If you’re stuck in the financial trenches, allow me to share with you the best money saving tips that helped me this year. I promise they’re simple, very practical and proven ways to rack up the savings!
By Tiffany, Contributing Writer
When I quit my job 8 years ago to raise my son, our income was cut by 50%. Although I didn’t work outside the home, I still felt partially responsible for the family’s finances.
My husband’s job brought home a paycheck. My job was to keep as much of that paycheck as possible so we could pay off our enormous debt.
In order to do that, I became the queen of saving money.
All of my efforts were rewarded when we paid off thousands (and thousands) of dollars of debt just before baby #2 was born.
Back then, knowing which money saving tips worked and which ones didn’t was through trial and error. But after doing this for 8+ years (and publicly sharing my ideas for 3+), I like to think that I’ve got this money-saving thing figured out.
If you’re stuck in the financial trenches and are struggling to break free, allow me to share with you the best money saving tips that helped me this year. I promise they’re simple, very practical and proven ways to rack up the savings every year!
The 7 Best Money Saving Tips of the Year
#1. Keep your grocery receipts.
Laugh all you want, but keeping your grocery receipts will rock your world. Why? Because you can SEE where your money went.
Those little pieces of paper don’t lie folks – they’ll tell you plain as day whether you spent your money on quality meat or on cheap processed foods. And it’s a game-changer.
You can’t ignore the obvious (or even not-so-obvious) expenses and are forced to start making changes for the better. Once you’re in the habit of keeping your receipts, review them twice (when you get home and at the end of the month) and use them to start a price book so you can get better deals on the items you buy most often. (And yes, keeping a price book really does work!)
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#2. Make food for free whenever you can.
Some from-scratch items are difficult and labor intense, but many aren’t. Getting over the mental hurdle is half the battle, so just do it and you’ll see how easy it is (and watch the savings add up!). Here are the top 3 to get the most bang for your buck:
Making 8 quarts of homemade chicken stock each month (enough for a pot of soup each week) saves $16 each month or $192 over the course of a year. You’ll save even more if you eat soup more often, or use stock in other meals too.
Tip: Make homemade chicken stock in a slow cooker so you don’t have to worry about it on the stove, and these tips help you get the best deals on meat at the grocery store.
Re-purposing peels and cores for homemade apple cider vinegar saves $5 every month, or $60 in a year. Considering apple cores and peels often end up in the trash can anyway, this is a super easy way to save on groceries!
(3) Regrow Food in Water.
Green onions are the easiest, but these 10 items will regrow without dirt. Your yield won’t be enormous, but it will be enough to contribute to the meal and perhaps eliminate one meal to shop for. (Here are 13 great tips on re-using food scraps too!)
#3. Make one beauty item from scratch.
Yes, it really only takes one item to make a difference in the bottom line, with homemade conditioner being at the top of my list.
This recipe needs only 2 ingredients, it’s 100% natural and just as effective as those expensive bottles that cost upwards of $9 each. At one bottle per month, we’re saving $108 every year!
#4. Make one cleaning item from scratch.
Again, it only takes one item for the savings to add up. Here are my top two suggestions:
The smell of vinegar is too strong for my husband, so we use the leftover citrus peels from the fruit we eat to make vinegar that actually smells good! Now vinegar isn’t the best cleaning option for everything under the sun, but it does a good job of basic cleaning and sanitizing the myriad of surfaces our hands touch on a daily basis. One bottle of a natural all-purpose cleaner runs about $4 in my area, but buy making my own citrus-infused vinegar and diluting appropriately, I’ll save $45 in a year!
Tip: If you’re already making your own apple cider vinegar, use that instead of distilled vinegar for an absolutely free cleaner!
I’ve been leery about bleach since the kids were little, which makes me so thankful to find a natural bleach alternative! I love that it costs $1.68 per gallon (50% less than typical bleach) and that it’s made with ingredients I normally have on hand anyway!
#5. Re-evaluate your bills. Again. And again.
Just because you get the bill every month, doesn’t mean it can’t be lower! Some examples:
- Car Insurance. We lowered our premium by $80 when I called about possible discounts (that were listed in the premium paperwork!)
- Cell Phone. We lowered our cell phones bills to $35 month – and that includes data! We re-evaluated our carrier when a 99¢ sale price turned into a $185 ordeal and now pay less for two cell phones than we used to pay for one!
- Water. You can save quite a bit (up to 25%!) when you’re conscious about your usage.
- Electricity. Unplugging electronics saved us 26%,
- Entertainment. Being more mindful continues to save us over and over again.
#6. Reduce your waste.
So much of what we buy ends up in the trash – food and non-food – but many items can be repurposed into something else (which means not having to buy that something else). Make a conscious effort to limit what ends up in the trash, and see if you can go a whole week using just one trash bag!
A few ideas to get you started:
- Use food scraps to make homemade pesto
- Add wilted greens in this pasta dish
- Make new bars of soap with our soap scraps
- Save glass jars (how to remove the labels without harsh chemicals) and repurpose for either food storage (like dry beans) or to use when giving homemade gifts.
#7. Shop outside the norm.
Most people shop at the average grocery store. Don’t be average. And don’t shop like them either.
Know the best things to buy at your favorite stores, and the best way to save while shopping there. Here are a few of my favorite “must-have” shopping lists and tips:
- What to Buy at Whole Foods
- Practical Ways to Save Money at Whole Foods
- Healthy Food at Trader Joe’s
- What to Buy at Costco (plus a gluten-free edition!)
- Finding Real Food at the Dollar Store
- Strategies for Saving at the Farmers Market
- Gluten-free Foods to Buy at Aldi
The key to saving money is just to start – where you start doesn’t really matter, but every single one of the items listed is as good place as any!
And remember that every effort you make towards saving money is worth it, because over time, those pennies really do become dollars… like how you’d save over $500 a year by implementing these tips!