What's Everyone Doing to save Money

Updated on April 30, 2010
W.W. asks from Daly City, CA
79 answers

I'm wondering what everyone's doing to save money. Tips on going grocery shopping, what are you cutting back on. I want to see if how else I would be able to save money. Times are tough......... I pay about $140 for cable, internet and phone through Comcast. Am I paying too much???

Thank you all in advance for any input.

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Thank you all for all of the wonderful tips and responses.

Featured Answers

S.S.

answers from Atlanta on

We totally got rid of land lines. We only pay for cell phones: and only the basics.

Also Consignment sales. Not only do I save money with them, but that has also become my income. This way I can still stay at home with the kids.
http://www.consignmentsalequeen.com/2010/04/finding-items...

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M.E.

answers from San Francisco on

We pay $180/month for Comcast internet and cable. The internet alone is $45. We have HBO, High Definition and 2 boxes. It is frustratingly expensive. My husband really likes HBO and that's why we have it. My kids and I rarely watch TV - just DVD's that we rent from Netflix (which is another $30/month!).

Otherwise I try to be conscious of eating leftovers and not buying too much food that might spoil before we use it.

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P.A.

answers from Kansas City on

I make my own cleaning products and laundry detergent (big money saver- $.75 for 64 loads worth). I use energy efficient light bulbs everywhere as well as rechargeable batteries for all those darn toys. Since I lack impulse control my husband does all of the grocery shopping and I shop at thrift stores for all of my children clothing. I shop around for bundled deals (for cable, phone etc) very often. I cook 95% of the time (take out really adds up at the end of the month). I use the crock pot most of the time to save time for me since my children are 11 months apart (17 and 6 months). I also belong to a bunch of coupon mommy/lady type websites through Facebook and they are always posting coupons. I print out as many as I can and try to coordinate them with the store sales as often as possible. Finally I've started garden...growing some of my own fruits and veggies should save us some money as well.

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More Answers

C.O.

answers from Washington DC on

I'm sorry I am late with this one.

My Comcast bill is $99 a month for two land lines, cable and internet access. You can always make deals with them to save you money - they want to keep your business, not lose it.

I use coupons - I can save $85 in coupons when I go to the store. I make a list of everything I need before I go and match what I need with the coupons that I have.

Make a menu for the week - this way you USE what you have on hand, rather than forgetting what you've got, then open a drawer, freezer or fridge and find a rotten piece of something - this will help you when you do your list for shopping.

If you have a metro or bus service that will get you to and from work - take it. My husband commutes into D.C. every day instead of driving - using the bus and metro. In doing so - we've saved on insurance for his car (we don't put more than 3K in miles on it a year so our insurance company gives us credit for that).

Brown bag your lunches. This saves on average $50 a week PER PERSON. Use leftovers from dinner to make the sandwiches. Food doesn't go bad and you don't waste money by having to throw it away. Eat more fruit and veggies - they are more filling.

Stop drinking soda (I stopped drinking Coca-Cola -lost 10 lbs and saved $45 a month by not having to buy it anymore). Go with water, milk, iced tea, kool-aid.

If you are a SAHM with little kids - share baby sitting nights with neighbors or friends - this will save at least $50 per night out. This works well with friends that you trust - you can go out and not have to worry about your kids. Then you watch your friends kids another night.

If you don't have people you trust to watch your kids - wait until they are in bed for date night with your hubby and throw out a blanket on the living room floor.

Stop buying movies - use Red Box or Netflix.

Stop going out to dinner more than once a week. If you go out - go through your Val-Pak coupons and go to restaurants that offer two-for-one deals.

Call your insurance companies (car, house, health) and see what you can do about getting better rates - you might be over-insured.

Call your gas and electric companies - see if there are offers from them for new windows, etc. Our gas company offered discounted services for new windows and a new gas gauge. Yes, it was an expenditure upfront, but our heating and cooling costs are lower (not just from the discount, but because we have better windows).

Save in taxes - if your company has the FSA (Flexible Spending Accts) get pre-tax dollars taken out for child care (both parents must be working) or health care - this will lower your income and may lower your tax bracket.

Make sure you have all of your donations on are noted on your taxes. Make sure you are getting the maximum deductions on your donations - keep accurate lists of items donated.

Stop using credit cards. Go CASH ONLY - it's hard, trust me. But it's the best thing you can do for yourself and your family. It IS possible. We live in Washington, D.C. and our only debt is our mortgage. We have no credit card debt, no car payments (we paid cash for both our cars) and have a savings account now.

If you can do it (i.e. don't owe on it more than it's worth) - get rid of your car - trade it in on one that you don't need to make payments on. You will probably save on car insurance as well.

INSIDE THE HOUSE:
Turn lights off behind you.
Turn the thermostat down and put on a sweatshirt.
As summer approaches - let the cool morning air in - then close the windows and drapes to keep the house cooler. If you work FT - set your AC to come on 30 minutes prior to you coming home.

OTHER WAYS TO SAVE:

When doing errands - make a list of everything that needs to be done and do things in the an order - so you are not running back and forth, wasting gas, etc.

These may not save money - but create more family time which we all know is priceless:

If you want more time with your family - this may not save money - but it will create more time with the family - take clothes to the dry cleaners - many dry cleaners offer coupons too.

Have a cleaning service come in once a month. This will allow you time to spend with your family instead of cleaning.

If you are looking for ways to get money in the door:

Craigslist - free listings and you can sell things locally. People will come to your home or you can meet at a public location. I've sold entertainment centers, tools, etc. and go cash-in-hand that day or within a week. You will still need to take pictures of the item or items - but you can get rid of things you no longer need.

ebay - not free - but you are available to the world. You might have something that someone really wants - (for example - I had had a set of the Gummi Bears plush dolls from the 1980's - they sold on ebay for $112). Please contact me directly - I will help you with ideas for pictures and listings.

I hope this helps you!!

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T.S.

answers from Sacramento on

1) I cut our cable down the the bare minimum. No DVR, no premium channels, no OnDemand, no nothing. We don't even have a cable box, just plain old cord to wall but it only costs $13 a month.

2) Similarly I cut back the home phone to local and emergency only. No caller ID, no call waiting. Nothing.

3) Cut back my cell phone plan from 900 minutes to 450 and cut my texts from Unlimited to 1500 (to avoid actually using the phone during the day I DO need to be able to send and receive texts) and got rid of my data plan.

4) I only go to the grocery store once a week. And Target once a week. That forces me to plan what we'll eat AND stops me from picking up something extra two or three times a week when I'm in there.

5) I plan our meals ahead of time as much as possible and make the whole week a progression of maybe two proteins. For example: Sunday night I might grill chicken breast, make homemade mac and cheese and veggies. Then Tuesday I'll use left over chicken for fajitas. Then Wednesday leftover Mac and Cheese and Sausage (always on hand). Thursday maybe something simply like brown rice with chicken and veggie stirfry, Friday breakfast for dinner (sausages, pancakes, fruit etc.) Saturday whatever looks good in the fridge (you can throw almost anything on english muffin pizzas). For lunches pb&j is cheap, or leftovers from dinner.

6) Making our clothes last. I used to replace clothes if they were stained or a seam ripped. Now I take the time to treat the stain and if it won't come out I just move it to the "weekend play clothes only" category. I put patches on the inside of all my son's pants and replace them for a few cents if they wear through which saves me from buying new clothes until they are actually outgrown.

7) Pay attention to special promotions for free stuff. There's a frozen yogurt place near us that has free icecream for kids on Friday evenings, so we do that as our special treat. I also have the Entertainment Book, so I plan our weekends around the coupons in there. (I don't have the patience to actually CLIP and organize coupons, but the book is already organized so I just flip through and pick something).

I hope some of these ideas are helpful. There are things I refuse to cut back on, but could save a ton if I did (pre-school, taekwondo etc) but it's about prioritizing and deciding what you can do without.

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S.T.

answers from Los Angeles on

It's great to see that you're still receiving responses! I read all of the responses and learned a couple of new tricks! Yeah! Anything to help.

I wanted to share a couple of my experiences. First, I struggle with my internet/TV/phone bill as well. We actually have Verizon Fios because quality if important to us and we've found this service to have the best quality, especially when it comes to internet. We were paying almost $200/mo. I was willing to get rid of the TV, but learned that because we were bundled I wouldn't save anything. But, I recently called them and asked them to dissect my bill and help me find ways to save. I ended up saving $40/mo. mostly through Verizon offering me special discounts that would not otherwise be available unless you ask.

As another responder wrote, www.grocerygame.com is a huge way I save grocery money. I've been doing it for 4+ years and having tracked my savings, I save on average $1500-2500 per year. It does take time, but if you get your systems down, stockpile, and don't get hooked into great deals you don't really need, then you can be quite successful. It costs $10 every 8 weeks, but I still save much more than the cost of the service. They also do give you one month for $1, but it takes more than a month to make it work. You have to build up your coupon reserves (I save at least 3 months of coupons) and it's based on being able to stockpile and buy the groceries at their "rock bottom prices".

A lot of responders talked about eliminating dryer sheets to save money. I don't use dryer sheets either, plus they have harmful chemicals in them that are bad for you and the environment. I am a big vinegar person! I buy the huge container of vinegar at Costco and use it for cleaning almost anything. Plus, I add it to the liquid fabric softener section in my washing machine and it eliminates static electricity.

We also do a lot of things ourselves to save money.....changing oil in the car, lawn and garden maintenance, pool maintenance, etc. etc. etc.

I'm also registered with Upromise. It's a way of earning money on things you buy. Specifically, it's meant to save money for a child's college fund, but in reality it's just a rebate system and you can ask for a check to be mailed to you at certain increments. I get about $100/year (not a lot, but free money) and I still put it toward my kids college fund. But, you could use it for other means. There are also other programs that do the same thing, but offer the money right to you. I just don't know the names of those programs.

Like many other responders, I also plan my meals each week, usually based on what I have stockpiled. But, if there are a few ingredients I need, I buy just what I need and no more. My grocery store also has a meat clearance area that's 30-50% off the lowest price. Usually, it expires that day or the next. I just take it home and freeze it. Whole chicken is very economical. I also cook a lot of beans in my crock pot. Beans are super cheep! And versatile! And, really good for you! With chicken, you can pre-make a ton of burritos that freeze well. And there's so much more you can do with these two cheap eats!

I also sell my kids clothes to a second-hand store. They give you more if you take a store credit, which in most cases I do. Then I stock up on more clothes for my kids that are at super inexpensive second hand store prices. I also buy my kids shoes and jeans at Sears using the kidadvantage program. It's a free program that allows you to exchange children's items that they wear out before they outgrow. I don't know about you, but my son goes through a pair of shoes each month! And, no more patches on knees, I just exchange the pants for a new pair!

I hope this also helps in addition to all the other fabulous responses you got! Best wishes!

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K.M.

answers from Miami on

We do a lot of the things mentioned here:

1. We had DirectTV and recently suspended our account. We hooked a Mac Mini up to the tv and use a program called Plex which allows us to access our Netflix account (we use the cheapest one so pay just under $10/month), some other internet channels and we watch movies with it. We can go online with it and use the internet to watch our favorite shows since most of the networks have them online anyway. My husband built an antenna (he looked it up online) and we get a ton of over the air channels now. He's going to set up our computer to record the shows we like similar to the way a DVR works. Luckily, he's really handy with a computer. In our bedroom, we use a Roku to watch stuff from Netflix.

2. I changed out our cleaners to vinegar and water. We use microfiber cloths for cleaning instead of wasting a million paper towels. We keep a dish towel in the kitchen to dry our hands and also prevent us from wasting paper towels to dry our hands which we were really bad about. The microfiber cloths fit over my swiffer perfectly so that I don't have to buy anymore cleaning cloths and I use my own solution to mop. Also, to save on paper plates, we use regular plates as much as possible.

3. I check the circulars online and buy stuff on sale and plan meals around if I can. I make a grocery list and stick to it as much as possible and try not to go back to the store. We don't eat meat. We eat a lot of bean dishes like casseroles and chili. I try to stock up on non-perishables when they're on sale.

4. I look for coupons online (we have no newspaper or magazine subscriptions) and use those for restaurants.

5. We cook a lot of things from scratch and try not to buy processed: bread, cake, muffins, pancakes, cookies. You can find recipes online. I try to cook a lot of things vegan to save on milk and eggs which makes it more healthy too. We do homemade vegan pancakes once a week.

6. We have our credit cards almost all paid off and we're trying not to use them. INstead we save up for big stuff. Currently, we have 3 envelopes going: Christmas, new fridge, and new kite funds (my husband kiteboards and the kites are expensive.)

7. We shop Craigslist for stuff and also sell on there. This weekend we're having a garage sale.

8. Our cars are paid off and we make them last forever. We won't ever buy a new car again. My husband has learned how to do a lot of repairs on them. He also does our oil changes.

9. We cut back our phone to local only. No long distance or call waiting or any features. We considered dropping it completely, but we worried about having 911 service. With a landline phone they could find our location. I don't believe you can do that easily with a cell.

10. I love reading, but instead of buying books which I rarely reread anyway, I borrow from the library or I borrow from a friend who reads the same exact things I do and has an extensive library. She ships books to me via media mail. I read and ship them back for about the cost of one new paperback book.

I enjoyed this thread!

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S.B.

answers from Dallas on

We are always tight with our money. I wouldn't say we do without, we just do things differently. We haven't had cable in over 8 years. And after the initial "shock" wore off we really haven't missed it. If there is something we want to see, there are several sites that carry current shows...so we hooked our laptop up to our tv instead.

We still have a land line, but my cell phone rarely gets used, so we have a pay as you go phone. Most of the time I do not use all of the minutes, so the phone costs us $25 for three months of service. I would go without a phone all together, but that isn't the safest or most convenient option.

Coupons can save grocery money, but I am not very good at couponing and when I did participate I fell into the trap of buying things just because they were a great deal. We don't eat a lot of processed foods, so I didn't need most of the sale items. I choose instead to carefully plan my menus, shop by what's on sale and stock up when I find a great deal.

We rarely go out to eat. We might go out twice a month, if that.

Instead of blockbuster, we rent from Netflix or the library. And since Netflix lets you watch online that's an added bonus for us.

We don't buy books, we go to the library. I have a few magazine subscriptions, but I do a trade for them. My MIL and I trade and then I mail them to my mom, who mails me a different subscription that she gets (Media mail is cheap).

All of our credit cards are paid off. We have one that we use like a debit card. We put ALL of our expenses on it and then we PAY it OFF each month. This helps us track our spending. And we get the added benefit of cash back bonuses. This also helps us if we have issues with a purchase or need to return something, we have the credit card as back up records.

I am a SAHM. I have to get my kids out of the house regularly. I search high and low for free and cheap entertainment. There is a lot of great stuff out there if you do the leg work to find it.

We barter where we can. Sometimes this turns into a fabulous deal for everyone.

We shop for larger ticket items on craigslist and buy used when we can. When we buy new, we always ask for discounts. We saved 10% on our sofa recently because we wrote a check instead of charging it, we would have never known about the deal if we hadn't asked.

When something breaks down, we usually contact the manufacturer before buying a replacement. Obviously we didn't call for our 11 yo refrigerator, but when our 3 yo tv died we called. Shockingly, companies are often willing to work with you. Like the tv, WE broke a part off during a move, we were calling to get a replacement part, we explained it was our fault...they replaced the entire tv.

Be willing to save up. Buy what you want, don't settle. You'll only spend more when you realize you weren't happy with the "quick fix" you purchased.

We do all these minor things throughout the year and our friends tease us sometimes, but we don't live like homeless people. We have a nice house. We go out and do fun activities and take great trips. We just save where we can, so the money can go for more "fun" things.

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T.B.

answers from San Francisco on

There were a lot of responses. I read through them all and found several things that I do that aren't listed. Let me start off by saying my husband has been unemployed for 11 months now.
People stated eating less processed food. don't eat out, eat more fruits and veggies, and I have to agee with them 100%. With the help of a free program I am in, I have done these things and have lost a whopping 174 lbs, yes that's not a typo. I'm now a healthy 146 pounds now. Also try second harvest food bank. It's not hard to get several bags of groceries to help you out.

People mentioned craigslist, yet I didn't see a mention of freecycle. Believe it or not I have only spent $2.17 on 1 shirt in all of the time I have been loosing all this weight in the last 2 years. I received most of my clothes from freecycle.org and a few clothes from the free food program I am in. Freecycle.org you can get all sorts of things, and get rid of things you don't need either.

Beans and rice are great and cheap. Use a crockpot versus using the oven - you will use less energy.

Learn to make your own yogurt, it's easy and doesn't take much effort. Take a look at youtube.com you can learn a lot of new skills and trades. Want to learn to knit, crochet...check out youtube.

I do still buy books and cd's and dvd from time to time. Half.com and secondspin.com are great.

Check out the Tightwad Gazettes from the library, freecycle.org or buy them half.com.

Ask friends at birthdays to give you gift certificates to safeway, lucky's target or an entertainment spot to the zoo, etc.

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M.H.

answers from Philadelphia on

We cut cable entirely. We kept whittling down our service with Comcast and our bill kept getting larger anyway, so we finally kicked them to the curb. We're really happy with the selection of channels on what comes through the digital antenna.That saved us $140 a month.

We got rid of our truck because we didn't use it much, in favor of using the Philly CarShare, saving more than $500 a month in payments-insurance-gas-misc.

We don't get anything dry cleaned, we eat out less frequently, we don't buy anything unnecessary and find that buying things used is often fine- like DVDs and books, and even thrift store and yard sale shopping for clothes.

And I started looking for coupons and try to work them with sales. There's this book, I think it might have been the Coupon Mom book, but I can't recall. Here are some others I like: The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook: 200 Recipes for Quick, Delicious, and Nourishing Meals That Are Easy on the Budget and a Snap to Prepare by Erin Chase. Saving Money with the Tightwad Twins: More Than 1,000 Practical Tips for Women on a Budget by Ann Fox. Bitches on a Budget: Sage Advice for Surviving Tough Times in Style by Rosalyn Hoffman

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L.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Grocery Shopping - only purchase what is on sale.

Clothing - Don't go to the stores unless you have a list and then stick with the list. I purchase everything off the clearance rack - very rarely do we buy anything "in season". If it's not on sale, it doesn't get purchased.

Lunches - bring your lunches, don't buy lunch. It's far cheaper to pack a lunch especially if you bring leftovers from last night's dinner.

Coffee - get a large thermos and bring it from home.

We carry no debt. We have a mortgage but no car payments. We make our cars last until they croak. That said, we always service them at the dealership which is a little more expensive, but we have developed a long term relationship and we know NOTHING about cars...

We don't have the latest and greatest of anything, but it's okay. Our children don't need a flat screen to watch TV. The big honking clunker of a TV we have works just fine.

Basically we live like paupers, but it's fine. This way we can send our kids to the summer camps they want to go to, the band trips they want to attend, and if something breaks, we have the cash to fix it or replace it depending on what it is...

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S.H.

answers from Minneapolis on

Get rid of your cable service! There is no need for it. You can watch so many cable shows for free now on Hulu.com. We pay about $59 / month for our broadband internet and BASIC cable through Comcast. The cable portion of the bill is $10 / month and is just local stations. If you have cell phones, there is also no need to continue paying for a landline phone. Get rid of that service, too.

We buy all of our kids clothes and toys and Goodwill and garage sales, except for some special things or very special occasions (bday, christmas). We've saved TONS of money on furniture and home decor by buying from Craigslist sellers. I recently just bought a leather upholstered, mission-style sofa set w/ matching recliner and ottoman for $200 on CL. Then I turned around the next day (literally!) and sold my gross old couch, loveseat and easy chair for nearly $300 (to separate buyers) on Craigslist. Take advantage of good deals on used and second-hand goods. You have to do some digging sometimes and stay vigilant about keeping an eye on what's available, but it can be great fun. And there is NOTHING like knowing you scored a great deal. Not everything that is sold used is junk, trash, worthless or shabby looking.

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H.A.

answers from Dallas on

Oo.. I love bargain hunting and when I quit working to stay home, I joked that my new job was learning how to make a dollar spend like a dollar fifty.

We cancelled our TV service (Dish Network). We have Netflix, and stream it through our Ps3. We also are in the process of getting an amplified TV antenna to get the HD local channels. This alone saves us about $75 a month.

We changed cell phone plans from Verizon to Sprint for a considerable savings.

I watch the grocery circulars and make my meal plan based on whats on sale. We use the food we buy. I know that sounds obvious - but the average American throws away 25% of the groceries they buy from spoiling. Thats a LOT of wasted money.

There is also a great money saving charity called Angelfood Ministries you can buy boxes of food through. They publish the menu at the beginning of the month, you pay by the cut off and then pick up your box or boxes at the nearby church on the pick-up day. There are no income requirements, no religious requirements, you don't have to be low income to save money for your family. They offer various "boxes" that have different themes. The main box is enough food to feed a family of four a week ($30), there are other side boxes - meat, veggies, etc. The best thing about this.. by helping yourself you're helping others. The more people that buy in - the better their buying power is. The better the prices they can offer all of the families they help. It's a fantastic program. https://www.angelfoodministries.com/menus/menu_2010-04_en...

I shop around like crazy for purchases. Anything from kids clothes to a new digital camera. I do my research and find what I want cheap. For instance - I bought clothes for all three kids at Kohls during a sale, with a coupon that stacked with the sale. There wasn't a single piece of clothes that I paid more then $4 for - brand new. (1, 3, and 5 year old)

For phone service you might consider Ooma - I've read a lot about it, you may want to look. It's like Vonage, but normal service is free and I believe "premium" is 12.95 a month. Normal still gives you a lot of features.
http://www.amazon.com/Ooma-Telo-Free-Phone-Service/dp/B00...

Hope some of this helps!

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R.J.

answers from San Diego on

- DH and I each get a $100 p/paycheck "personal money" to buy whatever we want/need no questions asked. This covers clothes, haircuts, meals out, dates, waxing, gizmos, shoes, birthday presents... you name it. Anything that is not a bill, for school, house, stomachs, or gas tank comes out of our personal funds.

- Set amount per paycheck for
* Food / Groceries/ Household goods
* Bills
* Savings
* Gas
* House
* School Fund
* Kiddo's allowance
* Oh Shoot Fund (aka, the STUFF that always crops up every month... leaky this, repair that, emergency dental appointment, etc.)

Having the set amounts in cash, keeps us from overspending... although it was hard to get used to. We have a 300 every 2 weeks for groceries (which for us includes all household items, like lightbulbs, cleaning supplies, etc,) I can easily spend twice that, especially since we spend $35 of that every 2 weeks on just MILK (we go through about a half gallon a day). But I can't, so I don't. Even if it meant we ate ramen while I figured out how to make it stretch.

Then we paired down all of our bills:

- Phone... no land line. WAY too expensive, 3 cells on an ancient grandfathered in plan, we pay about $65 a month for 2500 minutes, free texts, internet, free nationwide, etc for 3 phones). Use SKYPE or iChat for international calls.
- Internet only (about $40)... no cable (we stream from the internet or use DVD's)
- No subscriptions (no newspaper/ magazines/ gym stuff/ etc.) EXCEPT netflix
- No coffee out, unless it out of our "personal" money.
- If we're going to drink, we drink at home
- DH cuts his own hair (I help)

"Windfall" money we split 5 ways. Half to DH's and my private funds... the remainder we split equally into House, School, & Savings.

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A.D.

answers from Jackson on

Only clip coupons for food you generally eat. Compared to many families we buy a modest amounts of junk food. We don't eat junk food frequently, but when we crave it, it's nice to have on hand. We decided if we are going to eat junk food we should only buy it when it's on sale. When on sale we buy quantities of 10 each of our favorite food items such as potato chips, crackers, ice cream, bread, bagels, cereal, lunch meat, bacon, hot dogs, shredded cheese etc... These items all freeze well. We are very fortunate to have a large deep freeze.

Most packaged foods like Mac & Cheese, Canned Goods, Cereal & Crackers, Spaghetti Sauce, Pasta's have a long shelf life, no need to freeze.

We try to buy more than 1 or 2 of the on sale non-food items such as soap, plastic bags, detergent etc....

It's okay if you can't afford to buy 10 items, or can't afford extras of all the items on sale. Congratulate yourself if you can buy 2 or 3. Gradually, you'll build a stocked pantry at a "low, low, cost."

To organize coupons I use a purse size calendar 6" long. I added yellow sticky notes to pages in the calendar. I actually staple the sticky notes onto the calendar page and make sure it sticks out, so I can write on the paper as follows: 1st note is Cleaners, Laundry, Food Storage bags, Garbage bags. 2nd note Frozen Food. 3rd Note Fresh Food. 4th note Canned & Packaged food. 5th Note Feminine products, Medications, Vitamins, Band-aids Tooth Care. 5th Note Candy, Snack Foods, 6th Note Clothing coupons & miscellaneous.

My big splurge used to be Hot Cocoa w/Dark Chocolate from high dollar coffee shops. The day I had my Cocoa/Coffee card stamped for my 10th purchase, I suddenly realized I'd spent $40.00 on Hot Cocoa! I now make my own Cocoa at home & use a travel mug to sip in the car.

Recipe for Dark Hot Cocoa: You'll need a 3 cup or larger storage container, combine 1/2 cup of Powdered Dark Baking Cocoa + 1/2 cup of Powdered Baking Cocoa + 1 cup of granulated sugar. Pour the cocoas & sugar into the storage container, put the lid on and shake it up. Many people prefer this recipe to have more sugar than I have listed.

Every morning I put a cup of milk in the microwave, add 3 Tablespoons of the Cocoa Concoction. To save more money and lower the fat & calories you could use instant milk.

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M.O.

answers from Chicago on

I have always made saving money a part of my life. However, I have also learned that you need to "pay yourself" in some ways. My husband is disabled and loves to watch sports on TV. I need hi speed internet for my work. Comcast offers a triple play for $99, but that does not include taxes, fees, and we have hookups in two bedrooms at $5.99 each and the DVR which is about $10.00. I keep this because my husband can watch his beloved sports teams, I can work from home and I can record shows while I work so my time is used more efficiently. I don't always have to time to cook and that is when the temptation for carry out hits. I cook a full meal every 2/3 days. We have leftovers and I always keep a portion of the meat involved to make other meals. Example: I cook a turkey or a chicken breast on Sunday when we have a full meal. The rest of the week is a choice for repeat of the meal, chicken tacos, pot pies made from dicing potatoes and meat with a little gravy and leftover veggies, caesar salad with chicken, etc. I picked up a panninni (sp?) maker last week for $5.25 at a 75% off sale at my CVS in which we can cook chicken breasts and then make fantastic sandwiches you w/pay $6.00 for at Panera Bread. I also bought an omelet maker for $3.75 which makes a great size omelet which can be made into a breakfast sandwich and cleans up with a paper towel. While I am always cutting corners, I do splurge at times on some food items to keep our meals interesting. I don't buy a Sunday newspaper anymore because I can check specials online for the stores I shop at and read the parts of paper I am interested in, online. I hit "buy one, get one free" sales but watch carefully as they sometimes up the price of one and you are not really saving. In the 2008 stimulus, we received $600 and I spent $250 on a small chest freezer which fits in my pantry. The duplicate products I buy on sale go to the freezer. I buy ice cream on sale and put most in freezer so I don't have to buy for several months. When I fix a big meal, I take some of leftovers and make pot pies (you can pie reusable foil tins for about $2.00) and freeze them for hot lunches or last minute dinners. I buy potatoes, onions, broccoli, and tomatoes and keep on hand for sandwiches, baked potatoes and salads. Leftover chicken or bacon puts a nice touch on these. I buy soup base in a jar and make chicken and rice soup in a big pot and use it not only as a meal but as a snack rather than hitting the cookie jar. I enjoy manicures and pedicures and creams for my face and skin but they are very expensive. I make a list and ask my family to include these items as gifts. $30 for a jar of cream to keep circles from under my eyes is a most welcome gift! I also buy cosmetics on sale and use the "cheapies" during the week, saving the expensive ones for going out. I get my haircut at an internationally known salon for $20 if I have a student do it. We buy mostly washable clothes but for some that need drying cleaning I buy the ones you can do in your dryer and steam them myself. The steamer I use is one I bought on sale and can be used to clean kitchen, bath, upholstery and freshens everything! You also do not need to use cleaning products as the heat and steam clean wonderfully. Not only have I saved money but I have been able to give my family things they might not have if I wasn't an avid shopper. Our last vacation, we averaged $50 a day for food. for two adults and a teenager. We stayed at very nice hotels who offer breakfast bars and manager's cocktail reception. We ate our breakfast around 9:30am and were not hungry again till late afternoon when we had an early dinner and stopped by cocktail reception for a drink. We kept soda, water, snacks and cereal in our room fridge as well as some beer and wine. Considering vending machines charge up to $2.00 a bottle for water or soda, this saved a lot! The hotel also had a business center so I could get an hour per day in on work to avoid losing a week's pay while we vacationed. We packed a cooler for trips to the beach or amusement park. Days at an amusement park, we left around lunch time and either returned to hotel for a swim or ate our lunch at picnic tables provided near parking lot. When we returned to park, lines were shorter and we were refreshed. Money saved on this allowed us to buy kids souvenirs as a remembrance of a great trip or a fantastic dessert at one of the park concessions. Saving money does not have to be a punishing experience. You just need to know what is important to your family and how to budget those needs and wants.

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T.O.

answers from Chicago on

I personally know this mom/"super saver" and she is always getting great deals on everythiing. She has a website...www.mashupmom.com She gives great tips on how to save money. Her website has a lot to do with our local area stores, but she also has lots of coupons for brands and general items sold nationwide.

She is also releasing a book next month (I believe) all about saving money. Here is the link:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0910965862?ie=UTF8&t...

Good luck!

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R.C.

answers from Boston on

Great question. For those who get to go out to eat once in a while, there is a fabulous website restaurant.com . You can search it, find a local restaurant and print the coupon on the day you are going out. Typical coupon prices are $10 for a $25 coupon, but deals include the same coupons for $2! I have only used this service twice, but was pleased each time. Just make sure you understand the restrictions on the coupon before you pay. For example, most coupons are for dinner and you must spend a minimum amount on your bill.

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B.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

We pay $99 mo for cable, cell phones, and DSL.

I've read some of the other comments, WOW 53 responses. DON'T buy meats or fresh fruit at Sam's or Costco. They are VERY much more expensive than shopping the sales. And I've comparison shopped Sam's against Costco and Sam's was cheaper on 7 items, equal on one item and more expensive on one item. It costs $50 to join Costco and $35 to join Sam's.

I have a list of "buy prices" I've developed over the years. I write down the the best price I see on the local ads. Then as time goes by you will know what is the best price for a given item. Then when you see it on sale you can buy it for that price and know you are getting the best price.

I look at the local grocery ads, and make up the weekly meal menus off the sale prices. Then I go to the grocery stores with the best deals and look for marked down meat and groceries. If I find a marked down meat or produce cheaper than the ones on sale I buy that and change my meal menu.

Some people say you should shop only one store because you save on gas. To see if this is true, Drive to the closest store and measure the mileage. Then drive to the other stores in the area that you might want to shop and keep track of the mileage back to the closest store. It takes me about one gallon of gas to make the round trip to all three of the other stores. Currently that costs me $3 to go to 4 stores. If you can't save $.75 at each store, don't go. I go to the discount bins at each store. I know one store that discounts their "day old" bread 50% unless they have a lot of it. Another store 2 miles away sells their fancy bread for $.99. (Fancy bread is the very expensive custom bread. i.e. whole grain japaleno cheese bread with sun flower seeds.) I haven't paid more than $1 for a loaf of bread in years. I get the garlic bread ($.99) when I see it and then we have spaghetti. I buy pasta this way and my buy price for pasta is $.50 lb. When I find it for that price I buy 10 to 20 pounds and use it as I need it.

To save the most, buy more of what you need at the time and use it over time. Example: The store put Ragu sauces, Spaghetti and alfredo, for $.99. I bought 20 of the alfredo sauces and none of the spaghetti sauces. (Hunts spaghetti sauces go on sale for $.60 every now and then.) Then when shrimp or chicken go on sale I use the alfedo sauces, the pasta, and the chicken or shrimp to make shrimp or chicken alfredo. It will take me 3 to 4 months to use up the Alfredo sauce. But while I'm using the Alfredo sauce at $.99 others are paying the regular price of about $3.29.

One local store discounts their frozen pizza 20% on Friday. They put one brand on sale for $2.99. (Non-sale price $5.49) Then the national brand had a promotion that if you bought 10 of their frozen food items they would give you $10 off on you next shopping visit. So I went and bought 10 pizzas on Friday. $2.99-20%= $2.49, then I got the $10 off my next shopping visit. $2.49 - $1 = $1.49 So I bought the $5.49 pizzas for $1.49. and I bought 10 pizzas twice and used the $10 off on the second set. There are deals like that at least once per month. OR I could have gone to Costco and paid $5 for each pizza or Sam's and paid $4.79 for each pizza.

My personal pet peeve: "expiration dates" or "best if used by dates". Does any one really think the government is smart enough to say when a can of dog food is no longer useable. The government has expiration dates on just about everything. When they opened King Tuts tomb, they found wheat. According to the USDA, the wheat was "out of date" by centuries. The scientists grew the wheat and used it to improve the disease resistance of modern wheat. My rule of thumb is to look at the expiration date at the newest item on the shelf. Count the number of months and double it and that's the minimum of how long I'm comfortable using it.

I could go on, but you get the point. Too bad Mamapedia doesn't have place to put this kind of list so we could go back and reference it on a regular basis.

Birthday gifts: The week between Christmas and New years is the best time to buy birthday presents for the year. You know how many tmes your kids are invited to birthday parties. Buy gifts for them to give during the after Christmas sales and you'll save lots of money.

I buy the candy and sweets the kids like right after the holiday when they are discounted. M&Ms made for Valentines day do just fine in Easter Baskets, etc. I give stuff away at halloween that I bought earlier in the year. Thanksgiving is the best time of the year to buy flour, sugar and other baking supplies. Just after Thanksgiving is when I buy the disposable pans I use on my BBQ grill for the rest of the year. I buy the charcoal I use on my grill all year during the Memorial Day and 4th of July sales.

Crock pot cooking: I fold a dry dish towel and put it on the glass lid of my crock pot. Low gets the same results as does hi and you save money on electricity.
Good luck to you. You've gotten some real good ideas as have all of us.

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S.W.

answers from Washington DC on

I went a little radical (accidentally on purpose) and cut my TV service all together. I have now decided to leave it off until Fall (and maybe forever). I had been paying about $105 a month for FiosTV. Our family has kept our traditional "movie night" but we rent movies for $1 from RedBox (so that is about $4 per month...maybe $10 total because sometimes I get movies to watch on my own...so that is a savings of $95 - 100 per month), most of our favorite TV shows can be viewed on the internet so we do that occassionaly. While the kids complained initially, now it is a non-issue. AND the limited TV times has unleashed all kinds of creative energy in the kids...they have an ongoing creative project that they have been working on since Easter. I also do not have a home phone-line...just the cell phone so I only have internet (which is paid through my business because I work from home). Good luck to everybody! Tough times help us all realize what is really important in life, I think.

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K.E.

answers from Cincinnati on

I didn't see anyone mention this....for fitness, join the local rec center if you have one. We cancelled our YMCA membership which was $65 per mo (i found out it has since gone up $10 more) Then it was extra for kids programs like swimming lessons, gymnastics, basketball, etc. Shouldn't that stuff be included?? Anyway, we joined our local rec center where most activities are free for kids. Member fees at our local rec ctr are $10 per kid 17 and under or senior 50 and older, $25 for adults age 18 to 49. That is for the whole year, not per month. That includes use of the pools and access to any rec center in the city (Cincinnati) some of the rec centers aren't that great, but some are super nice... as nice as the YMCA. They charge extra for use of the fitness centers which ranges from $35 to $150 per yr...that's cheaper than any gym membership I've ever heard of!!

some other things we did to save: buy memberships to places you go a lot... for us we have a zoo membership and we go all the time. Just three visits and it more than pays for itself. We can bring one free guest each visit too. We also get in free or discounted to other zoos throughout the country. We also have a membership to the cinci museum center which also allows us to get into tons of other museums free throughout the country. We take day trips sometimes to other cities not too far and use our memberships. (we pack a cooler to save on eating out.)

We also buy prepaid cards to control spending. if you spend $100 at Starbucks in a month, but want to cut back, buy a $50 gift card for yourself on the 1st of the month and when it's gone, you're done for the month. You learn to space out your visits to make it last all month. Someone else mentioned restaurants.com. If you join upromise(free), they run specials where you can buy a $25 certificate for $1 or $2. most of them say you have to spend at least $35 in food and they add gratuity automatically but for a bill that would've been $50 for a family of four now it's only $26(including the tip and the dollar you paid for the certificate). Works for us! And they make great gifts too! You have to use the certif within one yr of purchase.

Comparison shop your insurance rates regularly to make sure your getting the best on auto, home, life, etc... (for life insur, buy term not cash value insur.. if you are saving for your future & retirement, you don't need whole life)

find a salvage grocery store in your area. I have spent $120 on boxed and canned foods there and it has lasted as much as 4 to 5 months. For example a box of 10 chewy granola bars (Quaker brand) is 2 for $1, a 3pk box of microwave popcorn is .50 cents. Cereals are mostly .99 cents per box and they are regular name brands... Kellogg's, Post, etc. We bought big bulk box of snacks for $2 and it had over 20 things in it like full bags (11 to 16 oz bags) of chips, pretzels, nachos. And the chips and nachos were mostly organic or all natural... like Terra brand and rice chips, flaxseed nachos, etc. We bought a bulk box of over 100 juice boxes for $6.50 (the healthier kind, like apple juice and orange juice. You can buy parishables there also, but we have found that they arent priced any cheaper than the regular stores. Some detergents and cleaners are super cheap there too. Salad dressings are about .60 cents to $1 and that is for some more expensive brands like Cardini's dressings(they are my fave!). Chapsticks 6 for $1, sunscreen less than $2 bottle, etc Protein bars are sometimes 10 for $1. (They are normally 6 in a box for $6 or$7 at a regular store). Many of these salvage stores are run by the Amish. We go about 3 times a year and stock up.

We are planting a veggie garden this yr for the first time... and praying it does well!! I haven't had one since I was a kid. We hope to save a lot.

We always pack snacks (or a cooler for longer trips) even if we are just going to the grocery store or the park. We bought some refillable water bottles with the sport top to take everywhere. We load em up with ice so the water stays nice and cold no matter how long we are out.

I always keep my eyes open for clearance items while I am out to buy now and give as a gift later. My sisters and I love scented candles so when the Eater candles go on sale after Easter just becuase they are a pastel color, I can get a $7 jar candle for $1. Same with gift bags... I can get a red giftbag after Valentine's day for .25 cents just because it is red...it doen't even say anything about Valantine's day on it! Same with toys...I bought a remote control car for $6 that was $20. Kids pajamas sets marked down to $2 in off season. I put them in a bin that I have, then anytime I need a gift, I look to see what I have. Family Christian Stores have doorbuster sales where they always have about 5 items at $5 ea. they change them every 3 or 4 weeks. they usually consist of really nice books or Bibles, and current CDs or DVD's. I stock up when I can. They always have nice clearance items too. they mark down these beautiful tree ornaments to less than a dollar after Christmas.

Other ideas: carpool when you can, use the library for internet access and movie rentals, rummage sales, shop at Big Lots and Ollie's if you have them, use online coupons that can be downloaded to a shoppers card (like a Kroger plus card) find out when your grocery store marks down bread and meat then buy it and freeze it(they usually mark it down a few days before the "sell by" date so it's not bad). I always look for marked down items at the grocery store! I have never had any problems with anything.

Someone had also mentioned having trading parties... I love that idea....we talked about doing that at our church, but hasn't happened yet. And I also like the idea of offering a service like babysitting as a gift. I had a babysitter that used to do that. she would offer all the parents one free Saturday evening of babysitting for free as a christmas gift. she put an expiration date of June I think which I thought was a good idea on her part and I would do that too. One time I gave my niece & nephew a coupon for a "day of fun" for a gift. We went out for pizza and to a park, then I took them back to my place to watch a movie I rented for free from the library. They were about 5 and 6 yrs old at the time. they loved it.

Sorry so long, I love this topic and if I can share I do.

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K.K.

answers from Seattle on

Children's Consignment Sales are a great way to save money on stuff you need for the kids - or to earn a few bucks selling things you no longer need. Like the Just Between Friends or similar Sales in your area www.jbfsale.com

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T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

If you live in Canada yes you are paying way to much! Cable is on sale for one year for 9.95 a month,telephone is 9.95 per month of one year! And internet is is also 9.95 per month for a year!
Save money now! Do you have a gas water heater? Turn it down! Electric heat? Turn it off when you sleep and are at work! Use less lights! Always buy on sale ie toilet paper,sanipads, dish soap! Shampoo,conditioner! Even hair cuts...always buy less veggies, throw out less or make soup at the end of the week,or stew,or chilli. Saves a lot of money! If you make it on the weekend,you can eat it then or freeze it! Always take pre made lunch to work! Make your own coffee! Have your newspaper delivered to your home or office! Buy all gifts on sale and in advance! Save 10% of what you earn! Use second hand new! Lots of second hand stores have an assortment of new items with the tags still on the items! Big saving! Recycle everything! Walk more saves on the car bills,oil changes only on sale...shop around for everything! My friends rule when shopping! Do I LOve it? If not leave it behind! Leave credit cards at home when shopping! Put it on hold for 24 hours you may change your mind!Or Wait for the sale! Do a free trade party invites your friends to bring items they no longer use and trade them! Or give away or sell them! It is lots of fun! Share rides share fuel costs! Cheap night movies,dinners out! Or go early some places have half meals if you order before 5pm! Or after 9 pm! Need a new outfit go shopping at home with a friend get lots of new ideas! Want to be really cheap! Cut the end off the toothpaste! Rinse out all contains til the last drop! Flyer shop plan all meals! Everything is on about a six week cycle! Ride your bike to school or work! Do some free stuff,ie go for a walk,visit a friend! Go to a church event! Read the local newspaper! And then do something out of the paper! Have a garage sale a least twice a year! Take all your bottles and cans back for refund! Go to a flea market!Seek deals! Try to find bargin, and make deals, always barter! Buy a 5 dollar calling card for long distance some are a penny per min.Do your own pedicure manicure! Save big! go to the local library! Rent a movie! Have a potatoe night bake a potatoe then empty the fridge of the leftovers, to put on the baked potatoes! Make your own hand and face cream! Green tea(two cups) olive oil(4 cups) bees wax 1 cup, vitamin e oil as desired, add scent put in blender! Hand made gifts! Cards or ecards (free)! Craigslist lots of free items! The list goes on and on! Eat at home more! Make a budget! Make a grocery list! Stick too lists! Have fun! Be creative! Ask for less interest on all credit cards! Pay off the highest interest rate card and get rid of it! Take out a personal loan if you have credit card debt! Saves lots of money interest charges! Change banks get less banking fees or even free! Oil changes on time save money! Free check up that goes with it can save 100's to 1000's. Go to the dentist twice a year can save lots of money too! Plan major purchases! Pay cash offer less! Have a great day! Ps eat less meat! Carry your reusable bags! Smile more frown less,laugh more! Plan more spend less!

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L.V.

answers from Sioux Falls on

You have gotten so much good advice, I will be using some of it. I will probably repeat what others have said but here's what we do....

-went to basic cable, at first it was hard but we have adjusted and spend more time with our kids instead of watching TV.
-dropped our land line down to the minimum, no call waiting, no caller id etc. my hubby doesn't have a cell phone so we need our land line
-got our one and only cell phone on my mom's plan for an extra $10 a month on her bill through sprint.
-stopped eating out except for the rare special occasion. we only order water to drink, no appitizers, no desserts, and we order a meal or two to split between our three kids
-stopped buying gifts for out of town family and bought gift cards instead at a set amount for everyone. we save by not going over our budget for gifts and don't have to pay for the extra postage mailing a gift would cost.
-we stopped renting movies and started going to the library. they have a website where we can request movies as they come available so we don't miss the movies we want to see, we just have to wait a while to see them. it works for us and helps justify losing the high tier cable.
-I don't buy books to read, I write down the title and the name of the author of books i see in the store that i want to read and then i request them at the library and read them for free.
-we use onesuite.com for long distance calls at only 2.9 cents a minute or use our cell phone after 7 and on weekends
-we created a budget for everything we spend. we religiously track our spending. my husbands checks pay for all the bills and savings for emergencies and vacation and my checks pay for all the living expenses like groceries, gas, haircuts, birthday gifts etc.
-I cut my husbands hair with a set of clippers that has paid for itself over and over again. our girls get hair cuts about twice a year at great clips or cost cutters with a coupon and i use these salons as well for myself and my son with a coupon about every 6 weeks.
-we have a beginner garder that we started last year. we grew tomatoes, peppers, carrots, beets, onions, radishes and strawberries. I haven't tackled canning just yet but did make stewed tomatoes from our home grown tomatoes, onions and peppers and froze it for use during the winter.
-my kids drink milk, water and a small amount of juice on occasion. juice boxes are reserved for special occasions like birthday parites or long trips.
-we take our own snacks and drinks everywhere we go like trips to the zoo, circus, public pool, and any other places where concessions are offered.
-i'm planning on using our clothes line this summer for drying clothes instead of the dryer. this is a new one for us but one I have been wanting to incorporate.
-i color my own hair at home, and i pluck my own eye brows instead of having them waxed. I also do my own pedicures and manicures.
-we shop at Sams for eggs, milk, butter, cheese and some meats. Also, some toiletries like deodorant and shampoo. From Sam's i also get trash bags, dish soap, etc. Also some packaged foods like pickles, parmesaen cheese, bulk spaghetti noodles etc. However i don't buy canned foods from sams as i can get store brands cheaper at the grocery store. Sams also has whole frozen chickens, chicken breasts and rotisary chickens that are a good deal.
-I buy store brands whenever possible, make a list before shopping and try to stick to it. buy fruits and vegetables that are in season and on sale. i also stock up when i see something on sale that i use often.
-I'm working on eliminating papertowels from our life by using dish towels and cloth napkins. we're not all the way there but using less and less.
-i sell my kids clothes, shoes, toys, books etc at a local consignment sale that happens twice a year. whatcomesaroundgrowsaround.com and buy clothes, toys ect for my kids at these sales as well. i shop at other local consignment stores for their clothes as well or buy new off of clearance racks. i rarely ever buy new or full price for kids clothes.
-I buy and sell on craigs list. i'm moving towards a more minimalist, simplified life buy getting rid of all the nick-nacks and excess stuff we have accumulated in our lives. craigs list is great for this stuff.
-I also have a garage sale at least once a year.

good luck!

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N.S.

answers from Chicago on

I looked to see where my money was going and tried to cut down there. I make my own laundry detergent, it takes 5 minutes, it lasts a LONG time and it only cost me $15 to get the initial supplies. I haven't bought laundry detergent in 6 months!

I make my own household cleaners. Vinegar and water!

We get netflix, and you can watch a lot of TV shows via the internet now so why pay for cable? We can also watch instant movies through our Wii.

We still pay a LOT for our phones, but we need them for home-based business.

Planning meals and cutting down on expensive foods like chips and goodies. We make one dessert a week and we don't eat chips anymore. They are very expensive and bad for you anyway!

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D.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Greetings W., you have recieved so many great responces but I wanted to add my 2cents. We ave faced a financial crunch like many families. The first thing I did was look at my checkbook and see where I spend the most money and then decided how to adjust it- that saved me nearly a $100.00 last month! I am a big family party giver and to give it up nearly did me in( it gave me pleasure) so have found that asking everyone to bring things instead of providing it all has made it fun for everyone. We also are "cash only" people now and that has made a world of differance, the exception is gasoline and that I only do every other fill up. The cable was hard for us as we liked the Sci fi and Religious channels 228 &229 and the History Channel. We have adjusted and have the motto of "We can only watch [email protected] a time anyway". So with phone,internet,& TV I only pay $55.00. I have scaled down on gift giving but when I do it is as item that can be used for emergancy storage - flashlights,things to go into the car incase of er while at work and a list of things they should have on hand for earth quake preparedness or I will do a service for the person -help do laundry, take in a meal, watch children and wash the car or will help with a group gift that is a big ticket item . I also have learned a lesson from my mother in law- She gives cash to children instead of buying a gift after age 3, it is less expensice in the long run and the child can enjoy getting thier own item, or she donates in theirhonor to a charity and that makes the children feel important.
I Hope that we all learn from one another to make us do the right things.
Good Luck

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A.P.

answers from New York on

I didn't read through all your responses, and am getting to this a little late in the game, but I don't know if anyone mentioned Angel Food? You don't have to qualify, anyone can use it... https://www.angelfoodministries.com/

Also, someone mentioned getting rid of cable. We did that too, and went down to basic, but we still wanted a lanline. So my husband bought this device called OOMA which essentially replaces our phone service...
http://www.ooma.com/
As for entertainment, we either watch what's on basic, or we rent from Netflix, which now also has many shows and movies you can watch instantly.

I also made small changes like stopped buying paper towels. That one was a little tricky--had to do it cold turkey. Now I use rags for clean-ups, and we use cloth napkins for faces and hands (I actually ordered some cute hand-made ones from a stay-at-home mom, about $1 each. I also bought a re-useable swiffer cloth, also from a stay-at-home mom.

Good luck--it's now become like a fun challenge/game for me!

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K.L.

answers from St. Cloud on

Make your own cleaning products using baking soda, bleach, vinegar respectively). Super cheap and very effective.

Go 'No-poo' - use baking soda and apple cider vinegar to wash/condition your hair. No chemicals and super cheap.

Switch to cloth kitchen towels instead of paper towels. I have 2 dozen bar towels that we use. Works wonderful.

Make your own laundry detergent (washing soda, borax, and castille soap). Or use less detergent . Recent articles have stated that we use twice as much as really is needed for just worn clothing. Actually read the detergent bottle to see how much you need for lightly soiled loads. 1-2oz or 1-2 tablespoons is usually sufficient. Wash in cold water if possible.

Eliminate fabric softener/dryer sheets or cut in half. I dilute my softener 50% with water and cut dryer sheets in half. Using half as much with the same results makes them last twice as long. Hang drying saves money, but can also dry in dryer, but only until just dry.

Use cloth diapers on babies (expense up front, but savings in the end). Modern cloth diapers are so easy and have evolved so much from grandma's day.

Recycle, reuse, repurpose, regift anything you can.

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S.H.

answers from San Francisco on

About a year ago I joined TheGroceryGame.com to save money on groceries. It's the biggest way we are saving money. I am sent a list each Saturday for Safeway (they have lists for several stores). On the "list" are all the rockbottom sales paired with store and manufacturer coupons. They do all the research so you don't have to spend hours searching ads and your coupon files. I save the coupon inserts from my paper, date them, and file them. I have family members who give me their coupons as well. When the there is a coupon I need from the "list" then I find the insert and clip it. I will never bring my coupon file to the store! I fill up my cart with healthy foods and hardly ever spend more than $100. There are times when I only spend about $60 a week for my family of four. I usually save between 50-70% on my groceries. I even end up with some free stuff time to time. When I find a good sale on items I use reguraly, I stockpile enough for about 3 months. I never pay full price for anything. I have learned to plan meals using the food I already have. It's $10 every 8 weeks (you pay for it 10xs over during your first shopping trip.) but you can try the first month for free. I HIGHLY recommend it. It's the best way to save money on groceries.

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E.A.

answers from Providence on

I bought a "Food Saver" vacuum machine and when I cook, I cook extra of things that can be frozen. It's a wonderful kitchen tool and with a little forethought you can have meals frozen from any sales or bulk purchases you've taken advantage of. The great thing is, if you don't feel like cooking... your meal is in a bag for the family and is just as delicious as originally served. Knowledge of what freezes well is a big help. I would never be without it.

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A.T.

answers from Stockton on

Great question! I've cut back on trips to Costco and did a lot of comparative shopping before going - milk eggs cheese are a great price there as are TP & frozen ground beef other stuff like cereal is cheaper at Safeway. Leave the hubby and kids home to keep impulse buys at bay. I discovered that ordering groceries online and paying for delivery saves m e at least $20 compared with taking the kids and hubby. We have a newborn so the thought of going makes me tired! Target & walmart are cheaper for hygeine items like mouthwash, shampoo etc.
I don't buy birthday cards for kids - just have my son make one - saves $1+ and kids never read them anyway.
If you've lived in the same place for over a year you can have your utility companies average out your bill so you can make a consistent budget. Pay your bills online through your bank and save postage and time.
Call your insurance companies to see if you're getting the best price and shop around. We got 10% off all our auto insurance because hubby is in the scientific field we just had to fax his diploma - they also discount teachers! If you don't ask they won't tell you!
We rarely go to see movies - our son sometimes gets terrified and we end up leaving so now we just rent them.
the library is great too!

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A.O.

answers from San Francisco on

I had a friend who told me that if you feel that you're paying too much to Comcast, call them up and tell them that you are looking at switching to another provider because you can't afford them, and they will work with you about dropping your bill for at least 6 months.

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R.S.

answers from Redding on

We love TV shows-- but only on the internet and netflix-- cable is a waste of money. Land line telephone is MUCH cheaper if you do not get long distance service (instead use calling cards you buy at Costco and/or skype on the internet).
Just buy the raw ingredients for your food. Pre-made food is expensive (e.g. compare buying salad dressing to what it costs to make it at home; pre-sliced turkey meat is much more expensive than buying a raw chicken once a week, baking it the first night for dinner then using it for soup and sandwich meat for the rest of the week, whole wheat bread is much cheaper to bake yourself and not as hard as you might think, a head of lettuce is cheaper and last longer than the packaged lettuce).
Good luck! We're all there with you.

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M.M.

answers from Dayton on

in my house we are using magic jack for our phone. you pay $39.99 to start, and that includes the first year of service. after that its $19.99 a year. only thing required is broadband internet, so for us its $49.99 a month for internet and have my phone too.

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J.H.

answers from Los Angeles on

I am an avid reader and could no longer justify the high costs of paperbacks, even with the coupons and deals from bookstores and even Amazon. I started going to the library (free) and also signed on to paperbackswap.com, which i absolutely LOVE. I almost always can get the book I want, for the cost of one credit. How it's done is you list all the books in your library, another member can request a book from you, and that is how you earn credits. You do have to pay for mailing the book, but I found that it's way cheaper to mail my books out and get credits for them in return, than buying books new. Media mail rates for paperbacks, so I've found, cost me anywhere between $1.75 - 2.50.They also have sister sites called SwapaCD.com and SwapaDVD.com that do the same thing.

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M.F.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Yes, $140.00 is to much! I pay $76.67 a month for Basic Cable, High Speed/booster, and digital phone service/with voicemail and call waiting through Cox. You might consider cutting back on the tiers as that is where they get the extra money from. With the high speed service you can watch movies via the internet for free on some sites. I cut food cost by making sure that I have a needs only list, I make the deserts myself, I go through Krafts Foods and get budget receipes and stick to them. I bag my own groceries and shop at Sack & Save or Buy for Less...using store brand, and coupons are a life saver. I have cut my grocery bill down to $150.00 for 2 people a month and we eat 3 meals a day. No steaks unless they are on a great sale price, I buy in bulk and build the menu around items I have on hand. Hope this helps.
M.

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M.B.

answers from San Francisco on

You are doing all the right things. Also make sure if you see any "freebee" ie. Food Maxx etc. pick up those as well. Cut down on the trips to the grocery shopping. My Cable is the highest bill too and I am trying to figure out how the heck to cut it down. I need some of the channels, and of course others I don't and you since you can' t pick and choose mine is pretty high. Plus I have my internet but I am wondering how people are transitioning to watching tv on the internet. I have heard of it, but haven't done it.
Also when you go out to eat make sure if you have kids you go on the kids eat free day. It may not be the day you want but it is still a treat. Also, Movie swap DVD's with friends or co-workers. That is fun and saves a lot of money. Good Luck!!

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M.H.

answers from Atlanta on

HI W.,

Everyone has great suggestions and my family does most of them. We drive older cars and use the students at our local auto college to repair them. (The teacher is supervising so that keeps the service good.) Same for our haircuts, the local beauty college...

I don't make my own cleaning products but I buy them from an online company that sell them for less than Walmart and the homemade kind. They are non toxic and they keep us healthy. I know this is a little different than what some of the other moms said but staying healthy SAVES lots of money. My husband never misses work, we don't have doctor bills and my girls can babysit even sick children and stay well so they can make some extra money. (Most moms will pay more when their baby is sick.) We even eat primarily organically but I've come to realize that when you are getting proper nutrition, you crave less food and you purchase less. Our budget for food is no higher now than when we were eating all the processed stuff...We eat at home and my husband takes his lunch to work.

We have a season membership to a local theme park so after the initial cost our entertainment is free all year ....rides, zoo and even concerts. Some people think spending money for the membership is a large cost but when we factored out what we used to spend for fun, this was soooooo much cheaper. Once it's paid for, whether we have a good month or not financially, we still can enjoy ourselves and limit stress....which goes back to good health.

Financial health goes hand in hand with physical health and emotional health. We've tried to think outside the box and it's worked for us.

God bless!

M.

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F.S.

answers from San Francisco on

My Comcast Special for a year was $99 for all three. Then I was billed more but the special was still offered on t.v. I phoned and they said no, only for new customers. So I phoned to cancel and they asked why and I told them I could not afford more than $99 so they said okay as they did not want to loose my business. So I suggest phoning the cancel dept and doing the same.
Have leftover veggies? Save them in the fridge for a few days and make a pot of Hamburger Soup my sister sent me this receipe. I use ground turkey and cook that with onions and celery. Put that in a pot and add your leftover veggies, leftover rice, noodles or potatoes. A great way to make a healthy soup. You could also save leftover veggies in the freezer.
I make my own beans, lentils, and split peas dishes which saves money and I don't get all the salt in canned products.
I try to reuse, reduce, recycle, and make the earth a cleaner place. We love going to garage sales!
F.

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L.W.

answers from Miami on

We have cable internet so we stream movies and tv shows from there. We don't have cable tv or a home phone. So we only pay 33.00 for just the internet. Then we have 2 cell phones with verizon that we pay $80. That's a better deal for us because we were always using the cells anyway and never the home phone. We only eat out once a paycheck, sometimes not even that. We sit down and make a menu with each paycheck. When we go shopping, we only get what's on it as much as possible. I buy a big bottle of bleach and a big bottle of pine sol every couple months or less. I keep spray bottles with bleach water and pine-sol water around for cleaning. It's cheaper then ready made cleaners. I clean whatever I can with water. I do use a swiffer mop, but I spray the floor with the pine sol and water when the pad dries and use it until it's filthy before I throw it away. When we want to get something, we set aside a few dollars each paycheck until we can buy it. And there's the usual stuff like having the kids turn off lights when they leave a room and only take 15 minute showers. The dishwasher and clothes washer don't get run unless there is full load. The biggest budget cutter though was selling both of our old cars and getting one new one. It means that I have to wait until my husband is home with the car to have one, but I can walk places if I really want to go out. Homeschooling saves us money in a few ways, but that's not actually the reason behind it. And that's not for everyone!

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K.I.

answers from Spokane on

I think you are paying the right amount for all 3...that's what I have and what I pay....but to cut back and save we cut the cable and internet off every summer. The kids complained the first year but now they don't even blink :)

I buy almost everything store brand or generic instead of name brand. Some things need to be name brand but if you try them out you would be surprised as to what is just as good but way cheaper! We also started eating less complicated meals...no more home made Chinese food and all its million ingredients. We never go out to eat anymore and we do not buy any splurge items anymore...like DVD's or whatnot. If it is not a necessary item we just do not buy it anymore! I shop for school clothes/shoes on the clearance racks etc.

We make a bi-monthly budget and we stick to it. DH and I do budget in a adult evening out every other month as a reward for sticking to the budget... and it gives us something to look forward to!

Last summer we thru our first ever garage sale to make some extra $ that was a big success.

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R.M.

answers from San Francisco on

I went through this a year ago and managed to cut waayyyyy back.

We now have Comcast's most basic cable (about $20/mo.), internet through our local phone provider, Verizon (about $35/mo.), and for home phone we got an Ooma (free).

Ooma's great! The calls aren't quite as clear as what we got from AT&T, but once you buy the box (about $250, but look for sales at Amazon and Costco - I got mine for $179) you never pay another penny for home phone, and the quality of the calls is more than good enough. Ooma paid for itself very quickly. You can even keep your home phone number if you want.

So, that $140 you're paying Comcast? I'm paying $55/mo.

We fill in on our missed channels by watching online. TNT, USA, etc. offer most of their shows online, and for sports we use ESPN 360. We got a cord that goes from my laptop to the tv and the shows look great! We get movies from the $1 kiosk at the grocery store or free from the library.

I also REALLY recommend Tracfone. I have my family of 4 on their family plan for only $22/mo. I get 100 minutes a month and each of my 3 kids get 60 minutes a month. If we need more, we can buy extra top-up cards. I find that I can usually squeak by on my 100 minutes, and if the kids want more time, they earn their own money and buy it themselves. If you're a heavy texter, Virgin Mobile offers an unlimited texting plan for $20/mo. You have to buy your own phone with these plans, but there aren't any contracts and they pay for themselves very quickly.

One last thing - about haircuts. I used to regularly go to a salon that charged $80/cut. Then I discovered the strip mall hairdressers. I found someone who cuts my hair for $20 (no wash, dry, or style, but the cut is great) and she does a really good job.

Good luck!

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C.F.

answers from San Francisco on

That's what I pay for cable also. I live close to my parents and grandmother. In an attempt to eath healthier, we have started having our dinners together. It has really saved us money in groceries, and we are eating more vegetables (which was the original goal). Good luck!

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E.P.

answers from Chicago on

There are a lot of good suggestions here that I will be using. My husband put all our credit cards, bank accts, mortgage, etc on mint.com. He set a budget for every category and this website takes all the transactions we've made and categorizes it. We can then see how much money we've spent in each category and what we need to cut back on. For instance, so far this month we've spent $500 on groceries, $250 eating out, $300 on gas. That is ridiculous! We're going to soon be racking in a lot less money so we really need to cut back. This site is owned by the company that owns Quickens so we felt safe to give them out account numbers and passwords. It is also free and saves us with having to download all the information into excel. It's an awesome tool!!

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S.R.

answers from Colorado Springs on

Wonderful ideas! Thank you, ladies! A few more:

-Dump Soup: Put a container (or a ziploc bag) into the freezer and throw leftover rice, potatoes, and veggies in it. When the container is filled up, all you have to do is add some broth and meat, warm it up, and dinner is served!

-Make you own cleaners and laundry soap: This website has some great recipes! http://thefamilyhomestead.com/homemaking.htm

-Stay home! Do all your errands in one or two days, and stay home the rest! We save a LOT of gas money by getting our shopping done all at once. There are plenty of fun things to do at home: puzzles and games, bubbles, make homemade yummies (the kids love cooking and baking, and I love the extra help!), cleaning (it can actually be fun! 1.Put an old sock on your kid's hands, blast some fast music, and get to dusting! 2. We throw clothes into the washer and dryer and try to make baskets! 3.I let my kids play with bubbles in the kitchen. When they are done, I give them wet rags and they mop the floors! They love it, and I get a clean house!), reading together, and crafting (the Dollar Tree has really inexpensive craft items- pompoms, paint and brushes, wood, etc.), to give you some ideas! =)

-Gardening and Chickens: We started our first garden this year, and we are so looking forward to our harvest! The best veggies are the homegrown sort. =) Also, if you are able to get chickens, do it! My friend had 10 chickens and she was spending about $12 a month on feed, and she was getting an egg a day from each chicken which equaled about 25 dozen eggs a month- for $12 dollars! You don't need more than a few chickens, but if you have the room, you can get more chickens and give eggs to other families who may have that need. =)

Hope these help! Blessings!!

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E.M.

answers from Bakersfield on

Hi Mama-
first, we don't have cable. I also cut out the internet and the home phone. We have cell phones only. We also share one economy car (a saturn).
As far as grocery shopping goes, the two cheapest places I have found to shop are Trader Joe's and Food Maxx. Trader Joe's has great prices on things like peanut butter, low sugar jams, tortillas, bagged veggies, etc. And then food maxx fills in the rest. For bread, I have a local Orowheat outlet (Bakersfield) where the most expensive loaf of bread on a non saver day is $2 something. I never pay more than $1.79 for a loaf, or for a baggie of those sandwich rounds. It's truly amazing.
And we cut out going out to eat or ordering pizza. If you must have a pizza, then search for a hungry howies. Pizza's are $7 and really good. My favorite place with hotwings and wedges and pizza ends up costing us $35-40. But hungry howies only costs us $15. Then there is a website called couponmom.com. It's a little overwhelming at first, but it has great money saving advice and coupons.
If you have a medium to large family, consider costco or sam's club. Buying in bulk can save you money (if you can use it all).
Lastly, plan all your trips. You may find yourself with some extra time, but if you plan your outings to may a full circle from your house to stores to house, and then make your lists in advance, you will cut the number of trips to the store, etc.
Hope this helps!
-E. M

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K.C.

answers from Yuba City on

Buy from the bulk bins at Raleys, Nugget Market, Winco, and health food stores (I live in Grass Valley, CA and they have a somewhat small discount health food store that marks down everything (including all of the very popular brands - they are much cheaper than Elliotts Natural Foods). You can get organic flours and sugars and flax seed etc. in the bins. I also started shopping at Grocery Outlet and am stunned at how much lower priced things are there, especially organic maple syrup, organic butter, frozen things, cereal, etc. It is definitely a tremendous savings for us. Also, when I go out to shop, I ask God to help me not waste time and lead me to stores that will have items that are reduced or discounted that I was not aware of. Be extravagant in your requests of Him, as he longs to give us the desires of our heart. K.

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D.R.

answers from San Francisco on

Regarding the Comcast bill, we got ours temporarily lowered by talking with Comcast customer service ("we're thinking about switching because it's so expensive - is there anything you can do for us?"). They gave us the promo rate that you get as a new customer - it lasted for a year. It recently expired and went back up, so we will try calling again. I think it depends on who you talk to though - the first agent we talked to said there was nothing she could do. The one who gave us the promo rate was someone we talked with through the customer service live chat online.

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M.B.

answers from Sacramento on

We've cut back on eveything!
We no longer go out to dinner. It has to be an special event: birthday, anniversary!
We looked at our cable/phone/internet bill, comparison shopped (found we were at the best company) but deleted HBO to save $25/yr.
Buy some food in bulk (chicken, ground beef) and make meals that have leftovers that my husband can take for lunch.
I cut out all magazine subscriptions (except once in awhile I will get a year's subscription for $5/yr through Mags4cheap.com to read on the treadmill).
I rarely use coupons because I buy the cheap storebrand finding it cheaper than the brand with the coupon.)
I took the cheapest cell phone plan.
I shop at Grocery Outlet and have cut my grocery bill in half.
I found AM/PM had the cheapest gas if you pay cash. Safeway too if you hop there you sometimes get 10 cents of a gallon. Hope this helps!

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F.H.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi W., I didn't go thru all your prior responses but if no one mentioned it, shop your home/auto insurance thru an independent agent (not someone like Farmers, State Farm, Allstate, they are only with that one company). You can switch at any time and you don't have to wait until renewal. I have saved my clients AT LEAST $100 per mont. Good luck!

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K.M.

answers from San Francisco on

You have to decide most of this based on YOUR priorities. I stopped our cable, but we have an extensive DVD collection for the kids. I stopped wasting money on throw away items. I saved 1/4 of my monthly grocery bill by watching EVERYthing I threw in the garbage and asking myself how I could save on THAT item. I stopped paying for packaging. Generic or homemade mac n cheese tastes the same as commercial ones. I stopped using paper plates. buy cereal in a bag. etc. Also, a real biggie for me is going grocery shopping alone on a full stomach. No kids saying I want this or that. Also, as far as grocery shopping (any shopping really) bring a designated amount of cash and a list. No ATM or credit cards. It really helps a lot !!

Updated

Here's one more thing that really helped me. I started paying for my gas with cash. It's so easy to swipe your card and not even look at how much you just spent. When you become aware of the expense you realize you could walk a lot of places, or just eliminate this particular errand. For instance, put your kids on the school bus where possible. Get your son to ride with a friend to soccer every other time. etc.

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S.B.

answers from Houston on

1. Food. I avoid paying full price at the grocery store by clipping coupons.
I apply the coupon to your products usually when the store runs a sale on the item and I've saved more. I look for manager's specials at Kroger. Last week, I bought a 1/2 gallon of milk for .79 and eggs for 1.25.
2. Household. I clean my own house with inexpensive cleaners, vinegar and bleach based. I steam clean my own carpets with the Bissell carpet cleaner I bought on sale two years ago. I dumped my mops and swiffer in the trash and bought the Shark steam cleaner, which only uses water and steam to clean tile and wood. No more expensive chemicals to buy.
3. Entertainment. I rent movies from Redbox for 1.00 and buy popcorn and candy on sale at the grocery store. When my sons receive their report cards, I take them into Blockbuster and let them choose a free movie.
They love it!
4. Debt. Both of our cars are paid off. My husband drives a Toyota Avalon with 138,000 miles on it, but it will last to 300,000 if maintained properly.
Our mortgage is paid off. My husband made additional payments to get the principal down and then finally pay off our mortgage. That money goes into savings now.
5. Clothing. I only shop for clothes with coupons. Osh Kosh offers coupons and an incentive program when you buy clothes.
6. Cell Phone. I use a tracfone, so I am not obligated to a contract.
I don't text, as that costs me minutes. I only use my phone for
necessary calls, not chatting for an hour with a friend.

I hope that helps!

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E.I.

answers from Seattle on

OMG! $140 for cable/internet/phone? If you can, I'd cut the cable. There's so much online now at places like HULU.COM. I watch Supernanny, Glee, etc on Hulu. That way, you'll save at least $50-60 on cable. In fact, getting rid of your TV is a huge money saver. Does that sound crazy?

Updated

OMG! $140 for cable/internet/phone? If you can, I'd cut the cable. There's so much online now at places like HULU.COM. I watch Supernanny, Glee, etc on Hulu. That way, you'll save at least $50-60 on cable. In fact, getting rid of your TV is a huge money saver. Does that sound crazy?

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D.S.

answers from Tulsa on

I do angel food have for years. check angelfoodministries.com. other than that I am having a very hard time saving money. everything that can go wrong has gone wrong. I also use vinegar water to clean almost everything. I am interested in seeing what kind of answers you get.

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B.A.

answers from Chicago on

Go through all your bills carefully every month, almost monthly there is a mistake on at least one of them, a call equals money I would have just given away. I would cancel home phone if you have cell phones, cancel cable and use antenna you and your kids will be healthier for it and save more, and for internet price around and see what you can get for what you actually need. If you can't live without cable then call comcast and ask for a better deal, then call ATT, Verizon, Dish, Direct and get their deals, choose who saves you the most and let them each know you are calling everyone. Make sure you shop only 2-3 times a month for food and other household items, less time in the store, the less you generally spend unless you find an amazing offer of items that you use and it won't be there on the scheduled shopping day. Choose your menu, use ads, coupons and internet to create shopping list and menu for the best deal. If you don't garden dig a 2foot by 4 foot area and plant a few seeds of each of your favorite veggies, up to 5 and try to tend to it, keep weeded and watered and if it produces you will have some replacements for pricey store veggies, if nothing grows you should not have wasted more than about 3-4 dollars. By only shopping for anything a few times a month should save on car gas. Also walk/bike wherever you can-saves on gas, car wear, limits what you can "just stop by" and limits how much you can buy if you happen to go to a store. If you have any consumer debt at all, work hard to get rid of it, even if it means babysitting, housesitting, or getting a part time job. Don't use disposable anything, kids lunchboxes use reusable containers, zip lock bags cost alot and you can also use reusable containers at home. Set an entertainment budget this would include incidental stops at fast food/drinks out and don't ever go beyond it. It moneys is gone stay home or do free stuff.

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S.H.

answers from Fort Smith on

Great posts from everyone and I was needing the question answered also. We do the garden. I try to do the coupons but don't seem to be very good at it. We canceled our trash service. So now my DH has me sorting everything. It is a hassle- but saves $17.00 month. We have cows so they get the food leftovers, birds get the bread, we burn everything we can, smash our soda cans and get cash back. My 9yr daughter loves to wear jeans in the winter and jean shorts in the summer. I had the great idea to cut off her jeans from the winter, (all except one pair just in case) so now she has stylish cut offs. She's a growing girl so it dawned on me by next fall/winter she wouldn't be able to wear the jeans anyway. She loves them and it saved me from having to buy "summer" clothes. I have the same problem with Dish/Verizon bills??? I try to not use a lot of paper towels, but for sanitary reasons I really like having them in the bathroom especially when guests come. Who wants to wipe their hands on a towel everyone else has used. I tried each family member having their own hand towel but someone always got mixed up. I liked the idea about -if and when you eat out- get it to go so you save on drinks and tips. I have started ordering water for sure if we eat out. Great ideas, mom! Thanks for the question-W.. I think it is helping all of us.

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K.F.

answers from New York on

We don't have cable.

We use our cell phone to tether our computer to the internet. So we only pay one internet fee instead of two.

I can only go on this super saving mode for a time then I just explode and go spending crazy. So in order to get past this part of myself. I just begin to think of ways I can earn extra money on the side.

So we do things like sell things on Ebay, flee market, Craig's list. We also look at the different talents we have and offer those for hire to acquire extra money. My neices have an after hours baby sitting service. My nephews have a clearing clutter business. My husband has a music studio with 124 tracks. And I sell painting and photographs. All of this extra money really helps increase our savings.

So while you are getting your spending and shopping adjusted, try combining that with increasing your income you will find a much better balance to life. Hope this helps too.

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M.R.

answers from Philadelphia on

This is the most wonderful information I have read in a while!
I did read somewhere to put that crock pot to use. Veggie leftovers - the last part of the onion, the tops of celery etc. go in the pot with some water - cook it overnight and you have a wonderful vegetable stock to make soup or sauce. The veggies that have cooked can be pureed and added to the stock.
My take on Chinese stir-fry is to again use those bits and pieces. A little red bell pepper - celery - scallions etc that are sitting in the 'frig - chop and stir fry them and add the leftover - chicken - or pork. And don't forget the egg drop soup! A different way to start the meal - broth and whipped eggs drizzled into the hot broth.
Some of M.'s best soups were the ones that cleaned out all of the leftovers! And if you freeze that tad of corn and that spoonful of green beans - you have the makings for a free meal! Date those containers - and do a monthly clean out. Starting a meal with a soup - like the resturants offer - will make you eat less of the main course.
Love the using the libraries - there are many cookbooks there to help with cheap meals. Garden ideas - container gardens can give you tomatoes and bell peppers easily. Large plastic storage bins are good to grow garden lettuce. It grows quickly! And you can read the newspapers there or on line!
Libraries have many magazines for you to sign-out and read - FREE!! There video, DVD and CD collections are a great source of entertainment.
Many have said they no longer use dryer sheets - I use white vinegar. It cuts the detergent and leaves no odor. Also helps with static cling.
I have to say I am so excited by this question and the responses. I am motivated to look for more ways to save. Thank you!!

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A.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Comcost offered me $80 for phone, cable and internet last year! I didn't take it. I am crazy about stretching $1. Besides, it was probably just a promotion for 6 months or something. I am reading this to get more ideas! I have no home phone. (My work pays my cell.) We pay $13 for Comcast cable but we hardly get any channels (you adjust). We watch a lot of rented movies. We pay a bigger chunk of $ for internet. I'm not sure what that is, I'll have to find out. I wish more people would drop their cable so the price would go down. That is just ridiculous!
My husband cuts my hair, I've never had a magazine or newspaper subscription, I get most of my clothes at thrift stores, and all my books too. I shop for my son at thrift stores (or he gets gifts or hand-me-downs). I pay for my son's vaccines through the county - $15 a shot. I also do not use dryer sheets or a lot of other items most household use. I use a Brita for water.
We buy from Costco all we can as a family of 3 - tp, paper towels, butter, frozen chicken, sodas. As for other groceries, we spend about $300 a month. I get all generic brands. I bring my lunch to work, unless it's a b-day for a co-worker and sometimes I'll go to that. My have a bread maker and make pizza dough in it all the time! It's so cheap. All you have to do is add the ingredients and then it does it all.
Take time for enjoyment at parks or the beach or in your own backyard!

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L.D.

answers from Modesto on

Comcast sounds about normal if you need it. Otherwise look into other options - others gave great suggestions. We have dropped Starbucks (got a used espresso makerfor free from a friend of my mothers that moved away-mix coffee with milk and choc.syrup and viola we have mochas!). We eat out only for special occasions. Look for kids eat free days at restaurants (Chevys and IHop have these deals I think).We have no subscriptions except the local newspaper. Use Supercuts for haircuts. I no longer have my hair highlighted - this was the hardest for me (tried home color and didn't like the results so just dropped it altogether - but I have friends who look great with home color so you just never know). I have thought about the local beauty college but haven' t tried it yet. We use Skype to video call those that are out of state-the $65 bucks we spent on the Logitech equipment for it was well worth the money - all the calls are free. And it's more fun too when you can see the person! I eliminated dryer sheets - don't really need them. We have a very few symthetic items that get static, but you just pull them apart no big deal. We invested in a big clothes line (the self standing tripod kind) last summer and I hung the clothes to dry which offset our airconditioning bill - dryers take a huge amount of energy! It works well here where it gets very hot. We fold it away in the winter. Take bag lunches to work. Never buy DVD's. Borrow from the library for kids movies/videos and books or swap what you already have with friends. Might not work so well for adult stuff because it's always checked out, but look into it. Grocery coupons are good but I find that I never have a coupon for what I need at the time. Best strategy is to shop first at Grocery Outlet if you have one and get what you can there (great for canned, frozen, boxed goods but watch expiration dates for fresher stuff and only buy if you will use right away) and follow up with your lowest price grocer after that (here it's Super WalMart). Buy as much as possible of the store brand. Buy whole chickens and roast them. Have sliced chicken the first night and then use leftovers for quesidellas the next night, etc. etc. Brining first makes the chicken moister and will stay moister longer as leftovers. Lastly if you have little kids, use thrift stores for clothes. My tip is to drive to the closest wealthy area and use the thrift stores there - they tend to get better brand, less worn stuff. Particularly local thrift stores supporting local hospitals or whatever - not necessarily national ones like Salvation Army. Not that Salvation Army can't have nice things but sometimes people donate specifically for their community. My mother volunteers at a thrift store and they gets tons of NICE kids clothes - you'd never know my kids have worn used clothes all their lives! Remember that you have to judge the savings versus your time and circumstance- i.e. if you can grow a garden great but not everyone has the room to do so or the time to commit to it to make it worth it. I learned about Angelfoodministries from other posts and will be checking it out. We sure can learn so much from each other! Good luck to you!

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S.S.

answers from Chicago on

Such a simple question and the answer is so hard. sigh...... We have cut back eating out. And when we do we mostly get it to bring home skipping the cost of tipping and drinks. a soda at a place like chili's etc is $2.50 I can get a 12 pk for that. grocery shopping. make your list ahead of time and stick to it. alot $10 for things you forgot and don't spend more than that. Get staples at aldi or similar type store. They have most everything there and you will save a bundle. Go to someplace like caputo's fresh market and get the produce. skip everything else as the markup is awful for the boxed and canned goods but the produce is spectacular. I go to 3 different grocery stores. Aldi's for the boxed and canned goods. Jewel for the meat and Caputo's for fruit and veggies. all 3 stores are pretty close together but I get the best deal by splitting up my trips. I easily spend $50 more a trip by trying to get it all at jewel. also do the redbox for video's rather than blockbuster.

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M.M.

answers from Dallas on

We stopped going to Starbuck's! :)

We have a garden with every vegetable we eat. We also freeze many of them for the winter. I have started making my own pico de gallo and salsa as those are staples in our house. I cut my dryer sheets in half - a box of 100 becomes a box of 200. Switched to mostly generic brands - doesn't always work out (sometimes they have more sugar and artificial ingredients) and we have to switch back but for the most part, we are pleased. Only make 1-2 trips per week for errands. Watch for sales. Buy cereal in the big, family size bags. We don't use credit cards. Hanging clothes to dry instead of putting them in the dryer - they last longer and saves electricity. I only wear make-up on the days I work or going to a special event. These are just a few. Nothing with a huge savings except the garden, but it helps a little here and a little there.

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R.C.

answers from Portland on

We don't have cable, and we have internet through our phone company, for both it is $65/mo. We don't watch TV, except for PBS sometimes, maybe once or twice a month. We like it that way. We had to pare down when we had a baby and only one of us was working, but we didn't have cable before that. To save money on groceries, we buy whole foods, bulk dry goods, and marinade for fish or chicken; that way we can buy higher quality food without budget-busting. We buy snack foods occasionally with coupons. I meal plan so that our food gets used; I saw an estimate that Americans throw away 25% of the food they buy. We use cloth diapers which I calculated saves about $800/year, we got the diapers used. We use the library for media like movies and music and books, since we pay $150/yr for that in taxes; we also go to events there for the kids. We do as much free stuff as we can for entertainment, and we buy things off of craigslist if we can. We don't have any data plans or anything like that on our cell phones, but I do like the security of the landline so I'm not going to cancel that.

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R.M.

answers from Topeka on

Start out with 2 small notebooks...one for you, one for your husband...write down every single penny that you spend....and then organize it in one notebook at home under broad categories: Rent/house payment, Utilities,Food,clothing,eating outgasoline,etc. At the end of the month add it all up and you will then have a clearer picture of where your money is going. Then you will be able to determine if you need to cut corners in a certain area.
I am a tireless coupon clipper but, as some of the other Mamas have said, don't fall into the trap of buying something just because it's on sae. (My husband used to tell me that I was going to "save him into the poor house...lol). Sometimes it is worth it to go a little overboard, for instance, sometimes they will put things on a "10 items for $10.00" sale and I will have a bunch of $1.00 coupons. I will use up all of my coupons and store those free items for later use. ( Or share them with my grown children)
Plant a garden, not only do you get great produce for your dining room table but you get to work outside, you get "free exercise" and if you have young children you can turn this into a great ongoing learning experience for them. Teach them the life cycle of plants, how water and nutrients help the plants grow, and teach them some of the greatest skills of all, being self reliant and working together with the family to benefit everyone!!!
There are so many organizations and co-ops out there now and California is one of the "greenest" states around!! I bet if you check into it you can find all sorts of exchange co-ops ( my daughter is in a Mama's group that once a quarter has a free "garage sale" type evening....everyone brings the things they no longer want from their home ( clothing, toys,furniture, anything you would find at a garage sale) and also a covered dish of food...they all eat dinnner together and have an enjoyable evening of visiting and they also go through all of the things there and take what they want to have at their house. A really great version of "one man's junk is another man's treasure" .
See if you can cut back on what you have on your cable...you will miss it at first but eventually you will forget that you don't have those 500 movie channels to choose from!!! You can go to hula.com or casttv.com to watch movies and tv programs for free!!!
I am glad you asked this question...it is interesting to see all of the responses!!
Let us know how you do on your new savings campaign!!

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K.J.

answers from Chicago on

If you get your hair colored, you might want to consider doing it yourself. I am SO not the type of person who is good with hair, but out of necessity I recently started doing my own single-process color. It costs me $6.99 for 4-6 weeks worth of color, compared to the $65 every 6 weeks I was spending (down from $180 every 2 months when I was doing full highlights and lowlights and a cut from Mario Triccoci.)

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R.D.

answers from Kansas City on

Never pay for things you don't have to! I have learned to 'coupon' (I think of myself as a bit of an Extreem Couponer at times!), and will NEVER pay for oral care (ie: toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, dental floss), personal items (ie: body wash, shampoo, conditioner, razors), and certain OTC items (ie: Benadryl, Tylenol, Band-Aids, ThermaCare) again!! I have even gotten tons of Purex laundry soap and Snuggle fabric softner FREE lately!! Yes, making it yourself is probably better for the environment, but I am super broke, so for me free is better.

Never pay full price if you don't have to...and you DON'T have to! I get Huggies Pull Ups for less than what I would pay for generic or store brand training pants, and have a major stockpile of wipes I have gotten for FREE as well. I have paid for some, but my price point is less than a penny each for Huggies or Pampers brand - which is less than what generics cost.

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H.K.

answers from Gainesville on

we don't have a local paper with any coupons, so I get on ebay, and there are people that sell grocery coupons in lots of 100. I pay about 2.50 or something and save over 50.00. I try to go for groceries once in two weeks. I have went to a few Taste of Home cooking schools to learn how to cook better (and make things from scratch, which saves a TON)
For movies, we rent from blockbuster via the mail box...18.95 a month. (we don't have a TV) . We pay for a local phone service (land line) which is 23.00 and then we have skype unlimited for only 2.95 a month. (skype is good for us because we don't do a lot of long distance) Cell phone is a cheap pay as you go phone.
We don't go in debt! If we don't have money for it, we can't have it.
I am also interested in how to save money, so I love the subject.
Good luck

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T.W.

answers from Los Angeles on

I save not only for the money, I do not like waste. I make it a "cause". We have enough landfills as it is. Really. I'm not good with coupons, they usually expire unused, unless they are for the things or stores i normally buy. I love $5, 10, 15 coupons, or % discount. I try not to buy anything full price. I research online prices for every high ticket item I buy. I don't buy things i don't need. There one area where I don't save is food. Better saying, I like good, healthy, and possibly organic and whole food. If it costs more than the mass produced, full of additives or simply, junk. I try to buy them on sale, though. I figure I'm saving on the other end, my health. So far so good. Even my pets get the best. I don't go to fast food restaurants, though my daughter enjoys the treat to visit to Mc D or BK or Chuck&C' is due to the convenience and popularity of their indoor playground. I rather treat myself to a nice meal in a nice restaurant sometimes. Date night. You can tell i don't go out much ;) My husband is very handy so we fix and built things ourselves. That is a great money saving tip ;) but i do not suppose anyone will go out looking for a new husband LOL! I wish i could do nails and cut hair myself, but my inability as a girly girl is compensated by my mom lifestyle for the moment. Same with the groomer... My splurges are timed by need, not vanity so if there is no event to attend, nobody is going to be looking top notch in the house. For those of you who use grocery coupons there are so many sites online that you can print coupons. a quick search will give you dozens of sites. Clothes: love hand me downs for my kid - they grow so fast! I pass hers on too. Party clothes are exception. Books - library. Toys: sale. Electronics, furniture, appliances: sale, discount price, ebay. Unfortunately, the price you pay to Comcast is average, if not more. My husband is into sports, I'm on the net, and the phone is a necessity. Just one more thing - miles or money back on every credit card - hopefully we can also travel sometime!

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C.M.

answers from Austin on

If you want to save money, get rid of the cable and land line. You have a cell phone, right? Do you NEED the high speed internet? For work or school? If not go back to dial up. Sure, it's a pain, but you will save big money in the long run. We need DSL for my DH's work, so we have that. But we dropped all else and now pay $35 per month.
As far as groceries, I stick to a budget and use a lot of coupons. The trick is to use coupons for things that 1) you eat and 2) are already on sale. That's how you save money. I also make a menu for the week. I tend to keep meals very simple. Protein, veg, starch. That's it. Applesauce for dessert. I only buy soda by the case (generic) and wouldn't do that at all if it weren't for my DH. I don't buy coffee "out". I turn off the furnace. We haven't had it on for a month now. I only buy clothes that I can't find at Goodwill or from Freecycle. That part sucks. I like clothes.

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S.L.

answers from Boise on

We have an antenna on our roof and get free broadcast tv. It's digital. There are 4 PBS stations in our area, and two of them show kids shows all day, so we really don't feel deprived. When we signed up for phone and internet, there was some deal going on, so we only pay $40 for both.
For birthdays and Christmas, we shopped at yard sales and thrift stores. We even fixed up some stuff we found in our attic, so it was basically free.
Our couch was in horrible shape, but I found one for $10 at a thrift store. All of our furniture is from yard sales, craigslist, and thrift stores except mattresses.
I use online grocery deal finders, like grocerysmarts.com It's much easier than looking through ads yourself.
I only look on clearance racks for clothes.
When my husband was laid off twice last year, we went into crisis mode. It was hard, but basically we stopped buying anything that we didn't need. When my son had no pants without holes in the knees, I shopped for the least expensive solution to the problem. I got him a pair of cheap pull-on jeans and khakis for $3 each. And that's all i bought for him. We skipped gifts that cost $, being more creative and making gifts or giving of ourselves. We also lived off of what we had in our pantry for things like desserts, and when they were gone, they were gone.
I wonder if, now that my husband is back to work, we should pick a month every once-in-a-while to go back to crisis mode and save up the difference in money. It's amazing how little you can live on if you try! And if I know it's only for a month, I'm sure I could do it.

L.P.

answers from Pittsburgh on

What an awesome question. I am really working on my own spending and finances, and this question couldn't have come at a better time. I hope people keep responding. I really need to keep hearing people say they only buy what they NEED. I have the hardest time with that. I compulsively shop and am a champion at justifying buying things I want, but don't need.

Thanks for posting this.

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S.W.

answers from Bellingham on

I have enjoyed reading everyones responses. What I have done the past year and a half is color my own hair. I have grey and about to turn 40 and don't like to look older than I am. I was going in about every 6 weeks to get a color paying $60 or more. I now pay about $7 -10 for the color and can do it whenever I want. I also try to go about 3 -4 months on getting my hair cut. I have three boys and started to cut their hair which itdoesn't look that bad. If you have a costco I try to buy the bulk of our stuff there. I have a lot of friends who shop at consignment and am trying to shop more there my self.

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M.W.

answers from Los Angeles on

I am paying around $140-150 for cable, internet and phone too. I really do not think you could go much cheaper. I have saved a ton of money on dry cleaning by using the dryell (sp?) sheets instead of taking the items to the cleaner. My husband takes lunch to work twice a week and it adds up over the course of a month. Instead of my afternoon iced lattes from Starbucks. I use the leftover coffee from the morning, add ice, milk and hazelnut syrup. It's a fabulous little treat! Additionally, I make my dinner list based on the ingredients/items I have at home and then buy additional items to complete a meal.

I hope that helps! Good luck!

L.B.

answers from Portland on

saving money to me means cutting out unnecessary expenses such as cable, cutting back on entertainment like going out to the movies. You can rent Netflix movies instead and cook your own popcorn seeds instead of paying a ton of money, especially on coke icees and candy at the theatre.
While grocery shopping, think homemade....instead of buying boxed pancake mix, make your own homemade pancakes with flour, eggs, milk, etc. it's actually cheaper and healthier for you!!!
blessings! :-)

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A.S.

answers from Detroit on

Wow! I'm learning a lot from your question. These are the things I normally do. I shop at some good thrift stores for an example. The Salvation Army on Hall road is good if you go on either Friday or Saturday because they have 5 pcs of clothing for $5.

For fresh fruit that is cut up already. I normally go to supermarkets on Wednesday or Thursday when they mark down the fruit and veggie trays.

This summer I've been getting tickets to different museums by going to the local library and getting free passes. We went to the Cranbrook Inst. of Science yesterday.

Hope this helps.

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D.C.

answers from Reno on

I have started bringing in extra money with Scentsy wickless candles. It has taken the pressure off getting my bills payed every month. You can check Scentsy out at www.danacarey.scentsy.us or contact me and I would be happy to get you more info.
Thanks, Dana

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K.S.

answers from Kansas City on

Shoppin at Aldi's!! Be sure to bring a quarter and your own bags. Also, I buy a lot of store brand things and some of them taste much better than the name brand too. I also use vinegar and water to clean alot of things.

Yes, you are paying too much, but then again you have comcast. We pay around $100 for all three and my mom who has comcast pays what you do and she only has cable and phone!! I wish she would call and talk to them about it. Maybe you could call them and cancel and they may give you a great deal to keep you as a customer, it worked for my brother.

G.M.

answers from Modesto on

your cable bill sounds about normal. I pay 60 for dsl and the home phone that doesnt call long distance and then another 60 for my cell that does call long distance, 30 for cable with only the basic channels.
Ive been buying a lot of store brand stuff that I never use to do before. Safeway pnut butter is good, I used to use Skippy.
That new Almond milk is good too as I use it as an inbetween snack, a glass of it is like a healthy meal in itself.
Keeping lots of fruit and nuts on hand keeps you full without making big meals that require MONEY to buy.
Mostly you have to say "do I want this or do I need this?" Take the needs over the wants and trust me, you will save a lot of money.

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S.H.

answers from Huntsville on

We aren't doing near as much as we need to be... lol

I was going to say that we shop at Publix a lot. They have 30-40 items at buy 1 get 1 free every week. But if you live in CA that doesn't help you much :)

Perhaps there is a store near you that does a lot of sales like that? Search their weekly ads online. Watch for good deals on things you would actually use/eat. Stock up on things when they are on sale! It will save in the long run.

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