People 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:
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.
We welcome hand-me-downs for the kids and shop at thrift stores for ourselves.
We grow vegetables, herbs, and fruit in our backyard and front yard gardens.
I can, freeze, or dry our excess veggies, herbs, and fruit so nothing goes to waste.
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.
I wash clothes in cold water (except towels and sheets), and freshen them without store-bought cleaners.
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.
Visiting the library provides me and the kids with lots of reading options–even “cheesy” ones like this–and doesn’t cost a cent!
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.
We make breakfasts ahead of time so nobody has to stop for fast food on the way to work/school.
We have a standing potluck/game night with friends every Saturday instead of going out to dinner with them.
We give homemade gifts (wrapped in cloth gift bags) for Christmas, birthdays, and other occasions.
I make a menu plan according to our freezer inventory and what’s fresh in the garden, to keep us from wasting food.
- I buy my spices in bulk and make my own spice blends, like taco seasoning mix.
We don’t buy soda. Hubby drinks it (not me or the kids), and his buddies bring it over when they visit.
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.
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.
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.
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.