What Are You Doing to save Money in These Tough Economic Times?

Updated on January 12, 2009
K.H. asks from Saint John, IN
23 answers

There is a limit to how low I can put my thermostat. I've found a few ways to save money but thought all of you might have some great ideas to share. My friend was able to save on her T-Mobile cell service. Another saved on his Sprint service. I've found a few savings on groceries. My son found some savings on tires. What have you done?

K. Hall

10 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 Chicago on

Readers Digest website has some great tips!

We have found that creating a budget and using the envelope really saves us money. We find that when we pay in cash it really stops you from spending money.

I buy some of my son's clothes on ebay also. When you buy a "lot" you save on shipping.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Chicago on

K. - Thanks for posing this question - I am always looking for these kinds of tips. Here's what I'm doing (although I have a great job and good pay, I'm very tight due to fertility treatment costs):

1. Get any kid gifts from Freecycle.org - this is a free Web site, where you type in your ZIP code and register for listservs in your area where people give away stuff they don't want. It's great - keeps stuff out of landfills and gets stuff to people who need it. For Xmas, I got about 40 gifts from freecyclers. All like brand new - stuffed animals, purses, jewelry boxes, picture frames, books. I didn't spend a cent!

2. Check the Illinois unclaimed money site from the Illinois treasurer's office: http://www.treasurer.il.gov/programs/cash-dash/Owner/Owne... - I was on there yesterday and although I didn't find any for me, I found money owed to my deceased grandfather, my grandmother, my deceased great aunt and my younger brother.

3. If my boss takes me out to lunch, I always get something big that will last two meals and take half home for dinner.

4. When my company has staff lunches there is always leftover food, I will put some away for lunch the next day or take some home for dinner.

5. I shop at resale shops. I recently got some like new socks for .25 each and got some clothes for my nieces b-days that were like new but cost between $1.50 and $4 a piece for shirts.

6. Dominicks has a great clearance meat section. When meats are reaching their expiration dates, they mark down the prices very cheap. I recently got some ground beef for .99/lb. and some chuck roast for 1.99/lb. Then I just freeze them.

7. Spring Brook Market on Geneva Road has the cheapest produce and deli prices around. You can get cheeses sometimes for $1.99/lb!

8. Check out Craigslist.com - they have a free section where people give stuff away, they also have a barter section where you can get someone to trade you goods or services for something you have to offer and people sell stuff there cheap. In October, I bartered my 99 Escort in exchange for a painter to paint my house and garage exterior. (i'd bought my grams' old car.)

9. Coupon clipping is always helpful. At my job, we created a coupon bowl where people can put coupons they don't want and get coupons they need. You could do this at a church or anywhere.

10. Sign up for Mary Hunt's Cheapskate newsletter at www.debtproofliving.com - people give great tips there for saving money.

11. More home cooking - trying to have more prepared meals so during the week I have stuff made and am not tempted to eat out, order pizza, pick up Chinese food, etc.

12. I have a boarder - I'm single and have a large house, so I rent out a room. Been doing this for years - I charge $500 and half the utitilities. I find all my roommates on www.roommates.com.

13. Use the library to rent DVDs for super cheap - like a $1 a rental and to check out books instead of buying.

14. Check out www.bankrate.com for the cheapest rates on home mortgages, CDs, credit cards, money market and checking accounts. I found my mortgage here six years ago (5.13 percent 30 year fixed), my money market(online account with highest interest rates around), and a zero percent interest credit card.

15. Make home made cleaning products - vinegar and water is great for cleaning windows and mirrors; baking soda is a great cleanser. And you're not getting all the chemicals.

16. Get a programmable thermostat so you can set it to automatically go down at night when you're sleeping or when you're not home. I used to have a regular thermostat and sometimes I'd forget to turn it down when I left the house, or I'd get home and the house would be freezing. Now mine's set to come on 30 minutes before I get home - love it! And they're very, very easy to install. I did it myself.

17. Buy juices in frozen concentrates that you mix with water- it's much cheaper.

18. Consider buying appliances gently used off of someone on www.craigslist.com. My dishwasher recently went kaput (15 years old) and someone recommended I check out craigslist. People often get rid of appliances just because they're redoing their kitchen. I got a dishwasher for $200 that was 2 years old and had only been used part time by a guy who traveled a lot. It's great and matches my kitchen. Save a lot of $ there.

That's all I have!

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Hi K.,
Have you heard of www.Freecycle.org yet? Just about every community has a group (I started ours four years ago!), and the idea is that everything is free and saved from landfill. You offer things you no longer need, and can get things you do. It's been great for us. I love finding people that need things I have, and love getting things for free.
Check it out! I always check there first before purchasing.



3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We decided as a family to join "the compact" this year. It is an informal agreement in an online community that you won't buy anything new, with a few exceptions such as food, toiletries, safety items.
Basically, you exhaust your resources to get things used before buying new. It helps you save money and you have the added benefit of reusing and recycling and thinking creatively. For gifts and for the kids, instead of buying THINGS, we have decided to spend our $ on experiences that they will enjoy- tickets to a baseball game for example.

Even though we have not followed it to the exact letter, it has really helped us curb the clutter and the impulse buys and save for the things that really matter to us.

Hope this helps. Love this question!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

There is lots of ways to save but you can't always save as much as you would like. For groceries try www.couponbug.com and Aldi's is always a great store to go but remember they are not always the cheapest, you really need to know your prices.
We also have a air tight fireplace and burn wood to heat our house a good portion of the day. We also have the thermostat turned down lower at night and use electric blankets on the bed.
I started scheduling my trips out of town or even around town. No need to do extra driving when it is not needed. Also I believe is share riding we available.
Another thing I have found is always make sure you have a full load of wash before you do a load. You waste a lot of water and energy when you do not have a load. Also if you already do not have a front load washer, next time you need to get one buy a front load. Uses 1/2 the water, is easier on your closest and you use a lot less soap. Also if you use liquid detergent it is actually a better value to buy powder. Did you know over 1/2 your liquid detergent is water. Make the switch.
If you have cable TV, internet and cell phone and home phone. Try getting them all through the same company and save on bundling them all together. Example: AT&T will bundle Cable, Internet and Cell Phone or Land Line. You get one bill and can save up to 25%. Also if you have cell phone you do not need to necessarily have a land line and you surly do not need long distance because cell phones no longer charge roam in the lower 48 states. Another thing you can consider with cell phones is if your adult children all have cell phones, you all combined your plans into one plan. I know with Cingular/AT&T after the original plan is purchased up to 4 lines can be added on for $9.99. You all share the minutes and split the cost of the total bill.
When thinking of buying clothes, think long and hard before purchasing an item. Do you really need it or do you have enough clothes already.
If you go out to eat often consider cutting back on that or look for offers. Go to the different websites and look for coupons. Some credit cards offer you a percent back if you use their CC at certain restaurants. Don't be afraid to use coupons if you have them when you dine out.
At our house we decided not to buy soda or any kind of alcohol beverages. That can cut a big chunk out of your budget. If you smoke consider quitting because that is a very expensive habit. It is hard habit to quit but 19 years ago I quite and I smoked 2 packs a day at that time. Found out I was pregnant and quit that day. So any one can quit if I could.
With Spring right around the corner, if you have a lawn service you might want to do your lawn yourself this year. We decided to do our own fertilizing and weed control ourselves this year. I love my lawn service but I do not have the couple hundred dollars that it costs.
Every 6 months review your car insurance and check for the best value. I have Pekin Insurance for our car insurance and we had State Farm prior. When we added on our son State Farm did not give as good of a student discount as Pekin. In December I checked with Gieco, Safe Auto, Progressive and a couple other insurances but Pekin give us the best deal and our agent is local. Do the same with you house insurance. Some insurance companies prefer newer homes and some prefer old homes. Check out for the best deal.
Check Accounts: You should not be paying any kind of fees to have a personal checking account, if you are change your bank. You should not be charged to do a transaction at an ATM if it one of there machines.
Credit Cards: Try to get the card company to lower your rate if you do not pay off your card every month. Give them a call, it can't hurt.
I could go on and on because my husband is a carpentry and things are really tough right now and we have learned how to cut back. In fact I will be attending a class at our local library in the Spring on how to save more money when you shop.
As a Christian you know the Lord always has a plan and he is always good. Just keep praying and he will help show you the way.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

There are some great ideas on here, I will definitely check some of them out.

The BIGGEST thing you can do to save money - if you have balances on your credit cards, call them up and tell them you received an offer from (insert any credit card company name here) and they are offering you 0% interest for a year to transfer your balance with 4.9% APR after the year is up. Tell them if they can match that offer you will stay with them - 99% of the time they will! Now you just lowered your interest and monthly payments considerably.

We started shopping at Woodman's in North Aurora about 2 years ago. It's about 20-25 minutes drive for us, but I only go grocery shopping once every 3-4 weeks. I write down a menu for the whole month and plan out the meals, then go to Woodmans and spend about $300 per MONTH for a family of 3. Their prices are in many cases less than 1/2 of Jewel and even Aldi sometimes.

I spend part of the day on Saturday cooking meals for the whole week - crock pot items like beef stew nad spaghetti sauce, and make large pans of things like mostacolli. I used to cook up 10-12 chicken breasts and some baked potatoes too, then just reheat them for lunches and dinners.

Eliminating the home phone is a good way to save, unless you have an alarm system which needs the signal. Most people have cell phones with much better packages than the phone company. We cut out all extra items like Terminex, TruGreen, etc.

It's really hard to bunch everything together sometimes, but I try to only run errands once per week, and make a map of my destinations so that I just go in a big circle to save gas and time.

Coupon clipping is a must, and I buy a lot of store brand generics (like instead of Claritin I buy the Costco brand, or instead of Mucinex I buy the Walgreens brand). This saves hundreds of dollars per year; they all have the EXACT same ingredients!

I also try to buy a lot of items at Costco. Pullups are $35 for a box of 90 at Costco (that's 3 times the size of the Target box for $20). Why spend $2 for a box of Kleenex when you can get 12 boxes for $14 (that's a savings of $10)?

Lots of ways to save. I'm definitely going to check out some of the recommended websites that were posted here. Thanks mamas!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

It's very interesting to see everyone's responses! We are doing the same as some of you. We turn down the thermastat during the day. We got all new windows in the spring which is really helping right now. We try not to order out or eat out. We also switched to purchasing all of household products on-line which has really saved money, not only have the products been very cost effective (ahd great to use) but I'm not going to Target and getting a ton of stuff I really don't need. I couldn't walk out that store with spending $100!!! For switching stores you can always request information from me if you want at www.livetotalwellness.com/jodihorsley.

Thanks for posting this K.!


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Hi K.,

Call your television service provider if you have one and ask for a lower rate. You'd be suprised to see what they will do to keep your business. Tell them you're considering switching to another company - look up some other offers so you have examples of what other companies will provide.

Do the same with your internet provider...often times you can get a reduced rate by asking. If they won't just reduce your rate - revisit the packages you have and scale them down.

If you carry balances on credit cards...shop around. We put everything we by on our American Express Card unless the merchant doesn't exept it - for two big reasons.
1) You have to pay the balance each month so you don't over-spend.
2) You earn points/rewards that are excellent if you to your homework on the program.

I look forward to seeing what others have to say. Great post!

Happy New Year!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We managed to save some on our gas bill. We put up a removable clothes line outside and I hang up as much as I can in the basement on drying racks. I only really use the dryer for sheets, towels and undergarments. I do my daughters' laundry on different days than mine and my husband's, that way I have enough room for the clothes. We do the budget plan and they re-evaluate the plan a couple times a year. Our monthly payment was cut in half. Every penny counts.




answers from Chicago on

Here is what we do. Other than saving in the typical ways already listed:

Every month everyone in the family decides what they can go without that month. One month my son gave up McDonald's, Burger King etc. I gave up buying decorations for the house, my husband gave up Starbucks.

Each month we change our thing that we can live without. It is amazing how easily we can live without that thing and then no longer miss it. My son actually gave up fast food back in Oct and we have not been there since because he doesn't think about it anymore. While this sounds silly it changes how you think about purchases and has saved us a ton of money.

We also limit our going out to eat to once a month. It makes us really think, Is this where we want to go this month, is it worth it?

I only run errands to Walmart etc when I am out near them anyway. I keep a running list in my purse of what we need from each of those stores and only buy what is on it, nothing else. It keeps those short little trips that start as: Hey, let's go to Target and get a __________. By the time I get to Target I forgot I wanted that item.



answers from Chicago on

HI K.,

A great way to improve your financial situation is to supplement the household income, with a home-based business! Many young mothers are able to help support the family and still stay home with their children, sometimes actually replacing a full time position out of the home. Others, like me, are retired and bring in a monthly income! I love my home busiiness!
Check out my website and feel free to contact me.





answers from Chicago on

We cancelled our home phone line and just use our cell phones now and we also downgraded to just basic cable. It saves us around $100 a month.



answers from Chicago on

Hi K.....We had to cut back alot since Sept due to me having brain surgery and my husband having a work related injury. So what we did was cut our home phone to just basic service.(no voicemail,callerID,no call waiting etc.) We also have Dish Network so I cut that back some. We buy food in bulk when we can and shop at Aldi for can goods and someother things. I also check online for who has the cheapest gas in my area. This seems to help since gas is back up right now! Anyway I can cut back right now I do it.My kids know that we cant go to the movies or eat out all the time like we used to or buy toys and if they want those things, they have to save their own money they get to buy them. Good Luck.



answers from Chicago on

Some people have suggested Woodmans and I agree! We've cut our grocery bill in half shopping there and we didn't have to change brands or anything. For example, juice at Jewel is $3.99 per bottle. The SAME BRAND OF JUICE is $1.39 at Woodmans! Our Kraft salad dressing is $3.99 at Jewel and at only $1.99 at Woodmans.

Mostly we saved on food, stopping going out to eat and eating up our leftovers. We got those glass Pyrex food savers because glass is safer than plastic. Even if it's just a little dab of food left we still save it (when in the past we'd throw it away) because it makes great snacks!

When we do go out to eat we don't order drinks because that jacks up the price REALLY QUICK! Instead I bring my own tea bags and ask for a cup of hot water (free!). For our daughter (7) we bring those Kool-aid packs or Emergen-c and put it in her water. However, many times the drink comes with the kids' meal.

I bought cute snack containers at The Container Store. I bring the snacks with when we go out shopping so we're not tempted to buy cookies, pretzels, pop, etc. It's been very h*** o* my DD because she really wants chips from the vending machine instead of chips from our home in a baggie. Or she wants pop from the store, not juice in our container. I've been really working to break her from the idea that store-bought items are better than those from home.

Another thing I did is I DE-CLUTTERED! I found things that I didn't know I had (lightbulbs, batteries, a full tissue box) that I would have had to go out and buy. Also, getting rid of clutter opened up my flows so I could receive. So many times I think we start hoarding when times are tough when we should be flowing outward and helping one another. I gave my old working coffee maker away, an unused set of flatware and a computer scanner. I got free thank-you cards for my wedding and wrapping paper flowed back to me from another source. YAY!



answers from Chicago on

We cut our paper delivery to Sunday's only (gotta get the Sunday coupons!) and dropped the extra 100 channels on our cable.

Subscribe to electronic coupons at Jewel (but shop for dry items at Walmart).

We're all bringing lunch to work/school at least 3-4 times a week.

Consider car-pooling to work or sporting/afterschool activities.

Aside from that I would do everyting that Leslie C said - she's got her act together!!!



answers from Chicago on

Awesome Post! I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's tips. What I started in 2008 was doing some of my grocery shopping at Aldi. I started small with staples to "test drive" whether or not we liked the food. And after awhile, I got a little braver and tried some new things. So far, there are only 2 things that I've come across that we don't like (the really cheap American cheese and a cheeseburger pizza), everything else is just as good and way cheaper than you big grocery stores. I've heard from some people that the produce is not as good, but in my experience, while they don't have as big of a selection as the grocery store it's just as good. I just went there today and spent $114 on a full grocery cart of food. I then went to Jewel to pick up some things that Aldi did not have and spent $79 without even covering the bottom of my cart. Hey, for those of you that aren't sure. Just check it out and try a few things...and don't forget your quarter for a cart :)



answers from Chicago on

Save a ton on groceries when you purchase family packs of meat (when on sale only).Split the packages by the pieces you need per meal and freeze for the next time you make it (like chicken pieces). Buy hamburger on sale the same way. Family size, 2 packages. Split 1 in half for two seperate packs to be frozen (1 for chili 1 for tacos or something another day). The other package you form in 10-12 hamburger patties and freeze individually for when you only need 3-4 or 6 at a time. Veggies? Buy frozen for fresh flavor and a price when on sale that can't be beat. The same with canned goods. If cranberries are $2.00 a bag think of what you'll save when you buy the Ocean Spray on sale for $.99. Buy 4 and store in the pantry; they last forever. You can serve them with any poltry dish not just turkey. Homemade gravy, a frozen veggie side- dinner! Frozen spinach is the best. 1 box is like equalivent to cooking 3 bags of fresh, and it's ready to roll. Just defrost and wring out the water and mix in omlets (a little garlic salt & pepper), a veggie pasta course, a veggie mixed side dish, etc. Versatility is endless. Check the newspaper fliers every week to see exactly what's on sale and where and do you shopping on one day to save gas. Put this way of life in yours. You'll be excited to use coupons from the paper and in-store and save a bundle. Don't buy what you won't use or things that can spoil. Have fun. By the way, I have U.S. Cellular. All incoming calls are free; family with the same carrier calls are free; texting is unlimited for $5.00 a month. Reception is awesome. You can't beat it.



answers from Chicago on

I get 95% of my staples at Aldi. I love the place. Most everything my family has tried is great. When my husband was laid off for 8 months it saved us a bundle and we just kept going there.

We cut off the cable...that saved us a pretty penny. We go to the library and get movies from there for the kids and we get tv series on DVD for mom and dad. Then if we want to see something new we rent from Red Box...movies are $1.
Not only does it save us money not having cable programming, but our kids are smarter and doing 100% better in their studies. My husband and I get WAY more accomplished around the house since we aren't wasting an hour or more everyday in front of the boob tube. My kids don't bug us for this and that because they don't see commercials. And my girls are sweet little things because they don't see all the garbage on tv even on the commercials and kids channels.

My mother-in-law finds brand new clothes at the thrift store for $2 to $5 dollars. At church everyone always comments on how well dressed my girls are and almost all their clothes come from the thrift store.

I found a formula on the internet for grass fertilizer and that costs pennies on the dollar compared to the store bought stuff or even having a service.

I cook most of our meals from scratch because it is cheaper than buying boxed, frozen, or canned items already prepared.

No junk food like twinkies, chips or hostess cupcakes in the kids lunches.

I buy Suave products for our hair because they work great.

I always check-out the clearance sections at Target and Walmart when I'm there because I often find stuff like deodarant, paper products, and school supplies for cheap.

I have made the effort to start seed in the house to plant in the spring in the past when I don't have a little one to get into my seed trays. That saves a huge amount of money if you do any landscaping or gardening.

I cut my own hair because I have to use a curling iron anyway and that hides any slight imperfections I make. I let my girls hair grow out (no bangs to keep trimmed) so that I wouldn't have to take them to the salon...mommy can't cut straight bangs.

I always hand down clothes to my little one...because she doesn't care...she's only four.

If we want to eat out, we head to the food court at Costco. Wow what a deal on pizza slices, ceasar salad, hot dogs and polish sausages.

Well that's all I can think of at the moment. My mother tells everyone that I've always been able to stretch a dollar out of a dime. My brother just says I'm a penny pincher...whatever. It's amazing what my husband and I have been able to afford on one income.



answers from Chicago on

Ours are no-brainers but, we virtually stopped eating take-out and we are doing our best to stretch the groceries that we do buy. We drink more tap water and less soft drinks and bottled water. Washing only full loads of laundry to save water and detergent rather than washing smaller loads. We certainly drive less than we used to even though the price of gas has gone down. More use of the weekend/night minutes on the cells rather than using the land line. With all of the utility companies, I am on the budget plan.I know it seems silly to have a $125 gas bill in the summer, but when it's also $125 in winter for this house, I am OK with that. It works out and since I know what to expect from the bill each month, there's no big shocks when I open it. It's all stuff we took for granted until we realized how much it was really costing us.



answers from Chicago on

Hi K.-

Great post! I don't have much to add, but one of the biggest things that saves our family money is making meals from scratch. It's doable if you plan ahead, especially if you use the weekend to make things that you can put in the freezer for later use. I shop at Costco for a lot of items (the biggest bargains: meat and dairy - I use the Reynolds vacuum sealer to seal meat that I buy in bulk before putting it in the freezer). Other than that, I buy store brand whenever possible. I've found that the best quality store brands are Kirkland and Meijer - I think that the quality is just as good as the pricier name brands. Good luck and happy savings!



answers from Chicago on

1) I buy only the number of slices of lunch meat/cheese that make our lunches for a week. I will then go buy more if we run low. I was throwing lunch meat away all of the time, and at 7.00 a lb, I am saving money this way. We have a store 1/2 mile from my house, so the trip is not expensive.
2) I have planned all of my trips for the time before or after taking the kiddo to school.
3)I have switched to "Cash" instead of credit. When I am out of cash at the end of the week, I try not to buy anything. We don't carry balances, but it is easy to spend 100-200 a week on a credit card and not add it up.
4) I plan dinners to re-use leftovers in the next meal (that was the big waste in our family). We also have one night called Leftover Delight Night where we offer all of the foods that don't make a meal for all, but make a meal. Ex: Hubby ate pizza, I ate chili and my daughter ate roast leftovers. We make a salad and are done.
5) I called Direct TV and got discounts on movie channels by telling them I wanted to cancel because I couldn't afford them.

Good luck! I am looking forward to reading the many ideas!



answers from Chicago on

There are some great ideas that the other moms have given you! I know a lot of people said shopping at Aldi, but if you live by a Woodman's, I would say go there. We found that they are actually cheaper than Aldi. We buy most of the Shur-Fine products, which are a lot cheaper.

Also, we have gotten rid of our cable to where we only have the basic channels and very few family-friendly channels. We cut our bill in half.

Another thing I will recommend is getting your cleaning products at the dollar store. They work just as good ~ and in some cases better ~ than the other more expensive brands. In fact, check out the dollar store for groceries, too. Their cereals are really good!

It's a tough time out there for everyone, but I know that not living above our means is helping us immensely. We try our best not to put anything on a credit card and if we don't need it, we don't buy it.

Happy New Year and happy saving!



answers from Chicago on

Hi K.,

I have 2 businesses and both can assist people with saving money:

1) Tupperware® - there is currently a huge sale on Modular Mates at 40% off. These are great for people that buy in bulk. They increase the storage time of products and keep them fresh. Modular Mates eliminate waste, space, money.

2) Homemade Gourmet®- Our 4 meals in 4 minutes™ Collections provide you with the tools you need to make meal planning and grocery shopping simple. Statistics show that when families have a meal plan for gathering around the dinner table, they eat fresher, more healthful meals and while spending more time together... spend LESS money on groceries!

We have an interesting concept called smoosh meals; they are easy, inexpensive, healthy and come in a nice variety of different flavors. Can be prepared in a crock pot, baked or grilled. Average cost per meal for 4 can be around $5.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions

Related Searches