I have been wanting to write about some of my random ways to save money, and this week’s Ask the Readers question over at Wisebread inspired me to finally get to writing about some of my favorite ways to save. I hope that these ideas help inspire others to save money in new ways!
As you are reading this remember that everyone’s level of thriftiness is different- where I don’t mind doing certain things to save money they may be way out of your comfort zone, just like many things are out of my comfort zone. (Have you seen that show on tv about cheapskates? I couldn’t do most of the things that they do to save money!)
Make What You Would Otherwise Buy-
This can be food, crafts or anything really. I do a little of both. It helps that I usually enjoy cooking and DIY crafts but many times you will realize how easy it is to do something that you could pay to be done instead. When you see something you want just ask yourself “Can I make that?” and see if it is a feasible way to save some money. I was totally thinking this after driving by the tamale stand last week, so I will probably be making tamales soon.
I joined the 15 Minute Suppers group where we post new dinner ideas on Fridays that take 15 Minutes or Less- the idea is to make something at home in the amount of time it would take to order delivery. Cooking these easy meals saves us money because instead we would be eating out way too often. I try to do the same with packing my husband lunches, but lately I have had way too hard of a time getting up in time to make him something. When I do make him lunches I will sometimes make him Homemade Lunchables or Homemade Chicken Snack Wraps– both things I can easily make at home for way less than what you would buy them for.
I also try to make all sorts of DIY projects at home. Check out some of my Best Tutorials to see what kinds of things you could make instead of buying. My latest DIY projects have been Jeep-related, but I need to get to making new carseat strap covers and fixing up a playmat for the new baby before he comes in a couple of weeks. For me the time and materials to make most of these things is way less than buying them new, plus they are personalized so many times I am more happy with them and less likely to buy replacements.
Reusable water bottles are nice, but they can also be expensive and a pain in the butt. Our compromise is to use bottled water and refill them a bunch of times before tossing them. I love the convenience of just being able to grab a cold water bottle whenever I want and being able to throw it away if I need to. I don’t worry about losing it or breaking it but at the same time we aren’t just thowing away money. I probably buy a case of water bottles once a month or less.
Be lazy at going shopping and wait to buy stuff. Don’t go straight to the store when you need something, wait a few days or so. You might realize you don’t need whatever it was in the first place. I have written about Ways to Stop Shopping but I’ve taken it to a whole new level- I am just lazy and haven’t wanted to take the time to go shopping for things we need, let alone things we don’t need. It has saved me money because by the time I actually do go to the store I realize that I have lived a few days or a few weeks without whatever was on my list and I probably don’t need it at all.
Hide the Paper Goods-
We do have paper towels, paper plates and even *real* tissues but we don’t have them out where they are easy to access. I hide them from myself and my family mainly. Visitors are usually confused, some of my family even gets a little upset that I hide the paper towels. Hiding the paper towels, and paper plates and things makes you stop to think about how easy it is to grab a dish cloth instead of a paper towel or to wipe your nose on TP instead of more expensive tissues.
I love using our “fine china” aka paper plates because it saves me from doing dishes, but having them set out of the way keeps me from being lazy and grabbing them for every meal. Saving the paper goods are all little things but the savings really do add up. What are a couple more dirty dish rags or dirty dishes when you are already doing a load of wash anyway?
On the other side of things, when we get a bad cold I will bring out the nice tissues (I buy the expensive ones with lotion) for when your nose gets too raw. Otherwise my TP Tissue Box is out and works great. When my father or guests come over and ask for paper towels I don’t mind grabbing them from their hiding place and letting them use them. If anyone wants to use my “fine china” I am happy to bring it out. I just try to save everything for special occasions so that we aren’t constantly wasting money on paper goods every week.
These are just a few of the ways that I try to save money around the house. I figure that being a stay at home mom means that saving money is my job, and most of the time I am good at it. So tell me, am I going overboard with saving money or do you do any of these things too?
I made this Fire Extinguisher Holder for our Jeep last August. Just recently I had to make a second one as a gift for my dad- a little late for Christmas but that’s what happens when you have the ultimate lazy excuse. It was pretty simple and easy to make, and the materials were much cheaper than the ones that are available online.
1″ Velcro – 2 feet of Looped Velcro, 15 inches of Hooked Velcro
All of these links are to Amazon, and I will receive compensation if you buy anything. Each of these are the actual products I have bought from Amazon though!
1. First cut your canvas fabric. There will be a 12″x12″ square and a circle that should be close to 12″ around. Use a cup, lid or similar object that measures close to 12′ around as a template.
2. Cut three straps of webbing to 25″ each. Use a flame (from a candle, match or lighter) to melt the edges so they don’t fray.
3. Cut the velcro pieces. There will be three strips of the looped velcro, they should be 8″ each. There will also be three strips of the hooked velcro and they will be 5″ each.
4. Next you will start sewing the straps.First will be the hooked velcro, once piece will be sewn onto an end of each piece of webbing. Right next to it will be the looped velcro on each strap.
5. After all the velcro is sewn on, make sure you velcro them closed so that they don’t stick to anything while you are working. After that is done you can sew the opposite end of the straps (not the side with the velcro) onto the triglides.
6. Next press and hem an edge of the square canvas, it will now be the top.
7. Now you can sew the straps to the canvas. Make sure you sew them on about 4 inches down the webbing, away from the triglides.
8. Now you can sew the side seam for your fire extinguisher holder. Move the straps out of the way (and pin them if necessary) and pin the sides together, with the inside of your fire extinguisher holder facing out. Sew the seam and use a zig zag stitch if you don’t have a serger to keep the canvas from fraying.
9. After the side seam is sewn you will need to sew on the bottom piece. Once again, make sure you move your straps out of the way before sewing. Pin the canvas circle to the bottom of your holder. Sew it on using the zig zag stitch as well.
After the sides and bottom are sewn on everything is done! In my finished product pictures I wrapped the straps tightly and tucked them behind the fire extinguisher, but really they are loose and have plenty of length until you strap them to your roll bar.
Sometimes when I go grocery shopping I have alot of ambition. Today was one of those days. I bought alot of stuff that needs to be cooked and prepared, and lately I haven’t had the energy to cook and prepare anything.
I did come home and get things ready for a few of my husband’s lunches. I put all of his snacks into bags, and tied them with bright pink ribbon for Valentine’s Day! Hopefully he doesn’t have to eat lunch in front of his co-workers any time soon!
I also quickly put together some homemade lunchables. I almost bought lunchables because I was craving them, and I was thinking they would be a good idea for my husband’s lunch but I also thought about how I would eat 3 or more of them.
These lunchables took almost no time at all to put together, and they are bigger portions than store bought lunchables. They are small still and really would only be a snack, but these plus the other snacks I put in his lunch is enough to tide him over until dinner time.
Thick Lunch Meat
Plastic to wrap meat in
Slice the lunch meat into cracker size portions. Wrap it in plastic wrap to keep the moisture from ruining the crackers.
Add the plastic wrapped lunch meat to the plastic bag along with a couple slices of cheese and half a sleeve of crackers.
We recently bought a jeep and have been four wheeling every weekend this month. I want to buy accessories for it, but I’m being thrifty as usual and making my own. It sure helps out for making the payment too!
Handle Bar Bag
This turned out to look a little frumpier than I wanted it to. Next time I’ll have to use some heavy backing. I do love that I have all of my stuff close and convenient. There’s always extra space for snacks and for my camera too.
This is an adult version of a crayon roll! The tools are a little bit odd shaped, so they don’t roll as well as a crayon roll but it is a great way to save space and keep your tools safe and organized. It’s also convenient to have all of your tools in one spot and can be easily carried to wherever you need them.
This wasn’t the most important thing I wanted to make but it is always great to have a spare blanket and to use a ton of extra fabric. It’s now my son and my dog’s favorite blanket to fight over. I love the patriotic color theme, it’s like a taste of 4th of July every day!
A few years ago my husband and I went on a great trip to New England together. It was a great trip but my memories of it are fading. Read my story over at Arizona Mama.
Also, during all the fun and excitement I have had from traveling recently I missed telling you about my Eating Out of Your Hotel Room post. Better late than never! When we stayed at a Fort Bliss hotel for a couple of weeks we tried to eat out of our hotel room to save money instead of eating out every night. I have plenty of ideas and things to shop for over at Arizona Mama.
I usually am very prepared when I go on vacation. I have multiple lists to remind me of what I need to bring, and I use them almost every time. This time we went on a vacation during our vacation and apparently traveling without my toddler makes me forget a lot of stuff.
More Money- We spent tons more than I planned for. It was worth it though!
Stuff for Sea Sickness- We ended up buying Sea Bands and a small vial of tea tree oil, both of those totaled $30
Camera Cards- We had one, but forgot to transfer everything to the computer before we left
Laundry Soap, Quarters- I knew I needed to do laundry but forgot this stuff
Beach Bag/Purse- I haven’t been carrying a real purse, just a small clutch but I needed one while traveling. I ended up buying one at Bubba Gump’s.
Sun Screen & Aloe- Closer to the equator you burn easier.. we were in alot of pain for the last few days of the cruise!
Case of Water- We found out later that you could bring your own water to keep from buying their bottled water. I would have used the free water but it really didn’t taste that great.
Books/Magazines- I usually just read stuff online but without internet I was a little bored at times.
Walkie Talkies- We didn’t need these all that much but they would have been useful to use because I wasn’t paying to use my cell phone
Ballet Flats- I brought sneakers, flip flops and heels but I would have liked something to wear on formal night when my feet were done with heels.
Jacket- I would have really appreciated having a nice looking jacket with me, I was cold most of the time but didn’t want to dress down with my one long sleeve shirt
Watch- I needed mine because I wasn’t carrying around my phone. We always needed to know the time so we could get to dinner and shows and stuff on time.
Hair Ties/Clips- I took these with me but I needed the reminder to keep one on my wrist at all times, incase we wandered to an open deck
Swim Cover Up- I should have used this dress as one, but I just forgot it.
Goggles- It was so cool to see things in the ocean once we bought some goggles. I just wish I brought some from home instead of paying a ton at the beach
No Soda Card- We paid for the soda card for the week but found out it wasn’t worth it. It might be worth it daily but the days we spent at the different ports we didn’t order any soda or anything. The days we did order soda it was still kinda iffy about if we would have saved money on it or not.
It’s time for the fifth edition of Why I Love My Appliances, the series of where I brag about my appliances and decide whether they are worth their investment and their shelf space. This week I will be talking about my BlendTec Blender.
Why I Love My BlendTec Blender:
I love it for all the smoothies and shakes in the summer, and for all of my kitchen pulverizing needs. (Trust me, there are plenty.)
What I Use My BlendTec Blender For:
I use it for parts of recipes such as turning sugar into powdered sugar, chopping nuts, shredding chicken, grinding oats. I also make vegetable juice that I use in recipes instead of milk or water. When he needed it, I also made tons of baby food as well. Sometimes I use it for making soups, banana bread dough, or other recipes. (See my list below)
Features I Love About My BlendTec Blender:
I love that I can put it on a speed or use a preset. The blender turns off after the preset is finished or 90 seconds. I love that it works everytime and that it doesn’t crap out on me halfway through a smoothie. I could go on and on. Or you might have fun watching Will it Blend? (See More about My BlendTec Here)
Was My BlendTec Blender Worth the Investment?
We used to go out and get milkshakes with our meal, they were about $4 each. We never get those anymore because we can go make them at home (if we actually do or not doesn’t matter :). We also saved on things like baby food, I hardly paid anything for baby food because I was able to make it myself. We also save on things like chopped nuts and powdered sugar. I have found that it is amazing that our blender can take sugar and pulverize it into powdered sugar. Powdered sugar is about twice the amount per ounce as sugar so any way I can save is great. It also saves me from running to the store when I realize I have run out of it at the last minute. (See more about Powdering Your Own Sugar here)
There is one more major thing that this blender has saved us on, and that is buying new blenders. We were buying twenty dollar blenders before and none of them was able to withstand my husband’s smoothies. The fact that this one has lasted us a few years is incredible. We have had the blender bowl replaced by the warranty once, but that was incredibly easy to take care of over the phone. I immediately was able to talk to a real person. All in all it has been a great investment and the longer it lasts the more money it will continue to save us.
It’s time for the fourth edition of Why I Love My Appliances, the series of where I brag about my appliances and decide whether they are worth their investment and their shelf space. This week I will be talking about my George Foreman Grill. At home, we call it just “george” or “the george”. Although my husband’s suit is also referred to as “the george” but we talk about that alot less often.
Why I Love My George Foreman Grill: It’s much easier to use than an outdoor grill, it doesn’t matter if it rains and I can continue cooking everything else in the kitchen at the same time as babysitting the grill. Ok, I don’t use the real grill, I believe that is the man’s job. I am happy to use the george when the man doesn’t want to grill. I also love that you don’t have to wait long for it to heat up.
What I Use My George Foreman Grill For: Mostly, I use my George Foreman for cooking chicken at the last minute. If I have a recipe that calls for chicken and I don’t have any cooked I usually have some frozen and I defrost it and cook it just in time to add it to a recipe or casserole. Sometimes I will make burgers or steak on it, and I recently made some grilled peppers for fajita night at my neighbor’s.
Features I Love About My George Foreman Grill: I love that it is small and compact, and that all I have to do is turn it on. I also really like that it is angled so that most of the fat will slide off of the meat. I can say that I have never used the bun warmer on top. It’s useless because I have a toaster. See more about My George Foreman Grill here.
Was My George Foreman Grill Worth the Investment? We got this little grill for $3 at a garage sale before we moved into our first apartment. Best $3 ever! Yes, we could make all of this stuff on a frying pan if we didn’t have it but I enjoy using this more, and it’s faster. Both of those things mean that I have used it many times to make something that I would have been to lazy to make otherwise. And if I am too lazy to make something that would mean that we would have eaten out or bought something pre-made and more expensive. Even at not-garage sale price I think we have made back our money’s worth.
Disclaimer: I do get compensation for things you may buy on Amazon.com but all opinions are my own. I also love Amazon.com for reasons other than any compensation I may get.
Toddlers need a lot when they go on road trips. Not quite as much as babies, but to keep them happy and entertained for hours on end they need plenty of stuff. After I worked on my regular road trip packing list, I realized that I should just have a second one for the toddler’s stuff. He is pretty spoiled. I bring movies for me, and separate movies for him. I bring snacks for me, and separate snacks for him or else he eats all of mine. It goes on and on, but with the separate list it is easier to get it all straight.
One of my tricks for road trips with toddlers is that if they are drinking real milk regularly you can buy cartons of shelf milk that don’t have to be refrigerated until they are open, or I like to give him the pedia sure milk replacements. They are expensive, but cheaper than buying a big thing of milk and wasting it because you can’t refrigerate it. Also, I have found that it is hard to get whole milk most places, so I really like having my own milk with me.
Another thing is that I like to buy a few new toys or books. They don’t have to be “new” I usually get them from yard sales or kid’s resale stores but something new keeps him entertained for longer. The good thing about getting them at yard sales is that if you don’t want to keep them after the trip you can turn around and yard sale them again or it won’t hurt as much to donate them. It’s worth spending a little bit to have more sanity while traveling. I put some of his toys for the car in his backpack, so that they are easy for him to get to. If we are going to a family’s home that don’t have little kids, or staying in a hotel, I bring my playmat full of toys so that he is entertained the few days that we are there too. I just try not to bring anything sentimental or irreplaceable as toys are more likely to get lost when traveling. I have a large rubberband that I use to hold his diapers together. It keeps them in one spot and is easier than a half empty bag later on.