Random Ways I Love to Save Money

4 Different Ways to Save Money

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.

Water Bottles-

Reuse Water Bottles to Save MoneyReusable 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-

How to Stop ShoppingBe 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-

Paper Goods=Money Wasters They are easy to hide for special occasions though!
A basket is an easy way to store paper goods/fine china until they are pulled out for special occasions or a special lazy day!

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?

More Money Saving Ideas:

How to Stop Shopping (Curb Your Spending!)
Our Family Dinner Idea List
Motivational Credit Card Sleeves

The Resolve for No New Year's Resolutions

It’s a new year. I know many people are setting new year’s resolutions because I have seen a billion posts about other people’s resolutions. It starts me thinking about making my own New Year’s Resolutions, but every year my real resolution is to not have any New Year’s Resolutions. Or any resolutions at all.

res·o·lu·tion
n. a firm decision to do or not to do something.

I don’t need any firm decisions in my life right now, I need a chance to give myself a break and to not feel guilty about things. I always want to do better but resolving to do something is just going to add stress and guilt to my life and that won’t help me do better. As much as I want to resolve to have a clean house, or be a better wife by making dinner more often I just need to do those things when I can and be happy about doing them when I can.

They may be always changing but I always have goals. I hope that you can try to reach your goals without adding any stress or guilt to your life as well. Make your goal to be happy and healthy and applaud yourself for any little step you take in that direction.

No New Year's Resolutions

I have spent some time this week re-reading some of my own posts about how to be happier. My post with journal writing ideas goes right along with resolutions. As a child (and even later) I would get a new journal or diary and decide I was going to write in it every day. Some times I lasted a day, sometimes two weeks. Once I wrote about each day for almost a year. That took a ton of time writing things like “Nothing interesting happened today” three weeks after the date I was writing about.

With my tips for writing in a journal I said to just move on and not worry about how often you write or about going back and writing about the past. It makes for a nice read when I go back in my diary and see the good things I wrote about. The gap in the timeline never is a worry I am just happy to read the things I did write and I know that when I was writing them it helped that day or week be a happier one. It’s something I can do to improve my happiness but it won’t ever subtract from my happiness because I forgot a day or lost momentum.

The same can go for any resolution you might come up with. If you resolution was to start eating better be happy about making a healthier food choice today. Try again tomorrow. Don’t be hard on yourself if you slip up, every day is a new day to try to start again, and everyday can be a step in the right direction if you make it happen.

My current goals are lofty but every step I make toward them is a good one. I want to be healthier, happier, a better wife, a better mom, a better blogger and have a cleaner house and keep to my saving plan as well as spend more time with my dog. Doing a little to improve in each of those areas when I can will help me get to where I want to be, and I don’t need a resolution to get there.

Here are more of my Life Tips (Most of these posts are just to help me though!)
Journal Writing and Journal Entry Ideas
How to Stop Shopping
Making Better Food Choices

Jeep Sewing Projects

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.

Tool Roll

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.

Fire Extinguisher Holder

Did you know it cost over $20 for one of these? I made it for much less! I finally finished a great easy-to-follow tutorial for how to make your own. Click here to see the full Roll Bar Fire Extinguisher Holder Tutorial.

Blanket

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!

More Jeep Posts:

Today at Arizona Mama: A Few More Traveling Posts

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.

What I Forgot on Our Cruise

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.

Other Travel Tips:
Eating Out Of a Hotel Room: Vacation Money Saving Ideas
Airport Traveling Tips
DIY Personalized Suitcase
Motivational Credit Card Sleeves {Saving for Vacation Idea}

Road Trip Packing List Printable- Toddler Edition

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.

Today at Arizona Mama: Pirate Satchel

I made a less-colorful but still very Disney bag shortly after I got home from Disneyland. I copied the size and pocket from this bag, but I changed up the closure some. I have to say that I love it and I wear it around quite a bit, especially when I am running errands. The first day that I didn’t wear it I left my wallet in the car- very embarrassing! It does show how nice it is to have your wallet, phone and camera attached to you though! Click here to see my Pirate Cross Body Bag over at Arizona Mama.

My Top Arizona Mama Posts This Month:
Coke Can Bracelet
Diffuser Reed Gift Set
Easy Dog Bed
Halloween Treat Ideas

Motivational Credit Card Sleeves

I am trying to be on a spending fast. It’s not working too well, so I decided to make myself reminders of why I am saving. We are saving so that we can go on a cruise and lay on the beach for a few days. I started with putting this picture everywhere I can, my desktop background, on my social media pages, on my fridge, etc.

I wanted to get it printed so that I could put it more places, but that cost money. So I started my next project by cutting out pictures from magazines and travel brochures. The idea was to wrap the pictures around each of my credit cards so that I had a visual reminder why I shouldn’t use them. This is what I cam up with instead:

Materials:
Colored Paper
Magazine Clippings
Pen
Packing Tape

Directions:
1. Cut your paper 3 1/2 inches x 4 3/4 inches. Fold it in half.

 2. Cut your pictures and label to size. (And yes, I know my “motivational phrases” suck but they work as labels to that I know which card is which.) (Also, Costco deserves a sleeve too because that is a dangerous place! I usually can’t walk out of there without spending less than $100.)

3. Rip off a piece of packing tape, and place your picture and motivational phrase face down onto the tape.

4. Next, place that tape onto the folded paper. Cut slits in the tape so that it is easier to fold around the edges.

5. Use a second piece of tape to cover up the rest of the picture and fold all of the edges of the tape down.

6. Slide your card in, and hide it in your wallet.

Now that I’m not traveling I need to leave my credit card at home, but otherwise I like having my debit cards on me for emergencies and for the regular stuff that still has to be bought (like gas and groceries). Hopefully the reminders will help me buy less unnecessary stuff! What other ways do you try to motivate yourself to save money?

Fabric Headrest Mounted Tablet Holder

I saw a plastic one of these at Ross for $12.99 and I put it back because I figured I could make a fabric one! (Plus the plastic one looked totally cheesy and I was worried that the tablet would fall out!) This one only cost about a dollar or so, I think it’s a much better deal! This tablet holder is kind of an ugly project– I could make it cute, but it doesn’t have to be pretty because it’s useful and I’m lazy.

Also, this is for a 10.5 inch tablet, but use your own tablet measurements to figure out the right dimensions!

Materials:
1 foot Clear Vinyl (I bought 4 Gauge, at least that’s what the receipt said, I just picked the thinnest)
Scrap Fabric, Just a bit bigger than your tablet
Bias Tape
Ribbon

Directions:
Use your tablet to measure out your fabric. There should be at least and inch or two on each side.

Cut out the fabric, and cut out the same size for the plastic.

Next, you will want to go out to the car and measure around the headrest with a flexible tape measure. You will need the length around the top to bottom (make sure they overlap) and around the top, from side to side. That length, plus an extra 10 inches is how much ribbon you will need.

Each length of ribbon will be cut into two, but don’t do it evenly. Have more on one side than the other so that the bow you tie will be able to be tied off to the side, so that there won’t be a knot in the back of the person’s head that is sitting in the seat.

Put your plastic on top of your back fabric and place the ribbons in the middle, with the edges at the edge of the fabric and plastic,

Sew the 3 sides, and turn it inside out. (This is where more work could be done to make it prettier, those seams are pretty ugly! Covering them with bias tape might be cute.)

Next, make a bias tape or use an already bought one and finish off the top edge. A ribbon will need to be added to the top as well.

This is going to be so helpful for our next road trip, as my son has started watching cartoons lately. I’m going to try to save it for when he gets really cranky though!

I was impressed to find out that the touch screen was still able to be used with the clear vinyl. The vinyl does cling to the screen as well.

More DIY Bags:
Play Mat Toy Bag
Padded Tablet Case
Messenger Bag

Road Trip Tips:
The Greatest Trip I Hardly Remember
Road Trip Packing List Printable(And One For Toddlers)
Eating Out of a Hotel Room {Vacation Money Saving Ideas}

Disney Souvenirs

I’m a thrifty person, so when I go to Disneyland I am looking in the shops for ideas of what to make at home! Here are a few ideas that I have done so far- it means buying a small souvenir at Disneyland but you can use these souvenirs to make better things from them for less!

Smashed Pennies

I already posted about making a display for your smashed pennies, and since that post I have filled up my souvenir penny display quite a bit more!

Souvenir Penny Display

 

Buttons

The free buttons that they give you at City Hall (or some of the shops) are awesome as magnets. They are so easy to put together too! They give out “I’m Celebrating” ones if you aren’t there for your first time, anniversary or a birthday! I took an anniversary one to send to my husband when our anniversary does come up.

 

Pins

If you are into pinning and reading the different articles about saving at Disney you may already know that you can buy a lot of pins for much less online different places than at Disney. You may not get ones that you like, but you can trade them to get ones you like when you get there. Cast Members have to trade, so check out their pins to see if they have any you like!

I am not one to put a ton of pins on a lanyard, I bought pins to put them on other stuff to make a plain hat, purse, etc into a Disney hat, purse, etc. I took the flower off of my hat in order to put a pin on it, and my other pins are going to be put on the next purse and wallet I make. These pins (I bought them at full price because this was a last minute trip) were the priciest souvenir I bought, but they are much cheaper than buying a Disney Hat or Wallet.

I used the pirate pin to decorate this bag I created. My full tutorial is over at Arizona Mama. Click here to see my pirate satchel.
Pirate Bag TutorialAt Disneyland they also had some souvenir pins that were made to look like buttons, but instead of buying those I had fun putting real buttons on things- just like this cute wallet! Click here to see the tutorial of how I created this wallet.
Button Mickey Wallet

I hope you like what I did with my Disney Souvenirs and that it gives you more ideas!

Other Souvenir Ideas:
Heartbeat of Disney T-Shirt
Souvenir Baseball Bat Display
T-Shirt Quilt