Saturday, September 13, 2008

In This Economy...Share Your Tips!

Hi all,

With the cost of gas spiking yet again, it makes me try to think about ways I can cut down on our family's budget (not an easy thing to accomplish, as I am sure you all know!).

So, I thought maybe if we could share the little things we are doing with each other, we may learn something new from each other that might help.

Here are some of the things I am doing differently:

  • You have all heard of cutting your dryer sheets in half, well, I now cut mine into quarters! They still work just fine, haven't seen any of my kids walking around with a sock stuck to their shirt yet ;)

  • Cat Food: I used to feed my cat a can of Fancy Feast was good. But with the cost of that brand up 10-15 cents per can, it was one of the first things to be cut out of the budget. Poor Goldie. He now gets a can once or twice a week and I always give him chicken whenever we have it for dinner, so he is not totally deprived, but yes, I still have guilt...

  • Dishwasher Soap: I used to use Electrosol Gels, now I use the powder one from The Dollar Tree. Have not noticed any difference at all.

  • Give yourself a raise. My dh has not had a raise in 4 or 5 years. Seriously. So, with the cost of everything going up, it is hard to keep up with the rising costs...then add in some added expenses, such as preschool and a higher car payment when my dh totaled his car this past winter...well...ouch! way to increase our income was to reduce the amount he is contributing to his 401K. Double ouch. Not really what we wanted to do, but sometimes drastic measures are called for. We hope to up it back up to where we had it next year when preschool is over and my minivan is paid off...whoo-hoo!

  • We don't do this...but if you are claiming 'zero' on your income taxes, you could increase it to give yourself a boost in take-home pay. We will never do this, because we like our little tax refund we get every year, so claiming zero it will stay.

  • Gas: I buy it at Costco, it is usually at least 10 cents cheaper per gallon than our surrounding gas stations.

  • Check out generic brands. I mentioned The Dollar Tree dish washing soap...but there are so many GREAT generics out there. Off the top of my head: butter, hot dog & hamburger buns, canned tomato products (especially if using in a sauce with lots of spices), pull-ups, dryer sheets, cereal and really...just try new things and see what you like and what you don't like.

  • And since this is a decorating blog, I should add in a few decorating on a budget tips: Big Lots has lots of nice things at great prices, including cheapo spray paint that works just fine (Thanks, Joy at Joys of Home!), and who can forget our beloved Dollar Tree, with their ceramic pumpkins, fall garland and craft paint and anything else your creative mind can come up with! We should really have a little logo thingee that says, "Bloggers Love The Dollar Tree" on it, lol!

So, now that you have heard a few of my tips, I would LOVE to hear yours! If this topic is of interest to you, you might want to subscribe to the comments thread, too, just check the box when you submit your comment. If any of you post a blog on this topic, please let me know, too, thanks!!!


PS: All in Hurricane Ike's path are in my thoughts, stay safe, take care, and check in when you can!!!


Kim's Treasures said...

I use half the amount of laundry soap than called for...haven't noticed a difference in the cleanliness of our clothes.

Diane@A Picture is Worth.... said...

Hi Bella,
this is a great topic.,,,hope you get lots of tips. I'll be back to check them.

I don't have much to add, but you didn't mention light bulbs. The cost is higher at first, but I've slowly been changing ours to the new energy efficient ones. And the power bill does seem to have dropped recently!

I think using store brands is great as well as coupons...and maybe bulk shopping at Sam's for some things.

Have a great weekend,

onlymehere said...

I buy my household cleaners at the local janitorial store. It saves tons of money on cleaning supplies. Also I use a cleaning solution of Jet Dry and Tide for my outside windows that was in our newspaper several years ago. You just hose it off after you clean them and the water sheets right off. It saves a grundle of money and time. I save the paper from my printer that misprinted or other problem and turn it over to print on the other side if it's a paper I'm keeping and not sending to anyone. It saves on extra paper that I'd have to buy. I wait to do a full load of laundry or dishes also so I'm getting the best bang for my buck on water and electricity.

Lorilee said...

Hello Bella,
I hang my laundry when my time and weather permit instead of using the dryer. I mop with a mixture of 1/4 tsp lavender oil,1/4 tsp tea tree oil, 1/4 cup vinegar and 2 cups of water. I put it in a spray bottle and spray the floor. (I have laminate floors).

Joy said...

I also use half the amount of laundry soap and use a lot of
coupons when I shop. I check out
blogs that tell you were to shop for good deals too. Great post!

Layla said...

I walk around behind my husband and turn off the lights that he leaves on.
We don't run the air much at all either. Kevin and I are ALWAYS cold, so we've decided that one way to cut down on costs is to wear less clothing around the house and keep the air conditioning off. :-)

I also find creative ways (Blog Sale!) to make extra income so that I can still fulfill my need to decorate! :-)

The Lettered Cottage

Joy said...

Look at you being the QUEEN of sharing tips! Love it!
Congrats on you tip article at BD.
You are the tip lady!

Rae said...

Thanks for your tips! For me I found MAKING A LIST to be a great help! I go in and buy only what's on my list. Also, being organized with my list I try to go shopping ONCE A WEEK. If I stay out of the stores the money stays in my pocket! :)

Chris said...

I love your blog, I added it to my blog list. I also love to decorate my home, but in the last few years my husband has dedcided he's done with that chore. So, now I'll be checking out some things I can do myself.:)

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Good tips, Bella! I don't have a lot to add to that. I use a lot of store brands too, from Publix & that saves some $$. I also always buy my meats on sale & stock up in the freezer while they are on sale. Never pay full price for meats! Love the BOGO sales at Publix too, those are always good. We don't have a lot of different grocery stores to shop at, so I have to rely on Publix.

I use Walmart's powder DW soap & it works great too.

proudgrits11 said...

Yeah, I'm also a big fan of air-drying clothes as much as possible. I have a wood rack from IKEA that holds a lot, especially jeans, then I just "fluff" them.

Then there's using the crock pot! Throwing cheap ingredients in there, plus not using the oven--it's aaaallll good!

I do as many errands in one fell swoop as well, to save on gas (and time). I even make a route and follow a list to be as efficient as possible! Y'know, the grocery store that's next to the Dollar Tree, then the Target that's next to the Michael's, which also has a UPS store next door, etc. etc.

Oh, and does this count...I only bathe my son when absolutely necessary?? Less soap, less water?? heehee Saves on doc bills, too, cuz his immune system is so strong! :)

Great topic--you rock!!
Maybe I will post about this...

Lorilee said...

Most recently, I have gotten the herbal oils at our HEB Plus. The store has a "health" aisle. Our school nurse told me that tea tree oil is a natural anti fungal (can be used for nail fungus) and antiseptic. Lavender oil is naturally anti bacterial and anti viral.

Angie said...

Hi Bella..
* I always hang my clothes out on the clothesline instead of using the is unbelievable how much your electric bill goes down! Yes...even in the winter.*

*I buy family packs of meat and them divide them into meal portions before storing them in the freezer.*

*I rarely buy storemade cleaners. For windows, I use ammonia diluted with water. For scrubbing powder, I mix baking soda, vinegar, and a bit of table salt into a paste.*

*We bought a high-efficiency washer after mine finally died, it uses barely any detergent and washes bigger loads in half the time*

*We hardly ever eat out or buy convenience foods. I cook alot of meals in the crockpot and tend to make more than I know we will eat for quick leftovers and lunches the next day.*

I love this topic..and love finding ways to save money!


Tricia Anne said...

Hi Bella,
One of my favorite ways to save and earn money is to take inventory. Each room and closet is went through and anything I do not use, goes to consignment. I have used my profit in selling through consignment a number of ways. Sometimes for needs and other times for wants. We have a budget and I think everyone on the planet needs one. Planning is key. We hardly ever eat out. I make almost everything from scratch and love store brands. There are a few items I can't stomach (as generics), so those I consider a splurge (mayo, toothpaste). I love to organize, so it is a thrill to watch a penny being saved somewhere!! :o)
Sincerely ~ Tricia Anne

salmagundi said...

We've really cut down on the use of our car. We are more organized on our trips to town for groceries, etc., plus we keep to a very minimum our trips out of town for fun. When we do go to town, we time it so we can go to Sonic Drive-in for a treat of a drink at half-price between 2:00 & 4:00 in the afternoon. Sally

Sincerely Yours said...

Hi Bella! I'm so glad you stopped in; I'm trying to catch up all over the place since I took a "break"!lol What a great idea this post is. My biggest saving tip for myself is: making a list, remembering to take it with me and STICKIN TO IT!!!lol Also, running errands in a circle/rectangle - up one side down the other to avoid backtracking and stopping and starting to save gas. Staying outta the craft store would be my biggest savings and I'm trying!lol Have to go catch up on your posts; Have a great Sunday - Sincerely, Jeannette (I still need to get to big lots, I think of you when I go by one!lol)

carolr said...

I cannot think of anything to add. I hang out my wash, except towels and socks, too scratchy. Best of luck with your saving!

Brown-Eyes said...

Hi Bella...what a timely topic from you...I can't think of anything to add to your great tips, DH (after me screaming about our water bill)...installed timers and a drip system around all of our flower was kind of pricey and we haven't received the new water bill yet, but hopefully it will make a difference..
;-) Bo

Kirstin said...

We get our gas at costco too. I don't buy many name brand items and often shop at consignment stores. I stay away from meals that are more expensive.

I do much of what you hubby finally just got a raise after 4 or 5 years. But where he works has been wonderful in that if they couldn't give him a raise, they compensated in other ways by covering little things here and there.

I limit my trips into the city. Honestly I was thinking last night, that I can't remember the last time I went to the mall or shopping other than for groceries.

the wreath witch said...

hi Bella- I am a thrift store junkie
and I like to re purpose items old sweater gets washed in hot water and shrunk in the dryer . when you cut it it doesn't ravel then I make a purse or tote or.. use the cuffs to make cuffs for existing dollar store gloves adds style. I line it with an old shirt or tee..and a rummage store belt makes the shoulder strap.
I also have for stains some fels-naphtha bar laundry soap and a wash board I soak things over night in my soaking bucket and I use arm & hammer washing soda (laundry booster) and 20 mule team usually works like a charm fast isn't always good. the good old ways work too.

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

Hi Bella...Great post! I don't drive a lot, and I know that's not practical for everyone -- but I live in an urban area and walk or public transport nearly everywhere, and when I "retreat" to the shore house I ride my bike to the market, thrift shops, etc. And thrift shops/flea markets…the not-so-secret to my budget success!

I bring my lunch to work and brew my own coffee "to go" in the mornings more now. And I've cut down a LOT on the disposable items we used at home, more for the environment than for the cost but the cost savings are a great bonus!

Jen r. said...

I know, we are cutting back too...! I cut my baby wipes in half!!!!!I use only vinegar to clean with because it's so cheap, and we never go out a all.....times are tough.... tanks for sharing your insights!

pedalpower said...

I hang my clothes out when the weather is good.

I have front loading washer and it uses very little water...cleans great. Instead of HE detergent, we use the regular and just use half the recommended amount (this was an option in the manual for the machine).

I shop at Aldi's for groceries it saves a ton. There are a few things I can't get there or that I like the name I finish up at the supermarket.

Brown bag my lunch to work.

Many of the furnishings for our house came from garage sales and auctions. A little scrubbing and a little paint and they look great.

Angie said...

Great tips! I can't think of any new ones right now to add. You asked me where I got my dining room table centerpiece. It came from Michaels and I love it! I am going to try to think of different ways to change it out. I'm already thinking about what to do with it at Christmas!

Dawn Gahan said...

Hi Bella!

I too have gone the route of Dolllar Tree for laundry and dish detergent and find no difference. Plus, some of their craft items rival those of Michaels and cost sometimes up to 10x less.

One of my biggest cost savers is not buying lunch at work anymore. I'm shocked at how much I can save by taking my lunch everyday.


P.S. Thanks for the birthday wish!

Justine said...

Ya know, I don't think I've made even one damn change. No wonder hubby is always mad at me! LOL!

Justine :o )

Jen r. said...

Hi, :), I never got my gift card or received any info on how to get it.... did you e-mail it to me?

Jan and Tom's Place said...

Good tips, Bella!

Thanks for the visit and your kind comments!!!


Ms. Tee said...

hey there :)
Those are all great tips - I'll have to try the dryer sheet one, too.
My tip is cat food- I recently discovered Dollar General has cat food, many of the main brands, and it's cheaper. :)


Hi Bella,
That was a great post and I try to do about the same as the other gals, dryers sheets or hang clothes outside, of course I "shop" at estate/garage/thrift/dollar stores. I need to stay out of the stores and that would save $$$. Plus I do make cards :)
Have a nice Monday.
Warmly, Deb :)

Joanne Kennedy said...

Ok this is going to sound like I'm really cheep but I add water to my shampoo. I did it once as I was running out and needed more then was left. It did just as great a job so now I do it all the time. You can add up to 1/2 water to 1/2 shampoo and it works fine.

I also do book swaps. I never buy a book. I also swap magazines...well not all of them. Some I keep so I don't pass them on.

I have been baking snacks rather then buying them. Much cheaper.

I always check on Fat Wallet too. I get tons of free things there. I hardly ever have to buy tampons or razors any more. I just get them free.


Marie said...

Great tips! However, we will never, ever cut our retirement savings. That worries me a lot. lol We always pay ourselves first and my husband saves about 15% of his paycheck to his thrift savings plan. The military doesn't have a 401k plan, unfortunately! I can't think of a single money saving tip I do... how sad is that?

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