20 Clever Ways to Save Money

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20 Clever Ways to Save Money: BrownThumbMama.comPeople ask me all the time: “How do you do it?”

I’m not talking about how I balance the demands on my time, but rather how we make ends meet with an income that many Americans would consider modest, at best.

Acknowledging that we have plenty is part of it--but there are many more concrete ways that our family saves money every day.

Here are 20 clever ways that we save money every day:

  1. We don’t buy school lunch. Although it “only” costs $1.35 a day, I can make a healthy lunch for much less. A PB&J on homemade bread with snow peas from the garden costs less than 25 cents.

  2. We welcome hand-me-downs for the kids and shop at thrift stores for ourselves.

  3. We grow vegetables, herbs, and fruit in our backyard and front yard gardens.

  4. I can, freeze, or dry our excess veggies, herbs, and fruit so nothing goes to waste.

  5. We pack lunches and homemade snacks when we go on a day trip or on vacation. This saves money and is much healthier than eating fast food. We try to find a park on our route, stretch our legs, eat and play before getting back on the road.

  6. I wash clothes in cold water (except towels and sheets), and freshen them without store-bought cleaners.

  7. I don’t go to the mall, Target, or the bookstore to browse or window shop. There’s too much temptation to manufacture a need for something, or buy because you see a good bargain.

  8. Visiting the library provides me and the kids with lots of reading options--even “cheesy” ones like this--and doesn’t cost a cent!

  9. I make my own cleaning supplies instead of buying them. As an added bonus, this means the kids can help clean and I don’t worry about them being exposed to weird chemicals.

  10. We make breakfasts ahead of time so nobody has to stop for fast food on the way to work/school.

  11. We have a standing potluck/game night with friends every Saturday instead of going out to dinner with them.

  12. We give homemade gifts (wrapped in cloth gift bags) for Christmas, birthdays, and other occasions.

  13. I make a menu plan according to our freezer inventory and what’s fresh in the garden, to keep us from wasting food.

  14. I buy my spices in bulk and make my own spice blends, like taco seasoning mix.
    5 things you should be making (not buying): BrownThumbMama.com
  15. We don’t buy soda. Hubby drinks it (not me or the kids), and his buddies bring it over when they visit.

  16. We repair clothes instead of replacing. I’ve patched knees, replaced buttons, repaired seams on everybody’s clothes. Even paying the seamstress at the dry cleaner to do your sewing repair is cheaper than buying a replacement item.

  17. We have a programmable thermostat, so we don’t heat/cool the house during the day when we aren’t there. It’s set at 66 degrees in the winter and 78 in the summer.

  18. I make my own lip balm and soap. It’s cheaper and I know exactly what they’re made of!

  19. We buy household staples like flour, butter, baking soda, and vinegar in bulk, which saves considerably over the grocery store. Get my tips about bulk buying here.

  20. I try to fix things myself before hiring a repairman or buying a replacement. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but an hour or two of my time is cheaper than researching and buying a new product.

Like this? Check out 20 Clever Ways to Save Time.

20 Clever Ways to Save Money: BrownThumbMama.com

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  1. Kristin on December 31, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Congrats on being nominated for the Wildcrafting Wednesdays 2015 People’s Choice Awards! Thank you for sharing your wonderful post with us and many happy wishes to you in the new year.

  2. Laura Johnson on June 19, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Haha! I’ve taken food on long trips. On a plane from n.cal to Hawaii. 🙂

  3. Barbara Hoyer on February 26, 2014 at 10:13 am

    I love how you start out your list with an attitude of abundance. I think it’s much easier for people to be frugal if they realize how much they already have.

    Thanks for sharing at Fabulously Frugal Thursday!

    • Jennifer on March 16, 2014 at 11:32 am

      My daughters school has banned peanut butter. Their only option is to buy from the school cafeteria or go hungry since all the food from the cafeteria has been “produced with allergy free foods.” So my daughter who’s 5 doesn’t eat until she’s out of school at 3:30.

      • Ellen on March 27, 2014 at 6:23 am

        NOT COOL! My 5yo had to have a note from the doctor for us to send his lunch. See if your Ped will do that. You can always skip the PB, but the school can’t argue with a Doctor’s note. Our “reason” is the preservatives and additives in the processed foods served. (but really the cost!)

  4. denisse on February 25, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    where do you buy bulk flour, sugar, butter ect…

    • Pam on February 26, 2014 at 9:11 am

      I get all my baking supplies at Costco. Winco and Smart & Final also have excellent prices on bulk items.

  5. Eva@Whole Food Mom on a Budget on February 24, 2014 at 2:40 am

    These are great tips! I’d love for you to share these at Savoring Saturdays!

  6. knittedhome on February 21, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    And here I thought I was the only “crazy” one that packs 2 brown paper bags of groceries for a vacation. 🙂 I’ve tried to keep a list of the nonperishables that make the best, easiest meals since I seem to rack my brain every time it comes to pack. Do you also use your frozen food as “iceys” to keep the cooler cold? I’ve found that frozen hot dogs, frozen sliced cheese, frozen water bottles, and the like keep the cooler nice and cold through the whole day and everything is perfectly thawed for dinner!
    Along the lines of packing lunches, I always cook enough for leftovers and pack those in portion-sized containers so they are easy to pack in the morning.
    I love your ideas on a standing game night with friends. One of these days I’ll implement it. 🙂

  7. Kristin O. on February 21, 2014 at 6:10 am

    Great post – we do a lot of the same things. we tryto make sure we have lists for when we do go shopping so that we don’t stray too far. Thanks for sharing on Wildcrafting Wednesdays! I hope you’ll join us again and share more of your awesome posts.

  8. starlighthill on February 19, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    These are all great ideas, and we implement many of them. One problem area for us is failing to plan ahead and pack a lunch. Eating out anywhere is much more expensive. Thanks for reminding me.

  9. lilaeve on February 18, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    I liked reading your list! I’d love to venture into soap and spice making – great ideas! My husband and I also try to live beneath our means – it is a source of interesting stories, recipes, and pride. Resourcefulness is something more should engage in! One thing that has saved us so much money is that we stopped buying paper towels and opted for reusable cloth squares that I made from old hand towels and rags. It took a little getting used to but I know it’s saved us so much!

  10. Alison at NOVA Frugal Family on February 17, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Great list!! I did a bunch of things on the list but we haven’t had luck growing our garden. I really want to start canning soon too 🙂 Hoping to add a few more to our list but I do understand about not buying soda and bringing lunch and snacks. It saves lots and we all do it. Hope that lots of people use these tips to save money 🙂

  11. Nan on February 17, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Great tips! I have never had a vegetable garden, although I keep saying that I’m going to someday! I would love to grow and eat my own food. I’m just lazy, I guess, and even though there are books and blogs to help, it sounds a bit intimidating!

    • Pam on February 21, 2014 at 11:43 am

      I know what you mean! You can save big just by buying some herb plants at Home Depot or Lowes and putting them in the garden or in pots in your kitchen. A bunch of parsley at my grocery store is $1.49, but the plant is only $2 and keeps producing!

  12. Gentle Joy on February 17, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Good ideas – we do most of them and it works well……..staying out of the stores DOES help a LOT! 🙂 Thank you for sharing. 🙂 Gentle Joy

  13. CTY on February 16, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Staying out of the stores is a big one. When I do go into stores I am overwhelmed with the amount of junk that is sold. A store manager told me that every holiday gets a minimum of 4 aisles of devoted space and at least every other end cap is holiday too (and that doesn’t count greeting cards). I really dislike those giant discount stores–but around here it is too late–locally owned stores are already gone. I shop online for bulk consumables more & more–the prices are better & shipping is free with a certain $ amount spent. And they deliver it right to me.

  14. bearginger on February 14, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    This is the best list I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot of them! Good for you.

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