What things do you try and lower your monthly budget? I'm looking for a few suggestions, thanks!

Shauna - posted on 09/06/2009 ( 38 moms have responded )

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I'm currently hoping to save up some more per month, and I've already cut a bunch in various areas, but I was wondering if anyone has any further suggestions that could help me.



So far, I have:

-Cut down on driving to once a week for all my driving stuff

-Started only buying "essentials" and bringing a list to grocery shopping

-Buy used baby clothes and toys from the thrift store

-Try to find coupons for "daily" foods (like milk and eggs)

-Keep the lights and electrical equipment off unless absolutely needed

-Don't have cable or television channels; use Netflix (less expensive) instead

-Don't have a home phone, MIL pays for cellphones and internet because she gets a huge discount

-breastfeeding



The only thing i'm not willing to do is go to cloth diapers. I only buy my disposables on diapers.com and get them in a huge bulk so that cuts down on the cost. My husband will be staying home with the baby come this October when I go back to work, so I am pretty sure he would NEVER change the baby if we started using cloth.

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Lorraine - posted on 09/07/2009

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i think the only other thing i can think of is going on craigslist. i have found so many people trying to get rid of extra diapers that their little ones have grown out of. this is so much cheaper if you can find them. the other day i found a brand new case of 135 for $20. if this doesn't work go and sign up with similac, enfamil, and nestle good start, they will begin to mail you vouchers for their formulas. once you have a good dollar amount for each one sell it on ebay. yes people will buy coupons on there. this extra money bought me a new stroller. just get rid of your junk and coupons over the internet. it's great!

Gretchen - posted on 09/06/2009

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I agree with the last person, I started planning a menu and choosing meals that have overlapping ingredients. I've gotten down to spending $100 a month on food (there are 2 of us -- baby still exclusively breast feeds). Also, if you play the "grocery game", you never have to pay for things like toothpaste and shampoo (or not much, anyway). It took me a while to get the hang of it, but there are tons of blogs where moms figure the best deals in all the major stores and link them up with recent coupons that have been in the paper (maybe you already do this, but you said coupons for milk and eggs, so I wasn't sure). Just be CAREFUL not to get sucked into buying crap you don't need (which is why CVS and Walgreens has these programs!).

Right now your baby can be your main entertainment! These moments pass so quickly, and if you are scaling back on lots of other things, you can just spend more time focusing on the baby, huh? :)

Oh, one more, some grocery stores that have gas stations give you bonus points toward saving $ on gas. For instance, every time I bring a tote bag to Kroger, I get gas points, which add up and I can save 10 cents a gallon on gas if I make enough points. Bringing tote bags with me costs me nothing, and it helps the environment, so I always do it! I think Meijer might have similar programs -- I'm not sure what you might have near you. I try to walk and do my errands in my neighborhood (I live in a city, so it works for me), or to meet up with friends to save on gas a bit too.

Candice - posted on 09/06/2009

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don't eat out (that's my biggest flaw). Track all your spending ...see if you're throwing away money on small things (my other big flaw). round everything you spend up to the nearest dollar (or nearest 5) and put all your change away somewhere. Check the flyers for stores before you shop and go to the stores that have cheap items (my mom would map out her trip to the different stores on one day and hit the sales at all of them travelling in a circle from home). Plan your meals around what's on sale instead of buying based on meal plans. Oh, and hit places that have rewards or points programs, especially on double points days, but only buy stuff that you would have bought anyway, and stuff that isn't more expensive at that store. (i got a 25$ reward this weekend doing just that!). I also have airmiles and every christmas get at least one gift out of the program. The biggest one is BUDGET. remember to put in every possible contingency (dentist appointments, pet food, etc). I budget for as much as a year so i can figure out how much i will need to spend in order to put some savings away.

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Tracy - posted on 02/04/2011

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Do you use coupons for everything - stack them when you can? Double them if you can? Only buy things at the grocery store when it is on sale?? I can save about 50-75% on my grocery every week and it is a wonderful feeling! If you need any help or have any ?s, don't hestitate to contact me or check out my web-site...It's even a Circle of Moms favorite ;)

Lisa - posted on 10/01/2009

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just another thought..... I get good reward points on my credit card, so I use my credit card to pay for as much as I can, then I can redemem the points for vouchers at stores I already shop at. Only really works if you pay your credit card off in full every month, othewise the interest charges don't really make it worth it.

Lisa - posted on 10/01/2009

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Couple of things my husband and I do......
Plan our weekly menu - but make extras or bigger meals so that some can go in the freezer. Its great for nights where you have limited time or just can't be bothered cooking. It easy to pull out a left over and just throw a baked potato or similar on the side
We have put in a vege garden to start growing our own. We were sick of the prices of veges at the supermarket for something that was pretty tired looking. But before this we also went to the local farmers market for cheaper fresher veges.
Don't just turn off unsued appliances, unplug them. Things on standby are still using power. I used to always have the cell phone charges pluged in even when the phones weren't charging.
Also, plan ahead when you need to buy stuff for your child/children. I have been able to pick up some great bargins at the end of season sales. I was getting streach and grows for $2-$3..... I have quite a bit of stuff away for when my baby is a year old.
But as others have suggested, record every cent you spend, you will be surprised where money can go. it may only be $5 here and there but it soon adds up.
Good luck

Lisa - posted on 09/30/2009

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When I lost my eyesight a few years ago and lost a really great job, we learned that savings can go away quickly and living on a budget was hard, but here are a few things that hadn't been mentioned that we do:
1. Loose the cable and watch online. It is free to watch online (especially if you already pay for internet) and if you want the TV experience, hook up the computer to the TV (Find a computer savy friend or you can even hire someone). You can watch what you want, when you want and save on cable.
2. Budget everything, including your savings. Then, when you get a bonus or raise at work, use the extra to pay extra on loans. It will save you alot in the long run for fees and interest.
3. Pay online, but only if they don't charge you for the service. First, this helps prevent accidental late payments with pate fees and saves you the cost of a stamp, envelope and check paper. Again, find out if there is a fee for this service first and way the options carefully.
4. Buy on sale and plan ahead. I can sometimes get clothes for my son for less than a dollar when I go on customer appreciation days and search the sales racks at certain stores. Just be careful to only buy what you need (does your child really need thirty one pairs of shorts for this summer? Probably not). Toddlers especially don't care if their clothes are from last season.
5. Walk or use public transportation if possible. We found that walking our son to daycare on sunny days (only about a ten minute walk) saved us alot in gas. Alot of public transport has discounts for frequent users so ask about week, month and year unlimited ride passes and see how much it saves in gas, car repairs and even oil.
6. If you can, turn down the thermostat a little and wear an extra layer, throw on an extra blanket or even have an excuse to snuggle more with your hunny. If you have a two storey, invest in a dual control thermostat and keep doors closed when rooms aren't being used. Basements are cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter (If you have snow it acts like an insulater) so think about investing in refinishing the basement into a family room.
7. Weatherize your house with energy efficient windows and doors. Replace old and leaky boilers that aren't running as effecively as possible and consider investing in new insulation, better roofing and sealing leaks. There is information and grants throught the government website on how to do this.
Some of these ideas require alot of upfront expenses, but the pay-off can be tremendous. You'll be suprised how quickly the savings pays for the work and rewards you thereafter. Just remember to alwatys have a little stored away for emergencies and talk to an expert for their opinion (financial experts are a great source of knowledge and they love to show how smart they are at saving you money!)

Ruth - posted on 09/18/2009

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One thing I am doing at the moment is making home made jams - as we dont have enough money for real christmas presents this year all the family will be getting home made things, generally with fruit myself and the kids have picked and I have gone to the effort of preparing. Means a lot more in my eyes and shows we care even though we can't afford to buy anything from the shops. Investment of a few pounds in equipment but I am loving doing it and getting quite a store going now! Amazing how many people want rid cheaply of fruit from their trees in the garden x

Sylvia - posted on 09/17/2009

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Well I not only keep electrical and light off when not using them, I also unplug things that are not being used. you'd be surprised at what a difference that makes on your bill. Don't leave the water running. I now buy cleaning supplies at the dollar store but only the ones that are actually a dollar...lol that makes a big difference too. I am now a big fan of recycling cans, bottles and plastic for some extra cash. It adds up and can fill up my car with gas or more sometimes. Good luck

Lisa - posted on 09/17/2009

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i'm with you on cloth. i am a eco/green/vermont living mom of three who own a consignment store to keep things recycled and i couldn't do cloth! : ) anyway, i would suggest calling the utilities you do use and see if they have any special/programs you could be eligible for. i got 25% off our electric bill for a few years because of a program we were eligible for (unadvertised) and our internet company said they have specials every month or two that current members can get (you just have to keep checking). Consigning kids and adult clothes can really made a little extra and get you clothing in trade(especially growing kids) Put your electronics on a utility stripe that you can turn the power off of when not in use as they will still pull power even when the tv/stereo/computer is off. use energy efficient bulbs, have your house weatherized to save heating/cooling.

LeeAnn - posted on 09/15/2009

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Quoting Cathi:

Change all you light bulbs to LED, cost WAY less to run. If you are going to be out of a room less than 20min leave the light on(it takes more energy to light the light than keep it lit). You can get coupns sent to you from all the baby places for diapers, food, etc. Get a clothes line(if you do laundry at home). Only buy food that you prepare, no 20min roast from the micro. Doing all the prep yourself is cheaper. Make meals that go a long way that you can freeze, ex. add a can of diced tomatoes to your pasta sauce, you can get two dinners out of it then. I make my own baby wipes. Cut one roll of Bounty paper towels in half. In a sealable container mix one cup warm water, one tbs baby oil, one tbs baby wash. Place roll in mix, close lid, let sit until all liquid is absorbed then flip, leave for at least a couple of hours. Remove the cardboard core, the wipes come out the middle. I LOVE these, they are way better than store bought. They smell better, they feel better, and the textured paper towel is better for cleaning a dirty bum!



I tried to make home made wipes a little while back...let me just say, it was a disaster!!  I guess I didn't get good enought paper towels, or added too much liquid, something...they turned into sticky mushy wads.  I don't think I copied the recipe down right, because yours looks different than I remember mine...maybe I will give it another go...maybe

LeeAnn - posted on 09/15/2009

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I know it sounds kind of obvious, but think about how much you use of things, as opposed to how much you really need of things...like toilet paper, kleenex, baby wipes, etc. I try to use cheaper alternatives, and store brands in the place of some things, like Vaseline is a wonderful alternative to A&D Ointment..basically the same principle applies, use as a barrier and you reduce diaper rash, and it is sterile, a whole lot cheaper. When I make a pot of pintos for dinner, if there are any left, I rinse them the next day, and use them in my chili, or make refried beans out of them for Burritos. Try to plan your meals out, and only fix what you know will get eaten, instead of wasting the leftovers...if you don't like leftovers, make smaller portions. I also load coupons on my Kroger card. You can load coupons from several different sites, and also earn points for 10 cents off per gallon of gas, depending on the amount you spend on Groceries each month. Buying in Bulk, when practical helps too. Good Luck, hope these help!

Heidi - posted on 09/15/2009

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Try making your own baby food when the time comes. I did. It's a bit of work but you can make a bunch of it then freeze it in ice cube trays and have freezer bags full for about 2 weeks. Use fresh veggies when available or frozen veggies. My daughter hated the pureed meats by themselves but mix chicken with squash, then freeze in the cubes, she couldn't get enough!! Homemade baby food also helps the transition to table food easier because the baby is used to a more textured food. Store bought baby food is super smooth.

Heidi - posted on 09/15/2009

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I've saved quite a bit on diapers buy using store brands during the day and more expensive ones at night. A package of 52 Pampers can last me more than a month (I sometimes use them at naptime too). Store brands are $5-10 cheaper. I have had trouble with leaking once.... my daughter had a very runny poop while playing outside and was too busy playing to show the usual signs of poopybum!

Coupons are great but only on products you would normally buy. I also like to buy a few extra of something if it's on sale. Like coffee. Every few months our brand of coffee goes on sale, saving us about $4 per can. So instead of just buying it when we are out, I budget for one or even two cans every week until the sale is over. THen I don't have to buy coffee for over a month and will save about $25. I also like to buy meat in the family packs. Work out a meat budget for every two weeks (depending on your family size), buy in bulk and get enough for those two weeks or more. I can spend $25 on meat and it will last us for 2.5 weeks (family of 2 adults, 1 teenage girl, 1 19mth baby).

All your other ideas are great! Shopping lists are key... and shopping only once a week saves a bundle too!

Dawn - posted on 09/14/2009

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Stop using conveinence foods. It is healthier for your family and I have found it doesn't take that much longer to make a meal from scratch. I have started doing this and have seen a difference. It also produces more leftovers that I can heat up quickly or take to work instead of eating out.

Cathi - posted on 09/12/2009

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Change all you light bulbs to LED, cost WAY less to run. If you are going to be out of a room less than 20min leave the light on(it takes more energy to light the light than keep it lit). You can get coupns sent to you from all the baby places for diapers, food, etc. Get a clothes line(if you do laundry at home). Only buy food that you prepare, no 20min roast from the micro. Doing all the prep yourself is cheaper. Make meals that go a long way that you can freeze, ex. add a can of diced tomatoes to your pasta sauce, you can get two dinners out of it then. I make my own baby wipes. Cut one roll of Bounty paper towels in half. In a sealable container mix one cup warm water, one tbs baby oil, one tbs baby wash. Place roll in mix, close lid, let sit until all liquid is absorbed then flip, leave for at least a couple of hours. Remove the cardboard core, the wipes come out the middle. I LOVE these, they are way better than store bought. They smell better, they feel better, and the textured paper towel is better for cleaning a dirty bum!

Angie - posted on 09/12/2009

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I make my own laundry soap after watching the Duggers show and I will never go back to store bought.We are a family of 7, so you can imagine how much wash we do. The soap lasts us 5 to 6 months.I have also started unplugging electrical items when not in use, which I have noticed a decrease in my electric bill. Grow a garden and can or freeze as much as you can, you could make your own baby food from it also.Much healthier for your baby than processed food with all the preservatives.If your not able to grow your own fruits and veggies check out your local farmers market, they carry fresh food at a lot lower price than your grocerie store.

Mary Therese - posted on 09/11/2009

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I started to use Grocerygame.com to tell me what coupons to use and when to buy certain items and rock bottom prices. I work and have 3 kids so I dont have time to do the research. They teach stockpiling and it takes about 3-4 months to stockpile, but now I really only have to go every week for produce, milk etc. I save around 30% of my bill when I go. I have decreased my expenses by about 2-300 per month. It costs 5 dollars per month but well worth it.

Whitney - posted on 09/11/2009

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grocerygame.com...I have used it very often...It is hard now that we live in Wyoming and many of the stores are not on the same schedule as the national campaigns but it is definately a start.

Sandra - posted on 09/11/2009

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Start a "cash only" budget, it honestly saves you boat loads! We just started and I am already seeing a HUGE difference in our spending habits. I allocate a certain amount to groceries, fuel, the kids, and my husband and I (this is after all the bills are paid). Once the cash is gone, its gone. And any left over cash is put right back onto our LOC.

Samantha - posted on 09/11/2009

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Shauna, Good for you! Adding to all the great suggestions above, if you have friends or family with older kids, you can ask them to keep to keep some clothes for you and pay the shipping costs. Garage sales are really great for toys too. I also pay all of my bills by the first week of each month so I know I have taken care of the essentials. Best of luck to you!

Corri - posted on 09/10/2009

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Do you have a Costco or a Sam's Club where you live? There is a cost for membership, but if you do most of your shopping there, you save a lot of money. We have a family of four, soon to be five, and we go twice a month to Costco. I have found diapers to be cheaper here then at diapers.com, and if you ever have to use formula (both of my kids ended up on it due to medical issues), it is SO much cheaper there. (If you get the Costco brand, you get the equivalent of four 12.9oz cans for only $20, and this brand is made by Similac) A couple people have mentioned buying in bulk, and shopping at one of these stores will do that. We get all of our toiletries, non-perishables, and frozen foods there. We also get certain perishables, such as blueberries, which both my kids are addicted to, and bananas.

Another suggestion is to sit down and think of every monthly expense, and every non-monthly expense you have. Make sure to include things like how many times a year you change the oil in your car, and birthday/Christmas presents. Just things that come up. Add all the expenses that are not monthly and divide by 12. Then the cost you come up with will be added to your list of monthly expenses as a "periodic" expense. We use a separate savings account for this money, but even taking it out in cash and putting it in an envelope would work. This way when you plan your budget out, you are leaving money for those unexpected expenses, and the ones that just do not come up every month.

My last suggestion is save for Christmas year round. The way we do it is we have an account called "Childrens". We put $200 a month into it, but this covers all of the following: homeschooling supplies, clothes, birthday presents/party costs, Christmas presents, allowance, money for friend's birthdays, those random things you buy your kids like that super soaker they had to have for the summer, and any other odds and ends that the kids need. Because my biggest weakness is my children, this has helped us save SO much money.

Hope this helps at least a little, and good luck!

Dana - posted on 09/10/2009

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For gift giving try consolidating with others or gift exchanges! For instance for birthdays for family or co-workers I combine money with others for a group gift. For Christmas we exchange names at Thanksgiving and then only have to buy one gift per side for extended family. I also make baked goods for friends and co-workers. This only leaves your spouse and kids which you can teach to only expect a few special things, focus on the meaning of the occasion and not be so greedy :)

Camille - posted on 09/10/2009

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I make my own laundry soap. If you google home made laundry soap there are several recipes you can try. We try not to buy any processed foods, and eat meat as a side dish rather than as the main meal, we eat more vegetables and eat beans and eggs for protein. We also look on craigslist and freecycle to get things we need either free or very inexpensively. We also use cloth napkins at mealtimes. We use Sigg bottles to carry water around.

Gina - posted on 09/10/2009

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Trade services with neighbors and friends and/or shop together and buy bulk items that you can split. Saves a lot of money. We are doing that right now and it helps a lot.

Gina - posted on 09/10/2009

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If you get on the redbox list you can receive a code once a week for a free night rental.

Gina - posted on 09/10/2009

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When you do price comparisons for trips, services (tv, cell phone, etc), find out what fees they have. I was watching a news report that said some of the places that advertise their prices as less are actually more because of fees that are added on to the end. My sister-in-law found a grocery store that does that as well. So be very careful of hidden fees.

Gina - posted on 09/10/2009

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FYI: some companies have started to print your name on the coupons for baby formula and you have to use it and show id or it is not valid.

Christy - posted on 09/08/2009

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hey have you tried the new movie thing at the walgreens place were it only cost a 1.00 to rent movies they are called redbox. or try renting movies from the libary instead of netflix i now that cost a monthly fee. i am not sure how much your family rents them. also some times buying things in bulk will save you some money. i do that and split it with a friend or family member like toliet tissue or paper towels etc.

Johanne - posted on 09/08/2009

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we've been doing pretty much the same things! i actually don't have tv at all in my house! lol. here are some of my tips, hope they're helpful:

- have student hairstylists cut your hair. you would normally see their ad at craigslist for a minimal fee, sometimes for free!
- change lightbulbs to energy effecient ones. may be expensive to buy at first but will save you a lot of money in the long run
- although grocery coupons and buying on sale can save a lot of money, if eating whole and healthy food in a budget is you concern, try buying at local farmers, plant easy growing vegetables, and buy bulk organic foods---i get mine at clnf.com.

D.Denise - posted on 09/08/2009

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Looks like you've gotten a handle on it pretty well. Lots of military wives have a daycare swap, where this week, you'll watch their kids and next week, they'll watch yours. Or, join in a meal swap, where this week, you do all the cooking, next week they do it. I usually have at least enough leftovers for one or two individual meals so swapping with another family could be cost effective, plus you get to try new foods.

Impulse items are a big waster of money. Cutting back on fake nails, haircuts, or one less latte per week is a big help as well. Sometimes, buying things online is much cheaper than at the store, but watch out for delivery costs. When buying groceries, cut back on INDIVIDUAL sized items and buy in bulk, that helps more, especially with meats, breads and cheeses which can be frozen. Good luck!

Candice - posted on 09/07/2009

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oh, i forgot to mention...FEES...bank fees, extra fees on bills, get good plans that cover those things (i need to do that this week, i've been using interac too much). what is it they say? watch your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.

Malissa - posted on 09/07/2009

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you can also make your own detergent, and there is a clever way to make your liquid fabric softener last longer! Go to www.duggarfamily.com and click of family recipes and you will see the list for detergent and just under that the fabric softener idea!!! It really works for our family of 4.

Regina - posted on 09/07/2009

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Wow..you really seem to have a handle on it..you might want to try and check into Freecycle quite often you can find baby clothes and things you might need and its free.

Michelle - posted on 09/06/2009

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Sounds like you have most everything down!! The only other thing I can think of is a weekly menu. Then you would only have to buy the food needed for each meal and it might save a little money that way.

Renita - posted on 09/06/2009

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Talk on the cell phone less to keep the bill down unless u have a set rate w/ unlimited minutes.

When I think of something else that you haven't already thought of I'll get back to you.

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