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Frugal Living Tips – Turn Clutter Into Cash
5 years ago when ago we decided to start our family, we also made the decision for me, mommy, to stay at home with our children instead of heading back into the workforce. I had worked in the medical field for a number of years and really enjoyed my work as well as the two incomes!
Although frugal living is not for every mom out there, I personally could not forfeit these limited years with my kids for the sake of having more money.
And it actually got me thinking, “Am I really forfeiting money, or can I actually come out ahead by adjusting the way we live?”
Since making this decision, people often ask, how do you guys make it work? How do you pay your bills and even begin to save? I want to share some of our frugal habits that have become part of our daily lifestyle and helped us not only save and make money, but hopefully are also habits that our children will adopt and put into practice one day. Where there is financial frugality, there is also freedom.
Budgets freak me out. I absolutely detest paper trails of my financial spending. And I’m sure that would indicate that I’m a crazy spender who doesn’t want to see how much I’m actually spending.
For the most part, that is not true; I am not a crazy spender. I just hate saving receipts. I just don’t enjoy the feeling of strict limits from a budget.
What on earth is wrong with me? Most of all, I see budgeting and documentation as a hassle I suppose.
My mother, to this day, saves every single receipt. And each month carefully reconciles every penny for their budget. Kudos to her! My parents beautiful home was also paid off at the ripe young age of 32 years old, she is a whiz when it comes to finances. But thankfully, I think there many ways to track your money and be financially savvy!
After having 3 children it was becoming very apparent that the spending on our little angels was sucking the life out of our bank account. I mean, of course I need that outfit at target for my 12 month old daughter and maybe the 2T matching outfit for her sister, who doesn’t enjoy twinning their children’s clothing?
And the gear! Strollers, Car seats, Bumbos, Pack and Plays just to name a few. And don’t even get me started on the toys!
Two Words: Consignment Shops!
When I found out about a popular and fairly large consignment shop 30 minutes from our house it was a huge game changer as far as children’s expenses go. Not to mention I do much of my own personal wardrobe updates there as well. We all know the saying, “Out with the old, in with the new” well I’ve crafted a new saying of my own, “Out with old, in with the used!”
When my kids grew out of their clothing, I started a small tote of the items that no longer fit them. They outgrew that little bumbo seat, so I’d add that to the tote headed to the consignment shop. You get the picture.
After about a month I’d call the consignment shop and discover that I had a balance of $80 dollars on credit. $80 at Target may not get me far, but $80 on used Target brands at a consignment shop can buy A LOT!!
If you don’t live near a consignment shop, you can buy and sell locally through the use of marketplace and facebook. I’ve saved some serious coin selling items that we no longer use, whether it be our children’s items, or that second crockpot that I haven’t used in 7 years.
Taking an inventory of your home, and letting go of those items that you never use can bolster your savings, and clear out the clutter!
We ALL have several (hundred) items that aren’t being used. Think of those items as HARD CASH that you can take on a SPENDING SPREE to update you and your families wardrobe, or playroom, or whatever your need may be.
Minimalism is a topic of its own, but it certainly has played a major role in what we have, how much we have, and what we need. I’m not saying that you should only own one coat. But I am saying there are big benefits in taking that next rainy day at home, and work your way through one room at a time. Make a pile of things to either sell privately, or compile an inventory of things to take to your local consignment shop.
These tidiness habits have become one of my weekly “jobs” that seriously pays off in the long term.
Groceries To Go
Another recent lifestyle change for me has been taking advantage of the “to go” grocery shopping. Whoever came up with this brilliant idea deserves a giant high five!
I LOVE TO GO SHOPPING. My two older children are 3 and 5, they are usually very good in the grocery store. They sit in the cart eating the free cookie from the bakery and enjoy their social outing while mom grabs what we need.
My 22 month old hell’s angel is another story. Mercy! That boy has his daddy’s good looks and his mommy’s big mouth. “Sit down” is not a part of his vocabulary, and neither is “Shhhh, be quiet!”
I literally would wait 5 days until my husband finally had a day off from work to schedule my grocery shopping so I could AVOID bringing them all in a grocery store at once. But who wants to grocery shop on their day off? Doesn’t it seem like a waste of precious family time?
It became that way for me as well. When I discovered grocery shopping “to go” it not only alleviated a lot of stress that comes from shopping with small children, but it has also helped our budget.
I swear, every single time I was grocery shopping, I was shopping hungry. Mistake. Buying everything and anything that was NOT on my grocery list isn’t in the budget. But I was also buying all of those things that were “on sale.”
You know, those big bins with the 75% off signs? Those bad boys suck me in like a laser beam. Sure I need that McCormick random spice, they are usually $5.99 and now they are $2…will I actually use it? Ummmmm…maybe at best?!
I know I sound like everyone’s great grandma here, but $2 here, $4 there adds up quickly ya’ll. Be intentional about your spending and you will naturally save!
When I’m putting together my shopping list and placing my order online, there is usually less candy in my cart. There’s still some candy. I’m only human after all, but there’s less of it! Savings!
When purchasing online, I really do so well sticking to my list. And I know the estimated total – which I love! If I go over my $125 grocery bill, I can simply go back to my cart and make a few adjustments. In the ‘real store’ shopping experience I’m much less likely to do that.
Fast Food Frugality
Here’s another little hack that I’ve found to be very helpful in our frugal living and money saving journey. Remember when I said that I hated keeping receipts? Well there is one exception to that rule.
Do you know that MANY drive thru restaurant receipts offer little promotions at the bottom of the receipt? Chick-Fil-A for example has an amazing survey reward program. Save your receipt and then go to www.mycfavisit.com and enter your receipt code.
Take two minutes to answer a few survey questions about your CF experience and they’ll email you a coupon for a FREE CHICK-FIL-A sandwich! Also, if you have their Chick-Fil-A app (which I HIGHLY recommend) you can scan your phone at each visit, and quickly earn points for FREE food items.
It takes me no time to earn 200 points which scores me FREE medium waffle fries! Pair that with your FREE Chick-Fil-A sandwich and boom, there’s your free lunch!
So you get to splurge on LUNCH OUT, without spending the $7-$8 on lunch. I get it, some of you may roll your eyes, but again, I love doing this because it takes no time at all, and you get the perks without the cost!
I don’t know many people that actually appreciate feeling deprived, but often we over indulge and quickly rack up the bills on eating out and drive thru costs. I think there’s a happy medium approach. Do these little hacks and you’ll see big savings occur over time!
Another receipt survey that I frequently find myself filling out is the one from DUNKIN DONUTS. Don’t judge me. With each and every receipt from DD there is also a code. Go to www.telldunkin.com, enter your receipt code and fill out their quick 2 minute survey and receive a FREE DONUT.
Again, this may not seem like a big ticket item, and its not. But when you’re having to run errands with your kid and they are OVER IT, swing through that DD drive thru and you’d be surprised how much a little pink frosted donut can enhance anyone’s general disposition. Even your cranky toddler or emo teenager! #winning
Another APP that I’ve found tremendously worthwhile to download is the HANNAFORD APP. If you aren’t from New England then you may be thinking, “Hanna-What?”
Sadly you all don’t have Hannaford grocery stores near you but likely a Publix, Ralph’s, or a Piggly Wiggly. If you are in the Hannaford states, download the app today. They give you FREE items monthly when you scan at checkout. It could be anything from a FRESH EXPRESS Salad to a bag of baby wipes, its fun seeing what they choose from month to month.
They also grant you sweet coupons that really cut down on your grocery bill. $15 off of $120 bill is one of my frequent coupons. This last grocery trip I had a Hannaford Rewards Balance of $14.25 plus some RANDOM coupon from Oakhurst Dairy that I received in the mail for $10 off of my grocery bill.
Guys, that’s $24.25 off of my bill. FREE GROCERIES. I’m feeding a small army and that totally adds up.
As I continue to discover these freebies and frugal perks, I’ll be sure to share them with you! Would you share yours with me too?