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Saturday, September 18, 2010

How Our Family Saves Money

A couple of weeks ago, my dear online blogging buddy Judy ran a series of posts on trenches & ruts on one of her many WONDERFUL blogs, Benmakesten. They are written from a homeschooling family's viewpoint, but can be applied to anyone! The first one, Trenches vs Ruts, focuses on recognizing the difference between the two & knowing that, as homeschooling families, we should stay in the trenches but out of the ruts. In the second one, Recognizing and Getting Out of a Rut, she lists 11 reasons/ways we can fall into those ruts & 7 things to remember in forming a strategy to get out of them.

The next two articles, Numbers 1-6 of "RUT" Inducers & #7-11 on "Ruts" break down those 11 reasons/ways with Judy's AWESOME personal comments. She has some excellent advice & suggestions in these posts & I plan on printing them off so that I can refer to them often.

In the third post, she mentions money woes as one of the ruts & some small steps that have worked for their family. This got me to thinking about things that our own family has done & I thought I'd share them w/ you. I know there are many, many resources out there, especially during these tough economic times. You've probably heard some these, but there may be some things you haven't heard before. Plus, what may work for our family may not work for yours.

I'll start with laundry:

  • I've not bought laundry detergent in over a year. I found a recipe that I really like & have been using it ever since. (In an effort to save some space in this post, I'll put any recipes I mention in my next post.)
  • I wash towels & sheets in hot water, but everything else gets washed in cold.
  • This is a new tip I just learned last week - When washing towels, run them through the spin cycle a second time. This helps cut down on drying time in the dryer, which takes more energy than the washer.
  • The previous suggestion can be avoided if you hang your laundry to dry. I'm working on getting an outdoor line for hanging clothes, but haven't done so yet.
  • We do air dry about 1/2 of our clothes in the basement, especially items that have a tendency to shrink (jeans, dress pants, blouses, etc.) We either hang them on hangers or drape them across some folding chairs.
  • Because of the above tip, when I have two loads of clothes that I'm washing, I will wait to run the dryer until the second load is done washing. Then I'm only running the dryer once.


  • I make many of our household cleaners (all-purpose spray, window cleaner, baby wipes)
  • I make my own deodorant.
  • We don't run the dry cycle on the dishwasher. Once the dishes are washed, we open up the dishwasher so the dishes can air-dry.

Other Household

  • Unplug appliances when not in use (coffee pot, toaster, etc.) This tip is new for me, so I'm still working on remembering to do this.
  • I made a four week rotating meal plan which we are usually pretty good about sticking to. Having a plan helps keep us from eating a lot.
  • Using that plan, I try to shop only once a week & buy generic as much as possible. Most of the generics I buy are as good as or better than the brand names.
  • I don't normally use coupons unless it's something we use or need. Many people fall into the trap of thinking they're saving money w/ coupons, but end up buying extra stuff just because they have a coupon. Now, I'm not saying coupons are wrong...they just don't benefit our family often, esp. since I mostly buy generic.
  • I don't make a full pot of coffee in the morning. I'm the only one to drink it (unless you count those stolen sips from the munchkins...LOL!), so I don't need to make that much. If there is a significant amount leftover, I will add the creamer & put it in the fridge for iced coffee either later in the day or the next day.
  • Gardening - this is a work in progress for us. Last summer we did well, but this year was WAY TOO HOT & I just didn't tend to it like I should have.
  • We do not have cable or satellite TV. There are so many stations that we wouldn't watch anyway, so why pay for 200+ channels if we'd only watch a dozen or so? If they ever offer a pick & choose service, we may think about it, but there's so much trash on TV nowadays, it's not worth it right now.
  • When the munchkins need new clothes, I go through their old ones & take them to a children's consignment store. Unfortunately, during these tough economic times, many people are doing this & the stores are not buying as much as they used to. Also, whenever I do need to go shopping at other stores for their clothes, I head straight to clearance racks first. I've gotten some great deals in the past.
  • We homeschool, so we save money on back-to-school clothes & supplies, fundraisers, teacher gifts, & any other things schools tend to nickel & dime you for these days.
  • I recently got a raise at work. Now it's only $10 extra a month, but it goes directly to savings each time I get paid. In the meantime, we are living off what we made before the raise.
  • I hung a "No Solicitor" sign on our front door. First off, we don't get bothered by those constant solicitors wanting us to buy this security system or that lawn care package. Secondly, it alleviates that "guilt buying" when kids come to the door selling their various fundraisers.

I'm sure there are other ideas that are alluding me at the moment, but this is a bulk of our money saving stuff. If you have any other great tips, please share in the comments section. And, as promised, the recipes for the homemade items will be in my next post...hopefully within the next couple of days.


Colleen said...

Great list. I am looking forward to your recipes!

The Little House That Grew said...

Ok...need that laundry recipe! My husband saves money by brown bagging it to work. His entire office follows his lead. All it took was one guy to say that going out to lunch everyday was too much! I usually make his lunch and he loves it!

munchesmom said...

Isn't it amazing how quickly lunches out can add up? Casinodad has brown-bagged it for years & now that I'm working all day on Saturdays, I take both lunch & dinner w/ me.

The recipes post is up now! Hope it helps! Let me know if you have any questions.