Unfortunately, the month has gotten off to a rocky start with several large, unexpected expenses. After looking at our budget, we decided to rein in our spending for the rest of the month, saving as much as we can where we can, in hopes that we can end the month without dipping into our savings or emergency cash fund. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it!
Maybe you’re facing a few unexpected bills of your own. Or maybe you’re trying to get out of debt, or simply have big purchases you’re saving for on the horizon.
Whatever the reason or motivation, if you’re looking for ways to trim your budget and save money, here are eight of my favorite ways to save.
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8 Favorite Ways to Save Money
Save money on clothing
I first started buying used clothes and other hand-me-down items when Aidan was a baby. I saw how quickly he went through clothes, and I thought it was ridiculous to spend a bunch of money on clothes he would only wear once. As I started shopping thrift stores and garage sales, I saw how much money I was saving. Money that could be spent on our higher-priority financial goals.
I didn’t start buying used clothes for myself, though, until I was pregnant with Andrew. He was due in a completely opposite season, which meant most of the maternity clothes I had accumulated during Aidan’s pregnancy weren’t going to work. I hated to spend money on a whole new maternity wardrobe, but I needed to something to wear!
That’s when I decided to give ThredUp a try. ThredUp is an online used clothing store, with a huge selection of name brand clothing (some of it with the tags still on!) for a fraction of the cost. I tentatively ordered a few pieces, without very high expectations. When I got my box, however, I was pleasantly surprised! I loved my selections, and everything was in great shape. I was thrilled.
I had such a great experience getting maternity clothes, I thought I would try regular clothes, too. So, after Andrew’s birth, in that awkward too-small-for-maternity-but-not-quite-back-to-normal phase, I ordered a few pieces from the regular women’s department. Once again, I was thrilled when they arrived. They were in great condition, and I was able to get my favorite brands (and a couple that I’ve never been able to afford) for crazy discounted prices.
While I still enjoy the experience of shopping for new clothing every once in a while, ThredUp is going to be my go-to source for clothes for this season of life. Not only can I get clothes that I love that would not be in my budget otherwise, but I can save hundreds of dollars for our big financial goals.
**If you’d like to try ThredUp, sign up through the link below to get $10 FREE on your first order:
Sign up HERE for your free ThredUp account!
Save money on food
One of the best and easiest places to cut costs is food costs. Yes, it’s a necessity, but it’s extremely variable, and more under your control than some of your other bills and expenses.
Here are a few ways I like to save money on food:
Make food from scratch
Not only does it save you money, but it’s better for your body, too! Making your own food sounds intimidating and time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be! Plan ahead, prepare a batch of freezer meals, and make use of helpful tools like a slow cooker (I HIGHLY recommend a programmable one) or Instant Pot (LOVE mine!).
The following are just a few items I make from scratch that are big money (and health) savers: Dried beans (a snap in my Instant Pot!), chicken stock, ranch dip, taco seasoning, oatmeal, granola, breakfast bars, trail mix, and baby food!
Buy in Bulk
We’ve bought a few items in bulk over the years, like meat and flour, but we really started getting serious about it when I switched to (mostly) real food. Good food isn’t cheap, and I needed to find a way to fit it in our budget. Buying in bulk has made the switch much easier on our budget.
Just make sure that you’re only buying what you can and will realistically use up, and have a good plan for storage. When buying dry goods, such as flours, oatmeal, or nuts, keep only a small amount in your pantry and store the rest in your freezer. It’ll last much longer that way.
Here are a few of my favorite methods for storing bulk goods:
- Lock & Lock Airtight Containers
- OXO Pop Containers
- Snapware Airtight Containers (love the ones with fliptop lids!)
- Good ol’ fashioned glass mason jars (especially with these handy lids!)
Plan Your Meals
I’m a huge proponent of the benefits of meal planning, and one of my favorite things about it is that it drastically reduces our grocery bill. When I plan out our meals for the week, I can shop sales and only buy what we need.
It also helps reduce food waste, because I have a plan to use everything I buy. If you have been trying to reduce your grocery bills with little success, meal planning (the right way) is the best place to start.
Plan your Grocery Trip
Every week as I make my grocery list, I enter it all into a spreadsheet. Using the sale ads and my price lists, I can pretty well figure my total to within a dollar or two. This helps me know exactly how much I’m going to be spending, and allows me the opportunity to add or cut items from my list to ensure it’s within my budget.
To learn more about saving money at the grocery store, I recommend the Grocery University course from Money Saving Mom. I thought I had a pretty good handle on grocery shopping already when I took it, but I learned a lot of new tricks!
Do a Pantry/Freezer Challenge
If you’re like us, you probably have plenty of food in your pantry and freezer to last you for weeks! Do you even know what you have in there?? If you’re looking to save some quick cash, consider fasting from the grocery store for a set period of time (except for a few necessities like milk, eggs, and fresh fruits and veggies), and only using what you have on hand. You’ll be amazed at what you can come up with!
(Tip: If you’re not a very experienced cook or you’re not feeling creative, don’t worry! Google is your friend. 🙂 Plus check out one of the handy tools in my Suppertime Superstar post.)
Save Money on Exercise
You don’t have to join a gym or take a class to get fit and healthy. There are plenty of options for working out at home! Plus, you can’t beat the convenience of getting your sweat on in your own living room.
Check out My All-Time Favorite Workouts for Busy Moms for a few fun ideas of workouts to try at home. There are even some great free options on there!
Save Money on Entertainment
Did you know there’s a place where you can get books and movies for FREE?? Plus attend parties, play games, take classes, and make crafts with your kids all at absolutely no cost to you? Yep. It’s called the public library, and it’s a great place to find free entertainment!
Be sure to read my post 25 Reasons to Love Your Library for even more reasons to visit your local library.
Whether you’re in a crisis, on the verge, or simply investing in your future, these are eight great ways to save money right now. They’ve served us well, and I hope they make a difference for you, as well!
Now it’s your turn to share! Which of these strategies are you already using? Which one(s) would you like to start? What tips for saving money can you add to this list? We would love to hear your best advice!
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