Saving money-I Need Tips!

Updated on June 03, 2011
S.K. asks from Minneapolis, MN
22 answers

Hello! My 3.5 year old and 14 mth old sons have been going to daycare at my mom's house (she runs an in-home daycare) since they were about 4 months old.My 3.5 yr old will be starting preschool in the fall and then pre-K the following year since he is a 9-11 baby. We have done a lot of research and found a school we love. but now we are realzing how good (cheap!) we had it sending him to my mom's. For the next few years we are going to be spending more on preschool and I need your best money-saving advice.

We have one car payment (my van), no cable, no cell phone for my DH (and a pretty cheap plan for me), don't spend a lot on clothes, haven't been on vacation since 3.5 year old was born....Where can I cut back?


2 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Waterloo on

Usually the best place for people to cut back is food. Less eating out. Packing lunches. Good luck!

More Answers



answers from Omaha on

Read Dave Ramsey's "Total Financial Freedom."

More ideas you can start today:
--raise the temp of your thermostat a 2-3 degrees (make the house warmer in the summer, cooler in the winter)
--air dry laundry every other week
--shorten showers; lower the temp setting on your water heater
--convert light bulbs to CFL or LED as they need replacing
--carpool, walk, or bike when possible
--buy generic or store brand
--raise insurance deductibles
--garage sale/craigslist/ebay anything you no longer need
--ask neighbors/family to donate the coupons they get in the Sunday paper and do not plan to use
--check out store web sites for free coupons or sign up for email coupons/offers prior to shopping (,, etc)
--look for kids resale/consignment shops for clothing
--it may be cheaper to get your DH a cell phone and get rid of your land line
--if things get really tight, cut the cell phone and internet until things get better

good luck!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

We cut back on expenses when I got laid off from my job and then promptly got pregnant! We looked at our bank statement (online, of course) at everything we spend money on and made a list of it. Then we started brainstorming each expenditure and how we could either make that purchase smaller or cut it out entirely.

My husband and I both stopped going to coffee places saving us $300 per month. I wasn't so exhausted so I started cooking dinner every night and packing his lunch every day.....that also saved hundreds! I also went on a strict grocery budget and started couponing. That helps a ton. I'm not an extreme couponer but I routinely save $20 or so each week with coupons!

We cut back on our cable plan and get less channels now, saving us $90 a month! When we want to watch something special, we try to find it on netflix. But even with basic cable we still get allt he shows we like watching.

We refinanced our home saving us $200 on our mortgage payment each month.

We stopped taking things to the drycleaners that don't have to be drycleaned, like my husband's work shirts. I didn't like to iron so I took them in so they'd get pressed! No more of that!

We adjusted our heat and A/C by 3 degrees each way in the appropriate season (example, in the summer, we used to set the temp at 68, we changed it to 72) and that surprisingly saved a BUNDLE!!

We had a ton of things we kept intending to put on Craig's list to sell and we finally did that too. Not only did we make a little cash but we finally got things cleaned out of our house! Then we also held a garage sale to get rid of the rest. Any straggling items after that went to salvation army and we got a tax write off for everything.

Hope this is helpful to you!

I forgot one more thing.........we unplug all our small appliances and electronics when they are not in use. Cell phone chargers, coffee maker, toaster, etc. Even when you are not using them, keeping them plugged in is creating a charge and using electricity. It's a good way to help save money too! (and safer if there is a storm anyway)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsfield on

When we needed to start cutting down on spending, the area I found easiest to save $ on was groceries.

We usually get our sale flyers in the mail on Wed. or Thurs. I compare the sale prices at both of the grocery stores I shop @, and make a list for each store.

I also go through my coupons and try to match them with sales. Even if I don't need toothpaste that particular week, for example, and I notice it's on sale AND I have a coupon, I can often get it from anywhere between 30 cents to free.

This week, there were 3 double your dollar off coupons in the sale flyer. I got Ocean Spray Blueberry Juice for free because it was on sale for $1.99 and I had a $1 coupon that they doubled.
I got $178 worth of groceries for $108 this week :)

I usually find the best coupons in the Sunday paper, although I get some on the internet too. I will generally buy 2 or 3 papers, because I typically save at least $20/ week, so it's worth the $3 or $4 for the papers. A lot of the internet coupons I've found are for smaller amounts off, and can't be doubled.

I also look to see what meats are on sale each week, and come up w/ a meal plan based on what's on sale. Usually every other week we have a breakfast-for-supper night w/ pancakes and sometimes bacon &eggs. I usually do something w/ pasta once a week too.

Another thing that has helped A LOT is to go grocery shopping Thurs. eves after supper (new sale starts Thurs. @ the store I go to and it's payday). I go by myself- DH handles bedtime w/ the kids, and I take my sweet time ;) Pathetic as it is, it has become my favorite night of the week!

The benefits, other than the getting out of the house by myself, that is (lol), is that there are hardly any other customers there so I can take my time, compare prices- sometimes things are on sale or clearance that weren't listed in the flyer, so I can go through my coupon organizer and see if I can get the item even cheaper (I often can). Not having kids with me makes this possible- plus I don't have any "please mommy, can I get this?!!"

Anyway, hope it helps. Good luck!! :)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If you own your home, I would refinance the house to ensure you are getting the lowest interest rate and payment...only do this if you plan on staying in your home more than 5 years.

If you have Starbucks - stop going. That will save you $5 a day, if not more.
If you don't take your lunches to work - start packing a lunch - that will save you on average, $50 per week per person.

If you can pay your car off - do. If there is any equity in it - more than you owe - trade it in on a car that you can use and not cost you in monthly payments.
Stop using credit cards. It's hard - but it CAN be done. We are debt free (only the mortgage and we make 13 payments on it a year so we are paying it off faster).
Turn lights off around the house.
Keep the thermostat set at 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter.
Instead of turning the heater up in the winter - layer up.
in the summer - use ceiling fans or floor fans to help circulate the air so you don't feel the need to turn the AC lower.
Close the drapes during the day if you are not home so the sun will not "bake" the house...
use coupons for anything and everything - dry cleaning, gas, of our grocery stores here in the DC area is tying their customer card with Shell gas and you can get up to 40cents a gallon off....
there is more...but my brain is slowing down...

hope these help!


Okay- second wind.....
1. If you aren't using it/haven't touched it in six months - sell it or donate it.
2. Still have baby clothes? Sell them on ebay or on craigslist.
3. go through the rooms in the house and scan for items you do NOT need - purge the house - have a yard sale and get instant cash. If you make enough money on it - use that to pay a credit card or buy meat/groceries that you can freeze store.
4. make a menu for the week and shop off that menu. DO NOT impulse buy. if your grocery store does on-line ordering and delivery - do it. You CAN use coupons.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Not sure where you can cut back...but when you find out, you might want to start with our trick...when we first staring saving we literally took whatever $ we had extra for that pay period and withdrew it in cash money and locked in our gun safe! :) We needed to physically do this so we could save it. Now we are better at it and can just transfer it to our savings but boy was it hard in the beginning :)

Good Luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

If your mom can keep watching him, I don't know why you are sending him. He's already with other kids. You can take him to playgroups or even just to parks and indoor play-grounds yourself to see how he does with other children. There's a very good online preschool you can do yourself and mom can put him on during the day if she has high-speed. It's only 20 per month and it's

It's really NOT necessary to send a child to preschool. Those places are simply big places to play with lots of kids and staff. But the actual education isn't something your mom and you shouldn't be doing anyway. Kids learn in spurts. They don't have long attention spans at this point. The number ONE thing you can do at this age is require him to color, cut, build, or play with whatever he's doing for at least 20 minutes before you let him change activities. Teach him to pick up after himself after EACH activity and before he moves on. Give him lots of instructions 1-3 instructions at a time and teach him to follow your instructions. If your child can do these things, has exposure to phonics, understands the mechanics of words in a story, then he's fine.

I have never learned how to save money and I wish I had. I haven't been able to help my girls with college. You guys would be much better off taking the extra money you plan to spend and putting it in the bank for whatever your family ends up needing it for.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Hmmm, stay home and start your OWN in-home daycare?


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Sounds like you are already cutting back! Good for you!

Meal planning has helped me not buy unnecessary items. I also signed up to get online coupons from my local grocery store and probably once a quarter they send me coupons for free items.

Use cloth napkins when you eat instead of paper towels or paper napkins. Use cloth towels/sponges instead of paper towels when you clean.

Check your doors and windows for air leaks and plug em up. Can save you hundreds throughout the year in heating/cooling bills.

Grow your own veggies.

Compare shop for cheaper auto insurance.

Find a bank, credit cards with lower interest rates.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

Good suggestions so far, and more to come Im sure. I try to come and go out the front door instead of pushing the button on the garage door and letting electricity do the work. We dont park in the garage so why did I get so lazy and start using that big old door to come and go anyway? Defrost the freezer if it needs. It will run more efficiently. If you dont need a big freezer then just keep frozen stuff in the freezer section of the fridge and stop using the freezer in the garage. Dont open the fridge too often. Do one meal a week without meat. Or cook 2 chickens one night and plan one for the next night cold, in salad or sandwiches,,no reheating. Summer is coming so its perfect to start making green salads be your meal. BBQ outside so you dont heat the house up with the oven. Walk where you can instead of drive. Combine trips for things. If you are cooking and find you need an item, see if you can borrow from a neighbor and then pick up their replacement when you have to go shopping so you dont make a special trip right then. Offer to share trips to the store with a neighbor so you only drive half as often.Dont flush the toilet everytime you go. You pay for what goes into the house and for what sewage goes out. This saves you twice. Also one time when our A/C went out, It was 115 out and I got the squirt bottle of water and sprayed myself till I was petty damp. Wearing a wet tshirt and shorts kept me a lot cooler until the A/C was fixed. Try turning yours off and see if you can do this. Unplug small appliances when not using them. What a pain, but they say it saves electricty. I do like Theresa's idea best.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

This is a goldmine of cost-saving info!

I'm still learning too, but one thing that really helped us was to increase the deductibles on my husband's W-2. He gets $200 more on every paycheck now and we still get a tax return (smaller) at the end of the year. The government doesn't pay you interest, so you should increase your deductibles.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

find an independent insurance agent and ask them to shop your home and auto insurance. you don't have to wait until renewal. rates very greatly by insurance company and on average I can save my clients $100 or more per month. Also, downsize, get rid of stuff you don't need, like, love anymore and have a garage sale, that really helps and not only puts cash in your pocket but you can't go wrong with getting rid of some clutter!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Another way to cut back on the grocery bill is once monthly shopping. It's quite impressive how much you can save by only doing one big shopping trip a month. The only exception to this rule is for dairy and produce items.

If you're able: walk, bike or take the kids in a stroller/wagon to the store when you need milk, produce, etc. It will be fine for the trip home if you bring a cooler with ice packs in it. I see you're in Minneapolis (I'm in the south metro), so I'm not sure of your neighborhood which would determine your ability/safety to walk to the store.

If you eat meat, check out Greg's Meats in Hampton (or another local butcher if you can). An absolutely amazing butcher shop. We've split a pig with neighbors, friends and coworkers and Greg's has super good deals on ground beef, I want to say this is quarterly. We just bought and split up over 100lbs of ground beef for about $2.59/lb, very low fat content and it doesn't even need to be drained when you brown it!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

A lot of great suggestions so far! Here's my 2 cents.

If you have a landline phone, switch to Vonage basic service which goes thru your computer. We have it and love it--very cheap.

Use consignment stores/Craig's List to sell your clothes and kids clothes and toys. Buy all toys and clothes at area rummage sales.

Get different quotes on all insurances you carry. We saved 45% by switching from Allstate to Geico years ago. Raise deductibles if possible.

Carpool if possible.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Sounds like you are already abeing quite frugal. But here's a couple more thoughts:
shop ALDI if you have it in your area.
I give my children haircuts ~ a $20 kit pays for itself in one month.
I make my own b-day cakes.
sell clothes at a consignment shop.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

you got some great advice

on the other car ONLY if it's an older car, you can look into getting liability car insurance BUT do this only if it's not worth much.

also if you eat beef regularly you can buy a 1/4 cow for much more reasonable than buying at the store and its better quality. We recently did this & it will save us $900 a year.

Also maybe get rid of the house phone & just get cell phones



answers from Sioux Falls on

Some great tips here for saving money but i would agree that you might not need the pre-school. My twins did not go to pre-school (we wanted to send them but just couldn't afford to send two kids) and have just completed kindergarten and they did fine. I asked my older daughter's kindergarten teacher her opinion and she said they do fine with or without it. They learned coloring, cutting, glueing etc at home with me. We also played matching games and counting games and sang the ABCs. I taught them how to write their names and tie their shoes. You might consider just the pre-k year and staying with your mom's daycare for this year.

Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

A great website to go to for savings tips that is based in the Minneapolis area too is:
The site coordinator matches the weekly ads to all coupons that come through the local newspapers, and mail flyers (like Rainbow and Cub) in a section called Shopping Lists. She has a base list of prices for common goods. She posts the sale and coupon policies of each store. There are also sections for freebies and local deals. You'll love the site.
I'm not sure what county/school district you are in, but Anoka-Hennepin has a grace period for entering Kindergarten. The official cut-off date is September 1st but they will make exceptions for children born up to October 31st; I believe they may have to have a readiness screening though. Unfortunately, but daughter is still 5 weeks short of that grace period and I do have to wait an extra year.



answers from Minneapolis on

Just wanted to mention that any good pre-school is going to be all about learning thru play so if your mother is able to do that at her in home care (are there enough kids his age to do age related activities??) then I would hold off sending him to pre-school until the pre K year.



answers from Minneapolis on

Look at the money you do spend, and think about what you would do if you just didn't have that money. What would be the first thing to go? What would be the last? At the same time, look at where you find joy in your life. What ways can you find joy that don't cost money? For example, if you eat out or go to movies, are there other ways you can have fun? Look at the things you think you need, and imagine what people in a different country might think about these "needs." But it is important to maintain a sense of joy and satisfaction. Find ways to spend less without going into a feeling of deprivation. Make it fun! How many times can we use this aluminum foil before we have to recycle it?



answers from Milwaukee on

just wanted to say don't switch to CFL lightbulbs with kids. My 2 and 4 year love turing lights on and off and this is bad for CFL. I switched to all CFL to save money and my electric bill went up!!! Because it takes tons of energy to turned them on.Only use them if you turn lights on and LEAVE on. Like outdoor lights and such. So it is old fashion incandescant for us. We actually save more money becuse we are crazy about turning lights off when leaving a room.
Buy clothes at rummage sales or see if you can get hand me downs from someone. I get handme downs from my sister in law and buy very little (almost none) clothes.
Buy things when on sale and stock up, so you aren't of need of that item when it isn't on sale. Couponing can save a ton. Make meals in double batches and freeze half. (save money, time and energy, buying food in bulk you can save) I found investing a little money in a stand up freezer paid for itself from buying meat on sale and making food in big batches. (lots of freezer meals cookbooks)
We almost never eat out, we have leftover night once a week, no waste, saves money. For easy meal nights, make grill cheese and soup or Sloppy joes. Using credit cards is fine if you pay them off and can get rebates that add up. Target red card and save 5% on every purchase. Once you start looking for was to save money, you keep finding more.
Good luck.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions