Desperate for Money Savings Ides

Updated on February 22, 2013
T.M. asks from Brooklyn, MI
26 answers

Hello Mamas!

My husband just had to take a $20,000 cut in pay. No, I'm seriously not lying about this.
We are pretty scared and will most likely use up our savings.
We only have one credit card with a low balance and then of course we have car payments and house payment and usual bills.

One area that we know that we can make some big changes on is groceries.
So I'm asking for any help that you all have in ways of saving using coupons (I use some but not much & I don't get the whole extreme coupon thing).

Also if anyone knows of some really good blogs or sites that have just good simple recipes.

Since we aren't going to be going out we want to keep TV/Cable entertainment but I'm wondering if there are other ways of saving there. We have Comcast bundle (with cable, phone and internet).
We own an Xbox game system and in briefly talking to some gamer guy at the mall it may sound like there is some sort of way that we can use that for watching TV/movies but I have NO idea on how to do that. I believe you have to be able to connect to the internet through the Xbox which I know we can do but haven't.

You know, when your in the middle of something sometimes you just can't think outside the box when you need to so I'm happy to have this site to fall upon and am hoping you all have some good ideas for me.

Thanks so much!

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answers from New York on

I do my grocery shopping at Walmart. It is amazing the amount of money I save. A lot of their brands are great. However, there are some brands I cannot give up I.e., Hellmans' Campbell's. the prices on name brands is so much cheaper too.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

That's sucks, but you will make it. Sounds like you are the type of people that make do with what you have - thus not having a lot of credit card debt. I am in the same boat - I had a $30,000 pay cut last year, unexpectedly, my boss decided he wasn't making as much money, so he could cut his losses by paying me less. At the same time my husband got a $36,000 a year cut.
I am so sick of this recession!

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Denver on

I would start by making a family budget. List all your expenses, and then prioritze them. Things like mortgage and electric bills go at the top, and optional things like entertainment and cable fall towards the bottom. This will give you a quick and clear idea of just how much you must bring in each month to cover your fixed expenses (which will also be the top things on your list.)

From there, you will also be able to see just how much you have left to go around for what I like to refer to as 'flexible' expenses. Might help you to see things from a different perspective and identify new opportunities.

AVOID tapping into your savings if at all possible! You will need that money for emergencies more than ever now. What was a minor cash emergency before may now fall into the category of a major cash emergency. In fact, I would suggest part of your budget be dedicated to putting a small amount into savings each month. More than ever, it will be important to live below your means.

As for your specific questions, we use Netflix through our Wii ($8/month) to watch a lot of movies and tv shows. They are not current/recent shows but earlier seasons.

I am not a couponer either. Can't stand them, don't have the time for them. First, resist buying in bulk. (I learned this from the Japenese who usually don't have room to buy in bulk.) Even though you can technically save a small amount of money by buying in bulk, you end up tying up a huge chunk of money in inventory. If you buy $50 worth of toilet paper at a time, that is $50 that will be tied up for the next 2 months it takes to use it. Then you are tying that money up all over again. And, I find that we waste a lot more when we buy in bulk. I don't think twice about using an extra squirt of shampoo when I have a quart sized jar sitting there.

Making your own laundry detergent will save a ton of money. Plus, I think it works better. I use the Duggar recipe. You can google that, and also many people have posted it on this board before.

Resist buying lower quality foods to make ends meet. Think quality over quantity. You CAN serve your family fresh healthy foods on a budget. Have an Aldi near by? Check them out. I do all my shopping there. I record Sandra's Money Saving Meals everyday on Food Network. She shows you how to make great meals and save money. What cuts of meat to use vs expensive cuts, and she shows how to cost things out. And the recipes are great.

And finally, if you are not familiar with the frozen foods section, spend some time there. I buy all my chicken frozen. Nothing ever goes to waste. And it's cheaper that way. I feed my family of 4 3 meals a day (kids pack lunches) for about $60 a week. We eat a lot of chicken, rice, pasta,and fresh and frozen vegetables. Very little cheese, beef, and other dairy because that stuff gets expensive. I save leftovers to make tasty soups. I could spend a lot more, but I see no point in it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Mobile on

We just turned off our cable. We have xbox. We got netflix and hulu. Combines it is only $17 a month. You do have to still have internet to stream it. I don't miss cable. Hulu has next day episodes. So if something you like to watch comes on Tuesday you can watch it wed. Netflix has all of the past seasons. I know how you feel. Paycuts stink. We are still learning to save.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Think cell phones. If you have one and pay too much, you can definitely save money there. My husband and I were Verizon Wireless customers for YEARS. We found out about net10, its like a Tracfone if you haven't heard of Net10. You pay monthly by adding however many minutes you need for the next month. When I signed up, I paid 25 dollars for my minutes, thats 750 for the month and my little flip phone was free. We have been with them now for 2 years and I have no complaints! Twenty-five dollars definitely beats the 60 bucks or more I was paying before.

Two months ago I made our laundry detergent. I was sooo skeptical, thats why I did not do it sooner. Do works! There are many recipes out there, but this was the easiest I have found and it works just fine. Buy Dawn dishsoap, Borax and Arm and Hammer Washing Soda. I take my glass cup measuring cup and fill it with water and microwave it until its super hot. I then add 3 TBS of Washing Soda, 3 TBS of Borax and 2 TBS of the Dawn. Mix it all up and add enough water to make a gallon. You can use an old pitcher or an old liquid laundry detergent container to dispense it. Shake or stir it a little before you use it if its been sitting, it tends to separate. I use about one cup for each load, I have a regular washer (not HE) and this does just fine for us.

Another suggestion is to clean with Vinegar. I hate the smell, it does go away, but I have recently tried soaking orange peels in vinegar for about a week before using it and this helps quite a bit with the smell.

I used to use a Swiffer to clean the floors around here but those pads are expensive! I went ahead and bought an O-cedar spray mop that you fill with whatever cleaner you want. The replacement pads just get thrown into the laundry or you can wash them in the sink if you like. I ran out of pads the other day and was in a hurry, I used a washcloth and rubberbands instead...who would have

Crockpot meals are cheap and easy usually also. Look into that of you have not already. Another idea is to buy dry beans instead of canned if you eat a lot of beans, a little planning ahead and you save some money there. I do quite a bit of baking for the husband and kids and that saves money on goodies like quick breads and cookies. I buy bread on sale and freeze it, that helps too. Good luck, you can make this work!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Yeah, it's overwhelming. DH and I lost most of my income when I went freelance (admittedly by choice, but I had a horrid work situation) and thought hard about what we could afford on his job and how much work I needed to bring in to maintain the things we feel are important (including savings). So make a list and prioritize. I know that if Congress can't get its act together what DH and I will cut next.

There are a few shows on how to make much for dinner out of little, but you'll have to come up with veggie options b/c they seem to be light on them. Beans, pasta, rice are all meal stretchers. Coupons are good, but only if they really bring it down to a good price. Last week I had coupons, but even with the coupon, the Tide was $12 for 66 loads and Seventh Generation was $10 for 66 loads, so I bought the Seventh Generation detergent. Be aware of the price per quantity and that you are looking at apples to apples (some brands will display pints vs quarts to make it look better). Ethnic grocery stores often have good food for less. We go to our local Korean mart for canned baby corn for between 20 and 40 cents less per can, and buy a dozen at a time. Their fresh peppers are cheaper, too. Frozen veg may be less expensive, especially in the off season.

Eat at home. Plan. Go with cash. I use the scanner at our grocery store to always know how much I am spending. I shop with a list and try to stick to it.

DH should take his lunch from leftovers. If you tend to by prepackaged, buy stuff that you can get for cheap if you work at it. Do you need baby carrots? Or can you cut up regular carrots? Do you need boneless chicken breast all the time? Drumsticks and thighs are less expensive and we think thighs are more flavorful. I buy roasts on sale, make a roast in the crock pot with random veg and then that's dinner, lunch and probably more dinners after that. Use the veg with another meat and/or the roast with another set of veg or rice/pasta. Can you grow some of your own veg? Lettuce can be fairly easy to grow in pots or a raised bed. We keep a garden for things like lettuce, peas and tomatoes in season.

Find out sales and shop smart. Sometimes I can get shirts for DD at Children's Place or H&M for less than our local thrift store. The thrift store has 50% off sales around holidays and that's when I go there for things like jeans for $2.50. My mom can often get clothes for her at her local community sale for pennies, so I tell her what I need and she enjoys shopping for her granddaughter and I get a wardrobe for $20. Look around and see what your community may offer. At her age, I can plan ahead on the next size up. There is a mall here that sells Stride Rite and other brand name shoes for $10-$20 in their "one pair left bin". I go there twice a year for good shoes for DD. I buy shoes, underwear, socks and swimsuits new (I can often find socks on sale anyway). I get her jackets one size up and I like the three in one jacket b/c it's a winter coat, a spring coat and something in between and it's not too bulky with one layer to wear in the car seat. For myself, I needed a new dress. I lurked on ModCloth til a dress I liked came down to $15 and with shipping it was still only $20 for a dress that was normally $60.

I also trade clothes with friends and use Freecycle for clothing, toys, etc. What we have found is that often the toys that get Freecycled are the big names that hold up - the Little Tykes and Step Two and that sort of thing. You can also get furniture that way.

If you want TV but want to cut back, focus on high speed internet and get NetFlix, Hulu, etc. instead. I personally found Comcast to be way more expensive than Verizon and you may have other options locally. For example, if we dropped to internet and stopped bundling, we might get a landline from Cavalier instead of what we have. My SD can run Netflix through a Wii. It uses our wifi to connect the Wii to the internet and Netflix is just a choice option like anything else on the menu. Friend of mine has an Apple TV and they run everything through that.

Shop ahead when you can. You know Christmas is coming. Can you start getting gifts in January? I picked up some simple jewelery for DD for $1 because it was 2 days past Valentine's Day.

Think of it less as "we can't afford anything" and more as a challenge. It's a game. How can you make $10 go just a little farther this time?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You can do TV through the X-Box, but you'll be limited to what's on line and on-demand (which you have to pay for). So it's not all that different. We do Amazon streaming bideo and Netflix through our Wii. But we still have to pay for both to access the videos we want to watch.

Some other things that come to mind...
Do you have a Costco/Sam's membership? I would suggest buying meat and cooking in bulk.

Do you have a home phone line? Get rid of it and only use cell service.
See what you can walk or get rides to, to reduce gas and how much you drive.

Use less detergent (1/2 of what you normally use) and dish soap. Your things will still get clean. Household cleaning stuff can function with simple soap and water, rather than things like Clorox wipes or sprays, etc...

Get a wifi hot spot for cell service, instead of DSL/cable at home. Then you can use it intermittantly instead of paying for a constant access to service.

Just osme ideas. Others I'm sure will have a lot more.
DH and I are in sales, and the way that our company goals, it's an "every other year" approach with $$ for us. One year, he'll do well, and then the next year, he'll make $50-60K less. We gotten used to the up and downs, and just make sure that we have smart savings for the "issues" when they come up.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I am not an extreme couponer either, but I agree that groceries is a good place to start. That is where we started because the usual stuff like, "don't go to starbuck's every day" didn't really apply to us as we didn't do that in the first place.
some of these may be redundant but here goes:
1. make hubby take his lunch
2. cut juices, cokes, alcohol, gourmet coffees from your grocery list
3. Plan your meals ahead of time and leave kids at home (if possible) when you shop (Kraft has a magazine full of recipes and one section is a week's worth of meals on $100 or less and it gives you the grocery list and the recipes! I loved it that it always had something fun and easy for Friday!)
4. can you get rid of one of your cars?
5. Can you refinance your home?
6. do you have a budget? If not, pull one together using receipts,e tc and then look for opportunities - when I did this I was amazed at how much I fritted away in random places like birthday gifts (for other kids). We started saying no thank you to some parties that my kids were just so-so on.
7. Look at your bundle. We did and switched and saved more than $70 a month - a month!! I couldn't believe it!
8. if you are aSAHM any opportunities to be an after-school sitter for neighbors and get a little more income?
9. How much are you all paying for personal hygiene items? Any way to get hair colored every 9 weeks instead of six, haircuts at home for the kiddos, switch from $80 face cream to $20, Buy suave and not Aveda, etc.
10. Don't run around as much - be content to stay at home or walk places instead of driving (again, a place I saw a huge savings when I put my mind to it)
These are just off the top of my head. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

Okay I second or third ditching cable...we pay less than $50 a month for high speed internet, plus $8 for streaming netflix, and I believe around $60 a year for xbox live membership ($5 a month)...with xbox live you can stream netflix and hulu (the free hulu...which you have to wait 24 hours for your prime time shows, but you can still watch them). So $62.00 total a month for tv and internet. My husband has recently purchased a roku (which allows you to stream netflix, hulu, pandora, vudu, and a bunch of other free and paid sites for around $100 total one time cost for the streaming and we may drop the xbox live membership).

We do not have a home phone...two cell phones seem to be enough for us...we even have extra old phones in case on of ours breaks and we can instantly switch our number back to an older phone. Our 911 can GPS us on a cell phone, so my fears of needing 911 and not having our address pop up was relieved.

I shop the perimeter of the store...produce, meats (and if you watch the expiration dates on the chicken and beef and shop the day before the sale by date they mark them down half price), dairy/cheese. I try and buy as few pre-processed or packaged foods as possible...for kids lunches buy a big package and make little ones yourself with snack sized plastic baggies (baby carrots, etc). We have free access to a big retail club like sam's or I went and made a price chart to find out what items are cheaper...toilet paper, paper towels, eggs, cheese, etc etc...if I find them cheaper at the grocery I stock up, otherwise I go with the bulk. Coupons don't really work for me as I don't buy prepackaged foods or "junk" foods. Maybe for tea bags or stuff like that...

Oh prescription drugs are way way cheaper at the sam's/costco stores and you do not need to be a member to use their pharmacy. So, I used Sam's pharmacy for years with $4.00 generics without a member ship.

Google resale sales in your in SA we have several that happen twice a year...I sell my kids old clothes and make some money then also buy for the next season...and I usually come out ahead with money left over.

We don't eat out...maybe once a month at a restaurant or cheap pizza night (here Papa Johns does $5.99 large carryout on Monday nights)...but really I mark the calendar, once a month, a special treat.

My husband either packs a lunch or comes home for lunch everyday...the leftovers get eaten and he saves $8-12 a day on lunch.

I try and save about $10 a week in an envelope to cover our kids birthday parties and save for Christmas. That is $520 a year split between three holidays (almost $200 for each event).

I even shop adult resale clothing store for me...great deals when you need a new pair of tennis shoes, etc...

I actually have to leave for one of my part time I will see what I think of over the afternoon and see if I can add some husband;s salary has stayed the same for over four years now with loss of benefits each, yes, I feel your pain!! (I have three part time jobs around my kids schedules...they are in school so that helps!!)


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We live pretty frugally. So I'll share some of our "tricks".

You are far better off ditching the cable. You can get Netflix (you can watch this on a computer or gaming system) for $8 per month. There are plenty of shows and movies available. Yes, in the beginning, they will be "reruns" for you, but faster than you think new episodes and movies will show up. We combine that with the use of our local library. Our library usually gets most new release movies we are interested in. We request them online and just pick them up when they arrive. That is free!

We have DSL, basic phone and Netflix, and we play less than 50/month for all three.

If you insist on keeping your bundle call and see if you can renegotiate the price. Look up introductory prices and try for those. You may need to ask to speak to a retention specialist. A retention specialist is meant to keep customers around and happy.

Coupons are tricky. You may find yourself buying things you don't really need, just because it seems like such a great deal. The time investment for extreme couponing is ridiculous, and not doable for most. Shop smart. Budget and stick to it. Stay away from convenience foods. Check out generic and off brands too. Buying in bulk can be great. But make sure it's a real deal. Sometimes a little math will prove to you that the advertised deal is not as great as it sounds. When something you KNOW your family uses regularly goes on a great sale...stock up!

You can also start a garden. We grow and freeze quite a bit of the veggies grown in the garden. Last night we ate chard we grew last year and the kids pulled some carrots for dinner too. After the initial set up, our garden does not take a great deal of time. ANd the time it does take has turned into a family project.

We have also learned to shop online for some items. We use We have a prime membership so we get free movies, free kindle books and free shipping on most items. The cost is $80 per year. But since you can add up to three people to the account, we added my BIL and he pays for half of the cost. So worth it for all of us! We have learned that not always, but many times, it's our go to place to shop. We have saved money on everything from computer stuff, to car parts and shampoo. Just make sure to do your research to be certain it's a good deal, because there are times were amazon is outrageously more expensive than other places.

Check out free entertainment in your area. I am often shocked at the opportunities I have found for me and the kids. You may be too. A few times a year, a google search may help you find some great things to do as a family.

Sell things you don't need or use. We love craigslist for this. And we have made some pretty good cash out of our old stuff that I may have otherwise donated. Be cautious and use common sense of course.

It may be a great time to comparison shop. Look into a home refinance. Call insurance companies and make sure you are getting the best deal. Check rates with the electric companies, etc.

CHange the thermostat. Throw on a sweater instead of cranking up the heat. We live in Texas and it gets HOT here. We still keep our AC at a moderate temp, but we have the ceiling fans on high and encourage the kiddos to play in the same room with keeps our electric bill down.
We also made sure to install a digital thermometer and we have it set around our schedule. When we are under covers at night the house is cooler.

Vinegar will clean most things wonderfully. We rarely buy any cleaners. Vinegar does a fantastic job. It's cheap and easily stored. As an added bonus, it's non toxic. I also know many friends who make their own laundry soap to save money.

Pack lunches. School lunches add up over a week's time. Unless your new financial status qualifies you for free or reduced lunches, start brown bagging it, if you don't already. This counts for hubby too.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Deep breath first. We are in a similar situation (by choice). We moved across country to be closer to my family and are currently living on ONE income, which is equivalent to less than 1/3 of our former household income.


1. We have Comcast too. They WILL work with you on your bundles. We just bundled BASIC cable (100 channels) with internet and home security and we are paying $104 a month for all three. YOU CAN LIVE WITH BASIC CABLE.
2. You can use your XBox to watch movies if you have a NetFlix account. There is a monthly fee for this service, so look into it. It's not much, but if you are looking to cut back- only consider this if you are eliminating your upgraded cable.
3. Groceries are tricky, but you can cut back substantially without chintzing on the healthy stuff.
- Buy generic items where it really doesn't make a difference... pasta, condiments, bread products toilet paper, garbage bags, etc.
- Set a menu for the week for all three meals and buy ONLY what you need for that week. This has been a huge saver for us. I post it on the fridge so that everyone has a say in what we eat that week, but once it's "posted" that's it! If you buy ONLY what you need for the week, you don't throw things out and don't end up with six jars of pasta sauce in the pantry b/c it was "on sale". You also spend much less time in the grocery store which (according to research) means you spend less money too!
- Farmers Markets (or veggie/fruit stands) are cheaper than grocery stores
- Frozen is cheaper and just as healthy as fresh veggies/fruits
- No more premade anything! Wings are cheap and easy to make... not so cheap to buy when you consider the markup.
4. Take Out Friday is now "No Cook Friday"... I cook every night. I like to do it and my son helps, so it's fun. However, by Friday night we're all exhausted and the idea of cooking/cleaning is not appealing. In our "old life", we would order take out and relax in front of the t.v. with a movie. $30- $40 every Friday night adds up! Now, we do take-out once a month (at the most). Instead, when I make a feezer-friendly meal during the week I make a double batch. Then a few weeks later it reappears on a Friday night. No cooking involved- very little clean up. Same end goal, but no additional cost.

Cut out absolutely everything that is not necessary and try not to think of it as cutting-back. Think of it as streamlining and prioritizing. We didn't need to buy another huge house... we didn't use most of the space we had. We didn't need the upgraded cable... we didn't watch most of the channels anyway. We didn't need take out every week... reheating something frozen keeps us out of the kitchen too! I am not coloring my hair anymore either... I had been doing it for so long that I am just discovering that my natural color isn't so bad! We don't need to pay for weekend activities... we live two miles from the beach and within walking distance of three parks!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Contact Comcast to see if you're getting the best possible rate. Explain your situation and ask for a reduction or discount. It may be possible. Also, some other utilities (power, gas, water) have discount programs available for low-income; not sure if you'd qualify but it's worth checking out.

If your husband buys lunch most days at work, cut that out and have him bring lunch from home. I know my husband usually spends about $50 each week on lunch alone (a pet peeve of mine but not one worth arguing at this time) so that could be a huge monthly savings.

What about your cell phones? Could you reduce your plan there? Could you eliminate your land line or temporarily turn it off and just use the cells instead?

Do you need all the channels on your TV or are you paying for part of a package you never use?

For the next month, write down EVERYTHING you spend, whether it's 25 cents in the gumball machine at the mall or $500 on new tires for your car. See what little expenses can be cut out, as these are the ones that add up without you necessarily realizing it.

Shop the weekly grocery ads and see what's on sale. Plan your meals around the weekly sale items. If you have multiple grocery chains near you, consider going to different stores for different things. Target is also usually much cheaper on packaged items and many now carry lots of fresh items too at good prices. Also, don't buy the convenient packs, even thought they are obviously more convenient. Buy the big box of crackers instead of individual packs for things that you put in your kids' lunches. Buy a full head of lettuce instead of a pre-bagged salad.

Can you grow any vegetables in your garden? It may take a bit of extra money to get it started but it will save you money in the long run. Green beans, tomatoes, various squashes, and other veggies are commonly grown garden vegetables.

Make sure everyone is turning off lights and TVs, stereos, etc when they leave a room. Turn your thermostat up or down a couple of degrees (depending on the season) to lower your power/gas bills. Wait a little longer between loads of laundry so you're not washing a half-full machine. Take shorter showers and don't leave the water running when you brush your teeth or wash the dishes.

Really, tracking your spending to the penny (both you and your husband) has to be done immediately so you can really see exactly where every cent is going.

One last thought... it won't be a popular one but if you give your kids an allowance, even cutting a couple of dollars a week can add up. They won't like it, but they might understand and be willing to help out.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I'm an independent insurance agent so I can quote with a bunch of different insurance companies. Find one in your town and get a quote on your home/auto. You do NOT have to wait until renewal to switch to another company that has lower premiums. This alone could save you tons.

I hate coupons. They stress me out. So what I do is shop the "manager's clearance" at our grocery store. I have gotten packs of ribs that are normally $12.99 for $4.99. Same thing for roasted whole chickens. Then I just stick them in the freezer. When they have 10 for $10 I stock up on the things we use consistantly. But I get all my groceries on sale, I don't pay full price for anything anymore.

Same thing for clothing. I only shop on the clearance racks and save a ton on NEW clothes when we need them. Or I will buy end of the season for the next year. I did that last year and got all my long sleeves and sweaters for $1-$5 each. NICE! And all my son's clothes I happened to have gotten for $1 each so he got all new clothes.

Just start to be very aware of where your money is going. When I go to the store, its hard, but I have to just stick to what I NEED....even if its on sale and hard to pass up! lol

I hope you find some things that work for you. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Check on your car and house insurance and get bids from several competitive companies. You may be able to get the same coverage for less money. Also, you might want to seriously look at your tax status for the year. With less income, will you be paying less in taxes next year? You might want to consider changing the number of exemptions you use which might free up more monthly cash flow and less refund next year. Many local libraries have videos that you can check out for free! Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

You can probably save more by ditching your cable than you are EVER going to save clipping coupons. First of all, the "extreme couponing" is a total farce. These people either have an in with a media outlet willing to give them thousands of papers, or are provided those papers for the purpose of a show.

Sure, you can save a small bit of money doing coupons. I only clip coupons for products that I would buy anyhow, so it's a true savings...and I feel great when I also find it on sale that week, but I do NOT drive from store to store looking for the best deals. Waste of money. I split my shopping into four...and all four stores are in the same block...and I know what to get where and where what is usually cheapest.

Cable, on the other hand...even WITH your bundle, you're probably paying at least 50 for cable. Maybe more. We pay 7 dollars a month for Netflix, which we watch on our Wii...and they just added a Youtube channel as well, so I'm not wanting for viewing material. 7 dollars.

We bundle our phone and internet (unlimited long distance, high speed) and I pay around 60 a month for it. It would be a lot more expensive, but everytime I have an offer about to expire, I call the customer retention department and say "I'll have to switch if you can't offer me a better deal, this is too expensive" and they ALWAYS do. It never hurts to and "threaten" very politely to change providers, and they will knock down your bill to keep you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

take a look at the moneysavingmom webpage for grocery shopping and couponing tips. Look around your home for unused unwanted items that you can re-sell. Even if you are only going to get $.30 on the dollar you paid, its still money in hand instead of clutter around.

call your utlilities, insurance, phone, cable, bank, car service etc. See if they have a lower cost plan that you can sign up for that will still meet your needs. We saved $500 a year by getting our bundle back to the $99 a month intro price. We saved $400 a year on our car insurance premiums by switching providers. We got our credit card interest reduced by doing a balance transfer.

Speak with your accountant/ HR person and see if its time to revisit your declaration re: dependents. If you were gettting a tax return, maybe you are better off having the cash in hand throughout the year.

Coupons are OK, but we keep grocery costs down by 1. being flexible, and 2. buying bulk when things are at a deep discount. If I had thought to make eggplant parm, and zucchini is on sale, I'll use zuch instead. So I cook around the fresh produce that is most affordable. If pears are on sale, guess we'll be having pear cobbler, or a pear tart. As for buying bulk. If you buy a jar of spaghetti sauce, and its usually $3, sometimes it will be on sale at 2/$5, other times it might be as low as 10/$10. When its running 10/$10, I'll be sure to buy the limit.

You might see some cost savings by giving up paper goods, no paper plates, cups, napkins, towels, swiffer pads, swiffer dusters etc.

Look for cheap entertainment. Have family game nights and make your own pizza. Invite friends over for casserole, have them bring wine. Go for a nature walk. take up running or relay races. Run the sprinklers.

Make room for small/ cheap indulgences. They help you feel good about yourself as you are doing right by your budget.

Good luck to you and yours,
F. B.

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answers from Cumberland on

The most expensive item is the mortgage-can you refi to lower your payment? It might be difficult to show pay stubs -with $20K less in income-but worth a try. Don't skimp on food-buy everything fresh and nothing in a package-except rice, pasta, etc. Get basic cable if that is important and I think it is always a good idea to have at least one hard wired telephone line. Drive as little as possible. Dine in and don't buy anything that isn't absolutely necessary. Good luck-clearly, there is no end to this. Would not be shocked if our next "president" is an ayatollah.

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answers from Raleigh on

As far as groceries go, set a budget each week and stick to it. I do all my shopping on Sunday morning right when the grocery store opens. Meats getting close to their sell-by date are usually marked down at that time. I stock up then and freeze. I try to only buy meats every other week.
Also, make sure you get a circular for the local grocery stores, or go online to check out their deals. I don't believe in going to a bunch of different stores in one day (waste of time and gas which ends up not saving you much). However, find what's on sale that you need, and combine with coupons for the best deal. You can get coupons online, but I clip most of mine from the Sunday paper or print them off at the store kiosk. My mom also gives me her inserts also. I haven't paid full price for soup or lunch meats in a year.
Buy generic. For certain things, it's just as good as the brand name.
Make your own frozen foods. I make a huge amount of meatballs, pancakes, chicken nuggets, etc, freeze them, and reheat for the kids.
Always shop by price per unit. Most grocery stores have it broken down by amount per ounce, quart, etc. This is your best money savings strategy. What may look cheaper is not always when reading the fine print.
Grow a garden this summer. Huge savings there on fresh produce. Farmer's markets are generally less expensive, also, and you are supporting the local economy. Buy fruits and veggies, such as strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, squash, etc, seasonally (when they are cheaper) and freeze or can them for the winter months.
If you have cell phones and a house phone, cancel the house phone. It's a good idea to go online streaming if you want to cancel your cable bill. Google how to set up your Xbox. There's tons of videos out there with instructions.
Instead of buying cleaners and fabric softener, use vinegar. You can also make your own laundry detergent. Tons of websites out there with instructions.
Finally, on other things, like clothes. But right now for next winter if you can. I get brand new clothes for virtually nothing, store them, and the kids have a wardrobe for next year. It means keeping your eye on things and knowing when to pounce. That goes for everything!
Hope this helps!

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answers from Madison on

See on your Comcast bundle if you can go to the lowest bundle they have (I'm thinking their lowest cable price). I would also find out how much you would save if you got rid of cable and just have phone and internet. They will b*t** about taking off cable, but they should do it. Esp if you explain your financial circumstances and state that you'll have to drop Comcast altogether if they won't let you do that.

We have Charter Communications Phone and Internet/WiFi. They keep calling us and bugging us to also get TV in their bundle. We're not interested; we have a high definition TV as well as a WII game system, and we currently have Netflix (after dropping our satellite dish company; Netflix costs less than $9/mo) and we can watch regular TV programs if we want (bought a cheap in-house atenna).

Watch your water consumption (try not to wash clothes/use a lot of water or electricity during peak hours, which would be 8am until about 9pm--which I think is unrealistic, but if you can do most of your washing later at night, you could save on your water bill). Not leaving lights on or appliances plugged in that aren't being used will help keep you from losing phantom energy.

Write on a pad of paper all your bills, when they're due, and how much you pay on them. That's where you need to start; with your actual bills and how much of your paycheck will be going to pay bills. Include things like dog/cat food, the kids school lunch expense (if they eat hot lunch at school), things that you KNOW will be a monthly expense.

Then, each month, write down any other expenses that you know will come up (haircuts for you/family, dog grooming/haircut, birthday parties/gifts the kids are invited to, birthday parties (for your kids), misc things you need (like a Target list that states light bulbs, kitty litter, tape, shampoo, etc., etc.). Basically, it'll help to get it down on paper what the additional expenses are that you'll need money for that month. Andthen you'll have it in front of you while you're getting flyers for things on sale during the week/month. You're trying to figure out exactly what you need to have for essentials; then you can decide what to do with the leftover money/where to allocate it.

As far as credit cards--you stated the balance is low. I'd try to pay it off and refrain from using it. It's taken us 15 years to finally--finally!--get to the point where what we put on the credit card each month gets paid off each month. It is so tempting to reach for the card when you don't have the money for something. But that's also the way the credit cards get piled up with debt.

I'm not a good one for couponing either. And the fact that we have to eat allergen-free/organic food, well, there aren't very many coupons for that. Start watching the prices on the various items you buy at the different grocery stores you frequent and try to buy only those items at that store that have the cheapest prices. Get the Sunday flyers (from a friend, if need be) so you can comparison shop to see who has the best price. Shop at more than one grocery store if need be (I shop at 4 different stores weekly, with another store or two infrequently). We rarely buy the Sunday paper anymore. I either go online and look at the weekly flyers, or we go out to eat at Culvers and read the Sunday paper while we eat lunch or supper. At $2/$2.50 a pop, the Sunday paper it too expensive for what you get.

This spring, it might be feasible to think about planting a vegetable garden, even a small one. Even if the garden only gives you enough produce to feed you through the summer/into the fall, you will have saved that much money. Then you can buy veges again during the winter. If you can plant a big garden and do canning and freezing, then you can put up fresh produce to have during the winter months as well. Fresh is best, frozen is next best, then canned.

Make sure you don't skimp on good quality foods. Good quality foods help feed your body and give your body nutrients so you don't get sick/have to see the doctor. Pare back on processed/frozen/prepared foodstuffs/junk food and lots of eating out/fast food, which are not only devoid of nutrients but also add up quickly in the shopping cart. Check out the cost of kids eating hot food at school vs sending them food from home.

I always keep my eyes open when I grocery shop for those little sales that pop up that aren't advertised; lots of times, that's in the meat dept. So even though I wasn't expecting to buy a couple extra items, if the sales price is a bargain, I'll pick up the sale item.

We also belong to COSTCO. I buy just enough organic foods there that I believe the membership cost is worth it. A ten pound bag of raw cane sugar and a ten pound bag of brown rice are good savings. I like to buy KIRKLAND chicken breasts and thighs and bring them home and grind them up and then pack them into 1 pound blocks of ground chicken, which I then wrap in freezer wrap and freeze. Brings the price per pound way down when I have to do all the work.

Go online and see all of the wonderful recipes there are for making a lot of your cleaners and detergents and such by hand/homemade. You'll save a ton of money, and the cleaners will be better for you and the environment. Vinegar and lemon or vinegar and essential oils work wonders for cleaning.

There are lots and lots of ways to look at cutting corners/costs. All of the fancy-dancy electronic/electronic toys--not needed. Expensive cell phone plans--not needed. You need to look at needs vs wants and par down to where you're covering your needs.

We don't shop a lot for clothes. Savers (part of Easter Seals) has some amazingly nice clothes--sometimes, it's clothes that has never been worn). Shopko clothes aren't bad, nor are Kohl's (Target can get expensive). Sometimes we find stuff at Goodwill we like. No one has to know where you buy your clothes unless you tell them. Right now my daughter wears my size in clothes, so she's been borrowing from me. Which is fine with me; at least the clothes are getting worn. When we clean out our house, we take our clothes to Savers; they give us a % off to use the next time we come to buy clothes (or whatever else they have).


answers from Los Angeles on

I can relate and hope I can help. I'm a single Gramma raising my youngest grandchild on a very limited income, I have to be creative to get the things we need. Since you've already received excellent advice on cable, bundling, using Netflix on your XBox or Wii, insurance, etc., I'll try to stick to some other things I find helpful.

A tip on Extreme Couponing, I used to wonder how they could have 38 coupons for the same item, then I found out if manufacturers know you're doing a show they send them to you and I won't get them. Plus, most stores and some manufacturers limit the number of like coupons you can use in one purchase, typically 3 or 4 max. And, extreme couponing takes tremendous planning, I found this out when I took a free class on couponing offered by my newspaper. The two ladies presenting the class have been on the "Extreme Couponing" show, they took weeks to plan and coordinate their respective shopping trips, and each had two other people helping them!

I do coupon, it involves a little work. The trick to couponing is using them when the item is on sale, or the lowest per oz or count, to maximize your savings, so figure your cost then use your coupon. There's sites that will tell you when and who has items on special, and tells you what coupons to use. Some I'm partial to are: - I Heart the Mart (Walmart) - he matches coupons for Walmart to get awesome deals but they can be used anywear. - My Litter - wife to Paul of I Heart the Mart - she has the deals no matter where, meal planning (she and her husband have 7 children) and much more. - Couponing to Disney - her site is to help people save for Disney trips, but are useful to anyone trying to save.
Don't forget to use your "Catalinas", too, they really help. These are the coupons that print with your receipts. I've saved $8 on health and beauty items at Target, along with other coupons on the items I got over $30 worth for less then $9 :) Yesterday I received one for $1.50 off coffee creamer, any size, so will hopefully get some for $1.

"Frugal" is no longer a bad word, sites with it in the name can be very helpful. - The Frugal Girls have tips for everything on saving money: couponing, recipes, freebies, DIY crafts & projects for your home and for gifts, deals, etc.
If you use Facebook all these sites have FB pages you can like and their posts will show in your feed. If you check out the sites make sure to check out all the different areas, there's so much there.

There's many "frugal" sites specific to certain areas of the US. Don't limit yourself, I love one from the NW Pacific even though I'm in SoCal, but do and internet search for "frugal" and your area to see what's out there.

Make use of resale stores for clothing, end-of-season sales for next year (I've already bought my guy's fall/winter clothing for the coming season at an average of about 60-65% off). Don't not go out to eat occasionally, you need it every once in a while. Many restaurants from Burger King to upscale have special rewards like coupons and discounts and birthday freebies when you sign up on their sites. Here's a list of birthday freebies to sign up for, when you do you're on the list for ongoing deal offers:

Lastly, Google "frugal recipes", there's oodles of them out there :)



answers from Oklahoma City on

I would start looking at your current bills. It sounds like you guys are living frugally already.

If your house payment is very much then you need to work it where those payments are less or perhaps finding a less costly home would be the choice. If your kids are in good schools in your area then that may not be the best idea.

IF you are making vehicle payments get those paid off quickly or trade them in for vehicles that you'd have no payments on.

As for groceries, if you want to eat a certain way then you have to buy food. We spend about $30-$50 per week on food because we're poor. We eat a lot of hamburger helper made with the cheapest HB meat that Walmart carries. We eat a lot of Great Value brand mac and cheese.

We eat at free meals places often when we run out of food. That's the only way we can make ends come close to meeting.

Food is a choice. If you think that only organic food or fresh food can go in your mouth then you'll have to make choices in other areas of your life because food isn't something you are willing to consider.

Coupons are not everything they're built up to be. You often have to buy stuff you have no use for to get the savings they show. I can't afford to buy the more expensive stuff at some name brand store when I can go to Walmart and buy it outright, without any coupons or gimmicks to get me to buy 3 or 4 of them for half the other stores price.

It pays to compare prices. When I was activities director at church I would plan dinner parties for usually 125. When I had settled on the menu I would go to every store with my list of groceries and I would find the price of each item. SO "I" know the prices of just about everything in my town in all the grocery stores.

By doing this I knew that the regular price for a bag of flour was $3 at one store, $4.95 at another, and then at Walmart it was $2.49. I knew that chicken breasts bought in bulk were $2 cheaper at Walmart or that they were on sale for less at another store. If I brought that add with me to Walmart they would sell the same product to me for that sale price but not if it was not exactly the same brand, weight, or cut.

So buying groceries can be cheaper but you have to be determined to eat what you can afford. If you can't stand the thought of eating the cheaper food then you have to cut the costs in other area's.



answers from Detroit on

I feel your pain and just asked a similar question about groceries a couple weeks ago!

Feel free to back track to my question as there were some great ideas there!

I second the resale shop thing. That and craigslist.

I read about a guy once that was very thrifty. Every once ina while he would have what he called a Fiscal Free Week. He would not spend ANY money, would eat only what was in his house, etc. I have not gone to that extreme, but have tried to be sure that we are not letting the food we buy go to waste.

I am hoping to get some more good ideas from your post as well!

Good luck!



answers from Salt Lake City on

I have several ideas that might help.

I have a friend who feeds a large family on a tight budget, and she uses an online meal planner called emeals. She pays $5 a month. In return she gets recipes and grocery lists tailored to her budget, the number of people she's feeding, dietary considerations (she does low-carb) and where she shops. She's a Walmart grocery shopper, and the list even tells her which aisle to find the needed items on - handy when you're grocery shopping with 5 kids in tow. Shopping this way has allowed her to feed her family of seven people nutritious, varied meals for under $200 a week.

My friend also makes her own laundry detergent and dishwashing detergent. She uses washing soda and borax. She saves loads of money this way. Natural, environmentally friendly homemade cleaners are also, as it happens, dirt cheap, and recipes can be found online or in the library.

As for me, I am more of a crunchy organic type of eater and cook, so I save money by buying as much of my food as possible from a non-profit community co-op (I'm lucky to live somewhere where such a thing exists), and raising some of the more expensive stuff that I like (strawberries, tomatoes, fresh herbs) in my own back yard. We've built ourselves a cold frame so we can raise some food year-round, and starting this next year we'll be raising chickens. In the summer we join a CSA and get farm share boxes of produce. It means I have to get creative sometimes (kale? again?!), but it also means that for 20 weeks of the year I spend less than $20 per week for produce enough to feed a family of four. The time to sign up for CSAs in most areas is now through early March, so if that appeals to you, do your research and get organized now. You will need to pay for the entire season up front in most cases when you sign up.

My husband also hunts for our meat. In my opinion, this isn't necessarily a money saver. ("But, honey, I NEED this new rifle...") But it does mean that I'm not paying grocery store prices for lean, hormone-free, GMO-free meat.

Good luck. I know that adjustments like this can be hard.



answers from Saginaw on

shop at Meijer. hands down the best prices and quality. make a menu for the week, base your meals around the meat....and what is on sale. MAKE A LIST FOR THE STORE!! wandering around and buying by memory is the best way to spend too much. Buy it in bulk when it is very cheap and freeze it. For instance... family packs of chicken go on sale at Meijer for $1.79. if you have a family of 3 or 4...usually 3 of those chicken breasts is plenty (they are 1 for each adult and the kids split), trim it and repackage it into ziploc bags of 3, and freeze it. stock up on side dishes, butter, cheese and canned goods when they are on sale. those items store well.
you can also plan meals that "last" example: a nice size chuck roast could go on sale and you could purchase it for around $9. So that night you have roast, with potatoes and carrots and peas and gravy. make a little extra of the potatoes carrots and gravy when you are cooking it. Then...after dinner. shred the roast, cut the potatoes in to cubes, slice the carrots, and put all those leftovers in to a large ziploc with the gravy and bam...the next night put it all in a pie shell and you can have a pot roast pot pie. (there will be leftovers of this too for lunch the next day) This works well with chicken too....leftover chicken can be shredded or cubed and used in recipes that call for cooked chicken and there are a ton of them.
go to Gordon Foods and get a sleeve of portion cups and lids. if your kids like those packs of veggies and dip....make your own. get large bags of carrots, celery etc, a bottle of ranch....and snack size ziploc bags and you'll have individual snack packs for a fraction of the cost.
get gas at speedway or shell and get a rewards card and use it. you often earn pennies off of future gas, but anything helps.
**get a paypal debit card and link it to your checking account. use it for EVERYTHING. every month you get actual cash back (directly into your checking)...My husband and I average $60 a month!
**they are right....with a good internet connection you don't need cable. but some of those bundles are priced funny, like it may only save you a dollar to lose one and keep the other check it out. sometimes switching over to DirecTV will save you as well? worth checking.
**coupons. I'm not very good at them...and sometimes they lean you into buying things you normally wouldn't buy anyway...but it's a good idea to watch them and use the ones that make sense to you.
**pack lunches if you or your husband work out of the home.
** is a great site for easy recipes. you can search the site by ingredients, or recipe type or name...then each recipe has reviews and people have said what they liked or didn't like or would do different, so it makes it easier. you can sign up and have an email sent to you daily with a new recipe.
**if you eat out....applebee's after 8pm on weeknights, 1/2 off all appetizers (some of them are meals in themselves). Chili's on Monday's- double order of fajitas $14 (can feed 3!) etc...most restaurants have their "cheap days"
**I think most thrift ships are higher priced that the clearance rack at Kohl's....just shop off season at stores like Kohl's, Sears, TJ clothes cheaper than resale shops

hope some of this helps!



answers from Chicago on

I agree on the groceries thing. I think I spend more money on groceries so that's where I need to reign things in. Making multiple trips leads to over spending. Cut out any subscriptions, credit card use, and unnecessary shopping. Monitor utilities usage, as those costs can creep up since you'll be home more instead of going out. Plan your trips out to maximize gas usage for your car so you make fewer trips. Plan meals where you can get two days of food to make things go a little further and identify some meatless meal specialties. Some mere suggestions.


answers from Saginaw on

Regarding entertainment: Lots of mamas saying ditch the cable. I agree. If you have high-speed internet, between Netflix (cheap; can be free- ask your family if anyone has a "family membership" they'd be willing to share) and Hulu (free), there are plenty of things to watch. We have a computer hooked up to our TV screen, and an Xbox would do the same thing.

Regarding phones: Depending on where you live and the cell service, I do think it's a good idea to have a land line, but that's just basic, local service- no caller id/call waiting/message service etc. As far as the cell phones- My daughter (15 yrs old ) and I have cheap Net10 phones from WalMart. My bill is $16.44 per month, and I have enough minutes for what I need (I don't text). My daughter's plan is $30 per month with unlimited talk and text. She doesn't have a data plan. I have never felt the "need" for a smart phone. (My daughter thinks she "needs" a smart phone, but that's a different story!) My husband does not have a cell phone- he works from home.

Our basic land line and internet are bundled- $70.00 per month, and our cell phones total $46.44. I'm pretty sure we couldn't possibly do it cheaper, and we are happy with our service. (Of course, if you ask my daughter, she'd be happier with a smart phone and an unlimited talk/text/data plan...)

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