If you’re struggling with how you can cut your monthly budget without giving up the things you love (and need), check out this post for 10 creative ways to save your family hundreds of dollars with little to no effort.
This post is sponsored by Oral-B. All thoughts and opinions are mine alone. #GlideToTheFinish
As our family continues to grow, the struggle to save money and stick to a budget gets harder and harder. From more mouths to feed to more clothes to buy, school fees and sports; the amount and cost of things we have to buy keeps going up. We’re going on almost two years now of my husband being laid off from work so we have had to get pretty good at setting a budget and cutting things out we don’t need. But there are a few things we can’t (or don’t want to cut). For example, where we live we have to have cable and internet combined so we can’t cut our cable bill. And honestly, with 2 very active boys and a two year old who doesn’t sleep I NEED my weekly Sodalicious run.
How to save money without sacrificing the things you love.
Most articles I’ve read about saving money say to cut those two things first (and a few others) but that’s not what I’m talking about today. I’m actually not telling you have to cut ANYTHING, I’m talking about how to better spend your money and save on the things you’re already buying/doing. Let me show you what I mean.
1. Program your thermostat – When my husband got laid off we took a look at all of our bills and looked at how we could save money on each one. Since we couldn’t change our rent immediately, we looked at the next bill(s), our utilities. I’m one who likes it super warm inside in the winter and super cool in the summer. We had our thermostat programed at 78° in the winter (and sometimes bumped it up to 79 or 80 if it got below freezing outside) and 70° in the summer. Our utilities bills weren’t ridiculously high, but when we set our thermostat to 75 year round we dropped our costs up to $40/month depending on the time of year. Now, the most we pay each month for our gas and power bills is $80 total. In the past we had been spending upwards of $130/month. In the spring and fall our utilities are only about $45/month.
2. Stay Healthy – Aside from the obvious health benefits, staying active, eating healthy foods and living a healthy lifestyle will actually cost you less too. Some insurance companies offer you a discount on you premiums if you live a healthy lifestyle. And if you stay healthy and active you are less likely to get sick and rack up unnecessary medical expenses.
3. Good Oral Health – Just like keeping your body healthy, if you take care of your mouth, teeth and gums you’ll save yourself from a lot of unnecessary dental visits too. I talked about making sure I stay healthy and brush my teeth last week with my personal to do list bullet journal, but the one thing I forgot to mention was flossing.
Flossing twice a day is just as important as brushing your teeth, and my go to floss is Oral-B. Glide I like that it slides easier between my teeth than other floss and it’s easy for my kids to use too – Did you know Oral-B Glide Floss slides up to 50% more easily into tight spaces for a superior clean at and below the gum line? Another reason I love Oral-B is they sponsor great events, like the San Francisco Bridge To Bridge Race last month which supported the Special Olympics of Northern California. AND through February 28th, 2019 you can get $1 cash back when you buy any Oral-B Glide Manual or Floss Picks at Walmart through the Ibotta app.
4. Money Saving Apps – This leads me to one of my favorite ways to save money, using my phone. There are several ways you can save money with your phone, and I’ll go over them more in a later step, but for now let’s talk about money saving apps. There are quite a few apps available today that give you cash back or help you save money on the things you are buying. Checkout 51, SavingStar but my favorite (and the easiest to use) is Ibotta. If you haven’t heard of Ibotta, it’s an app that you can scan in things you buy to earn cash back. Some of the things you earn money on are specific (like the Oral-B Glide Floss deal I mentioned above) and some are more generic, like save 25¢ when you buy any apple. There are also some stores you can submit your receipt and save a percentage of your total purchase. To learn more about Ibotta and to sign up, click here.
5. Meal Plan – This may be a hard routine to get into, but seriously it saves SO much money! When you sit down and plan out your meals once a week (or once a month, or every two weeks, whatever works best for you) and stick to your meal plans, you will easily save $10+ every meal vs. going out to eat or just buying whatever looks good when you go shopping. I’ve done that before and all you end up with are a bunch of sweet and salty treats that don’t make much of a meal.
6. Use Grocery Pickup Services – This is a game changer when it comes to grocery shopping! Not only can you do all your shopping from the comfort of your home AND have someone bring it out to your car for you, but you also avoid any of those impulse buys you may want to grab when you go grocery shopping. Even better, a lot of times when you do online grocery shopping, there are store coupons you can only use when doing grocery pickup orders that help you save even more.
7. Reduced School Lunches – I’m sure you all filled out the form, either in person or online, when you registered your kids for school asking if you qualified/wanted reduced school lunch for your kids. I was planning on making lunches for my son so I just checked no and moved on. But by the second week of school he was sick of sandwiches and decided he wanted to eat school lunches. I went online to pay and found that each lunch cost a whopping $2.60. That’s $52 a month or $500 a year – for one kid! I started thinking to myself, maybe I do want the reduced lunches. So I went in to talk to our school’s lunchroom manager and she explained to me that actually doing the reduced lunch at school is better for the school because they get funded money even if my son doesn’t take school lunch that day. So now I’m helping my school earn more money AND I only spend 40¢ a day on lunch. It’s a win-win.
8- Save date night for nights with deals – Whether you are going out for dinner or a movie (or both) plan your date nights, or any entertainment you do with the family, around days that have deals. Sign up for your favorite restaurants emails or texts, check out the local movie theaters website and look on Groupon for deals for the things you want to do. There is also a great app in Utah and Colorado called 2 For 1 Discount with lots of Buy One, Get One Free discounts. We typically like to go out on Tuesday nights because we can use our buy one, get one meals and discounted tickets at the movie theater to have a date night for around $20 instead of $40 or $50.
9- Shop off season and clearance sales – Whether the kids need new clothes, or you need things for the home, planning ahead and buying things on the off season can save you quite a bit of money. I bought all of Mahle’s summer clothes last September and spent around $30. I got her all the clothes she needed for this summer and only had to buy her a new pair of shoes (which I also got on clearance). Those same clothes probably would have cost me $75-$100 to buy if I had waited to buy them in the spring/summer.
10 – Set a goal and reward yourself – Why are you saving money in the first place? Is it so you can pay off your home sooner, buy a new car, go on a vacation? Whatever the reason set goals for yourself along the way AND rewards for when you reach those goals. Maybe your goal is to pay your home off in 15 years. Sit down, make a game plan and then schedule check-ins every few months (or years) to see how you’re doing. At that same time set up rewards for yourself for staying on point. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but maybe it’s getting a massage, or going out to a fancier than usual dinner. Make it something you normally wouldn’t do/buy and something you actually want to work for.
By doing all these things it’s helped me and my family not only live a life we love but also it’s made my husband and I less stressed and happier too which makes life a whole lot easier. What ways have you found to save your family money? Let me know in the comments! And don’t forget to download the Ibotta app and start saving on the things you’re already buying (like Oral-B Glide floss)!