Asking for Other Mom's Input on How They Are Cutting Back During the Recession.

Updated on January 18, 2009
A.N. asks from Indianapolis, IN
36 answers

Hi everyone, Since we're in a Recession and hopefully the only time the market will be this bad during our adult lives, I would love to hear/share ideas of what other moms are doing to cut back on their family's expenses. On our end, we want to contribute the same amount to our 401Ks right now while stocks are cheap. We're not perfect, just trying to eat most of our meals in right now and consolidate trips to the store. I've also been buying diapers and wipes in bulk and am dropping my cell phone for a trac phone since I don't use very many minutes. Not creative stuff, but I'd like to hear everyone else's ideas.

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So What Happened?

Hi everyone, Thanks a lot for the great tips! I learned a few new things like freecycle so I think I will check it out. My company has an employee classifieds site we use to buy and sell but free is even better! We've been decent savers before all this, never carrying credit card debt, saved about 9 months' of living expenses, paid off student loans and our cars loans, etc. I just feel the need to tighten my belt even further right now in case my husband lost his job or we had an unforeseen medical bill during this recession. Here a few more I can share. Feel free to share anymore and good luck to you all during this time!
* buy generic of certain things, sometimes it's still cheaper than the coupon discount on the namebrand
* use my Kroger rewards to get 10 cents off per gallon of gas (for anyone living on the NE side of Indy, there is a new one opening on 71st and Binford this month!)
* cut my husband and son's hair myself - the trimming set cost $20 total and has saved us over $200 in hair cuts
* set up automatic 401k deposit from our paychecks so we don't even miss that money
* pre-make a month's worth of meals at Dream Dinners - it's around $3.50 per person/entree but it's still cheaper than eating out and doesn't cost much more than the groceries
* work out with free weights and our treadmill instead of joining the gym

Featured Answers



answers from Columbus on

I discovered the smallest thing that's making a world of difference... When I record money I've spent, I round up to the nearest dollar. When I record money I've deposited, I round down to the nearest dollar. I started doing it to simplify the math, but in the past two months I've found that I've always had a little extra in my account just when I needed it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

Hi A.,

The economy is taking a toll on everyone and I have starting cutting coupons. I clip from the Sunday paper as well as from And I shop frequently at Meijer because they double the coupons up to .99.



answers from Dayton on

Whenever possible, I'm trying to shop locally, and consolidate trips in the car. Thanks for bringing this up--I will look forward to seeing what others say.

More Answers



answers from Cleveland on

Some of tips have appeared in an earlier newsletter.
I enjoy the places listed, however, I do not work at any of the places listed.

1. Shop for groceries at Aldi's, Save-a-lot. Buy lunchmeat and produce at local deli's and S&R Produce.

2. Buy gift certificates and meat specials at Giant Eagle and watch your fuel perks add up. For every $50 you spend, you get .20 cents off on a gallon of gas.
Our new Giant Eagle on Day Drive, was jammed with cars, the day before Christmas.

3. Ask friends, families and neighbors for extra coupons for the grocery store. It may be cost effective for you to buy an extra Sunday paper.

4. Shop at the DOLLAR TREE for cleaning supplies, movie
candy, food items and snacks. Watch for bonus sizes -- '50% free'. Their dish and laundry items work great. Get a box of tissue for a $1. I love Stain be Gone! Watch for Rubbermaid specials. New weekly specials are stacked sometimes at the register in boxes and in the aisles in boxes.

5. Buy movies for $5 at the Wal-Mart bin and Target's $5 rack. I just walked out of the 'Exchange' at 6271 Pearl Road in Parma Heights yesterday with two $1 DVD's.
Also, look for $5 DVD movies, $1 videotape movies. Yesterday, I saw a driving counsel for an XBOX unit dropped off. An employee was testing another one behind the counter. Go over this store with a fine tooth comb.
They guarantee what they sell. Call at ###-###-####.

The Hostess Bakery Outlet is several doors down. Save-a-Lot is right around the corner in another shopping center.

6. Sign up for the Frugal Living and Today newsletters. Get the weekly one that has a link to current online discount codes.

7. Shop at the Nestle Food Thrift Outlet Store at 5750 Harper Road. This is the BEST food shopping secret in town!

The store is on the right side of the driveway. Call ahead at ###-###-#### for hours and special case sales. Not open on holiday weekends. They sell by the case and single items also. The inventory changes from week to week.

Take a friend or neighbor with you to split cases. Prices have gone up over the years, but you CAN find deals on frozen cookie dough, macaroni and cheese, French Bread pizza and hot pockets. The X-Bin is a deal when it is 30% off.Otherwise, you can do better on single items at Giant Eagle when they are on sale.

8. While on the east side check out Pepper's Farmers Market at 10211 Northfield Road in Northfield, OH.
Phone is ###-###-####. I like the variety of produce here and they have nice lunchmeats.

9. Check out the Nickles Bakery Thrift Store at 13500 Snow Road. Call at ###-###-####. The VARIETY of breads and buns is out of this world -- better than the Hostess Store. S&R Produce is right around the corner.

10. Buy clothes, books and household items at the Salvation Army Thrift Store at 8623 Pearl Road in Strongsville. Phone no. is ###-###-####. Wednesday is dscount day.

Check out Value World at 6858 Pearl Rd in Middleburg Heights. Phone no. is ###-###-####.

11. Hit garage and home sales, for clothes, toys, puzzles, sporting goods and furniture. My neighbor got her beautiful dining room set at a garage sale. A family member got her dining room furniture at a house sale. Her in-laws got the inside scoop and she got it dirt cheap. I've gotten puzzles with all the pieces for $1.
I got a beautiful piece of Shawnee Pottery last year for $20.

12. Head out to Amish country for quality furniture.
From what I understand and I heard this while I worked, that there is an Amish Community out east called the 'Gold-Top' buggy Amish and they sell cheaper than the Amish in Holmes County.

13. I signed up for emails from Furniture Land South.
They are at I got this info from the msnbc channel 3 show one morning. This is a legtimate business. Another good way to get furniture cheap is to buy directly out of the South. Find out if anybody that you know is doing this. My former two bosses did this.

14. Hit the Parma Theatre at $4.50 each. Rent out videos from the Library for free.

15. Buy books at Half Price Books, Library Sales and the Library clearance book shelves. You'll find tapes cheap there also. I've donated reading items. Get on the email list for Half Price Books and get coupons. Check on their $1 clearance shelves.

16. I signed up for the site and I get a quarterly magazine in the mail with coupons. I think it is Very Best Baking Kids. It has BIG coupons inside.

17. Check out the Sunday deals in the Walgreen's ads.
Watch their vitamin specials. Sometimes, their coupon machine will spin out a $3 off on your next order.
Buy double vitamin packs at Wal-Mart. Get a Vitamin-World Shopper's Card. Watch for discount coupons in the mail or the Sunday paper. They are running GREAT specials right now on Omega-3, Calcium, and Men's and Women's vitamins.

18. Talk to your friends and family members and see what they are doing.

19. I enjoy shopping at Sam's Club for meats and dishwasher soap. If you have children or a large family, you may enjoy the larger packages of beef stew, roasts and ground meat. I like their fresh roasted chicken in the take out section. You can find deals on shoes, and energy saving light bulbs also.

20. Get a Best Buy Reward Zone Card. This is not a charge card. Members get special discounts several times a year. We just got one when we bought our new Refrigerator there. Their 3 year maintenance plan for an appliance is way cheaper than Sears!

21. How we got the new Refrig. Before Christmas, we went to Giant Eagle. We got the deal of buy a $100 in Best Buy certificates and get $10 off your grocercies.
We got a bunch of $10 tapes for Giant Eagle, plus we got fuel perks through the nose.

When you go to the Get-Go-Station, take more than one 5 gallon gas can. I know they allow you to only fill up ONE car. However, you are allowed to reach their gallon limit by taking red fill up gas cans. I think that there is a 30 gallon limit, but I am not sure.

Secure those gas cans in the trunk and just be careful when you drive home.

Look for Giant Eagle to run this Best Buy special again. It was not Thanksgiving weekend, but it was about two weeks before Christmas.

22. Start a garden. Grow your own produce. Try container gardening if you don't have a big space.

Happy Shopping!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dayton on

Check out the website
Hope this help

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answers from Columbus on

Hi A.,
I am a mom of 3 -ages 9, 6 and almost 3 year old. Each year I say I won't get carried away w/Christmas but somehow I end up doing just that much to my husband's dismay. In addition we just celebrated our 10 year anniversary in the Bahamas just before the holidays. So now we are seriously hiding our credit card! My husband is a Financial Planner with a large bank so he is good with budgeting and all. Just like you we don't eat out anymore. I just joined a babysitting Coop with a local moms group where we 'swap' babysitting with eachother and the best thing it only costs a day or evening of our time which happens to be a fun play date for our children. My husband makes sure to pack a lunch everyday. We always bring snacks and drinks on any outing instead of buying. We try to utilize our membership (to the zoo) more and find free things to do. We use the library alot more to borrow books and videos. You'd be surpised that you can find newer dvds there. Most libraries let you reserve items so we will reserve the newer releases and it makes for a almost free family night- we just add popcorn. We have a theater room in our home so we save alot by staying in and sometimes invite our friends to join us (then we get to hang out w/friends before or after while saving gas too!) Having two boys allowed me to save on clothes b/c I saved almost everything. There's always friends who are willing to lend or give you those expensive baby items that only end up useable for a short time. My husband is fond of Craig' to sell things locally. There's always stuff in our house that gets outgrown or not needed anymore so we turn it into cash. Previously my DH & I would both withdraw $200 a month but now we are reduced that to $100 a month. He rather us use our Credit card which is actually a bank card so we can track our expenses. I would recommend everyone to get rid of those credit cards-you only need one. It should probably be a bank card so you can actively live within your means and be debt-free. I try to avoid the mall or make short trips if I must get something to avoid temptation of overspending. We frequent a children's consignment shop where we sell our clothes,toys, etc. and even buy gently used items at a fraction of the cost. We found a like-new spring house that our DS wanted for Christmas for only $38 vs. $100+ new in stores. We also found Leapster games, kids software,dvds & books for very little. If you find one in your town or better the quality is very good you'd be suprised. Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dayton on

I recommend the book "Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey. It doesn't talk about ways to save money per say, but it is great for getting your financial life in order. When we started, I thought we were doing pretty good with things. After reading the book and putting things into practice, we are doing SO much better with all aspects of our money. And better yet, we have a detailed plan we follow.

The biggest thing that helped us was to stop using credit cards at all and use cash instead. Now we have separate envelopes with cash in them for things like clothes, eating out, Lowe's, etc. Then when the envelope is empty, we just have to wait until payday! It was hard at first, but after just a few weeks we had gotten used to it and found amounts that work.

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answers from Fort Wayne on

There are several money saving techniques I have used.

I set the gas heat on about 60 degrees. I use space heaters to heat only the rooms we are using. A good space heater to heat a living room is usually around $70. I suggest one with a fan. I shut the vents in all the rooms and only open them if we are using the room.

I try to schedule errands and driving to save on gas. I go to the store on the way to and from daycare or work. I try to do all my errands for the week on the same day. I would suggest trying to set up a car pool for children events or work for a friend that is close to your home.

I try to bulk up recipes by adding pasta or rice to dishes. For instance, macaroni and cheese I would add a red sauce and some hamburger. For chili, I make it into chili mac by adding pasta or putting the chili over pasta when served. Pasta and rice dishes tend to be filling and you can use less meat, which is more expensive.

I suggest investing in a small deep freeze. When foods are on sale, I buy large amounts. For example, cheese tends to be about $2.50 per 8 oz package. I only buy it when Scotts or Krogers has a sale for $1.25. I only buy beef and chicken in bulk. I buy large packages at Meijers that are buy 1 15 pound bag and get one free. I only buy beef when it's close to $2.00 or less. Hamburger Helper and other type meals can be found in generic brands for half the cost. I also shop at discount stores such as Aldi's. I think most of the food is just as good as the name brands. They are practically always less expensive. A can of food might be $0.40 for oranges whereas at the store it's a $1.00. Tomatoes are $1.00 per pound whereas they are like $2-$3 per pound at the regular grocery store.

I plan meals ahead of time throughout the week and have enough recipes that are quick to prepare and cook. I try to cook a large meal once a week to have leftovers sometime in the week. This helps to prevent the need for going out to eat. You figure a family will spend between $15-$30 going out to eat once. You might save $50-$100 a month by just avoiding eating out.

I also try to buy clothing and toys at garage sales, internet ads like Kiiji and CraigsList and eBay, and through newspaper ads. I buy all my kids clothes during the spring for the entire year. I buy clothes in two sizes larger as well in case they have a large growth spurt. I usually end up buying new shoes, but I do find play shoes at garage sales. This saves me hundreds and hundreds a year. Clothes are usually $1-$2 per item at a garage sale. On Friday or Saturday mornings I would go out early and spend 1-2 hours garage sale-ing for specific items. I've bought clothes, a kitchen table and chairs, office furniture, lamps, bathroom fixtures.

You can also shop at the Plato's closet, consignment shops or second hand stores. Often the clothes look brand new and have no noticable wear. They are less than half of full price, so it's worth taking a look.

I've also approached friends and acquaintances and asked if I could have or buy their families clothes from their children. I have a couple girlfriends that occassionally give me clothes their children have grown out of. When my kids grow out of them, I post ads to sell them. So whether I buy them at a garage sale or get them free, I always break even on clothes. Then I use that money to buy them stuff for the next year or when I am short on cash... such as when I lost my job.

Instead of going to new movies at the theaters, we go to the Dollar Theater. We go to the Dollar Store to buy snacks and drinks and bring them in the theater in a backpack or my large purse.

Also, I try to do laundry all on the same time to save on money to heat water. Then a couple hours after the laundry is done I have the kids take showers. The water tends to be the hotest then. At night when it's really cold, I try to find a recipe to use the oven, which helps to heat the downstairs and kitchen.

Also, I have a puppy, so I do all of her grooming myself. I bought the grooming kit and try to do the clipping of toenails and cutting her hair when she's sleepy at night or in the afternoon when she takes a nap. I bought one of the Pedi-Paw nail filers and it works pretty good at removing sharp edges. I give her a bath and then start her clipping. I use a little conditioner in her hair if she has a lot of tangles.

I bought a cheap set of clippers from Sally's Beauty Supply for the dog and for my kids. I clip all their hair myself. I've gotten enough practice that I can do several cuts now. I asked hair dressers if I could watch them and ask some questions. I took notes on what I needed to know to do my families cuts. I have also tried Great Clips, but I realized that I could do the same thing with more patience than they used with my toddlers. I put an old sheet on the floor, wrap a sheet around them and use a potato chip bag clip to hold it together. I put them in a booster seat on a chair on the sheet on the floor. I put on their favorite movie. They stay pretty still considering they have so much energy. I also bought a cheap pair of scissors to clip the bangs, around the ears and around the neck. I personally keep my hair in a style and cut that will last several months. I make sure the layers are very gradual and at the bottom so that they do not show a lot of uneven levels when it grows out. I trim my bangs myself.

When I buy electronics, I always buy the older models. I try to find refurbished products from online retailers or from the manufacturer. I bought my laptop for $475, and it retailed between $1300-$1800. It it still has the Intel Core 2 Duo (one of the fastest processors) and plenty of ram and hard drive space. Also, the new computers are so fast that for most needs you will not notice the difference in speed (unless you are designing websites or keep multiple spreadsheets open using multiple calculations). For regular word processing and internet surfing, you will not notice the difference in speed. I also buy the cheaper models of DVD players, CD players and MP3 players. Instead of buying a stereo system for the house, I have a USB MP3 player (about $40) and a CD/radio player ($25). I can connect the MP3 player to the CD player through the headphone port and it works as a mini stereo system. Because it was cheap, I do not worry about my toddlers destroying it and not being able to replace it. I can hook up a cheap microphone to it and they can use it for karaoke.

Also, instead of repainting my house, I use a semi-gloss or eggshell paint for the primary color. Then I buy decals, stickers or appliques for decoration. They can easily be removed without leaving sticky residue and it's cheaper and easier than repainting. There are some available in stores, but I find the largest variety online and on eBay. I have gone to fabric stores and looked for items that were on sale and clearance. I have used several yards of fabric to create a mural or cheap wallpaper. Then I tack down a chair border (wood pieces cheap at hardware store) to hold it down. For apartment and townhouse living, these are ideal decorations, so you don't have to repaint when you leave.

I have bought rechargeable batteries and green energy lightbulbs. I go through 4 triple A batteries for my camera once or twice a month. The kids go through batteries it seems like every week. I have saved a lot of money there. Also, I bought the USB cables for my cell phone and camera to download the pictures onto my computer. I pick out only the pictures I want to put into scrapbooks or give out to print. I usually print them myself on my computer or for family gifts I put them onto CD and take them to Meijers or the pharmacy to print out on photo quality paper. I used to spend $20 a month on film and developing pictures a month, and most of them I didn't end up using. Saving pictures on the computer and using the USB cables has saved a lot of money. Also, instead of sending pictures to family and friends, I put them on a website like yahoo, myspace or photobucket. Friends can go and read your blogs on what you're up to, flip through pictures (which you can upload onto the website for free), and they can download whatever they want. I have hundreds of pictures online, and it's all free. I have family in Georgia, California, Indiana, Colorado and Hawaii, so it's nice to be able to keep in touch online for free. Also you can use to make phone calls over your computer for free. You can also call landline phones for about $0.01 per minute. Much cheaper than a landline phone. You can use your computer speakers and mic or buy a headset with a mic for better reception and less echo. Either way it works great for me.

Also, I bought a steam cleaner for the carpet. I bought it used from a vacuume shoppe. It has attachments so I can do the curtains and furniture as well. Otherwise, you can buy a cheap steamer for those items. It takes a while to do yourself since it requires changing the water, but it's cheaper than hiring Stanley Steamer or the like. I think a bottle of concentrated cleaner for about $30. Just to clean three rooms it was over $100 with Stanley Steamer, so you save money fast.

A friend of mine doesn't pay for trash removal. She and a neighbor split the charge. She puts her trash and recycling out with her neighbor. Also, you can buy a can crusher and begin recycling aluminum and other items that can be traded in for cash. Set up one drop per month at the local recycling area. Then use that money for entertainment for the next month.

You can also find a friend or neighbor that you can swap kids for a night or help out with housework... do this in exchange for paying a babysitter to have a night out with your partner! Often restaurants offer cheaper meals on days they do less business like Monday and Tuesdays, so consider going out sometime other than the weekend. Of course, there are always matinee movies, buying snacks and kids toys at the dollar store. I generally make gift baskets for birthdays for friends and family at the dollar store. You might spend $5-$10 and they would have several little items. I find it sort of nice to get gifts that are disposable so I am not collecting more clutter in my house. Things like candles, bath salts, hand soaps, air fresheners, fingernail polish, and plants tend to be disposable. Kids items might be cheap toys that may wear out... light up cars, playdough, washable markers, little dinosaur or other figurines, dolls-bears and dress up clothes, little girl costume jewelry and makeup, purses, etc.

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answers from Youngstown on

It is funny that you wrote about this today, because I am working on a blog that addresses these issues. I thought it would be fun for me to post my money saving ideas, especially since I have been able to provide quality products for my family and be green all at the same time. Some of the things I do:
-Hang clothes out on the line (weather permitting)
-Wash clothes in cold water
-I am starting a coop to buy organic food in bulk (eating properly cuts down on doctor's visits) my research has shown that I can buy organic grains in bulk and it will be less expensive than non-organic at the grocery store. Plus I am making less trips to the store.
-I use all the Shaklee products I can (the cleaning supplies are safe for kids and unbelievibly inexpensive). Then I started telling people about the products I love and started getting everything paid for (vitamins, cleaners, skin care products,even our water filter,etc...)After working full time I decided to stay home with my son, and I am making as much now working part time from home then I was full time away from home. I love it.
-I car pool as much as I can
-Found a friend to make freezer meals with me. Once a month we cook meals for the entire month. Buying bulk saves money, I only have to clean up a big kitchen mess once, and it saves on energy and time.
Let me know if you would like my blog address. It is not set up or I would give to you now.
I am a part time work at home mom (I graduated in Marketing and International Business so your about me cought my eye!) It would be fun to talk to you. I have a 21 month old boy! March 26 is his b-day. Have a great day!

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answers from Cincinnati on

Some of the things we do as well. We live at the Library. We have cut back on our phone service and rely on our cell phones. WE have family out of town so we definetly need those. Coupons are a huge thing for us. Another cool website that hasn't been metioned is it has some really great tips and ideas for how to get started in using coupons and it will tell you where the deals are in your area for what stores. Thanks for all the great suggestions.

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answers from Indianapolis on

I love this topic!
Gift giving: We made home-made baked cookies and candy for Christmas gifts as well as the tags - and we're doing our own greeting cards for other gifts through the year. We also decorate a plain white gift bag with fun stamps, art work or drawings. My kids love doing their own custom design too.

Meals: I am planning more at the grocery store and eating all of our meals at home. Many of them are large pot meals that can extend to great left-overs or another meal later. I can do many things with either a pot roast or whole roasted hen later in the week.
My children take a lunch every day at school including real juice (most packaged ones are all sugar) which we pack in a reusable container that gets cleaned every night.

Entertaining: We are having friends over for pot-luck dinners. How did this ever go out of style?! We are having the best time sharing evenings over the weekend with friends who are also not going out to cut back. We are back to playing cards and board games more to do something fun at home during the winter months indoors.

Coupons: We let our children cut the coupons and they get to keep 1/2 of whatever is saved at the grocery. They are motivated to help and they can see how it helps save the family money too.

Vacation: We have taken a driving vacation instead of flying. True, its more of a challenge, but we do have some funny on-the-road memories that would have never happened otherwise. Including some great roadside diner meals with such character.

Kids help: We have instilled a "chore jar" system for bad behavior instead of the unproductive "time out". My children are a bit too old for this technique to really work now anyway. Here's how it works: The jar is filled with little slips of paper with a chore on it. Things like: match 20 pair of socks, vacuum the downstairs, walk the dog, dust the banister. We are getting use of diverting fighting, smart mouth, bad language, etc. with useful help around the house. We find this one to be brilliant! My girlfriend shared this with us last year and we think its a gem of an idea. Better behavior and useful things get done.

We marketing women must be a thrifty bunch. I worked as Dir. of Mktg. for a large industrial co. for eleven years before starting a nanny agency. I love what I do now but working from home has its challenges. The biggest part of this was realizing my children need responsibilities to help out (age appropriately) or I'm going crazy. When "mom does it all" it teaches them to be lazy and grow up unable to take care of themselves independently. These household tasks are life skills everyone needs to know.

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answers from Columbus on

Trying not to go into detail about the things everyone else has listed such as coupons, swapping babysitting, etc. You may also want to see if your area has a freecycle program. This is basically a yahoo based group in your area where people will post items they are offering others for free, and also post wanted items. This group helps many and keeps tons of useful items out of the landfills. I have seen pretty much everything under the sun posted on our local freecycle....from vehicle tires to clothes to home appliances. The great thing is its all free. Of course you as well could post items that your family no longer needs to help "declutter" your own home and help others out in the process.

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answers from Cleveland on

There's a Yahoo group called BudgetHomemaking that's just filled with money-saving tips and advice. Even if you just join to browse the archives, you'll find a bunch of useful info.

I used to make my own wipes before potty training (I'm sure you could find the recipe online and I recommend using Viva towels). I use vinegar for all of my cleaning. A gallon is less than $2 at the discount grocery store. Plus, it's natural and chemical-free. We've stopped buying trash bags and use the plastic grocery bags now. Since we recycle a lot, we really don't have anything big to throw away. If we do, we put it directly in the outside can. I'm trying to make more things from scratch, but that's a work in progress. Some things are no less expensive to make from scratch, so you have to do your research. Let's see, what else? Well, we don't have cable anymore and our phone is basic local only.

Hope that all helps.

**Someone else's post reminded me: check out Your first week is only $1 so you can try and see if you like it. It takes a few weeks to get the hang of it (and not buy things you don't use just because they're cheap), but I was saving at least 60% on my groceries. It was fun to watch the total go down, down, down at the end! :)

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answers from Fort Wayne on

Entertainment is important so we don't get too stressed from all work and no play but there are many ways to have fun for free or little money. Borrow movies from the library rather than renting(we haven't gone out to the movies in ages!). Just be sure to return them on time!Borrow books too rather than buying. Take turns with friends for potlucks and game nights rather than going out. If you have young children trade babysitting with other parents and then go home and have some alone time!
Learn to enjoy cooking rather than seeing it as a chore--it is especially fun if you can do it with others. Cooking from scratch is cheaper and healthier.
Please don't skimp on quality of food though when trying to save money--your health and your childrens health is too precious for that. White bread may be cheaper but it is far more expensive in the long run for example. I buy whole grain (even organic) breads from the Aunt Millies outlet store at way less than in the stores.

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answers from Elkhart on

Hi A.,
What a great question!
For me I am a waste not want not type of girl!
I like to make things last as long as I can and get the most out of my items!!

So here are a couple money saving *tips* from me.....

DRYER SHEETS-For these I DO buy name brand. I am a sucker for smell..I like my clothes smelling fresh :)
BUT what I do is...I take them all out of the box and cut them right in half. Do you know you only need half of a dryer sheet???!!! NOW..take notice here, if I am washing towels or thicks sweatshirts I use a whole sheet (tossing two of the cut sheets in the dryer) THEN...when taking the clothes out of the dryer I save the dryer sheets...THEN when I have more then 2 half sheets, I reuse them. Yep that's right. I throw 2 used half sheets in the dryer and it works even still! No static ..then if you want you can use the sheets a third time to dust your house or dust off you washer and dryer and throw it away.

VINEGAR-This is the best product ever!
This product in environmentally friendly and safe for pets and people.
Vinegar is an all purpose cleaner you can use it to clean just about everything
You can use it in the laundry as well, used as a "fabric softner" even. And it does help with the static as well
I also use it in my dishwasher. Instead of jet dry or any kind of other rinse I just pour vinager in the rinse compartment. It does not leave your dishes tasting or smelling like vinager what so ever and it works great!!

Also when buying can goods, I often check out my family dollar, dollar general, dollar trees. They have tons of can goods from fruits and veggies to spaghettie o's and just lots of shelf groceries for a fraction of the price of your grocery store (even cereal!) keep an eye on expiration dates and keep an eye on yourself, it's so tempting to walk those stores and load up and if you end up doing that you've defeated the purpose of going in there to save in the first place lol...yes..that's me speaking from experience lol...

So there are a couple of my money saving tips!

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answers from Indianapolis on

Our problem is that we were already living a pretty frugal lifestyle! We wanted to add to the 401k and college 529 while stocks are cheap. Here's what we are doing (and mostly always have anyhow).
~no cable
~eat out just once or twice a month
~we share a cell phone plus my husband has a cheap pre-paid for emergencies
~no clothes shopping unless it's really needed and then it's mostly off the clearance racks or from Once Upon a Child
~we've written a budget and do everything possible to stick to it

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I saw some of the other posting talking about the yahoo groups! I am a member of just about every free cycle, cheap cycle, swapping, and bartering group you could think of! I am an active Craig's lister! I also have just gotten into getting free samples on the internet as well! There are many yahoo groups for this as well! They send you the links and you fill out the forms! You would not believe how fast this stuff piles up once you get started! It comes in handy when you are in a financial bind till the end of the week and you need trash bags or toothpaste! I always seem to have a free sample of something to help myself get to the end of the week! Lol!One tip I would give you if you decide to ever get into free samples! USE A SEPARATE EMAIL FOR THEM! The amount of spam mail you get will surprise you to say the least! Well have a blessed day! Hope this helped!


answers from South Bend on

Well, my husband & I are also trying to get out of debt, so we have tried to cut back every possible expense that we can! From the start I used cloth diapers (except when we go places), & learned how to make my own baby wipes & baby food.
When we go out on dates (which is rare) we swap babysitting with friends so we aren't paying a babysitter.
We also got rid of our cell phones & cable & are using a land line & DSL instead (it irritates my husband since he was spoiled with faster internet service, but he is surviving! :) Also, it is not bad living without cell phones!
I cook & bake & we live on a tight budget. I shop for sales on meat, cheese & milk, shop at Aldi & Goodwill (on 50% off days). And we are not planning any big trips until we are out of debt (which is hard because my in-laws all live in Hawaii!).
My husband & I are also thinking about getting part time jobs if we can manage to fit them into our schedules.



answers from Indianapolis on

Go together w/ another mom or two & get items at places like Costco or Sams. LOTS better deals on things like sugar, toilet paper, meat, etc.

Even PREPARE meals together & split them or... Take turns (like a co-op)

Combine trash and/or recycle services. I've had neighbors offer to do this and we just split the cost. I DO ALOT of recycling and have only 1 small bag of trash every couple of weeks so it made NO sense to pay for trash pick up.

No cable. Kids can play GAMES and be creative instead of watching cable. Kids survived in the past and can today, as well! Cable is NOT a necessity.

Go to coupon websites. THERE ARE PLENTY OF THEM.



answers from Indianapolis on

I actually saw a show about some tips about this. I'm going to include that along with some of the things we do.

We get those at Sam's Club. They have a thing online where you can shop via "Click-n-Pull" where you order the stuff online and designate the store location where you want to pick it up, and they'll have it ready and waiting. There are no special fees to do this, you just pay for what you're buying. HUGE time saver/money saver. If you know you go through crackers and/or peanut butter quickly, then you can order it there too - ends up being cheaper than at the grocery store usually. ESPECIALLY bottled water, if that's something you do. We have a 5 year old and a 25 month old, and get the 8 oz. bottles of spring water and straws. Very easy for the kids to use.

Coupons/Grocery shopping:
It'll probably take a trip or two before getting into the groove of this, but: When you take your list to the store, ONLY buy those things that are on sale and/or have coupons for (preferably both), and STOCK UP when you do. On the show I saw, this woman went to the store, got $285 worth of groceries, and only paid $80 for them after the coupons/sales were tabulated. I actually saw someone do that at the store once too, and about passed out.

I know Kroger and Marsh have (or at least they used to) their sales flyers on their websites. There's a Marsh near where I work (and soon to be a Kroger), and there's a Kroger near my house - so I go to where the best prices are on those things that I need. Kroger does seem to have better prices, but be cautious of expiration dates. Sometimes Kroger will have GREAT deals on milk, but the expiration date may be that day you're at the store or have already passed. Once at Marsh, they had Ready-to-Feed baby formula that was 3 months expired on the shelves...a lot of them.

There are coupons avialable online too -

Also, if you use a lot of ground meat to make chili or spaghtetti sauce with - consider using ground chicken or ground turkey. They're cheaper than the ground chuck/sirloin, and it's better for you healthy-wise anyway.

If you do go out: split meals with your DH. We've also just ordered the "appetizer sampler" and split it. We've also ordered "kids portions". If you go to McD's, get the kids meal for the adults. They even have "Mighty Kids Meals" that are still cheaper than getting the "adult" sized meal. Some restaurants have "gift card deals" where if you get a $20 gift card, they'll give you a $5 gift card free. Who says you have to give it to anybody and can't use it yourself? When you go, there'll be $5 more than you had before! And we can usually make $25 last for close to 2 trips.

If you do go out to eat, and there are left-overs, don't be afraid to ask for a box, and then make sure you do something with it. I went out to lunch the other day, and got a pork tenderloin sandwich for $6.00. The tenderloin was so huge, I cut it in half, and took half home and had it for lunch the next day. That's $3.00/lunch...CHEAP! Of course, if you bought it at the store, and cooked it up, it would be even cheaper.

Places like Speedway have those "preferred customer" card things. They'll have a deal where you get 1000 points if you buy a certain kind of gift card and it'll earn you "rewards"...such as free gift cards, 10 cents or more off up to 15 gallons of gas or something, free drinks (soda's) and/or snacks. Again, buy the gift cards for you, and rack up the points for the bonuses.

Just a few thoughts....

Good luck!



answers from Columbus on

these are things my husband & i have been doing before the economy tanked & we are even more vigilant about it now.

if you do go out to eat, order one entre for you & your spouse (maybe even a kid can share one meal...some places have huge portions).

read the newspaper & publications online instead of purchasing it.

buy nearly everything in bulk (if it's a good deal & most of the time it is) & store in a pantry...things from spaghetti & marinara sauce to toilet paper & garbage bags. we save money from our costco membership in just a few trips.

buy kids clothes at resale shops or thrift stores.

sell your used/older clothes that you no longer wear.

pay for larger items & smaller items in cash. such as a new tv, make sure you have that same amount in the bank & ready to pay off the credit card before you purchase. & then the smaller stuff, like a starbucks trip: buy a gift card there for yourself & say 'this is for the entire month' & if you use it before then, well, no more starbucks until the next month. (or whatever vice you have, not just starbucks, for my hubby, it's home depot). the good thing is that if you buy these gift cards at certain stores, it gives you money off on your groceries or gas (like giant eagle...which we don't buy groceries there b/c it's too expensive, but we do buy gas & it's a great deal). we joke that this is our way of laundering money. we buy gift cards for everything, like going out to eat (california pizza kitchen, etc)...

the best money saver so far has been to not have cable. i know some people can't live without it, but it has forced us to talk & hang out when we used to watch tv. plus, the main networks have some pretty good programs that we have recently purchased a tivo to help us watch it when we want to. anyway, if you don't even want to have a tivo, you can watch most of the networks' shows free online!

this is all i can think of right now. hope at least one helps you.



answers from Indianapolis on

I make my own blankets anyways so now I'm using a lot of our old tshirts as quilt patches. When its not as nasty out as today, we walk to the store instead of driving. I don't buy namebrand stuff cept on clearance. We don't eat out much at all, maybe once a month at the most. We freecycle a lot of our stuff.


answers from Columbus on


My husband has been taking his lunch to work rather than spending money at a fast food place. And he's been doing it for years. Easily saving $5 a day, $25 a week, $100 a month ... it really adds up.




answers from Cincinnati on

Buy a programmable thermostat and drop the temperature during the day when no one is home. We keep our thermostat at 62 between the hours of 8 AM and 5 PM - why heat a home that is empty?

Do you have a household budget? If not, sit down with your husband and actually put on paper where your money is going. This will give you an indication as to where you could cut back if necessary.

We no longer have a landline. Our cell phones are sufficient, have voice mail, have text messaging, and it isn't extra for long distance.

Do you have a daily indulgence you might want to give up or turn into a special treat? I used to be a Starbucks junkie, drinking a grande mocha daily. That's $4 a day, $20 a week, $1040 a year! One tiny little change, right? Turn it into a weekly treat if need be, a 'reward' of sorts.

I also buy gift cards at the grocery store that offers a fuel discount boost. Just like the other poster said, if I'm going to be shopping may as well get a gas discount while I'm at it. I did my Christmas gift card shopping there and filled up my car for $15 twice over the holiday because I saved my accumulated points.

Doing simple little things really do add up, and even though the one-time savings is only a few dollars or so, multiply the savings by the week, the month, or the year to see the bigger picture.



answers from Indianapolis on

Many overlook coupons. I spend about an hour a week going through clipping and sorting them and looking at the Meijer/Marsh sales flyer to plan my shopping list. It may sound like alot of time, but I usually take at least $50 off my weekly shopping trip. That's like being paid $50/hour - not bad for a SAHM! :-)

We use Netflix and rarely go to the movie theatre (maybe once a year?). They have 'instant' movies and TV shows you can watch anytime on your computer. If you pay $99 (one time cost) for the box you hook to your TV you can watch thousands of shows/movies instantly on your TV. I know many people who've dropped cable/dish TV completely and just use netflix now. We've used tracfone for almost 5 years and that has saved us hundreds of dollars a year.

Last spring we cut our internet/tv/phone bill in half by switching to AT&T Uverse. We ended up with faster internet and about twice as many channels and added HD channels for the first time.

There are tons of 'frugal' and 'budget' and 'one-income' websites out there with tons of info about spending less.



answers from Indianapolis on

I keep a running grocery list on the door of the refrigerator. I found shopping at Sam's, Costco, etc., was not necessarily cheaper. If I am going out I run my errands while I am out, no special trips.
I use the bags I get at the store to line my trash cans in the bathroom, bedroom, etc. This has made a big difference in what I spend on trash can/garbage can liners.
Turn off the lights! If I am not in a room the lights go off, the television set doesn't run if I am not in the room. Turn off the speakers, printer, etc., to my computer when I am not on it. I turned the thermosat down to 65 and leave it there all winter. A little cool? Add a sweat shirt, slippers, etc., and keep afghans on the back of the sofa for when we are resting. We have a small space heater in the bathroom for while we are bathing. Flannel sheets do make a big difference on the bed.
You can find a lot of good clothes at the consignment shops (Goodwill just isn't as inexpensive as people would like to believe it is anymore, but still jeans at $5.00 is better than paying full price!)
I noticed Aldi's has raised it prices and sometimes things are more expensive there than at Meijers/Target/or WalMart. If fact I can get many of my pet supplies cheaper at Kroger than at WalMart.
Read the flyers for the stores and stock up on items you know will be used in a reasonable amount of time when they are on sale, and do use coupons!!!! I also look at the Reduced for Quick Sale, clearance items. A dent in the can doesn't damage the product inside.
Check your brand name products, sometimes the store brand is made by one of the major companies and costs less. An example is when I visited a salt company on the coast years ago. When we got to the packaging part of the tour Sterling was going down one slot, Morton another, and Marsh brand another. That was shock!
It is cheaper to rent a movie from the library than the video store, cheaper to rent at the video store than it is to go to the movies! If you really want to go to the movies go to the afternoon showing. It is also cheaper to borrow a book from the library than it is to buy one! Visit used book stores, etc., before you buy new. Most libraries can get a book or movie in for you from a different branch. Just ask them.
Shoes and underwear, buy good, quality products. Spend the extra money here, they will last a lot longer! Some of my Cross Your Heart Bras are over 8 years old and still in great shape!
Wash all but white clothes in cold water, hang delicates on a drying rack, and if possible hang your other clothes to dry instead of running the clothes dryer!



answers from Cincinnati on

Definately buy in bulk. We have a membership to Sams and make that our BIG grocery trip once a month to buy things like diapers, wipes, paper towel etc. We have to grocery shop once a week for things like milk but I also try to watch the ads to see who has a better deal on things like milk. I also try on make one day, like Sunday and cook up to meals for the week and freeze them. Then when we are in a rush we are not as tempted to eat out. Also if you do treat yourself to eating out find places that kids eat for free, like Gold Star has kids eat free night on Tuesdays.
I also watch gas prices and if they drop I tell my husband to fill up. Unfortunately we live in a very rural area or we would be walking to most places.



answers from Columbus on

We got rid of cable, and we don't eat out hardly ever - we brown bag our lunches, too. We keep the heat turned down when we're not home. We rent or borrow movies instead of going out, and we try to find fun things to do that are cheap, like hanging out with friends at home. It sounds like a bleak existence, but we actually haven't minded it. It's nice to get a little perspective in your life sometimes, and times like these make you reassess what's really important to you.


answers from Columbus on

Hi, My husband does the grocery shopping for our family because he is a fiend about price comparing and not buying non-essentials (he never buys chips, pop, ice cream or other junk food- we only get those things occasionally, when I buy them!). We don't have a membership at any discount stores. He goes to Aldi first to get as many items on the list as possible, then Wal-Mart for the rest, and our grocery bill is pretty manageable. He used to be a Giant Eagle shopper, but we're saving more money now than when we had "fuel perks".

My husband has a cell phone for work, and we use that for long-distance calls. We don't have a long-distance plan or any extras (no call waiting or voice mail) on our home phone. Also, we don't have cable television. You can watch a lot of shows and movies on-line for free at and other legal sites.



answers from Indianapolis on

1. Coupons: Since we get the Sunday paper anyway, I have been using coupons diligently, but only for items I would normally buy, unless it is a really great one, like $1-$3 and something I want to try.
2. Budget: I also budget myself per week, and if it takes all of it at the grocery then I have to wait until the next week for anything else I might be needing, like kleenex, paintbrushes, socks, etc.
3. Cooking: Meals like chili, ham & beans, soups- I make enough for at least 2 meals and make sure we do not throw away leftovers. Freezing some if I see we are not going to use it.
4. Beauty shop: I cut my own hair- sometimes my daughter helps me, and I stopped coloring it- gray is OK.
5. Printing: I cut back on picture printing- taking digitals and then putting them on discs instead, only printing the really good ones.
6. Dollar Store: I use the dollar stores for paper goods and other items that I can get there like laundry det.
7. No Impulse Buys: I am not impulse buying like I used to. If I did not set out to get an item, if it is not on my list I don't get it. Of course there are exceptions but very few.
8. Thermostat: 67 in daytime, 63 at night or when no one is home.
9. Since I am a SAHM, I clean a house, babysit and sometimes paint rooms for cash.



answers from Indianapolis on

Sounds like you are doing well already! We are renting movies with Netflix rather than going out...and I scour the listings to find good movies for us to watch on Cable as well. Eating in is probably the biggest thing for us. Plus my oldest daughter and I are vegetarians. THis is an amazing difference! Even if you still want to add meat in some of your meals, if you can cut some of it out, it can really lower your grocery bill. I make lots of soups because you can use up leftover veggies, etc.

We also shop at Goodwill for clothes. True you don't always find what you want, but if you are diligent, you will find some bargains. My husband loves to go when they have the 50% off can buy a huge bag of clothes for next to nothing!!!

Best to you!!



answers from Cleveland on

I've cut back on our food bill by meal planning and shopping according to the menu for that week. I shop at Aldi first and I get the bulk of my list there and then head to the other grocery store that offers points toward gas cards or gorcery card to that store. I use coupons when I can and I will be going to the Costco when it opens in my area (hopefully soon). We used to shop in bulk, but the BJ's is too far away now to make the trip worthwhile with two kids. We it in more and I'm trying to talk my husband into dropping our land line in favor of cheaper cell phones. I wash my clothes in cold water and buy my kids' clothes at thrift stores. I hope this helps some.



answers from Cleveland on

We are checking the Apples to Apples comparison for the utility companies and making sure that we get ghe best rates for Gas and Electricity. We are also looking into all of the cable companies/satellite, etc. to see if we can save money there. (I am pretty sure we are going to go with UVerse) but because we are doing this, our current provider offered us a $20 monthly discount for 10 months, so it never hurts to shop around and to make deals with current providers.

I barely use my cell phone either, but I have an old plan not offered anymore with T-Mobile, so my rate is actually cheaper than it would be to do the Pay-As-You-Go. But I checked into it!

Cutting coupons and using them - Asking places that we shop at a lot for discounts or credits (Amazon gave us a $30 credit when we inquired, just for being loyal customers) so there are things you can do - you just have to try. When shopping online I always look up Coupon Codes to see if I can get money off or free shipping.

Other than this, just trying to stick to lists and limit unnecessary spending.



answers from Columbus on

I started using in ad coupons again.In December I saved over $30. on groceries that are name brand.I also started shopping at Aldi's for more groceries and I save even more money there.The canned fruit and vegtables taste the same as big name brand and are about half the price.Their fresh produce is also more affordable.Real butter is never over 2.29 a pound, their milk is cheaper and we drink a lot of milk as we do not drink colas any longer.We also drink a lot more water and it has improved our health greatly.I also combine shopping trips with Dr. visits as much as possible to help save gas. And before I leave to go out I check on line for the most reasonable gas prices in the area that I am going too.If it is low I tap off the tank. I did this last Saturday and by the time Monday got her gas had gone from 1.53 to 1.79 per gallon on tuesday. That's a .26 cents a gallon savings. We have also cut way back on eating out at family restraunts and cook more at home.Average restraunt bill is between $15. and $22. plus tip, cooking the same meal at home is around $8.00. We also changed all of our medications to the generic equivilant and this came out to be over a $200. savings per month.I buy many things like T.P. and paper towels in larger amounts and save money on them as well.I also found that Dollar General sells the expensive shampoos and conditioners for around a dollar cheaper per bottle than K- mart or Walmart.Big Lots sells household cleaning supplies under the bissel or power house name brand and they work just as good if not better than the pricey stuff at the grocery stores.
I have also found that buying printer ink on line is cheaper than going to staples or a buisness supply store. Today I bought a Bissel pet hair eraser hand vac on line and saved over $15. on it by getting it factory direct.My birthday present to myself this year.And very much needed as I have 4 indoor cats.
Good Luck



answers from Cleveland on

This is a great post, and I'm looking forward to seeing ideas from others.

Here are my ideas. Many of these aren't necessarily new for me since I've always been frugal, but maybe they will help others. Groceries are extremely expensive right now (especially for my family of 8), so most of my ideas are centered around saving money on food. Here goes:
1. We pack our lunches
2. I scour the weekly ads from my grocery store, and plan my meals around what is on special.
3. I use coupons whenever possible...and not just for groceries. Kohls, Macy's, Justice, Lowes, etc.
4. Marc's (NE Ohio Discount chain -- super cheap!!) is my first stop for groceries, then I stop at Giant Eagle to get whatever Marc's didn't have.
5. I use my Giant Eagle Fuel Perks points to save money on gasoline.
6. Speaking of Fuel Perks, I take my dry cleaning to Giant Eagle, and I also buy gift cards there...even for myself to use. If I'm going to spend $25 at Kohls I may as well buy a Kohls gift card and get Fuel Perks for it!!
7. We don't dine out unless it's a special occasion.
8. On Tues & Wed, Pizza Bogo in Hudson offers large pizzas with unlimited toppings for $5 limit!
9. I don't put anything on credit cards. Sometimes I have to use a store credit card in order to use their coupon, but if so, I go straight home and schedule a payment on my online banking.
10. We discontinued our long distance service on our home phone since we have free long distance on our cell phones.
11. We also discontinued all of the 'extras' on our phone service except callerID. (Yes, we have 8 people in our family, and no call waiting.) Items #10 and #11 have saved us $25/month on our phone bill.
12. We called our insurance agent, and asked him to do whatever necessary to save us money on our auto insurance. Without changing our coverage at all, he was able to save us $40/month.
13. We installed a programmable thermostat.
14. If you're a long-term customer of a major credit card, and you're in good standing, you can call them and ask them to lower your interest rate. They'd rather do that than have you transfer your balance. If you're currently paying 18% or higher, call them. The worst they can do is say no.

I hope this helps someone. I can't wait to see the good ideas from other moms!

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