C warmer than what we usually enjoy and turn a ceiling fan on in whichever rooms Liam and I occupy.
On a side note, we just re-insulated the attic and for two days our A/C didn’t kick on even once. Making investments in your home like that can save pennies in the long run.
I’ve mentioned Swag Bucks before, but it bears re-promoting. I use Swag Bucks so I can rack up points to redeem for Amazon gift cards. THEN I use the gift cards to purchase diapers for Liam (and soon Little Boy #2), which already come at 30% off if you’re part of the Amazon Moms program. I once worked the gift cards and the discounts so well that an order for 200 diapers came to 19 cents with free shipping. That was the most satisfying 19 cents I’ve EVER spent. Even without working it that well, I can still get a $45 box of diapers for $15 and I’m all about saving that kind of money. Because I’m not a major contributor to our income, I work Swagbucks pretty diligently so we can have cheap or free Pampers. (Most major diaper companies offer point systems, too, which gets you even more for your dollar.) Forget the diapers, though – put the Swag Bucks toward anything you want! You can get points for searching, playing short videos, taking polls, etc.
Couponing is good. Couponing plus discounts is great, but throw in store credit and it’s just brilliant. Several other pharmacies have reward systems, but my store of choice is CVS. Just within the past few months, I’ve saved over $100 using my ExtraCare Card, which doesn’t include the ExtraCare Bucks (store credit) they offer with a few deals. Today I earned $3 in ExtraCare Bucks from an initial purchase, which I then put toward an originally $4 gallon of skim in a separate transaction. Total for that purchase? $1. I will totally take cheap milk. You can work things that way, OR you can take the store credit and put it toward a deal that will earn you even more, which couponers call “rolling.”
Because we lost our car not too long ago, we put the insurance money and my beautiful pickup toward a Honda Odyssey. We are officially a single-vehicle family now and while it’s slightly inconvenient on occasion, it cuts back on gas and insurance costs BIG time; PLUS it requires our lives to be a bit more structured with more communication about Andrew’s and my respective plans for each day. For days when Andrew takes the Odyssey, I have an arrangement with another at-home neighbor in case I need to take a little person (or myself) to the emergency room. AND the fact of the matter is that when I’m at home, I don’t go out and spend money anywhere – gas station, grocery store, Starbucks or Target; which means that we can stretch our dollars across more blocks on the calendar. The whole effort has been great for our family and the pros certainly out-weigh the small inconveniences.
Tell me how you save! Penny pinching can seem like a burden or it can be a thrilling game; it’s pretty satisfying to get things for free or inexpensively. These methods I use are by no means an exhaustive list – even within each approach, there are ways to go deeper and save more.
- Of his own accord, Liam has started picking up bits of grass and leaves from our wood floors and bringing them to me to put in the trash. I can’t help but beam with pride at this. Of course, he thinks that putting things in the trash is a game, but if it actually gets the house clean, who am I to tell him otherwise?? :)
- A HUGE blessing in my life recently is a Bible Study that I joined with my mother-in-law. Just last week I felt spiritually parched and, as I mentioned in my post, I scoured all over the place for something to satisfy my soul. I started reading St. Francis de Sales’s Introduction to the Devout Life and the next day started my Bible Study. It’s such a great group of women and we just finished studying James. If you need a good spiritual slap in the face, James is your book. It’s been SO good to be so abundantly spiritually fed!
- Andrew had TWO days off of work this week and it’s been such a nice bonus in addition to the welcomed rain in our area! With a husband home for a couple of days and [slightly] milder temps, there was plenty of time for fishing, errands, ice cream, and lounging.
- Our Little Man #2 is pretty active! Originally I thought this kid would be more laid-back than his big brother, who is already collected and calm; but if he continues at the bumpin’ and kickin’ rate he has now, I’m in for a busy motherhood :)