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Almost a year ago I wrote a post called My Top 15 Tips to Save Money Painlessly and it’s been a huge hit! I still daily have many visitors to that specific post and it remains in my top ten posts of all times. Now that it is a year later I’m excited to share another 15 tips for saving money in some relatively painless ways. I hope you find inspiration to save yourself some cash and better your life.
Let’s Talk Food
1. Eat out… at lunch. If you love to eat out (like I do), then never eating out again is just not a painless option in the least. So I do still budget for eating out, but try to be smart about how our money is spent in restaurants. Lunch is a great time to eat out! Take advantage of lunch specials and other mid-day deals to save you $$$ at your favorite restaurants.
2. When eating out, consider opting for causal cafes and nicer fast food restaurants where you won’t have a server to tip. Order your burritos at the counter and then sit on the patio to enjoy a sunny lunch that costs much less than if you ate inside a restaurant with a server taking your order.
3. Buy food staples in bulk. Meats, grains, dry beans, rice, and many other staples can be purchased in larger quantities at significant discounts. Stock up to save!
4. Plant a garden. Even starting with just a couple of easy to manage plants is great! I had wonderful success with three tomato plants and three bell pepper plants in pots on my patio. Start small and work your way up. Learn to can to preserve your homegrown produce.
5. Begin clipping the coupons. Check your newspaper, weekly circulars, and online for coupons to save on all of the name brand products you love.
6. Before you go shopping, make a list of what you plan to purchase and then set it aside for a while. Later review the list and cut out all non-essential items. What can you really do without on this shopping trip?
7. Say ‘goodbye’ to expensive cell phone plans and contracts. Check your current cell phone plan to see when you can get out of your contract and then go for it! Far too many families are paying way too much for their cell phones. I often hear of couples who spend $100, $200, and even $300 a month for their phones. Crazy! There really is a better way. I stopped by Walmart and within 5 minutes had a no-contract phone picked out and paid for along with 2 months worth of service, all for what I’ve been paying for one month of cell service for my husband and me. I bought this great Galaxy Avant phone which will allow me to get 4G LTE data with unlimited talk and text for $40 a month:
As you may know, prepaid cell service is notorious for slow data, a spotty network, and second rate phones. However, with Simply Prepaid™ you can get 4G LTE data plus a great phone. Don’t settle for second rate prepaid wireless!
It’s wonderful to have such an easy option with no overage charges, no contracts, and no checks on your credit. No surprises! One less bill to worry about every month.
Learn more in this video:
Check Walmart in the electronics department for great phones and Simply Prepaid™ plans:
8. Buy used appliances. My husband and I have really done well with this! When we needed a new refrigerator we searched online listings and found a side-by-side in stainless steel for just $150. Yes, we had to haul it ourselves and it was in need of a deep clean. But I was thrilled to spend only $150 instead of $1200, for sure! If you’re in the market for appliances and more expensive household items, keep an eye out for the opportunity to buy used.
9. Sign up for store discount cards and phone apps. A few years ago my favorite chain of cafes began signing people up for their discount card. I got one right away and made sure I swiped it every time I ate lunch at that restaurant. One day I overheard an older gentleman rudely complaining to the girl behind the counter. He was saying something about how his information was “none of her business”, or something along those lines. The poor girl was of course just doing her job by offering to sign him up for the card. Then he turned to me and smugly said “I never get a single junk email because I NEVER give out my email address! I only get about five emails a week!” I just shrugged and then happily bit into my yummy bagel… which had been totally free to me. Yep, F-R-E-E because, ya know… I gave them my email address, got my little discount card, swiped it on my previous trips to the café, and earned my free bagel. Easy peasy. And it tasted nothing like junk email.
A few thoughts for you on this topic:
a. Don’t spend money at a restaurant or store just to earn points or discounts… this makes no sense. BUT if you’re already shopping/eating there, then for the love of Pete, hand over your basic info to get the discount card and save $$$.
b. You may want to keep an email account just for the purpose of signing up for offers from stores and restaurants. Then you won’t have email offers mixed in with your personal or work emails.
c. If you’re an international spy and cannot give out your name, email address, and mailing address… then I have no advice for you. Call Charlie and see what he thinks you should do.
10. Make your own! Pinterest is filled with fabulous tips for making your own things like laundry detergent, baby wipes, flavored coffee creamers, birthday cakes, and more. Try some ideas out and see what works for you. You may love your homemade versions even better than store-bought.
11. Learn to cut hair and even groom your pets at home.
That time I cut my own hair…
But maybe invest in decent scissors and a trimmer first! (Do as I say, not as I do) Not to mention… maybe you need some lessons before you start chopping off hair. Anyone know of some great free resources to help us out? Let me know in the comments.
12. Sell your stuff. Take a walk through your house and pull out everything you can sell. Split things into two categories: Sell online and yard sale. Yard sale items need to be priced super cheap. Less than 75% of their original value if in really good condition. Even less if very well used. Other items such as appliances, furniture, electronics, and collectibles may sell at higher prices if you list them online with community yard sale sites and online auctions (go for 50% of each items original value if in like-new condition). Collect all of the money you make from selling your unneeded things and pay off debt. If you’re debt free, then put the money in savings.
Saving Money on Kids Stuff
13. Use cloth diapers. Seriously… it’s NOT that hard and it saves a bundle! Do some research online, talk to mom friends who have successfully cloth diapered to ask for tips, and check out cloth diapering groups on Facebook. You can do it! Believe me… if I can, anyone can.
Here is my little cloth diapered cutie (a few years ago):
14. Buy clothes second hand. I have a little girl who I loveeeee to dress! She’s my little fashion doll. As much as I love to style my girl I am not ok with spending a lot of money on clothes she will either a. destroy or b. grow out of in two blinks
Shopping for second hand clothes is actually fun! I look forward to yard sale season, get super involved in consignment events, share clothes with other mom friends (accepting and giving hand-me-downs), make clothing, and shop end of season clearance sales like a pro. Plus, presents of clothing from grandparents are always helpful!
15. Find free family activities. Keep your kids entertained with all sorts of free community activities and events (plus there’s also the thing about them learning stuff and making friends…). We take advantage of the library store time and summer reading events, community parks, church events, street festivals, free outdoor concerts and plays, walking the mall and using the kids play area, and more. Find out what your city has to offer in the way of free entertainment for families and have fun!
Tell me what great ways you save money!
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I'm so glad to see a post about saving money and it doesn't unrealistically say 'don't eat out' but instead how to eat out more frugal. I cut my kids' hair, too, to save money, but ironically I go to the salon for my hair cut. In my defense, I only get haircuts every other year and it's to cut it all off to donate to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. They use the hair to make all natural wigs.
I found your post at Small Victories Sunday Linkup!
Carole Burkhard says
I love your line…"it tasted nothing like junk mail"! And, "if you're an international spy…then I have no advice for you." Too funny! Great list of tips. Stopping by from Small Victories Sunday and pinning to Pinterest!
The Resourceful Mama says
Great tips! I love how you suggestions on eating our at lunch rather than giving up something you love completely. Lunch portions are often much more realistic in size and price.
Terri Lynn Grothe says
these are great tips, we follow the dave ramsey plan! Have you heard of it
Sherri Stotler says
Great tips!! I cut my own hair too and color it myself most of the time. I'll go to a salon maybe once or twice a year for touch ups and do the rest myself. I always check Living Social and Groupon for things like experiences or salon services or restaurants. We very rarely eat out. I use Virgin Mobile's $35 plan for my cell and I couldn't be more pleased! I try to only shop at Aldi's and save TON of money that way (not only are their prices great, but the limited selection prevents me from buying stuff I don't need or won't use). Thanks for sharing!
Clare Speer says
Love these thorough and practical tips!!!! I often go out with my girlfriends for lunch instead of dinner – and we almost always go casual – plus when my husband and I do takeout we often cut out coupons first. And you give great tips for shopping, too. Thanks for this article!
Starla J. says
Love cloth diapers!
Laura Prater says
What great ideas! I have thought about using Walmart for cell service BUT I was almost scared to do it! Maybe I should take the plunge!
Megan Adams says
Fantastic Tips! I think you've inspired me to have a yard sale this spring… 🙂
April Grant says
I desperately need to purge and sell. I sign up for all cards, using a specific email address. It never makes me frequent the place more, but if I get points, it might actually add up to something. Great tips. Pinned.
Laura Perkowski says
Carissa, this post is overflowing with practical wisdom! Thank you for sharing all your good ideas with us. And…cute bangs! You totally got the hair cutting thing down. 🙂
Alice Emma Thompson says
So many great ideas Carissa … we're big fans of second hand clothes and free family activities. Pinned.
Rebeccca | www.LettersFromSunnybrook.com says
Saw this on Sarah Titus' "Frugal Fridays" and had to check out your great tips! For people on cell phone plans, I'd add that they can save by staying on top of their plan. I often check mine and find that some new deal or plan type has come out and I can make a quick adjustment to our plan to bring down the cost. If I do this on the computer, instead of by phone, I can do my research and look at the small print stuff, without the pressure of any salesperson trying to talk me into some other deal.
I'm happy to say that I'm doing a lot of the things you've suggested, including buying second hand clothes for my daughter and cutting her hair. I also colour my own hair and from time to time cut it myself too. I do need to utilize Pinterest DIY ideas more. Thanks for the tips.
Ann @ The Clumsy Wife says
Stopping over from Frugal Fridays, and so glad I did. Great tips!