That really would be an easy way to start saving some money, wouldn't it? However, in today's world it is almost impossible not to spend money. There are many ways that we can spend less, though, and our family has been brainstorming ways that we can save a few bucks here and there. I thought I would share a few of those ideas with you today.
-Stay at home!
Sounds simple, doesn't it? But no matter how much I desire to have every one at home all the time, it just isn't possible. Jeff must travel to work each day and, as we are a two car family with four drivers, at least three days a week he must come home for lunch to pick up Jordan. Jordan works with his dad so they at least are together while away from home!! ; ) That means, though, that Jeff is able to eat at home on those days, so it does offset his eating away from home expenses. For years I packed his lunch daily, but he really likes to get out of the office and see some blue sky and greenery instead of the four walls of his office. He usually comes home even on days that Jordan doesn't work so he can visit with us, but every week usually brings a business contact that he has lunch with or he meets with one or two men and lunches with them.
I try to combine my shopping and errand trips all in one day. We live out from town, so a trip in usually takes 15-30 minutes depending on where we are going. During the school year our "town day" is on Tuesday which is when we have piano lessons, so we also do our library stop, health food store, Sam's and grocery store run all on the same day. This means I must be prepared with lists of needed items, but it is a great help to get it all done in one day. During the summer we don't have piano lessons and we drop the library stops. (we have MANY books at home) I am then able to make a shopping trip every 2-3 weeks instead.
Devin combines all of her violin students into one day. It makes a long day, but she is also able to run any errands she needs to take care of on that one day. She also has one day a week that she tutors another homeschool family's children.
Shopping online is another way to stay at home. Most of our curriculum and book purchases are done online as is most of our Christmas and birthday shopping. I generally try to get book purchases and gift shopping done when I find great clearance sales on products we love.
Instead of going to the movies we subscribe to Netflix. For just $10 a month we get great movies sent to our mailbox! I can't imagine how much it would cost for us (8 at home) to see a movie!!
Create restaurant style meals at home. Jeff and I love to have an evening out at a restaurant every other month or so, but for the last few years we have generally been disappointed as I have learned to cook so many of our favorite restaurant style meals at home. Pasta meals are really very easy to replicate and we love our homemade pizzas. We regularly have some fantastic Mexican meals with enchiladas, fajitas, chimichangas, rice, beans and all the trimmings. Chinese food can also be made cheaply and well at home. We still go out occasionally, but it is becoming a rare occurrence.
-Buy in bulk!
We have been buying in bulk for years, but have recently upped our food storage so that we can make fewer trips to town. If I have a large stock to choose from I don't have to make purchases as frequently which saves gas and/or shipping and gives me more options for meals. What do I buy in bulk?
and so much more!
Learn to cook from scratch instead of buying mixes, canned soups or bread products. It is cheaper and healthier for you. Make large batches of soups and sauces and either freeze or can them. Make a double batch of muffins, pancakes, biscuits or waffles for two meals instead of just one. Homemade cookies, cakes, pies and ice cream are so much better than the store bought versions!
Make homemade cleaning solutions and laundry detergent.
Learn to sew simple projects and make repairs to clothing.
Make homemade popsicles with reusable popsicle trays or paper cups and unsweetened juices.
Learn how to can, freeze and dehydrate foods for food storage.
-Start a garden
There is definitely some money involved in getting started, but there are so many ways to garden frugally. Jeff and the boys go to a friend's house every year and bring back a large load of manure from his barn to add to our compost bin. Our raised beds were built from either scrap lumber or from landscape blocks that we purchased on clearance many years ago. We save scraps, rake up leaves and grass clippings to add to our compost.
We have been eating lettuce from our garden now for about 2 months. I paid about $4 for heirloom lettuce seeds. That is the price that I would have paid for one box of spinach from Sam's which would have lasted one week. We will be eating tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, squash and much more from our garden this summer. It has taken a good bit of work, but we count that as character training!! For us and the children!
-Take care of what you have!
Maintain your car properly. Make sure you change the oil when it is due, use the correct gas, go the speed limit and all those other things that will prolong the life of your vehicle.
Promptly take care of home maintenance projects. That leaky faucet is not going to suddenly stop leaking and will cause more damage if left alone. Been there, done that!!
Take care of your clothing. Treat stains promptly and sort your clothes according to color. Use the correct temperature. We have outside clothes and shoes and town clothes and shoes for the younger children. Have work clothes and boots for those who work outside and aprons for those who spend lots of time doing kitchen work.
Have a method for storing toys, games, puzzles and curriculum. My youngest children have some of the same toys, games, puzzles, curriculum and manipulatives that my older girls had 25 years ago! My grandchildren come over and put together the same puzzles that their mommy had!
Save clothes for the next child. My children have always worn hand me down and even though Jordan and Caedmon are 16 years apart, Caedmon does have some clothes that have been handed down through all four boys!
-Decrease use of electricity, propane or natural gas!
Hang clothes on the clothesline. If you don't have a clothesline you can purchase a drying rack cheaply and hang some articles of clothing to dry on hangars hung in doorways or on shower curtains.
Fill the sink with dishwater rather than letting the water run while you wash dishes.
Turn the water off while shaving or brushing teeth.
We do not have central air conditioning and have 5 window units. During the night we only run the units in the bedroom. During the day we run the two ACs in the living areas and in the boys' room. We use a fan to move the air from the boys room into the living areas as well.
Keep lights turned off.
Cook outdoors on the grill or set up a table on the porch or deck to cook outside in your crock pot. This will help keep the house cooler.
Cook more than one meal at a time. Eat one/freeze one!
-Don't pay full price for anything if possible!
Search out clearance racks. Almost all of our clothing comes from clearance racks. I never buy clothing unless it is on sale (usually at least half off), clearance or buy one get one half off.
My strawberry plants were purchased on clearance last year as were many of my perennial herbs. I also have three knock out rose bushes purchased on clearance and some salvia as well. A very little amount of TLC and they are doing great!
Most of my meat purchases are from the reduced section in my grocers meat market. I also buy lots of my produce this way as well.
Yes, I really think homeschooling our children has saved us lots of money through the years. Yes, we spend money for books and other materials, but in the long run I know we have saved. Here are some tips to save money while homeschooling.
Use unit studies....teach them all the same topic at the same, but at different levels.
Use curriculum that can be adapted to a wide age span.....i.e. The Natural Speller and more.
Use curriculum that can be passed down. My six year old is using the same math program that three of his older siblings used.
Use curriculum that can be reproduced.
So what are some ways that you use to save money in these days of the disappearing dollar? Have you tried to cut back your spending? I would love to hear some ideas from you!