Over the years I have learned more and more about how to make things myself, how to conserve, and how to make things stretch. All these things can save you a ton of money. When I first quit my job to stay at home full time, it was like being on vacation. I was able to sleep in, sit on my butt, and do anything I wanted. Well a week later reality hit me and I started to worry about my role in the home. Maybe it's just me but I just cannot sit around doing nothing all day. How would I surprise my husband with birthday gifts, or holiday gifts? Making no money meant no way to pay for things. Doing small things that add up is how I am able to pay for things when I need to.
My husband gets salary which means he only gets paid once a month. This was very hard for us in the beginning but now we have learned how to manage our money better. I get a $600 each month to take care of all groceries, household goods, clothing, and gifts. Did I mention for a family of 6? In order for me to get everything we need and save some cash for anything extra, I have to make our dollars stretch and save where I can. Here are my top ways that I save money.
1. Garden-I buy my organic seeds in the after season sales. Only way I can afford to do this. I keep them in my freezer until after the last frost. I have a 3 bin compost system which gives me amazing soil. Saves me money too. All produce is eaten, frozen, or canned. I use the frozen stuff all year long. I use my mason jars over and over, even the lids and seals. Because I freeze my food I can use the seals over and over again. We also u-pick during each season. My kids love to pick their own produce and we make a whole day of it. You save a ton of money by picking produce yourself.
2. Line dry my clothing. Anytime its not raining or snowing, my clothes are out on the line. Everything is washed (in our HE washer) and put outside to dry. I mean everything. And no my clothes are not cardboard. We use no softener so there is no chemical build up to make my clothes hard or scratchy. Softener is the reason why people's clothes are hard when line dried. One or two washes without the softener and all chemical build up will be gone. This tip alone saves me a bundle each month. Again I do 6 peoples laundry so you can imagine how much I actually do. No need to use bleach because the sun will bleach my whites just fine. Again saving me some money.
3. Buy whats in season. Anything I need to buy that I cannot grow myself is bought at Marks NW Fresh Produce. Anything that is cheap and in season is used. If apples are in season, apples is our fruit. If green beans are cheap, we eat those. My rule of thumb is I will only pay $1 or less per pound for anything. Plus my kids look forward to eating things in certain seasons. Right now they cannot wait for Fall so they can eat pumpkin everything. Plus were growing our own pumpkins this year.
4. I make my own liquid laundry soap. This too has saved us a ton of money. I control what my soap smells like and can change it each time I make a new batch. Using oatmeal soap helps my clothes stay soft as well. About once every 3 months I make a batch. I'm A okay with only spending a penny per load on soap.
5. Salvage wood-During the winter we use our fireplace often. This cuts down on our energy bill and our natural gas bill. We order our fire wood during the summer which saves you a lot of money. This way it can dry out and will be ready for the winter. Anytime we can get free wood, we will do that as well. All untreated wood from our fence is being cut down for firewood. Luckily our neighbors replaced their fence along our property and gave us their wood as well. Plus yesterday when we were picking blackberries I found 3 large chunks of wood. Those were brought home as well. This all add's up to lots of money being saved.
6. Nothing new. What I mean by this is that we do not buy anything new unless we have to. All clothes are either given to us by friends/family or bought used from thrift stores or Goodwill which sells their stuff by the pound. This rule applies to just about everything. Everything my oldest daughter grows out of is handed down to my middle daughter. She then gives her outgrown stuff to the twins. I hand down all the twins stuff to a friend of ours. My girls take really good care of their stuff and rarely every wear anything out which means I do not have to replace them. Undies and bra's are our only exception. School time comes around and same rules apply. My girls love garage sales and save their favorites for school time. Backpacks are reused if in good condition, same goes for lunch bags. Almost everything in our home is bought second hand or given to us. Fridge from craigslist, same goes for our dining table. Chairs we refurbished. Cars bought used, etc. You get the idea. Remember its a form of recycling too.
7. Make everything from scratch. From our bread, to our jelly, to our muffins. Its all made from scratch. No boxed dinners, canned food, or unhealthy snacks. Less the packaging, the less your bill. All noodles, rice, beans and baking goods are bought in bulk. No spice packets, gravy packages, or taco seasons. Yes you read it correct, I do it all. I control how much sodium and sugar we take in. Don't forget all the preservatives were not eating too. This has saved us a ton of money each month. I get my recipes from these resources.
8. No cable. Nothing. Yes you can survive without it. Regular Tv has many more channels now and including a 24 hour cartoon channel. We do not miss cable and I love keeping that extra $50 a month in our pockets.
9. Storing food. If its not canned or froze then its dehydrated. Cherries from my neighbor were dehydrated for later use in muffins, mint and lemon balm from the garden were dehydrated for tea, and soon apple slices will be dehydrated for snacks all fall. No food goes to waste here.
10. Conserve water usage and energy. We water our yard once a week for 5 minutes to keep the grass okay for the kids to play on. No lights are turned on during the day. All drapes are opened and windows open as well to keep the house cool. A/C is only turned on if needed. I would keep it off but the hubby likes it on. uurrrr. If its super hot we shut all windows and drapes to keep the sun out. Then once it gets dark and cooler out all windows are opened to air the house out. Any extra water not used from cups or what not, are put on our plants. Bathing is every other day or longer. Since we have so many people in our home, this is a big money saver. Saves on water and natural gas. We are not dirty people and really can go a week if we wanted (but we don't ). No need to wash hair every time because we use all natural soap and have no oil build up. Also during the winter we close all our doors and use our fireplace. I change their cotton sheets to flannel cotton sheets and quilts so they are snug as a bug at night. Of course lots of homemade hot cocoa or hot tea before bedtime.
11. DO NOT BUY LIST. I have several things that I just plain stopped buying. Cling wrap, plastic zip type bags, laundry softener, garbage bags, paper napkins, paper plates, plastic silverware, junk food, soda, and cleaners. I either make it, fix it, or do without. There are all natural wax papers and bags, laundry balls, take my garbage out to the can, use fabric napkins, use our own glass plates, bought bamboo utensils, make our snack food, drink water and make my own cleaners. Why spend your money on things when you can do without them or buy reusable items? Seems silly to me.
What about you?
What are your top ways to save money?
How much money do you save doing this?