Thursday, June 16, 2011

From my readers: How I save my family money

Sarah, a SAHM to a young toddler, shared ways that she helps to save her family money:

I am a stay-at-home Mom, so we only have one income.  I have a husband and a son who will be 3 years old in a few days.  We make just enough to "make ends meet," but not any extra.  So I try to save as much as possible, so we can afford to cover unexpected expenses like car repairs, etc.  Here are some of my strategies:

I use an Excel template to keep track of our budget and what we spend for each category throughout the month.

Electricity:  We keep our AC on 82 in the summer so it runs as little as possible, and we NEVER use our dryer.  Just doing this cut our power bill in half last summer.  We also try to unplug "quiet" power draws like chargers we're not using, the DVD player, etc.

Gas:  We just got a BP credit card, which gives us 5% cash back on BP gas -- since this is the closest station to our house.

Cleaning:  I make my own laundry detergent (very easy and cheap), and do not buy any laundry products except the ingredients for my homemade soap.

Food:  We try to eat food as close to the way God made it as possible, so we buy hardly any processed foods.  Last year I switched to organic produce and grass-fed meats.  Since these items cost more than conventional foods, I have had to make some tradeoffs in order to keep my grocery budget the same.  Actually, I've LOWERED it by at least 25%, by making the following changes:
  • I make all my own bread products (bread, bagels, tortillas, etc.).
  • I never buy snack foods at full price (or even 1/2 price, usually).  I buy from a discount grocery store, or make my own (popcorn, cookies, etc.).
  • I buy as few disposable items as possible -- I try to use cloth napkins, feminine products, diapers, etc.  However, doing this takes a lot of time, so sometimes I use coupons to get disposable items for lower prices.  When practical, I use plastic containers instead of bags or plastic wrap -- every time I use something that I can wash and reuse, it saves some money.
  • We only eat out if we have VERY good coupons or buy-1-get-1-free offers.
  • I try to limit myself to just what we NEED to buy, instead of being influenced by ads or even good deals -- this allows me to keep our diet healthy, and to afford one or two "fun" items each week, like a new type of produce, etc.
I try to take advantage of free offers, rebate programs (Staples, product brands, etc.), grocery store baby clubs, free samples (, rewards programs (Stonyfield Farms, Staples, Walgreens, Pampers, Panera Bread, Barnes & Noble Kids' Club), etc.  I use Groupon to find reduced-cost outings, use Swagbucks to get Amazon cards for books we want, and sign up for every company that has birthday offers.  (For my birthday recently, I got a free drink from Starbucks, a free drink from Dunkin Donuts, and $ off coupons from several other restaurants and stores.  And my son got a nice stack of Publix coupons for his birthday too.)

It takes time to save money, but it's worth it!  :)


Thanks, Sarah for sharing how you help save your family money!

How do YOU save money? 

Email me your story and I might feature it in the future on Centsible Savings!


  1. I thought this post was very insightful. Though I can not say that I do the majority of the things that Sarah does to maintain her household, I do make my own laundry detergent and rely on BOGO coupons when my husband and I want to splurge. We have to use our dryer, but we wait until dark (off peak rates) and only dry jeans and socks whereas we use a dry rack for shirts and unmentionables.

    As for organic foods, I've found that my husband won't touch it, so we make sure that we purchase foods that are on extreme sale and use a $10 off $50 purchase coupons along without our other coupons. We also painted our roof white to help cut the cost of our electricity, since the white paint reflects the suns rays our home is not absorbing the heat.

    Thanks for the great tips, I hope to put some into practice.

  2. How do you make your own laundry detergent?

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