What Is Your Number One Way of Saving Money?

Updated on July 15, 2011
T.F. asks from Pleasanton, CA
21 answers

Wondering what gets the most bang for your buck so to speak. I've found clipping coupons not to bring a lot of results for us. I don't use a lot of cleaning and personal products (hair, skin, etc) and that seems to be the focus in the Sunday papers. We eat a lot of unprocessed foods and my husband is a vegetarian. That got me to wondering what things/areas real live ordenary people save the most money? We feel like we don't have a "latte factor" but maybe there's something I haven't done yet. Thanks!

1 mom 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

So What Happened?

Thanks Everyone! We are doing most of what you suggested but I got a few ideas and inspiration to keep it up. I did get a few ideas on strategy and encouragement to keep it up. Take care all!

More Answers


answers from Spokane on

We eat at home most of the time.
I cut my kids' and hubby's hair.
I don't get mine colored but once a year or so.
We ride to work together as many days as we can (even though our hours are slightly different and hubby's schd changes every 3 months).
I grocery shop for the week and stay out of the stores as much as possible.
When I do go to Costco I stick to my list/necessities.
Hubby and I both take our lunch to work daily.
We usually make our own coffees (mocha's) at home.
We have a garden.
We have chickens.
We hunt.
I buy store/generic brands of most everything.
I bake.
I buy 90% of my kids' clothes when they are on sale/clearance and just buy the size I will need for the next season.
My boys wear hand-me-downs.
We have an older, slightly beat up, commuter car that one of us will drive when we don't have the kids to save on gas $ (I have an SUV and hubby has 3/4 diesel that we both need for winters in PNW).
We go camping for our yearly vacations and only every few years do we take a "big" vacation.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

- pack lunches every day for work
- wait to buy "big things" until they are on sale
- maintain our big purchases (cars, house, camera, t.v, etc) so they don't need to be replaced
- grocery shop for the entire week at one time so there's no "run out and get" b/c those trips end up costing way more than what I intended!
- holiday shopping goes on year-round, including keeping a running list of "who wants/needs what" so that when I see "it" on sale, I can pick it up
- once month we eat only what is in the house for a couple of days... freezer, fridge, pantry. There's always a TON of food in there and it will go bad and be tossed if we don't eat it. Yes, that means we have some pretty interesting meals that week, but we also don't buy groceries that week!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Medford on

we started saving money by taking $25 a paycheck and having it automatically deposited into savings. its the whoel "Pay your self first" theory. It needs to be direct deposit and it needs to be at a different bank. Then you don't even think about it being there. Most employers allow for DD into a couple different accounts. Once that money is gone (into savings) and you don't have it to spend all the other cost savings plans come into play. You can cut coupons all day and make all your own lattes but if you don't put that "savings" aside, you will just end up spending it elsewhere.

We started with $25.00 every other week and now we put over $300.00 ever other week. Now, we have gotten several raises over the last nine years. Every time we got a raise we would put that additional money into savings cause we weren't living on it before anyway. when needed we changed our deposit to match our needs, like when we bought a house, we had to start putting a little less. But we NEVER take money out for anything trivial, like we want to go to dinner and have no money, oh well maybe next paycheck...its only for emergancies and planned big expenses. This might not suit everyone, but just start with something.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I color my own hair, paint my own nails, I cut my children's hair. I make my own blended coffee drinks instead of buying it out. We eat out rarely but when we do I usually share an entree with my two kids. When we go anywhere I look online for coupons (retailmenot etc.). I research most larger items I plan on buying. I don't mind spending more money of something if it is better quality and I am planning on keeping it a while. My husband and I landscaped our front and backyards and just paid someone to do the hardscaping (retaining wall, etc). We are building garden boxes to plant our own veggies. We do not waste food, electricity or water. We recycle cans and bottles. I mend our own clothes when needed. I get my kids clothes at garage sales...

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Delayed Gratification
Pay yourself FIRST
DO NOT use credit cards unless you pay them in full each month
Live debt free

Time = $$ Remeber that when you are sitting and clipping coupons, driving across town to get a "good deal" but that "good deal" actually costs you in gas and wear/tear on car.

Think smart and shop smart.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Do you dine out frequently? That is our biggest drain if we are not vigilant about it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Staying home when I'm bored! Using up everything in the freezer/fridge/pantry before buying new of the same product. Why buy extras when those are still in the house. If you don't buy it until you use it up you could save a lot on your next grocery bill to hold you over for awhile. Just buy the things you have to have like milk and bread. If your husband fishes have him stock up your freezer. I kept buying strawberries and then went and picked my own and saved a lot of money right there and I have them on hand(in the freezer) whenever we need fruit.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Use as little in the home as possible - for ex, less water (short baths, showers), turn the AC up, especially when you leave the house. Leave blinds closed in summer so sun doesn't heat up the room (I can't do this when I am home, I love the sun coming in!), unplug appliances when not in use.

Really pay attention at the grocery store to prices. Generic is great for many items

Don't eat out - make your own food. Buy enough for 2-3 weeks and store some in the freezer. Cook like crazy one or two days a week to create leftovers.

Cut your kids hair.

Hubby cuts his own hair.

Don't buy anything you cannot pay cash for. We have been credit card debt free for years and it is amazing!

Cut down time in the salon - get your hair done every four months instead of every 8 weeks or whatever you normally do.

Find cheap, fun things to do with the kids instead of going places to spend money. Make being at home fun again.

Shop ebay and yard sales for kids clothing.

Sell items on ebay

Have yard sales when you stock pile enough stuff!

We have our own chickens that we get eggs from, and we eat the chickens. Do you have this option? It is great to know where your food comes from!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

we cook all of our meals (going out maybe once a month for dinner).

we plan our meals based on what's on sale.

we buy double or sometimes triple of whtaever's on sale and freeze it (meats mostly, but also shampoo or diapers or something like that).

we don't have cable/sattelite

we keep our home fairly cool in the winter, fairly warm in the summer

we shop for clothes and shoes at thrift stores a lot. I also accept all hand-me-downs and go thru and pick out what I like and donate the rest.

I know you said number ONE way, but it's all a mix that helps it add up.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I'm sorry - I don't have an answer but I've wondered this myself as I feel we've cut most everything and not sure where else to save!!!!! I will be lurking on your answers!!!!!!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Richmond on

Don't stop clipping coupons on items you buy regularly... saving $.30 here and there adds up! We buy store brand EVERYTHING, and only buy certain items when they're on sale... like bags of frozen chicken are about $12 per bag. Buy one get one free saves me $12!! Same with cereals... I only buy store brand, unless name brand is BOGO free. I use my Food Lion and CVS card like crazy, sign up for stuff like that. Then go to the manufacturers websites for stuff like the bran toothpaste you use, conditioner, toilet paper, etc... Think P&G (Proctor and Gamble), Johnson & Johnson, etc. Buy name brand when you get awesome coupons from them. Make a shopping list of things you NEED; this cuts down on buying those little 'extra's'. It's hard to eat vegetarian and unprocessed and get coupons for fresh stuff, so in that case, go online and check current produce prices for 2 or 3 really close stores, then shop where it's cheapest....just keep in mind you have to count gas/mileage as part of shopping at the store not nearest to you. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I don't use a bank for savings except "emergency money". They pay less than 1% interest. I invest in the stock market. I have stocks in my account that pay 10% or more per year. Last year I made 17% on my stock account.

I buy groceries on sale and make my menu around what's on sale. That will save you 25% to 40% per week off your food bill. I always go to the store's bargin bin. I find lots of savings there. If I find meats in the meat section that are discounted and cheaper then I might have bought otherwise, I buy that and change my menu. I bought discounted whole fryers for 48 cents per pound and filled my freezer. I don't buy fad foods like chicken wings. When I buy whole fryers I cut the chicken wings off and freeze them for when I want chicken wings. I seldom buy boneless skinless chicken breasts. I can cut the bones out of chicken breasts myself and save the $30 per hour the butcher gets.

I go to more than one store if I can find a deal to justify the trip. I won't drive 5 miles to save 1 cent per pound, but I will drive to save 50 cents per pound. I know stores will put certain items on a real good sale once or twice per year and so I buy those specality items then. Examples: charcoal briquettes go on sale on Memorial Day and 4th of July cheaper than anytime of the year. I buy the 100 to 150 lbs of charcoal I use in my grill each year at those times. I buy corned beef brisquet at St Patrick's Day. I buy turkeys, flour, chocolate chips and baking goods at Thanksgiving. I buy toilet paper between March & June and between September and October. It will be cheaper then than at any other time of the yeat, usually about half price. I like spicy brown mustard. It normally sells for $2.50 to $3.50 per bottle. When two of the major stores in my area put it on sale for $0.50, I bought 50 bottles. Friends asked me what I was going to do with all that mustard. When they buy 10 bottles for the regular price they have paid more that I did for all 50 of mine.

I buy used cars or I buy new cars and trucks when they go on sale as loss leaders. I change the oil in my vehicles every 2500 to 3500 miles. Oils is cheaper than engines. I take care of my vehicles and usually drive them for 10 or more years.

My wife cuts my hair. I have a garden. When I wore white shirts and ties, I'd buy my white shirts on sale in January and I'd buy enough for the entire year. If I want a cute speciality tie, I'd buy my 4th of July ties, the week after the 4th of July. The same for Christmas ties or Easter ties. That enables me to get them for 75% off.

I had electric appliances. (Stove, oven, water heater) and gas heating. I would use enough gas in the winter time to get charged more than the minimum gas bill. But during the late spring, summer and early fall, I would pay the minimum payent on my gas bill. I was paying for gas I wasn't using. I changed my stove top, ovens (2 oven wall unit) and when my water heater gave out I made it gas. Now I pay just above then minimum gas bill all year round. My electricity bill has been cut $30 to $50 per month.

When the new enery saving flouresent light bulbs went on sale (25 cents each) I bought enough for my whole house and spares. I replaced the 300 watt driveway lights bulbs the house with two energy savers and save 450 watts when i have the driveway light on. I did the same with the 150 watt sun lights in my kitchen, bathrooms and dining room. I changed my single pane windows with dual pane. I added insulation to my attic and I use an attic fan on a regular basis. I took my $200 to $235 average electricity bill (level billing) to $80 per month (level billing).

I' always looking for bargains.

Good luck to you and yours.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I have money taken out of my pay check and put directly into a 401k and a savings account. You don't see it you don't spend it.

My biggest way of saving is to live a basic life with minimal "toys" and to focus on needs rather than wants.
We all have cell phones, with just the basic plan, we do not need texting or internet service on the phones.
We have old big box tvs, they work great, no need for flat screens, etc. We all have decent clothes, but 80% of them came from a clearance rack or a very good sale.
I bring my water bottle with me everywhere, so I never have to buy water. We eat reasonably priced foods that we like, (we love steak, but it's a rarity). I don't find coupons help too much, but I stock up when it's on sale.
Hubby and I bring our lunches to work, the kids bring lunches to school.
I do my own nails, I color my own hair.
We have the ATT U-verse bundle, probably more than what we need, but I'm still paying less then when everything was separate, and no need for the specialty movie channels.

This doesn't mean we don't splurge every once in awhile. I just stay focused on the fact that we only have a limited amount of money to spend. We save in some areas, so we have extra for the things that we really want.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

For me it is couponing and stock piling our toiletries, I make all of our household cleaners so that saves a bundle also.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

For me, I need to pay cash for everything.

I'm a in-progress recovering shopaholoic, to put it mildly.( Every pay period, I set out so much cash for groceries and expenses that come up, such as oil changes or haircuts. About 30% of the paycheck goes into savings, the other stays in the checking account for bills. I have to plan out my shopping trips to the store. I stick to a budget and do not use credit cards. When I used my credit cards, I was amazed at how much I bought things on impulse, stuff that I do not need. I've learned that if I give myself a cash allowance every pay period to cover groceries and expenses like oil changes, I can save more. Save receipts also to see where money is going and how much inflation goes up. Also, it's a great thing to have an extra refrigerator or freezer in your house so that you can stock up on things your family likes when items go on sale, that can save big bucks too in the long run.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

1. don't buy new cars, buy good used ones, and keep up with their maintenance.
2. cook at home, from scratch (a boxed lasagna doesn't count)
3. avoid credit cards like the plague
4. use automatic savings methods, like payroll deductions into your retirement, and automatic transfers into savings
5. put saved money in 'deep freeze' by moving it to an account that's just a little harder to get money out of.

Those are our best strategies.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I put myself on a $20 a day budget. If I want to grab a Starbucks coffee while I'm running errands, but I know I have to pick up some items for dinner that night as well as meet a friend for lunch later that day, then I know I can't "afford" to go to Starbucks that day.

I don't go grocery shopping every week but the weeks that I do, I know I have to work within my $140 for that week. In other words, if it is a week I buy groceries, I don't plan any outings, lunch dates and extras until my shopping is done so I'll know if I have anything left over.

So as you can see, some days I'm barely getting by, and other days I'm rolling in the cash! This has helped me TREMENDOUSLY in unneccessary spending. If I can start my day w/a crisp new $20 bill and I still have it by the end of the day, then for me, that is a good and productive day. If anything, it has helped me curb my unneccessary spending habits.

My goal is to get my daily budget down to $15 or even $10 a day! But w/5 yo and active school, social and activity calendar, I haven't been able to find a way to do so yet.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I buy store brands. I'm careful about buying anything we might not eat, wear, or use. Clothing especially I really think about what will get a lot of wear and if I'm not sure, I don't buy it.

And we don't have cable. The only "TV" we watch is through Netflix. I buy used books, or Kindle downloads, or we go to the library.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Re-examine your utility bills. I switched electric companies and from 6/12-7/12, in Texas where it didn't get below 95 degrees during the day and stayed closer to 100, my electric bill was half of what it was last year. I paid $260 compared to over $500 this time last year. I'm also getting ready to call my phone and internet company to see what they can do for me.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Bloomington on

Look at all your core bills. Keep cutting them back every chance you get. For instance: I have a T-Mobile plan for our cell plans. For two phones it costs me $90 a month plus tax a month (unlimited text and talk). Today in Walmart I saw the Family Mobile plan that offers the first phone for $45 and the second for $25. That equals $70 plus tax. Get to use the same old phones and keep our numbers. Gonna do it.

Call your cable company and let them know you will discontinue their service unless they work with you to get a better rate. I've cut ours back from $130 a month to $85 (after taxes) for full cable, dvr, and full speed internet. And yes, if it gets tough the cable goes away.

Put your electric and gas bills on the budget plan. You will always know what your bill is year round.

We save on everything we can. Know your prices. Buy larger quantities when it makes sense to. Buy used clothing or off season clothing. For the kids if you buy it cheap and don't use it, you can sell it for what you bought it for (usually) and you aren't out anything.

SELL the stuff you no longer use.

Keep looking for every corner to be cut. :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I'm an independent insurance agent so if you havent had one in your area shop your home and auto for you, try it. I usually can save people more than $100 per month and you dont have to wait until your renewal date. i don't do coupons, they stress me out too much! =) good luck!

1 mom found this helpful
For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions