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35 ways to save money

Thanks to Dave Ramsey’s ELP program for sponsoring this post!

After my post a couple weeks ago about how we paid off our house, I got lots of questions about how we budgeted and what we did to stretttttch a dolla, so I came up with this little list of a few ways we’ve found to save. Most of them are just the way we live and we never even think twice about ’em.

Hopefully if you’re working toward a big financial goal, it’ll give you one or two ideas you can implement today, so you’ll be well on your way to awkwardly revealing all your personal financial information to the internet, like me!

Just a warning: I was browsing our old family photos today and getting sentimental and weepy, soooo this post gets lots of pictures of my kiddos. I can’t not do it, guys. I can’t. Like, seriously? This?
Just no. No more with the tiny babies loving each other. NO MORE.
Easy ways to save money on EVERYTHING. Great ideas!

I’ll start with my favorite tip: How we saved $500 in two hours

Andy was a teacher during the time we were intensely paying down debt, and on the first day of his summer vacation one year, he managed to save us $500 per year just by making a few phone calls.

He used the Endorsed Local Provider (ELP) program through Dave Ramsey (which is free!) to compare our car and home insurance rates, and found that in just the couple of years it had been since we bought that insurance, rates had changed and by comparing rates with different companies through our ELP, we saved several hundred dollars per year.

He basically spent about two hours calling every company to whom we paid a regular payment of any kind – cell phone and internet providers, etc – and asked for lower rates. In just those hours, he knocked $500 off our required expenses for the year.

I wanted to squish him I was so excited! Literally, squish him like a pancake, out of love. This required no lifestyle change at all, just a couple hours to make a phone call and get in touch with an ELP. Y’all, you need to do this. Yesterday.

(We also used a health insurance ELP to buy health insurance and now, with both of us self-employed, it’s actually less expensive than it was when Andy was teaching.)

Tips for saving on vacation expenses!

  • We paid cash with our change jar: We saved in advance for our vacations so the expenses never followed us home and lingered long after our tan lines faded. We were living on an all-cash budget, and when we paid for anything anywhere, we paid in dollar bills – never change. If something cost $5.01, we’d pay with $6, and put the other 99 cents in our “vacation fund” jar. You’d be surprised how quickly that built up!
  • We brought our food: When I look back at all my favorite moments of my life, they pretty much took place over a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (our easy lunch of choice when we’re on an outing). We like to eat the local food when we’re on vacation, but in airports and on road trips, we dined in style ala Jiffy and strawberry jam. Yeah man. The finer things.

Tips to save money on groceries!

  • We couponed like wild, untamed couponing machines. You could not stop us. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that we went for several years in a row without spending a single red cent on toothpaste, shampoo, etc., because we got it all for free with coupons. (Would you guys want a post on how we did that? Not sure how interested you are in couponing.)
  • We buy in bulk: If the economy crashes and food is scarce, my family could probably live for months on just the food I have in my chest freezer. We bought the freezer from a yard sale for about $50, and it has more than paid for itself by allowing me to buy in bulk when food is on sale. Right now I have about 10 whole organic chickens in my freezer because there was a special at the store… and no good ideas for what to do with them. Ha!
  • I have a “buy price”: I know how much toilet paper and other staples cost per item at the grocery store, and I watch deal sites like DealNews and DealCatcher. When a deal comes up, I can tell immediately whether it’s worth buying in large quantities or not. Last week I bought a large enough supply of toilet paper to last us through the entire apocalypse, or to completely toilet paper our whole neighborhood, which would be an inappropriate use of those resources.
  • Coupon databases: For those grocery or food items that we eat regularly, I search coupon databases like this one. You can search for a certain brand or product and often just print the coupons directly from your computer. Easy peez.
  • Buy produce that lasts longer. I haaaaate when we buy produce and don’t eat it before it goes bad. I feel like all the starving children of the world are shaking their fingers at us, and rightly so. I’ve learned to spend more of my grocery budget on produce that has a longer lifespan, like sweet potatoes, and less on produce that’ll go bad sooner. (It took me about 23 wasted avocados to finally figure out how to tell when they’re ripe. Why are they so high-maintenance and difficult? What is their DEAL?)

Tips to change the way you think about money and save more!

  • I stopped buying things just because they were on sale. This is a hard one for me because I LOVE a good deal, but I try to ask myself: would I buy this if it was full price? If not, I don’t buy it. Usually. Ahem.
  • We started buying for value, not just price. What I mean by this is, I would rather spend $50 on a well-made top that will last me years, than $20 on a trendy, cheapo shirt that’s going to fall apart and probably doesn’t fit well anyway.
  • We research EVVVVERYTHING. Last week I researched and read reviews before I bought makeup. When we have a big purchase coming up, like an appliance goes bad or something, we basically read the entire internet.
  • We wait. For impulse or unplanned purchases, we like to wait a while to see if we still want the thing, like a month or so. Often we find it was just a temporary want and not a need, and we end up being glad we didn’t buy. But if there are brass animals involved, I just buy them. They’re incompatible with regret.

Tips to save money on energy and make your house more energy-efficient!

  • Solar panels: I need to do a post on this, but we actually have solar panels on our roof which supplement our energy usage. We estimate it’ll take us about five years to recoup that initial investment, and as an added bonus, if the power ever goes out, the solar panels provide enough energy to power our refrigerator and outdoor chest freezer and a few other essentials.
  • Weather-proofing: It doesn’t take much time or money to caulk cracks or install weather stripping. BONUS: If your spouse is really into the idea of weather-proofing, it’s the perfect way to convince him you need to make new lined curtains! Ask me how I know. 😉
  • Programmable thermostat and LED bulbs and other stuff. Basically, if it will save us money in the long-term, we’ll do it.
  • But always calculate the break-even point. Some LED bulbs and other “energy-efficient” products don’t reach a break-even point financially for like 20 years. Are you really going to bring your lightbulb with you when you move? We like to calculate how much energy each thing will save and how long it will take to break even on the intial expense, and of course what I mean by that is that Andy likes to calculate it and I am happy to have no part in that process.

How to save money on child-related expenses!

  • We bought them on clearance. Just kidding.
  • We cloth diaper. It’s not gross or hard, I promise! I wrote a whole post on everything you need to know about how to cloth diaper, how much it costs, how to wash them, etc.
  • We use baby-led weaning: This is just a really weird term for a way of parenting that means that you feed your baby whatever you’re eating. When I first started feeding Weston solid foods, I spent HOURS in the kitchen pureeing all my own baby food. Then I learned about baby-led weaning and realized I could (mostly) just feed him whatever we were eating. No need to buy expensive baby food. If we went to a restaurant or somewhere where I couldn’t control the quality of the food, I’d bring him an avocado or banana and give it to him in its natural state and texture.
  • We breastfed. For a long time. (Do you like my use of “we” there?) Between the cloth diapering and the breastfeeding, our expenses with a new baby were virtually nil.
  • We bought used baby clothes: Someday I’ll do a post on my little trick for clothing my kids for free. In the meantime, check yard sales and consignment sales for kids’ clothes that they’re just going to grow out of in 4.6 seconds anyway.

Tips to help you save money on entertainment and dining out!

  • We buy gift cards. It’s pretty easy to find gift cards to restaurants on ebay, so we like to stock up on our favorites. Don’t forget to check out this post on how to shop ebay like a NINJA!
  • At restaurants, we share one entree. And we usually leave STUFFED. Restaurant portions are ridiculous. (Side note: I still believe in tipping for two though! It’s just as much work for the server.)
  • We never never EVER buy soda. We drink water one hundred percent of the time, unless we’re on a date and ordering drinks. I’ve gotten so used to drinking water with all my meals that it feels odd now to drink something with flavor. Unless it’s wine. I’m okay with that.
  • We rarely purchase books. Can I get a high-five for the good ol’ library? I actually borrow more ebooks from my library than hard copies though. Did you know you can rent e-books from your local library? Changed my life.

Tips to help you save money on cars!

  • We save up and pay cash. Always, always. Our philosophy is that if we can’t afford to pay cash, we can’t afford it.
  • We only buy as much as we need. Cars go down in value, so we’d rather not have a lot of money in vehicles. We get as much car as we need and no more, and we’re really happy with that. Honestly? If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would not buy a new car. I’m happy with my 10-year-old car that runs great. Plus I don’t even play the lottery, so there’s that.
  • We do some repairs ourselves. Andy is basically a genius-of-all-trades and he can figure out just about anything, but even before I knew him, I learned how to change my own oil and brake pads so I wouldn’t have to pay someone else. Now that I have Andy, I’ve forgotten how to do anything and am basically a helpless damsel in distress who depends on him, but you know.

A bunch of other things.

  • Throw yard sales. I wrote a post on my best tips for throwing a yard sale. I LOVE trading all my clutter for a little extra cash! It’s a lot of work, but SO worth having that space back.
  • We use online shopping tricks. I outlined all my best tricks for saving money on your online purchases here — there are tons of easy ways to spend less on the stuff you’re already buying.
  • Use less laundry detergent. The packaging for laundry detergent is super sneaky. They give you a scoop that’s usually at least twice as large as the amount of detergent you need to use, so you’ll end up going through it faster. I use about half of what the box says we need to use, and I can’t tell a difference. I don’t think we stink. Pretty sure…
  • Use natural cleaners. I clean our kitchen counters with a half-and-half combo of white vinegar and water. Baking soda can tackle just about anything my kids can throw at it. No need for toxic, expensive cleaners.
  • No gym memberships. I have one or two really good workout programs on DVD that I do from my house. It’s a one-time expense and I can fit it into my schedule without going anywhere.
  • We DIY everything. See: this entire blog.

Don’t forget to get in touch with your local ELP to see if you can knock some costs off your insurance!

What are your favorite cost-cutting tricks? Do you ever get overly sentimental looking through family photos?

This post was sponsored by Dave Ramsey’s ELP program, but all opinions are my own, as always!

Let's connect


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this Kelly, so much great info! You guys are so smart!

    • CandyLV says:

      OF COURSE we want hear about your Coupon-ing skills. It seems everyone else online just adds a link that gets so popular after a post they decide not to be worthwhile anymore but I know from your “tricks” that you are gonna “wow’ us with your innovation!!

      and congrats on escaping the rent vs own hustle!

    • Vass says:

      Theres no way I could do all these. I think for me number 1 probably and some research last week before holidays.. but to spend my time organize the perfect crime to save a dollar no way.
      I ve read the story only because i think u writte smart.

    • morningstar335 says:

      Great tips! I would say 2x a year you can call companies you regularly make payments to, and ask for a lower rate. Google: How to get a lower rate for (Blank) company. And and she is on facebook, is a fantastic way to coupon, many items free. She matches the sale items with the coupons & coupon phone apps. Here’s my tip: print out coupons (from your computer) just before you leave for the store. This avoids printing out a bunch of coupons that you never use, which wastes paper and toner.

  2. AEW says:

    Agree with Dave’s ELP program, we called about our insurance and knocked $400 off our homeowners per year for the same coverage!

  3. Dorcas says:

    Very interesting post – Thanks! Oh, and I would definitely be interested in your couponing strategies! :)

  4. cassie says:

    these are awesome tips! i know i am BAD at saving money. plain bad. i can use lots of improvement.
    favorite part of this post? “see his whole blog”.

  5. Carly says:

    This is a great post with REALISTIC suggestions! I get so defeated when I read blog posts about saving money that basically say “never leave your house, don’t do anything fun, eat beans and rice, wear the same shoes for 10years”. Ok, exaggerating, but you get the idea :) We already do a lot of these, and I’m excited to add a few more to our money-saving ways.

  6. I’m totally checking out those sites. Thank you for this! I’ve read his book but still need to really put more effort towards our debt. To be honest I’m hoping to sell our house, pay it all off [and then not buy another house]. That would leave just our car. Thanks :)

  7. Such great tips. I always try to love every new idea for at least 15 minutes and decided I was going to love couponing a couple of years ago. That program is just not made with me in mind I discovered. Oh well…

    I am excited to read more about the solar panel thing. I have researched that to death and I was excited to get them to also have extra power for things in case the grid goes down, but what I discovered is that to get all the incentive programs here in CA you have to be hooked up to the power grid to sell back your solar in a give and take system. This also means that if the power goes, so does your solar system… So I am very interested to read about what you got and where and how much :)

  8. katie says:

    Would love to see a post on couponing! I get basically how people do it, it just seems like so much work with collecting all the same coupons and planning the whole shopping trip out based on what’s on sale. I tried it for a little while (managed to get about 20 cans of diced tomatoes for 13 cents each, then donated most of them to the food pantry), but I still don’t know how anyone gets things for free!

  9. Alicia W. says:

    I LOVE seeing your posts like this. For a long time my hubby and I thought we were the only people in the world who knew who Dave Ramsey was and what a financial makeover is. It is super nice to know that we aren’t! And thank you for this post in particular… there are some tips on here that we are not already using!

  10. Such a great posts and I will totally check my local ELP to compare rates. Thanks!

    • soraya selim says:

      good article; i have never had a credit card; ; if i get money i go to buy if i have no money that’s fine for me; i have no debts; thanks to my God. .

  11. love these tips and i really need to start paying more attention to what I buy (mostly as far as clothes go) I have probably 100 things I don’t wear.

    My other tip (but I guess can go with garage sales) Is consignment. I take a load of stuff to consignment every few months. I get about 15 bucks a month from it….sometimes a whopping check of 50 bucks too. But it’s always nice extra!

  12. Molly says:

    Just started following and already enjoying myself! About the using too much laundry soap…ever try making your own? It’s easier than a batch of cookies (or I wouldn’t do it), and way cheaper than the cheapest…also easy on the skin and can be fragrance free or naturally scented! I make the liquid kind and only 4 ingredients…fels naptha soap, washing soda, borax, and water! Even works great on cloth diapers!

    • Kelly says:

      My MIL does that! I need to try it but it seemed intimidating. If it’s as easy as a batch of cookies, then I probably need to give it a try! Thanks!

  13. shauna says:

    I love reading the tips about energy expenses and general budgeting concepts, and I totally get round-up posts like this one that includes baby/couponing info. But to answer your question honestly, no I am not interested in more coupon info. There are so many sites out there that fully detail the coupon craze- I’m here for the home decor related stuff and your funny sense of humor :)

    But I might be in the minority as I’m in a SINK household (as opposed to DINK) and couponing never worked for me. I do still check sales and shop multiple stores though! Okay anyways you’-re awesome this comment is too long bye. :)

    • Marge says:

      I pay all my credit card bills in full each month so I never pay interest. Also, last year my Power & Elec Co. said I could pay with a credit card and when I called to see if there was a charge to charge my payments I was told it would be 3.25 per month but the nice person I spoke with said I could pay many payments at once. I immediately charged $2,000.00 on my credit card that pays me 1 3/4 percent and I made $135.00 on my credit card. I save my credit card earnings and use the card that pays me. Such fun to make money while paying bills.

  14. brittany dodgen says:

    1- I want to squish YOU pretty much every time I read a post. You’re the sweetest, ever. :)

    2- I would LOOOVE some couponing tips. I’m relatively new to couponing and we almost always save at least as much as we pay but getting things for pennies or free is the part that Im struggling to figure out how to do and I just KNOW if it were explained in the VATW way, i’d totally get it!

    3- those babies. Gorgeous!!!

  15. Branalyn says:

    We do most of those.
    We don’t try super hard to be energy efficient currently. 1) We live in a house built in the 30s. 2) We don’t pay the utilities (its a parsonage). We aren’t wasteful, but we wouldn’t ever recoup payment for the more expensive things so they aren’t worth it to us.
    We don’t coupon. We do drive an hour to grocery shop once a month. There is a rinky-dink store here but the prices and quality are atrocious. So, the first Friday of every month, we head “to town” and buy out groceries. I did used to try to coupon too, but it was entirely too frustrating trying to fit in expiration dates, sales, multiple stores, etc. when we have a set day and we now pretty much have a set list that only varies slightly each month (I do usually find a way to stock up if there happens to be a good sale when we are there). But that in its self saves because we never spend more than $290 ($270 is our budget but we will steal up to $20 from eat out or gas when need be) and we don’t let ourselves go back until the next month. If we eat pancakes and eggs 3 nights in a row at the end of the month (hypothetical-can’t remember this happening), we do. Also, I don’t buy food so much as I buy ingredients. There are some exceptions, but for the most part this is true. This does mean we eat a lot more produce at the beginning of the month (we tried and failed to garden-we live in the desert) but we are just used to it now.

    • Rebecca says:

      My husband and I live in the desert, too (Arizona). Have you ever looked into box or square foot gardening? A little expensive to get started (we spent $175 to jump-start a 8’x4′) but SOOOOO worth it! In one season we made our money back! Google them, hardly ANY water needed (didn’t even notice spikes in my water bill during the hot months). If you need more info, I’m sure I could help, too! I used and Honestly amazing!

  16. We implement several of these ideas as well. I did not cloth diaper or breastfeed my kids, but that was my own personal choice. It certainly would have saved some money though;) I drive a big SUV, but I don’t work, so my mileage is pretty small and I’ve had it for 9 years and plan to drive it into the ground and probably then some. Our only debt is our home and like you, we pay cash for everything. I would love to try to figure out a way to save money on bills like your husband did. To pay your house off is truly incredible and you are totally my hero for doing that. I’ll have to start implementing some of your other ideas to save some money and maybe we can pay ours off much sooner. Thanks for the great post!

  17. We always share entrees, too! Such an easy way to save. Love this post. :-)

  18. Kelly,

    Great post! I so loved reading this and reading through the comments thus far too. I had to smile because I totally felt intimidated by the thought of making homemade laundry soap. I finally tried it last year and to my surprise our clothes didn’t turn yellow (was totally expecting them to!)

    I usually try to look at our reoccurring expenses and see how to streamline them the most to keep things enjoyable but save money when we can. So what first started out as getting out of the house one day a week, having some mommy time while blogging in a cute coffee shop and paying $5.00 for a latte is now…getting out of the house one day a week, having some mommy time while blogging at Mcdonalds and paying $1.00 for a yogurt parfait. By making that adjustment alone I figure I am saving roughly $200 a year and it is way less crowded than all of our super cute coffee shops. I guess it is all about the little things. :-) Not to mention that then date nights to the coffee shop are that much more appreciated and fun. I still have to sneak in a latte occasionally. :-)


  19. Amanda says:

    Hey Kelly,

    New fan after your house post. You inspired me to get our finances in order and I thoroughly enjoy poking around your site and following you on Instagram. :-)

    Anyway, I have a question about your spending. You say a lot that you went to a cash policy, but how do you reconcile online purchases (like your Ebay post) and spending cash? Do you line item that out what you would spend online?

    Also, please write a couponing post! That would be incredible helpful.

    Lastly, I want some of your yard sales! I wish I could find a deep freezer for $50 down here in Houston! Cheese and crackers that’s amazing.


  20. Such great tips, Kelly! I would love a post on how you guys couponed. I know where to get and print the coupons from but I don’t know much about stacking them or scoring items for free with them. I also tend to forget to bring them to the store with me. Whoops! Know of any places where you can load up online coupons besides your local grocer’s website?

  21. Love those tips though I shamefully hate couponing. I try it and always forget or get really annoyed and tell myself my time is worth more than those few $. But after spending $1K in a week on medical b/c we haven’t hit our copay for the year (and really, who PLANS to meet a $5K copay the 2nd month of the year?!) Add in an 8 day youth soccer trip halfway across the US, and an increase in student loan payments that doubles what I was paying (thank you very much graduated plan :p I’m rethinking all this coupon and strict budgeting bidness. And I’ve done the DR academy, old boss gifted it to us for xmas one year (I read it as “prep for layoffs” not “thanks for the hard work”…which wound up to be true!)

    So aside from my pitty party, I DO have a tip! Have you heard of Recyclebank? If not, check it out – . You basically get points for recycling. Our old town sent out a flyer for it in our bill and I signed up several years ago. You can get free magazines, coupons, b1g1 to local attractions like a zoo or bowling, etc by redeeming points. I was able to get some free mags for xmas gifts, and indulge myself and then share with coworkers and friends when I’m done skimming them. I love it!

  22. Kayla says:

    These were great tips! Thanks! And I’d love to see a post on couponing. My husband and I just started Dave Ramsey’s program and I haven’t really grasped the couponing idea yet but I’m willing and ready to do whatever it takes to grow our snowball!

  23. Great tips! I really need to get back to doing drug store stuff again; sometimes these days I pay for tooth paste, and it nearly kills me :). And can I just say that I’m fascinated by this new meaning of “child led weaning” that I keep encountering. Why, in my day (as in a decade ago when I was having round one of kids) child led weaning just meant you nursed your seven year old if wanted you to. Which seems like more what it sounds like, to me. I’ve practiced this new kind of child led weaning ever since kid #2 because I’m too lazy to puree anything. The food processor has so many parts to clean!

    • Kelly says:

      Ha! Yeah it sounds like forever-breastfeeding, but it’s really just about how you introduce solids. I feel like everything changed between when I had my two kids (2 years apart) so I know that 10 year gap must’ve been crazy!

  24. Shannon says:

    Great post! I feel so informed :) Thank you for putting this financial stuff “out there.”

    PLEASE do a couponing post! We just recently started using them because Kroger sends us awesome ones in the mail, but other than that I have 0% of an idea how to use coupons. The whole “don’t buy something you normally wouldn’t just because it’s on sale” totally applies to coupons for us because I have trouble finding ones for stuff we actually buy.

  25. Excellent advice. Now that we are going to be house poor I am taking careful notes and studying up :)

  26. Erin says:

    We do soooooooooo many of these things. And we needed a large freezer like yesterday. I want to buy half a grass-fed cow and have someone else butcher it for me and then never buy beef again.

    Didn’t know you could buy kids on clearance; I’ll look into that for #2. 😉 Did Andy enjoy his breastfeeding experience?

    • Kelly says:

      He tried really hard to breastfeed, but the kids never seemed to take to it. Something about his nipple hair, I think. #YesIWentThere

  27. Heather williams says:

    Love your blog!! Officially addicted now :) just wanted to say I would definitely read a couponing tips article if you wrote one! I do a lot of target shopping and try to coupon as best I can, but living in Iowa and no doubling of coupons makes it so difficult to extreme coupon here :(
    Thanks for all the great info!!

  28. Great list! I kind of geek on lists about saving money. Your list with cute kid pictures was a bonus!
    Whenever I want something that isn’t a necessity (new rug, new lamp etc) I make myself craigslist enough stuff that I don’t want until I have the cash to buy the new thing. It’s a fun little game I play with myself. :) It’s a bonus that it helps clear out clutter and unwanted items laying around in my house.

  29. Elsa says:

    Hi ! I am a French reader who just discovered your blog (via Pinterest), and I looooooooove it !!
    Some of your tips don’t apply here (health insurance, for instance) but a lot of them do !
    Thanks for all those great ideas !
    I plan my menus a week in advance, make a list of what I need according to my menus and STICK TO THE LIST ! I save precious €€€ and no more vegetables or dairy wasted.
    Also I cook most of what we eat : it is cheaper AND safer (no palm oil, no food preservatives, less fat, salt or sugar in home made food).
    Oh, and also, other tip : I cut my children’s hair ! It’s easier than I first thought, and with 3 kids, I save about 150 / 200 € each year.

  30. This is impressive – I’m a little overwhelmed with all the possibilities. I might have to come back and read this again to really absorb it all!

  31. Great list!

    You have me real curious about the solar panels. Did you just find a company that installed them? or what did that process look like?

    • Kelly says:

      Yep, we hired a company, and then as part of the price negotiations, we did some of the install part ourselves. The company we used ended up being pretty awful, but we’re really happy with our panels. :) There are lots of tax breaks and things you can get to cut down on the price a good bit.

  32. Oh, girl, i wish I’d had all this info when my kids were little! But there’s lots of great nuggets in here , even for an “old” gal like me with kids in college. :) Thanks for sharing!
    xo Heidi

  33. Amy says:

    This was full of good stuff and even some I can do here in New York, it’s sooooooo expensive here, it’s hard to save anything. (Can’t wait to move) And now I don’t feel so bad that I know I’m not the only one who cries when they look at old pictures! I cry like I’m in mourning! It’s kind of pathetic, and Don’t ever let your kids see you do this cause they just laugh and tease you about it for the rest of your life!

  34. Great list, Miss Kelly! I always think I’m a frugal person, and then I read a list like this and it gives me so many more ideas for saving! Thank you so much, my friend! Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

    ~Abby =)

  35. Dija says:

    Great post! Love the ideas and how many you had! Obviously they work because you made to the other side! (high five). We are working with a Dave Ramsey coach locally. He has some great practically stuff. What are you working on next financially?

  36. In 2010 we got rid of satellite TV. We still have the Internet. Since 99% of the shows we watch are available online we decided to save that $80+ each month. We recently purchased a small antenna that allows us to watch 5-6 local channels.

  37. Gwen says:

    Cracking. Me. Up.

    I bought a new car. Once. The we found Dave and sold it. I drove a very ugly minivan for years {that was given to us} and the Explorer that I drive now was also given to us… actually, my husbands car was also given to us. So I’m like a free car magnet, I guess. :)

  38. Jamie says:

    Yes ma’am! Couponing post please! Especially for people who don’t live near the awesome grocery stores that do b1g1 sales. I’m in the walmart headquarters baby! So that’s what I’ve got for options :)

  39. I love this list! We haven’t insulated a few places on our remodel yet and it is FREEZING. This encourages me to get on that…..ready to live like no one else so we can LIVE like no one else!! 😀 😀

  40. I seriously love this post. Read every word and learned a few things. I’ve never heard of the ELP but I’m off to check it out. We’re pretty spoiled in that Ryan’s employer pays 100 percent of everything for health insurance for all of us. (It’s actually insane when I think about the fact that we’ve never paid premiums.) But it’s on my list to shop around for car/property insurance. We love our agent, but it’s time to get a little competition up in here. I recently got a different Internet provider and was able to save $15/month, get faster internet and add basic cable. We didn’t need cable but it wasn’t available without it.

    I’d love to hear more about your couponing. It’s something I’ve never been good at. I end up wanting to buy things that I would have never purchased otherwise. And I never ever got anything for free. Help me, Wanda.

    And I want to hear more about the solar panels and the kids clothes.

    Please and thank you.

  41. David says:

    Do change jars actually in the long run end up saving people money?
    Great points, and keep up the great work!

  42. Very cute! Love the photo of the babes! xo Kristin

  43. Sharon B. says:

    Great, great tips! You and Andy were so wise to agree to financial goals and start doing these from the start. I wouldn’t mind a couponing post because YOU could make that kind of post interesting and hilarious! The kid photos sprinkled in are just too cute – they’re one the main reasons for all this anyways so they totally fit in with the post!

  44. Phyll Gunn says:

    You have provided me with a great incentive to get started instead of procrastinating. Thanks for your post. I would be interested in couponing also.

  45. Lori says:

    I fell in love with your blog after finding your house post on Pinterest. We are currently in the process of buying our first house! We had A LOT of debt after we had two babes in 18 months, but with the help of my mother we were able to get it paid off. I want to be able to stay financially fit :) Our only debt right now is my husbands student loan and my car payment (my car of 11 years just died, and of course, we didn’t plan and didn’t save money prior to it dying). We tried the one car thing and it didn’t work well with our work schedules. We bought a used car at a steal of a deal, so we feel good about it.

    I do some of these already, but there is always room for more. We bought a chest freezer from a friend for $50 and it has saved us soooo much money. I am planning on doing a no spend month in March to use up some of the food in the freezer and pantry. I also agree with the comment about once a month grocery shopping and buying ingredients rather than food. I was at home with our kids for a year so in that year I learned how to make a lot of our staples from scratch. I love it. Our grocery bill is drastically cut by buying “ingredients”. We also fell in love with Aldis.

    I use to coupon a lot when we lived in a bigger city with all the stores, but now in small town, USA we have one grocery store that doubles 5 coupons on Saturdays and you need to buy $25 to double…… I need to get back to doing that. I just buy $25 gas station gift cards that they sell, then get my coupon items. Go in and out a few times to get my transactions, and am on my way.

    I look forward to perusing your blog for more ideas :) Thanks!

  46. AmberH says:

    A lot of these tips are fantastic! And many I WISH I could use! We’re military so I hate having any extra stuff while moving — each move is my time to declutter and get rid of things we don’t need. Having anything in bulk would make this process an eyeroll. And heaven forbid we pack our freezer, if we don’t eat it quickly we have to give it away before the next move (I once stocked up on chicken because it was an awesome sale, But we only eat meat one a week at best so most of it was given away a year later. ..)
    I love your tips on saving money with kids. I’ve already saved a TON of money with cloth diapers! And I’m astounded by the number of baby items thrown to the curb– clothes, swings, etc. Every day I see a new curb post on craigslist

  47. Emily says:

    I found a pin about this article on Pinterest–and I’m super glad I did! You have great insight (and wit) and I will definitely be putting a lot of what you suggested into practice! Thank you for taking the time to help others save money!

  48. Jennifer F says:

    I would most definitely like to read about couponing since I’m a beginner at it

  49. Alyssa Ramirez says:

    Great post! Would you mind sharing your couponing tactics? I have been wanting to learn how to start and where to begin!

  50. Sarah says:

    Instead of spending all that money on (toxic) laundry detergent, just use soap nuts! You will save a ton of money, be healthier without using chemicals on your clothes, and it’s super easy!

  51. Shawna says:

    Great list! My family is on a pretty tight budget, so I agree with just about everything you mentioned. I do have a couple things to add- I have a garden that I grow fresh veggies in during the summer, and we eat those through the warmer months, but I also grow enough to can and preserve. I use my own tomatoes for tomato sauce, paste, ketchup, pasta sauces, or even can them whole or quartered to use in dishes like chili as-is.i have also stopped buying the boxed cake mixes, brownie mix, cornbread, etc. Since we buy flour, sugar and other baking staples in bulk, I make these items from scratch. With practice it doesn’t take very long at all, and saves so much in the long run! We also don’t eat out. Hardly. Ever. Thanks for a great post! I’ll be sure to check back later ~Shawna

  52. For starters: CONGRATS on paying off your home with normal people income.
    2. You are right, this is the first ‘save money’ article that actually had original ideas, I mean, I have heard/done most of them, but buying gift cards at discount on ebay!?! genius! this frugalista is going to implement that right away. And lets hope my hubby finally gets to his solar panel project….
    3. Avocados: They are spendy because they take 9 months from blossom to picking to grow. And they are picky about their temperatures. so yummy so yummy

  53. Amy says:

    We try to be thrifty as well. I make my our laundry soap and have been happy doing that for years.

    I wanted to offer a word of caution, though, about dishwasher soap. I couldn’t figure out a good homemade, so I spent a couple of years buying a cheap brand, thinking the more expensive kind was a waste of money. My dishwasher completely broke after only five years, and it turns out it was all thanks to the cheap soap. A trusted repair man told me that since phosphorus was removed from dishwasher detergent the manufacturers have scrambled to reformulate and come up with something else that cleans as well. Some of the more recent additives, however, leave a scaly film that lots of us mistake as hard water stains. That’s what ruined my machine.

    I now use the more expensive Finish brand (which I can sometimes find coupons for), and after six months with my new dishwasher, I see none of that scaly residue.

    I pay a couple bucks more a month, but that makes more financial sense to my family than buying a new $600 appliance every few years.

    • Sabrina says:

      A little helper on the Finish brand and hard water or scaly film problem with dishwasher. You know that little (usually) screw-in cap that you are supposed to fill with a rinse agent? Fill it with white vinegar instead! I keeps everything in your dishwasher sparkling clean and takes care of all those nasty films and even the hard water spots!

  54. Laura Kent says:

    I would love to see your pin on couponing. Free is my favorite word.

  55. clothespin says:

    I have a quibble with the insurance thing. Short term, sure, saving money on insurance makes sense. But you don’t have insurance to save money in the short term – it’s there in case the sky falls in the long term. Like tomorrow. And when the sky DOES fall you won’t give one whit if you saved $500 a year on that policy if it doesn’t cover what you need it to cover. Ask me how I know.

    Ok, I’ll tell you how I know. The sky did fall for us, our house did burn totally to the ground into a 1 foot tall pile of ash in a massive wildfire. We were so insanely lucky – we had good insurance. (USAA rocks out loud by the way)… and we did OK. We didn’t actually have enough coverage but we did OK. But MOST folks in the area (over 1500 homes burned in this fire) didn’t do so well. Insurance makes their money by finding ways to NOT pay should the worst happen. Which is kinda what you don’t want.

    Want to know which insurance is good? Don’t go by price or commercial. Go find yourself a disaster zone that occurred recently and ask the good folks who lost everything what they think of their home insurance. Most will have choice words to fill your ears. The disaster is bad enough but the insurance claims are the salt and vinegar in the raging open wound that you really don’t want.

    And for the record – most folks are under insured. And most folks don’t have valuable items in their house insured separately – and you really need that. Content insurance is for normal stuff inside of your house – not Tiffany lamps or jewelry. You need separate policies for that sort of stuff. And the VAST majority of folks don’t have a contents list of EVERYTHING that they own on a paper/computer outside of the area.

    Don’t wait until tomorrow … taking care of this now will save your sanity and your finances.

    • Kelly says:

      I’m so sorry to hear about your house. What I’m trying to say here is that you can spend less on equal quality insurance. I don’t advocate under-insuring yourself, but you should make sure you’re not spending more than the market conditions require for whatever amount of insurance is right for you.

  56. Cathy A. says:

    Great post. Would love to hear everything you have to say about successful couponing.

  57. Kristi says:

    I loved this post and your site. I will now be a follower. For you women who are entrepreneurs, I wrote an entire ebook with about 150 plus tools to use in your business and 99% of these tools are absolutely free. Check it out here

  58. Kristi says:

    Ohh, and I would like to know more about couponing. I immediately went to the sites you suggested and started searching for some things I need.

  59. Jennifer says:

    I’d LOVE a post about couponing… I watch the shows, I’ve even seen someone in person spend about $10 bucks for FOUR full grocery carts.

    Thank you and I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog!

  60. Monica says:

    I haven’t been able to read your blog in a few weeks but I love this post!! You are basically me or I am basically you, but still learning loads of things from you in this post! Agh! So much in your post we already do, especially on parenting, breastfeeding, cloth diapering and kids clothes for free or super cheap.
    I’ve always wanted to have solar panels on our house! I would love to hear more about your experiences with them!
    I’m still working hard on the no buying just because its on a sale! My hubby’s motto, “I don’t care if they’re giving it away! If we don’t need it, it doesn’t come home.” I always hear this one in my head when trying to make a decision about bringing something home or not.

  61. I enjoyed reading your post. I am thinking about switching my four month old twins at some point to cloth diapers. We haven’t bought any diapers yet because my husband’s school bought us a million boxes and gave him a diaper shower. I think that once I feel the impact in my wallet I may change my mind. :)

  62. Kaitlyn says:

    I was taking a look at your laundry detergent tip and there is a recipe on Pinterest that I LOVE! I pay $30 (give or take a couple dollars) at Walmart and it lasts me a year. It works with HE washers and uses only 2 Tbsp per year. The recipe is

  63. I know exactly what you can do with all your chickens! I got this tip from Rachel Ray. I make that sound like she and I are buddies, don’t I?

    Anyway, you can poach your chicken whole, then easily get all the meat off the bones. One chicken gave me enough meat to generously feed my family of 4 two meals PLUS about 10 cups of yummy homemade chicken stock to use in recipes or soup. (Yesterday I made a yummy chicken & rice pilaf — recipe here: and later this week I will use it in chicken enchiladas.)

    Poached chicken (From Rachel Ray)
    1 whole chicken (approx. 4 lb)
    2 carrots, coarsely chopped
    1 leek, halved and quartered across
    1 onion, halved
    2 celery ribs with leafy tops, quartered across
    2 large cloves garlic, crushed
    2 large fresh bay leaves
    6 to 8 peppercorns
    1 lemon, sliced


    Place chicken in a large pot with the poaching ingredients. Add enough water to just cover chicken. Place over medium-high heat and bring to low rolling boil. Season water with salt, reduce heat and poach 45-60 minutes, turning once. Cool in the poaching liquid to room temp. (This will insure that your chicken meat will be deliciously moist AND that you won’t burn your fingers trying to debone it!) Remove chicken from skin and bones and dice or pull into bite-sized pieces. Strain poaching liquid and save for any recipe that calls for chicken stock.

    Another, very easy way to cook a whole 4-6 lb. chicken is to slow roast it. Rub it down well with some seasonings (believe it or not, Mrs. Dash does this nicely.) For an extra bit of flavor you can stuff half a lemon and half an onion in the cavity of the chicken while roasting. Slow roast it uncovered in a 275 degree oven for approx. 3-4 hours. Yeah, I know. You think this would make for a very dry chicken, but actually, the opposite is true! It comes out super tender & moist! This makes a great Sunday meal if you don’t mind leaving the oven on while you are at church.

    Now, get those chickens out of your freezer and get cooking! 😀

  64. mlovesbooks says:

    Hi there, found a link to your post through Pinterest. You have lots of great ideas here! Just wanted to share what works for us as far as vacation savings. I understand the idea of paying cash for everything, but we actually do the opposite. We put everything on our credit card and pay it off monthly. By doing so we accumulate travel points that we can put towards airline tickets. We have a family of four and have taken a big trip once a year for the past few years and have been able to use our rewards points towards at least 3 tickets each time. And, all the money we spend on vacation is helping with plane tickets for our next trip! This may not work for everyone as you have to be pretty disciplined and really keep track of your spending. We never make purchases that we don’t have the money for at that time, just as if we were using cash. This method really has saved us a lot! It might be worth it for some of your readers to check with their banks to see what kind of rewards they offer. Thanks for all your great tips!

  65. Debbie says:

    We are trading in our Direct TV for Apple TV or Roku 3. The saving will be about $600-$800/year. The first month should be less – one box and a free trial of netflix is actually less than Direct TV. The second month we will be saving at least $75-$100 depending on subscriptions and additional boxes. We have Xbox and PS3 for the 2nd and third television to start with. So the second/third month we will be getting the additional boxes if needed. We will have no additional cost out of pocket unless be rent or purchase tv shows. Most of what we watch is free on the internet so I don’t foresee any large out of pocket expenses, mostly savings.

  66. This is sooo cool. I didn’t even know that Dave Ramsey offered this. Can’t wait to try it on some of our regular bills. Thanks so much — Laura

  67. Emma says:

    Just found you on Pinterest. These are some great tips! And from servers everywhere, THANK YOU for mentioning that scrimping on the tip is NOT a good way to save money <3

  68. Cindi says:

    I have another idea-we save our bottle return money, extra change, and scrap metal money for our vacations. We take a cruise every year with our savings! Also, sell extra things you don’t want on eBay or find a craft you do well and sell it to friends. My bro makes thousands a year on making wooden toy boxes for the nurses he works with!

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  70. Tina Snow says:

    I loved reading your post, and I would love to read more. I would like to know about your couponing tip too! Also, I saved about $1,000 in my insurance by calling my agent! Totally awesome! Thank you :)

  71. Lauren says:

    Thanks for putting the tip about tipping the waitress! I really appreciate it and I wish that’s something more people would think about.

    You should look into DIY detergents. They’re so cheap about $15 to make they usually do more loads and work much better than the store bought stuff. On the same note if you have a water filtration system or have soft water you don’t need fabric softener.

    I also do my own DIY shampoo. Here it is:
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    After doing this for about a year I have discovered my hair grows about 2in per month, my hair looks and feels healthier, but I do miss the smell of shampoo and my ends will occasionally become more dry so everyonce in a while I’ll use conditioner or an all natural hair mask.

  72. April says:

    Every once in awhile I’ll post on Facebook what happens when I go through old pictures. It strikes terror into my grown kids and their friends because they just never know what images I’ll find floating around here. Also when your kids graduate- make them a photo slide show set to music. That way you can reminisce and cry for days and days while working on it, you and all you close friends and family can cry while watching it at their party, and your child can be embarrassed and touched by your efforts all at the same time. :) (here is the second half of my oldest daughter’s movie- And yep, I teared up watching it just now)

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  82. Brent says:

    I LOVE THIS! I am a full time actor- so we all know that means the next a paycheck is somewhere in the clouds for me. I try try try to ONLY buy things with cash. plastic tends to stay in my wallet and never used for impulse or splurges. Setting realistic budgets and having the discipline to stick to them is the focus of my savings. I eat groceries and cook at home whenever I am on my own or when i can. I save the meals out for friends get togethers and the birthday parties that I attend for more than two hours. you want to double your money when you “feel like shopping?” Then fold your money in half and put it back in your pocket. I have built every piece of furnitur I own. quality over quantity. Your closet consists of 10 shirts and 4 pants that you love and wear constantly. except for the must have dress-up stuff, sell the remaining 65% of your clothes on ebay. and yes, stop buying $15 seasonal crap and stick to the staples of your wardrobe that will last years.

    my biggest advice to the unknowing:
    FIND A GOOD TAILOR. Spending $8-12 to get a shirt fitted or coat trimmed perfectly, is the best way to conquer your fashion financial mishaps. I buy <$150 3 piece suits, spend $65-$85 on a tailor to slim the sleaves, hem the pants, do a waist hem, and bring in the back to athletic fit. the vest is an additional $10 to fit perfect. The result is 3 x 3 piece suits in Black (tuxedo sharp), navy and grey, all fitting perfect and my wallet in tact. At $200 each, they have lasted 8 years of weddings, engagements, premieres, red carpets, film festivals, galas, and yes, Las Vegas. I get secret texts and requests for the "cost of that suit" or "where did you get it" at every wedding or event I wear them. My friends back home make James Bond comments or similar and frequently outshine the frumpy rentals that the best man seems to pay $300+ for the one day of use.

    • Kelly says:

      Great tips! I love the idea of getting good quality clothes, getting them tailored *and keeping them* for a long time, because they’ll look fabulous!

  83. Mary says:

    Please please please!!!!! Do couponing!!!!! Thanks so much!

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  88. Sarah Jayne says:

    Hi Kelly! First I would like to say that your website is adorable, well-organized, and you have a fantastic sense of style. I think your eye for decor is what helped you decorate your home on a budget! So don’t worry, your husband isn’t doing ALLL the work :)
    I also really enjoy how you detail saving money the practical way. I think budgeting is much like dieting and if you completely cut off your “pleasures” you will most certainly fail. Starting small, and allowing yourself some splurges , is the best way for me (and I’m sure other people!) to successfully budget.
    I am proud to say that in 3 months I will have paid off all credit card debt and then I’m onto student loans. I’m not as scared about them anymore because I paid off one mound of debt already.

    • Kelly says:

      Thanks so much, Sarah Jayne! It’s amazing how much confidence and momentum you get when you start paying off the small debts… they really motivate you to tackle the big ones. Congrats on only 3 more months til the credit cards are paid!!

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  96. Kelly says:

    These are some great tips! I put a lot of these into practice back in 08 when I was laid off…but the bills never get laid off. Now I’m far better off, have my bills at a minimum (although the ELP is new to me and I totally want to check that out!), went back to school and even though I took out loans at the time, I paid them off in 2.5 years using methods like these. I remember the first things I tackled were auto insurance and cable, just like you two. I remember I made a list of necessities in life (groceries, fuel), and a list of things I’d like once in a while (this included new clothes; coffee shops weren’t on either list), and I gave myself a weekly allowance. If I had leftovers, then I’d set it aside for a luxury and save until I had enough…or decided I didn’t need it after all. I also love putting together spreadsheets and spent a good few hours making a multi-page spreadsheet that updated one sheet with numbers of all my accounts. Seeing my eggs in one basket was probably what spurred me…that and I had the sheets set up with interest charges…which were scary numbers!

  97. anna says:

    everytime I read each line. I was like, “i need to do this!”. Also, I really like the tip where so said that “I stopped buying things just because they were on sale.”. This is so me. I purchase things because of the deal, and then I realized, I wont be able to utilize it efficiently and effectively. Buying on sale items doesnt mean you were able to save all the time.

    so informative!, thanks!.

    ~ garagesalecow

  98. Lauren says:

    Hi! New reader here (found you through this post on Pinterest) and I would totally be interested in a tutorial on couponing! My husband and I don’t have children or a house of our own yet, but it’s very near in our future. I know I have to start good habits early. :-)

  99. Jordan says:

    So we use a lot of these as well! But there is something I would like to suggest. Try using Swagbucks! You earn gift cards for the things you would normally do online! Instead of searching google, use swagbucks and earn virtual currency that you can redeem for gift cards! If anyone would like to know more, email me!

  100. Anastasiya Didok says:

    Strategies I’ve been proud of so far: growing our own herbs. Switching to Ting from Sprint for cell phone (same network). Using MagicJack for a home phone line. We also cloth diaper. Love them. My way of getting items: ask on a local Pay It Forward group. Look in Value Village. Look on eBay. We go through ChristianCare MediShare instead of insurance. For me and baby we pay $86 a month with the highest “deductible” of 10K. It satisfies the tax requirement and is about $300 less than what we’d pay for a comparable insurance plan. Ok I’m done :)

  101. Julie says:

    We already do a lot of these things, except our thrift stores locally are just as expensive if I watch sales and use coupons at children’s place, so we usually go that route. We also do our own haircuts, keep our thermostat at 80 in the summer and 60 in the winter to save on electricity, I recently installed a make shift (want to make a nicer one eventually) clothes line, I kept much of my kids clothes to pass on to the next one so the 3rd one we’re having will already be completely clothed! I have tried my hand at couponing, but alas I’m not a genius in that area and definitely would be interested in a post detailing how it works because I’m a very literal person and need details lol

  102. Echo says:

    Thanks so much for this!

    while I plan to do a ton of these things, and we already do some of them, I can also recommend:

    Using a high efficiency detergent like Ecos (organic, localish to us, and we use about a tsp of detergent per load) 1 bottle has lasted up 8 months, and we still have about 20 loads worth of detergent to work with.

    I just picked up my first full time job in 5 years to help get us out of debt and back on our feet (thank goodness for family helping us out when we lost our house a week before I had our 2nd kiddo and lend us their extra car when ours broke down) But in addition to working, I am very skilled crochet designer, and I make and sell my creations (hobby and income) on the side to help with the small expenses like diapers, formula, wipes, etc.

    We also buy in bulk when we can, and we prep food in bulk and freeze it. That way we aren’t spending HOURS in the kitchen each night for dinner. It saves on time, which means that time can be spent making more money (crafting) or spending time with the kiddos.

    We use baking soda for a lot of our cleaning, did you know that baking soda and vinegar or lemon juice can replace dish detergent? Did you know that a 1/4 cup of baking soda in your laundry can help get dingy smells out of old clothing (read: sweat, and formula/spit up/baby smells)

    Mopping with water lemon juice mix can help condition and clean wood floors, and vinegar and backing soda scrubbed into a stain on the carpet and then vacuumed up can take out the stain and the smell.

    Making your own baked goods (muffins, breads, cakes, cookies, etc) can save on your budget and your health

    Looking into Dave Ramsey’s snowball method for debt paydown.

  103. Angie says:

    Love this =) Single mom who could use all these tips!
    God Bless!

  104. Karissa Reedy says:

    I always have my own garden going and my investment of a rain barrel has been a two-fold return. We harvest and use rainwater that’s free, but also my garden has grown twice also big this year for it.

  105. Jull says:

    Thanks for sharing all those tips, tips on how to save on children are the most vital for me at present as I am just going to have a baby but still need to solve certain money difficulties . But I am also interested in your insurance as self-employed and online shopping tricks- will proceed reading)))

  106. maria says:

    love this!, i’m a single parent and constantly in search for saving money. Recently, I’ve been into yardsales and thrift shops. A good site for me is Also, I tried selling some of my old tea sets online thru eBay.

  107. Ann Galassi says:

    Great tips! I was looking on line for restaurant coupons and stumbled across deals on for gift cards. I had no idea this existed until today! I looked at a bunch of different sites, including ebay. I got kind of leary though wondering if I would get ripped off in end. Obiviously they work for you. Any pointers? (There’s your next blog post) 😉

  108. These are great tips for saving money. I’m also always looking for ways to save and even though I’m not a crazy coupon person, I do look for coupons whenever possible.

  109. Michele G says:

    Somebody else might have mentioned it, but you can freeze avacodos. A slight textural change though so best for guacamole or smoothies.

    Great ideas!

  110. Kimberley Beesley says:

    As far as books go there’s this awesome website called bookbub. You put in what type of e-reader you have and what type of books you like to read. Every day it sends you an email with free books and books under $3. And as for laundry detergent you can save even more by making your own. My husband and I made some a year ago, it cost us $40, and we’ve only gone through about half of it (for a cost of $1.67/month in laundry detergent).

  111. My favorite cost cutting trick is to stay home;0) Seriously though … we daycation to save on hotel costs, purchase high quality items that will last, watch for groupons for fun family outings, and … did you know you can check out passes to museums and art galleries from the library?! No need to stay home pouting because you’re outta money;0)

  112. Terri says:

    I am just curious now with the Affordable Health Care Act, are you purchasing your health benefits through your State Exchange or through the Gov’t?

  113. Erin says:

    Here are some additional tips (though yours are great!):

    Plan your weekly meals around what’s on sale in the flyer. Here we get the weekly paper for free on Thursdays when the grocery ads are inside. We’re in Canada and there’s less coupons it seems, and never for fresh produce, meat, etc. So I see what’s on sale and plan my meals around it. Going along with your suggestion of buying produce that lasts longer-when I buy my produce for the week, we eat berries and other perishables first, anything that starts looking bad but I know we won’t eat I throw in the freezer as I eat smoothies every morning and it doesn’t have to look good in a smoothie! You could also make popsicles for the kids with mashed up fruit. Save the potatoes, etc. for later in the week. Think about what’s in season-that’s going to be cheaper. Frozen fruit is super cheap in the summer when fresh is available so I stock up for winter in my large freezer.

    Clothing-I do buy at garage sale & consignment, but found I could find brand new clothing at the outlet mall with coupons combined with clearance a year before I need them and store them in Rubbermaid containers in my storage closet. I’m able to buy Osh-Kosh and other nicer brands (you can also get those at consignment!) and because I have 3 kids the clothing LASTS and I can pass it down and then sell to consignment after if there’s any life left in it. Honestly I sometimes do just as well as the consignment- I have clothes in the bins for the kids with 3.99 stickers for long-sleeve, name brand toddler t-shirts that I know I probably got an extra 20% off on them on top of that or clothing cash like Gymbucks to spend later on. Put yourself on all their e-mail lists and you’ll get lots of coupons and notifications of sales.

    Also with clothing. I buy neutral colors without logos, etc. for instance, I have a pair of black snow pants in every size. Both my boys and my daughter can all wear them before I sell them to consignment. Same with winter and rubber boots. If they are something you only use a few months, but HAVE to have and you have mixed genders, stick with black or red rather than going for pink.

  114. Anna says:

    I love this post! I use rubbing alcohol to clean all my counters at home. We also use vinegar and water to disinfect things and finally I make my own mouthwash (1tsp baking soda, 8 drops peppermint oil and 1c water). I also have a few ideas on what you can do with all those frozen organic chickens :)

  115. Dawn says:

    Hi! I just came across your blog about 1.5 hrs ago. I love it! You have a lot of awesome ideas.

  116. Mia says:

    This a great compilation and I like how you divided everything into categories. Really helped to find things easily and refer back. I need to get used to the no soda thing…I know that will save bundles!!

  117. Kimberly says:

    These are awesome tips. I just feel like as a working, career driven mother with a husband who also works full time (both outside of home), there is not a lot of time for DIY-ing, coupon clipping, watching deal sites, or even “gasp” breastfeeding. Cloth diapering is a whole chore I don’t even feel capable of attempting, We do however manage to do some home repairs ourselves on the weekends and weatherproofed our home for the winter. We always shop at thrift stores first for clothing. And we never ever ever buy soda :). Sometimes though, in my opinion, spending a little extra money for some ease in life or more time spent relaxing with my family is well worth it. Oh, and I have a whole collection of brass animals that keeps growing. No shame at all in that spending…

  118. Mark says:

    First time reader:
    Great job on the paying off the house, raising a family, and surviving DYI projects. I think one thing that helps is recognizing the ‘quirks’ and embracing them.. (brass animals and knee-o-phobia). And you stay honest and accept differences (like the plate wall). All the best to you and your family! I am a single dad of 3 and staring all over again.

  119. Pat & Bill Richards says:

    Thank you for all your helpful tips…………some we are already doing, others………not so much. I love your dedication though. I have a tip for you re: books. Have you ever heard of It is a free (seriously, FREE) site for books you can download for your ereader. I know there are probably others as well, but this one is what I use. I have over 150 books on my Kobo now and haven’t paid for one! I found the library site worked for a while but then I had complications so this is much nicer. I use my library for books I can’t find and for my book club books where necessary. Anyway, just thought I’d share. :) Thank you again!

  120. Stephanie says:

    I currently have no children or family of my own but I’m mo not where i would like to be financially. You’re post was amazing! I really appreciate you sharing! Can’t wait to start $$$$ racking up!

  121. Erica says:

    How do I follow this blog? I can’t seem to find the link on my mobile browser.

  122. Kristy says:

    Although we already do most of that stuff, I was glad to read this! Thanks!

  123. Sabina says:

    I was a “DO I want it or do I need it” type of person ..mostly I tamed my buying streak – I couponed but there are very few places that allow coupon stacking and very few totally free coupons out there (so far London drugs in our area is the only place that allows stacking) Most of my clothes had been bought used, esp the stuff for work. I put $100/month into mutual funds in case the money was ever needed for a big purchase (like if the furnace goes etc) I just got a cell phone this yr (2015) and we’ve never had cable or a dish. I walk to work even when its -40C out. I wish I had more time because I’d love to plant a garden in the summer out back – perhaps when I get to retire?

  124. Leslie says:

    We do the coin jar, but take it one step further. At the end of the month, we throw all our one dollar bills in the jar as well. We just started doing this a couple months ago, but we have already saved a bunch in our vacation jar.

  125. Ivanna says:

    Sounds exhausting.

  126. I was able to save $89.27 per month just by shopping around for insurance, cancelling netflix, etc. It’s awesome to save some extra money!

  127. melissa says:

    please please please tell about your solar panels.

  128. Cris Leiva says:

    Such good and well-thought out tips! You guys seriously rock! We tend to read the entire internet too when about to buy a big ticket item. Recently I found a website ( that basically finds you a better deal on the very best deal you have found! It’s amazing.

  129. Jen says:

    We cut cable. We kept Internet and have a roku. Right now we have Netflix & sling. That’s one way we cut out cost.

  130. Renee Bloemker says:

    I would love to know about your coupons. In my area we have a limited amount in the paper. I would love to know the ins and outs.

  131. Betsy Mormile says:

    Great ideas here! My kids and I just did a Spring Break staycation! I put $10 or $20 away every couple of weeks since last June and I spent NOTHING on credit cards this week. I looked up local deals for Family Entertainment places (bowling, ice cream shops, play centers, etc) and also got coupons by signing up through their sites! I was so excited b/c we got to do something every day – discounted, for at least part of the day and didn’t spend all our money. The money I have left will go to our summer vacation to the beach! I do need help w/ the couponing though. Would love to see!

  132. Audrey says:

    My tips for saving money:
    – I found almost everything for free on free stuff facebook pages. (refrigirator, oven, table, chairs…)
    – I don’t buy anything that I don’t “Need” No Makeup, no clothes, no shoes, no purses… Except when the one I have are broken.
    – I calculate my approximate expenses, and I keep just a little bit more, the rest I put it in a saving account with interests so when the time comes I can buy myself a house!
    – I live in a cooperative apartment.
    – I have a car, but I only go to work with it because it is not easy in subway/bus. I go to school in subway.
    – I buy my vegetables and fruits at a specialized store for those products, they are really cheap, I can get two bags for only ten dollars…
    – When I go in another town I put adds on internet to travel with other persons, they give me money for my gas, and it costs me less!

  133. This is an excellent list. I especially like the idea of buying for value and not just price. Plus, I’d rather have less stuff and really love what I have than lots of stuff that I’m never really happy with.

    I really wish we had access to coupons here (Australia) like you do in the US. :-(

  134. Teddi says:

    Yours is the first blog I’ve read advising to use less laundry detergent! I’ve been doing it for ages! I measured out the small load amount from the original scoop and I use an old Oxy Clean scoop – two little scoops takes care of a whole load! It’s one of my favourite money saving tips that’s not super-weird.

  135. Lots of great tips, thank you. I look forward to your solar panel post

  136. Melissa says:

    LOL! The funny thing is I actually purchased those energy saving light bulbs back in 2007. I have taken them with me everytime I moved. They have just started to burn out. So far I have only replaced 2 or 3 of them. I wonder what my energy savings have been throughout the years?

  137. Tanya says:

    Hi! Great stuff!! I would, however, LOVE to see a couple, like around 38-45 age group that SAVE money…b/c we have 5 kids and the oldest two are teenagers and no matter how many jobs me or my husband get, we never seem to get ahead…there are constant expenses for the kids…so, if anyone has any ideas on how to save money when you have 5 kids still at home and almost 3 of them teenagers, PLEASE feel free to email me! HA! Thanks so much!!

  138. The Jessie K says:

    Love these ideas! So smart! I do the same thing with the laundry detergent, or I even make my own, and add some essential oils for freshness, and it does just as good if not better than store brand detergent. Same with dish washer detergent! 😉

    Also, we buy in bulk which helps a ton but we also buy fuel and gasoline in bulk as well. I realize this might be complicated for some people if you don’t have your own fuel storage container, but we live in a rural area and have a huge fuel tank. We save hundreds every month (but we also shop around and only buy when prices are low)! Just an idea.

    Thanks for the tips! :)

  139. JessicaA says:

    Thanks for the amazing list, Christmas can really absorb plenty of money so it’s good to know some cool saving tips.

  140. Stephanie says:

    Really great ideas.
    Unfortunately i am still in the renting….a room…..and a mother of two. And for some reason Ihave never been able to “get” couoponing. Like where i actually save money! So, if you could please share ANY tips on this matter I would so greatly appreciate it.

  141. Peggy says:

    Thank you for tips!! Dave Ramsey and Mary Hunt’s ‘Debt Proof Living’ or my favorites!!!

  142. Shelley says:

    These are excellent tips, and such a fun read! I’m definitely going to try your tips on how to save at restaurants. That’s our biggest weakness! Thanks for the info!

  143. Nefeli says:

    I loved very much the VACATION JAR idea!! What an amazing idea! Summer is here andI don’t have time to do that now, but I can start from now for Xmas vacations! I loved your articled, thank you! :)

    Nefeli |

  144. Malea Ann says:

    I do or have done almost everything on your list, but this was a good refresher! Right now I am heavily focused on savings on groceries and minimizing food waste–hard when feeding a teenage boy! YIKES! I used to live in an area where I could get free toiletries and personal care items all the time between sales and coupons, but it’s been a long time since I’ve routinely found such deals. Sigh…

  145. Ben says:

    I clicked on your link Judith but it does not work. Could you please confirm what the exact name of the company is?


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