Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pinching Pennies

Here is a reader submission from JONNITA. Jonnita is one talented Mama. She is crafty and resourceful. She shares some of her favorite tips she uses to save her family money:

  • Check books out from the library instead of buying books. My kids are young so I save book purchases for them for really special books. Also, I use the library catalog and hold system online so when we go to the library, we can spend our time in the kids section and when we’re ready to go, I grab my books from the hold area.
  • Rit Dye To freshen up work clothing. Often, my dress slacks don’t “wear” out but the color begins to fade. To keep them fresh and looking new, I’ll spend a couple bucks on Rit Dye and drop them in the dye bath. Basically $3.00 and 45 minutes of my time, I’ve saved a pair of $50 pants.
  • Coupons and rebate offers. This one I’m working on right now. I’m looking for coupon offers and rebates for the stuff I buy. I struggle with buying more than what I need or stuff I wouldn’t normally use. I’m working to plan menus around what is on sale, not necessarily what I crave that day.
  • Bartering. I sew and make bags and other stuff so I want to trade others for their services and goods. So far, I’ve traded sewing projects for artwork and a pair of knitted socks, and pickling cucumbers!
  • Recycling. I’ve used the HazoHouse at our local landfill to get free paint for different projects. You can leave paint and take paint but they ask you to sign a waiver. As a matter of fact, I painted my bedroom accent wall with paint from there! I also visit a local business, Sound Builders Re-Source, that sells used/recycled building supplies. All proceeds go to the Habitat for Humanity. The stock always changes but it is interesting to take a wander through every so often. They have stuff like tile, wood flooring, industrial carpet, doors, windows, hinges, doorknobs and other hardware. I got new globes for the light fixtures in our house for $4.00 each. (I'm sure you have something like this in YOUR neighborhood!).
  • Thrifting. I shop at Value Village and Goodwill looking for clothes and fabric mainly. I got a replacement coffee carafe when I broke mine and salad plates for when we had friends over. We always wander through the whole store, though – just in case!
  • Dining out. We eat out less. I search the Internet for recipes for our favorite restaurant food (Olive Garden’s Toscana soup) and make it at home.
  • Bulk cooking and baking: I make big batches of meals and freeze portions of it for quick meals later. I’ll make up two lasagnas (cook one and freeze one) then write the contents and baking instructions on the one to freeze. Beef stew and soups also freeze really well. This helps with the temptation to eat out for the reason of convenience!
  • Canning and baking: We harvested apples from trees on our property in the fall and made them into apple butter, applesauce and apple pie filling. I canned and froze corn and peaches too. Canning pickles are also a must for our family!
  • Coupons and discount stores: Grocery Outlet offers good bargains on food – you do have to check the expiration dates but this is one of the first places I go, then the next stop is Big Lots. I shop at the Dollar Store for some stuff – some spices, zipper bags, drinking straws, latex gloves.
  • Meal Sharing. I’ve talked to friends about an “entrée swap” but haven’t followed through with organizing one yet. It would work like this: Say you have four friends who participate and each makes five of a selected entrée (set the serving size as no more than four). Then swap them. This way your family gets to try different recipes AND it is convenient, you just have to bake or reheat the entrees. You’d have to agree on the entrees up front to ensure variety – so you don’t get four spaghetti casseroles!
  • Web sellers. If you are looking for something specific to buy or just want to check out what folks are trying to offload – don’t forget Craigs List. We also have a local site called Check it out!
  • Money-Saving Literature. I’ve gotten a bunch of ideas from this booklet I got from the library several years back. It is called the Thurston County Home Waste NOT Guide. Next time I’m at the library,  I need to see if there is a newer edition – mine is dated 2004-2005!
  • Chickens! Yes, we have chickens. We save all of our food scraps for our chickens, plus they provide us with delicious eggs!
  • Laundry Detergent. I make own laundry detergent. It is easier than you think, works great and much cheaper. Here is the recipe!
My Three Money-Saving Goals for This Year Are:
1.      Reduce single use/portion waste.
2.      Reduce paper towels, paper plates, and other disposable items.
3.      Barter more!
What are your tips on how you save time and money?

Great ideas, Jonnita! Do you have a story, suggestion or information to share? E-mail us!

1 comment:

  1. LOVE it Jonnita :) Have you checked out

    I'm a total coupon-geek now and have noticed HUGE savings from combining sales with coupons--my average is about 48% saved per trip :)