Doing the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover What Are Ways You save Money??

Updated on July 07, 2010
S.T. asks from Kansas City, KS
12 answers

We are doing this plan right now and I'm wondering what ways do you save money?? We are almost ready to pay off our first credit card and then it is the big one so I'm trying to find out ways to save more money to pay it off faster. Thanks

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answers from Washington DC on

Set a budget for your grocery bill and stick to it. Even if you have to buy all generic, or find some cheap and huge recipes that you can eat off of for a few days.

Pinpoint what is necessary in your life and what is unnecessary. For example and to go with my above suggestion about the grocery bill: I love to cook and I love to cook solid comfort food. However, I have to divide this into necessary and unnecessary. My family needs to eat and they need a balanced diet... necessary. I like to cook super yummy and hearty food that satisfies the soul as well as the body...unnecessary. My family can survive very well on simpler and plainer food for a while as a part of an overall budgeting plan. Find cheaper ways to get your family the nutrients they need. Protein doesn't have to come from meat, carbs don't have to come from wheat products, frozen veggies are just as good as fresh and you can buy them in bulk if you have a big enough freezer and save money on them etc... Look into using potatos more in your cooking. They have so many nutrients in such a compact bundle. Cut back on snacky foods in your house. Just keep a few healthy (and more filling) snacks around like string cheese, carrot sticks, bagels and cream cheese etc.. No more fruit roll ups, chewey bars, sugary cereal etc... Kids can survive just fine on two healthy snacks per day between their meals. Buy cereal in bulk. My kids can't tell the difference between apple jacks and the store brand that comes in the huge bag for less money. Things like this really add up over time and you will notice that your grocery bill goes down by a pretty healthy amount each month.

Also, things like cutting back on the whole perfect-organic-whole-food-all-natural-cleaning-product etc. mom business will save you TONS of money. It's really amazing how much money we spend these days on following the latest health fads. Families were surviving just fine without all of those fancy, uber-researched, healthier and more expensive alternatives a few decades ago, I'm sure our families can survive the same right now, for at least a while in order to enhance the financial health of the family, which is almost as important as physical health. Don't go so far as to cut out prescription meds, but maybe see if there's a generic form that you could take instead, and I WOULD cut out the vitamins and supplements for now (they're SO expensive) unless you have someone in the family whose health will truly suffer without them, like an underweight child with an eating problem or something.

I'm not sure what your situation is like, I don't know if you work out of the house, or if you are a SAHM, but if you can find the time maybe you could be baking your own bread, rolls, hot dog buns etc. (a huge savings over time, especially if you are doing the whole "starter-dough" thing) and consider planting a garden and canning your own vegetables. It's an initial expense with a long term savings. It's a lot of work though and some people don't think it's worth it ultimately and for some it isn't. I'm going to be doing it, but not for that reason alone, I wouldn't do it just to save money since it's such a hassle. I'm also doing it as a school project for my children.

Teach your family to entertain themselves at home. There are a million ways for kids to entertain themselves at home, you just have give them the chance.

Also, turn off your cable/satellite service if you can do it without losing your internet. This is a huge savings. First, you're not paying that bill any longer. Second, your kids aren't begging for everything they see advertised on TV (and eventually wearing you down until you get it for them). Third, your kids learn how to be content with what they have and they're spending more time playing outside which is way better entertainment than running all over town to different activities (that cost money).

Anyways, I could go on all day, but you get the point. Just look around, separate what is necessary from what is not, and get started with the cutting back. Once you've cut everywhere you can, then form a budget based on what you are now spending for necessary things and stick to it. You'll find that you have a lot more extra money every month than you used to to put down on that debt snowball.

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answers from Jacksonville on

Cut out unnecessary trips in the car, and eat at home more. Eating at home more requires a lot more planning for families on the go (my kids's karate classes are ALWAYS at dinnertime... and I'm not home for hours before, and not home from class until is already past time to eat).

Also, strip down your satellite bill if you can, and set your thermostat one degree higher than you usually keep it.

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answers from Sioux Falls on

Do his snowballing debt suggestion. Also, write everything down that you spend. You will be shocked at how much money just slips through your fingers!
I did the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University a couple of years ago. I had the "plasticectomy". I have no more credit cards. If I cant afford it, I don't buy it! I drive a seven year old car.
I had never in my life been able to afford a vacation with my kids. I saved up, and went to Florida for Memorial Day weekend this year with my three children, without borrowing a dime! Yes, I felt guilty on, what I could have spent it on, but my kids and I have a memory forever, and this was the last chance. My eldest just went into the military.
I have shopped alot on ebay for children's clothes. And thrift stores and auctions for household goods.
Get your debt paid off with the snowball! It feels great to not have a mountain of debt hanging over my head any longer! It will give you more freedom and peace of mind!
God Bless!

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answers from St. Louis on

Love all the ideas! We just started this 5 months ago and have already paid off almost $4000 in debt--incredible, because I lost my job 4 months ago. To save money, we buy nothing new--resale,thrift stores, and craigslist are the only place we buy anything. Lots of time, it forces us to wait until we find what we think we just "have to have." Many times, by the time we find it, we no longer want (or think we need) it. I grocery shop at Aldi and have slashed our grocery bill--I can feed a family of 5 (3 boys and my 6'2" hubby who all eat a lot) for about $115 a week. We eat EVERY meal at home--on occassion, me might have a treat out--ice cream (with a coupon) or something like that. The kids don't ask about eating out anymore. We use coupons for everything--if we don't have a coupon, or if it's not on sale, we don't get it, or wait until we do have a coupon. My hubby and I do date night once a month and use to buy coupons--with coupon codes, you can usually buy a $25 gift card for $2-$3. You usually have to spend $35 at the restaurant, so for about $15, my hubby and I can usually have a really nice dinner out. We take advantage of all the free things around town--all the parks have free programs, all tourist areas have a morning or night the entrance fee is free. We never pay to do any activities. I clean with vinegar and water--haven't bought any other cleaning supplies for months--it's amazing how much that saves. At the end of every month, we sit down and go line by line through every penny we've spent, analyze where we spent too much and start the new month with a new goal. After last month, we realized that we spent way too much at Costco--we really don't save anything there--especially when you throw that one more thing into the cart, it adds up to a lot, so we decided to cancel our membership and get our money back. The best way we've found to keep spending in check is to pay cash for everything--I learned that if I walk into the grocery store or Target with $100 in cash, a calculator and no credit cards, I'm much more cautious about putting things into the cart, and there are no surprises at the check out line. Good luck--Dave Ramsey has really changed our way about living and it's so exciting at the end of each month to see that amount of debt going down so quickly.

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answers from Chicago on

I really wish more people would take this class it is fantastic. My husband & I took the class which ended in May. He was the free spirit but has changed since this class. I joke that I have created a monster & he keeps me in check a lot more now too.

You got a lot of great advice so I will just ditto your responses & add that I have been going thru every room in my house, garage, attic, basement etc & selling stuff. It has been really adding up for us. We were able to buy a very nice swing set for our kids with the money from selling stuff. And as an FYI someone on mamapedia suggested a website called which is like craigslist only better.

We have been trying to do more free stuff with our kids rather than going out & spending money. I have been doing more play groups so my kids can play with different friends & have more variety. I also have been watching how much I spend on my kids clothes. I always had an excuse about why they needed another dress.

Best wishes to live like no one else

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answers from Los Angeles on

So many great suggestions. I'd also add using vinegar as a household cleaner rather than spending money on the toxic stuff. My grandmothers used vinegar and their houses were spotless! Also check the air pressure in your tires - the amount of gas you save with full tires is mindboggling. Good luck!

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answers from St. Louis on

we have drastically reduced our meat bill by using our local butcher shop! The meat is fresh, fewer/no preservatives, & tastes wonderful.

The frozen chix breast is so much better than what's available in the grocery store. I consider this item a splurge, but it's based on how my family HATES whole chix. I pay <$10 for 5lbs of IQF breast tenders. I rarely find even a smidgeon of fat on it! & when you consider how fresh it tastes compared to the store stuff......WOW!

By buying in bulk at the butcher shop, we have cut our meat bill in half. We try to buy 1/2 - 1 month at a time. We carpool with another family, taking turns on going or riding together....which also helps in cutting costs.

& as for laundry detergent, one of my friends tried making her own & swears by it! Her DH is covered in motor oil everyday & this stuff even works on his clothes & her infant's clothes! The link is:

Good Luck! & as for debt, we cut our credit card balance (used only when my DH had heart surgery) in 1/2 so far this year.....6 months that's pretty good. We also managed to clear out our son's orthodontic bill ($5000) in <18 something's right!

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answers from Rochester on

How exciting and congratulations! I wish we had more of ours paid off. I have been meaning to buy the book and get started with this, too.

We do not save money as well as we could and what we do is pretty common sense. (The hardest thing for me is getting my husband on board with this.) I make my own laundry soap and that has saved a LOT. With two adults and two kids we do a lot of laundry. I use coupons and plan our meals. We do not spend much on entertainment and rent DVDs from the library. We really don't go out or do anything that costs much, so there really are few places where we can trim back. To increase our income my husband is trying to work a few extra shifts, but he is in school so that will only be an option for the summer. Good luck!

I also try to be careful with utilities. I read once that if you are going to be away from your computer for two hours or more it is more energy efficient to turn it off. That also helps cut down on extra heat in my house. Consider doing more of your baking at once in the summer so you can heat up your kitchen just once or twice a week, even if you don't have AC (we don't). Turn off fans if you are out of the room, replace light bulbs with energy-efficient ones, etc. Turn off appliances and unplug chargers when not in use. Wash laundry separately so you can line dry a whole load and cut back on dryer cycles.

Oh, and I keep my grocery receipts and once in a while sit down and look at how frequently we buy what, which can help planning around sales and give you an idea of what you could buy in bulk or not. It is also as Mikelle pointed out a good way to see where you are spending your money--it might feel like you only throw a few treats in your cart or that you don't spend much, but cash might be disappearing faster than you think or you might find that you are spending $10 on treats every week. If you want to supplement your groceries you might consider Angel Food Ministries ( and see if any churches in your area participate. You can buy boxes of food at a great price and there is no committment or eligibility requirement--you choose what you want if you want it based on the menu. I have several friends who love it (my husband is Italian so I am still waiting for a box that does not have jar sauce or mild sausage). :)

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answers from San Antonio on

I can't beat Dyreka's answer. She's got great suggestions. But we are a very frugal family. We have no debt whatsoever right now and it is wonderful.
- grocery - buy what's on sale and plan your meals around that. I buy 6 chickens when they're on sale for 88cents a pound. We buy mostly chicken, turkeys are generally cheap too. We buy whatever meat is on sale for $1 a pound and we stock up.
- get rid of the cable bill. Get an antenna and you're set. You get 5 or 6 channels (pbs, nbc, cbs, fox, abc). That's all we really need to get a tv fix. My SIL and BIL don't even own a tv. They have a projector and watch Netflix (instant and the DVDs) from theircomputer, projected onto their wall. They can watch TV episodes from for free.
- home phone/cell phone - get magicjack if you have your computer on all the time. $40 for the first year. $20 every year after that. Works great. Our cell phones, we searched for the right specials and got unlimited minutes with t-mobile. So keep your eyes open for special deals.
- thermostat. In Texas, it's hot all the time. We set our thermostat at 79 degrees and our bodies have adjusted to the temperature. We turn the a/c off when we leave the house so it's not running (our insulation is terrible in the rental house we're in).
- stuff youdon't need. It's hard to not pick up the ice cream at the grocery store. It's hard to not buy a package of cookies or a 12 pack of sodas. But if you don't buy it, your grocery bill will be lower AND you'll be healthier. I'd LOVE to get a massage, but I can't see spending $50 for a massage. I just do without. (Trying to teach my 2 yr old son to rub mama's back).
- Keep paying off those credit cards! Good for you. CANCEL them when you're done so you aren't tempted to use them again!

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answers from Columbia on

avoid eating out
use coupons to buy my necessary food @ the grocery store

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answers from Kansas City on

COUPONS!!! :) Sell Stuff! Have a garage sale or sell stuff on consignment.

Hold a neighborhood or church trade. I have heard these are very successful! Get a bunch of people together and have a theme (mens clothes, womens clothes, kids clothes, accessories, toys, games, etc) and set them all out. Everyone takes a turn to get ONE item until all items are gone. Or you can have whoever brings three items take away three new items, and whoever brought five items takes five away, etc.

You can have a monthly theme, or just everyone bring whatever. Make your own rules, set up a date, and trade away! You won't spend money on new "stuff" and the ever-changing variety will keep kids (and adults) entertained, clothed, and happy.

Blessings and good luck!

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answers from Kansas City on

Make Money and Save Money by selling your kid's clothes and toys at children's consignment sales. You can make several hundreds, even thousands by selling your nice quality outgrown children's items at these sales, such as Kid's Closet Connection, There are sales all over the country. Also, shop for your kid's clothing at these sales and save 60-90% off retail prices. It is a great way to make money and save money! You can't beat it!

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