Pinching Pennies

Families can save money by following these great tips.

“Ouch” at the gas pump this morning! Everyday the price is creeping up and driving up other costs as well. I am sure that I am not alone in my grocery bill doubling for the same amount I normally purchase. I get it. Everyone is feeling the pinch and has to make up for it somehow, but it’s really putting families in a bind. It’s already a difficult economic time.  My kids even asked for an increase in their allowance!  When it seems as if a dollar can’t stretch as far as it used to, there are ways families can cut back and really make a difference on the wallet.

Do you really need it? Sometimes this means going back to the basics. We all learn early on the difference between a want and a need. When things are more financially comfortable, we tend to splurge on items we may not otherwise indulge. When contemplating a new purchase, be honest and ask yourself if it is a true need or if it something that you can get by without. This also equates to getting rid of things you currently have such as cutting out premium cable channels, DVRs, and home phones (if you have a cell phone). 

You may be surprised how many things you can live without. One of the luxuries that I’ve given up is my daily latte at Starbucks. At over $4 a cup I’ve invested in making good coffee at home. Now I’ll treat myself once every two weeks versus everyday. This saves me over $80 a month!

What can you do yourself?  Cut out the gym membership and go for a daily walk.  Investing in used weights and work out videos is far less expensive than a monthly membership. Color your hair yourself and stretch out hair cuts, give up the lawn service and mow your grass yourself. Also consider getting rid of the pool guy and treating the pool with store purchased chemicals. All these services and perks add up and can save quite a bit.

Coupons equal money! I was flipping through channels this weekend and came across a new show called Extreme Couponing. One family received $600 worth of groceries for under $10 total. OK, so that’s a bit drastic, but I’ve decided I’m going to invest one to two hours a week in cutting coupons. This will save me at least $30 to $40 a week.  Another way to save is to buy generic brands over leading labels, and look for “buy one get one free deals” or other in-store promotions.  Shopping later in the evening can also mean big discounts. Meats are often lowered in price by a third to half off after 8:00 p.m. at some grocery stores.

Used Versus New. You can find great quality clothing, furniture and other items at thrift stores and garage sales. Mix it up. Jeans always fit better worn in. Buy a new shirt but pair it with gently worn jeans.  Purchase previously owned belts and accessories to get more bang for your buck. When it comes to clothing, stick to basics and classics versus trends. Also consider buying separates over coordinates. You can mix and match and create more versatile outfits.

Need new furniture? Many times you can find great pieces at estate sales, garage sales, and donation centers. A fresh coat of paint or stain can bring an older piece to life and add interest in your home. Another option is Craigslist or eBay to find previously owned items online.

Bigger Compromises.  Can your family go down to a one car family? If not consider working out a carpool with co-workers or other parents to take your kids to school. Make meals at home and freeze leftovers, even if it’s just one serving.  Going through a drive-thru for a family of four can easily cost $25 to $30. You can make a homemade meal for under $12 and have enough for lunch the next day.  Rent movies instead of going to the big screen.  Go to your local Redbox or Blockbuster self service rental machines available in most grocery stores.  You can rent about eight movies for the cost of just one movie ticket at the theater.

You can also check out Land O' Lakes Patch's Frugal Family column weekly for savings.

Here are other places where you can save locally:

21525 Village Lakes Shopping Ctr Dr.

1575 Land O Lakes Blvd.

22920 State Road 54

1040 Dale Mabry Hwy

6806 Land O Lakes Blvd.

Yvette Manes March 24, 2011 at 02:52 PM
Another tip is order water when you go out to dinner. Believe it or not, a soda at most restaurants will cost about $2.75 (local establishments charge up to $3.50 for a soda!) Just two weeks ago I flipped when the waitress at a local Asian restaurant located at the mall brought me a bill, apparently forgot to charge for my family's sodas, and returned with my credit card (after charging the corrected amount and not telling me) and the bill was almost $10 more.
Donna March 25, 2011 at 03:59 PM
Another tip for everyone that our family did and have been saving big. Shop online when you can. The prices are normally much lower and there are tons of coupons and deals that are online only. There are some great loyalty reward sites out there too. We joined Bucks4Me.com about a year ago and are amazed at the savings as well as earnings.


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