pinch your pennies

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Location: Ohio, United States

Saturday, September 30, 2006

natalie dee nataliedee.com

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

How to save money on your grocery bill:
  1. Always use a list and follow it.
  2. Avoid junk food aisles. They are filled with crap that you really don't need and can do with out.
  3. Check out the groceries available at your local dollar store. Most dollar stores now offer food. Just make sure to check the expiration date and it helps to know what you would normally pay for the item in the grocery store. Sometimes the items are not that great of a deal or you could purchase the store brand for less than the name brand. Which takes us to my next point.
  4. But store brand products vs. name brand. Often the store brand is as good as the name brand but because they are not paying to advertise you can save quite a bit.
  5. Buy the biggest amount. Now this only works if A-you will actually use this much before it goes bad and B-the price per ounce is actually cheaper. I have found items that were cheaper to buy several small ones vs. one large one because of it being on sale. There have been a few items that were cheaper in the smaller quantities. Example: At my local store you can buy sugar in 4lb., 5lb., or 15lb. The 4lb. is actual cheaper by the ounce than the other sizes. So I will buy several of the 4lb. packages and save myself some money.
  6. Sometimes going to a wholesale store will save you some money. I go to GFS and purchase certain items I know we will use alot of. But I don't buy a 20lb. loaf of lunch meat even though it is only $1.99 a pound. I know my family won't eat that much lunch meat before it expires. But I do buy a big can of ketchup and divvy it up between (saved and cleaned) ketchup bottles. I also buy vinegar in a large amount because it saves me alot and it lasts a long time.
  7. Clip coupons. Only clip coupons for things your family likes. Unless you join a coupon sharing club. I often wait for the item to go on sale and then use my coupon.
  8. Do your homework. Gather all the ads for any store that is in your area and begin to go through them to see who has the best deals. I make a list of what I would like to get at each store. Then when I go shopping I will use my list to see if maybe the regular price at another store is cheaper or not. Often what the store will advertise as a sale is still cheaper at another store at its regular price.
  9. Use rebates! Just make sure you read all the rules and follow them exactly. Some places ask that you send a copy of the receipt others require you to send in the original. If you have 2 or more items on one receipt that you need to send to different companies ask the cashier to print out copy receipts. Most stores can do this only when you are checking out so make sure you remember to ask as you pay.
  10. Learn to make more things from scratch. By not buying convenience food and using the raw ingredients you can save a ton. It is a little more time consuming but the financial and health benefits are great!
  11. Try drinking reconstituted milk. It is alot cheaper and just as good for you. Try making the night before you want to drink it and mix it with very cold milk. Or you can mix 1/2 reconstituted and 1/2 whole milk. It will still help you cut down on costs.
  12. Buy Meat in bulk. By buying ground beef or steaks in bulk you can save a dollar or two a pound. Just break it down to smaller packages when you get home and freeze it.
  13. Buy a deep freezer. They are costly up front but you will be able to save alot of money by being able to buy more items in bulk and freezing them in individual or family portions.
  14. Buy a cow. You can buy a whole, 1/2, or 1/4 cow and have the butcher package everything up for you. We get a whole cow once a year and are stocked in beef. They package all of our beef up, label it and freeze it in their freezer so it freezes faster and preserves it better. By doing this you can pay a lower per pound price.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Here are some easy ways to cut down on your utility bills:

  1. Install the new type of fluorescent bulbs in lights you leave on for long periods. They provide four times as much light and last ten times longer than incandescent bulbs. You can Save: $10-$50/yr.
  2. Lower the temperature on your hot water heater to between 110 and 120 degrees. It's not necessary to have it any hotter and wastes energy. You can Save: $20-40/yr.
  3. Find out if your utility company offers free energy audits, where they inspect your home for energy effectiveness and recommend inexpensive ways to cut energy costs, such as insulating hot water heaters, weather-stripping, etc. Just insulating your hot water heater could save you $25 a year. You can Save: $50/yr.
  4. Set thermostats no higher than 68 degrees in winter and no lower than 78 degrees in summer. Turn your heat down even further at night or when you're not home (unless you have a heat pump, which operates more efficiently at one consistent setting). Each extra degree in winter can increase heating costs by 3%. In summer, each degree can raise cooling costs by 6%. You can Save: $325 to $500/yr.
  5. Cut back on the use of your clothes dryer. Not only is it a big energy drain, it can also suck heated air out of your house very quickly in winter. Hang clothes on a clothes rack to dry and use the dryer for towels and other heavy items. You can Save: $25-50/yr.
  6. Use your microwave instead of your oven whenever possible and save up to 50% in energy costs for cooking. You can Save $50/yr.
  7. Always do full loads of laundry. A typical full load uses about 21 gallons of water. A small load uses 14 gallons. Several small loads use considerably more water than one or two large loads. Over the course of a year, this adds up. You can Save: $25-$125/yr.
  8. If your looking to buy a new clothes washer consider getting a front loader. A front loader uses about 40% less water and 50% less electricity. You can Save: up to $100/yr.
  9. Run your dishwasher only when you have a full load. Let the dishes air-dry instead of using the heat cycle. An average dishwasher costs $60 to $100 per year to run. You can Save: $35-55/yr.
  10. Fix running toilets or leaking faucets promptly. A continuously running toilet can use more than 8,000 gallons of water a year. You can Save: $25-125/yr.
  11. Install flow restricting shower heads. A family of four can save 8,000 to 12,000 gallons of water a year. You can Save: $25-125/yr or more
  12. Use warm or cold water for washing clothes, and always rinse in cold water. You can Save: $50/yr.
  13. Stick to basic phone service. Extra services like call waiting and call forwarding can almost double your costs for phone services. You can Save: $168/yr.
  14. If you can live without cable television, you can save between $300 and $600 per year. If you can't live without it get basic service only or invest in good quality antenna. You can rent a lot of movies for the extra $150 to $600 per year you pay for movie channels. You can Save: $144-700/yr.
  15. Plant perennial flowers instead of annuals. You incur a one time cost and enjoy the flowers for years, with little additional effort or money. Annuals, on the other hand, require an outlay of cash and effort every year. You can Save: $100-$300/yr.

So the total amount you could save each year is $480 to $2,500! Whoa thats a bundle!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Regardless of the reason you have decided to make a budget there is one very important step you must do first. You have to keep an purchase diary. A purchase diary is a notebook that you write down every single time you spend money. Your diary doesn't have to be fancy. I like to get a small note pad that fits into my pocket and that way as soon as I purchase something I can write it down. It is very important to write down every single thing that you spend money on. If you spend 50 cents on a paper then you write it down. If you buy a bottle of pop out of the machine at work then you write it down. If you go to the store and spend $40 on groceries then you don't need to list every single item. Just that you spent $40 at the grocery store. I like to record the date and then list what I bought and the cost. By recording the date it will help you detect a pattern in your spending that you might be able to stop. An example would be if everyday at work you spend $3 on lunch and buy 2 colas a day at $1.25 each that is $27.50 a week or $1,430 a year! You could cut that down by packing a lunch and bringing 2 colas from home. The average brown bagged lunch is going to cost you around $1 and if you purchase a 24 pack of pop the cost per pop is around .30 (even cheaper if you find it on sale). That is a savings of $19.50 a week or $1014 a year! That is a lot of money that I'm sure you could use toward a bill or put in your savings. Also by keeping a record of all your purchases it will make you stop and think about what you are spending your money on. You may find out that your weekly shopping trip at the mall isn't all that necessary and maybe you can cut it down to once a month or maybe cut it out all together. After about a month or two, if you can, you should have a grip on where your money is going. At this point you are ready to make out a budget. Now when you fill out your budget you have a guide at your disposal that will let you know exactly how much you actually spend on Entertainment or Groceries. Otherwise you will just be taking a guess and could be cutting yourself too short. Here is a link for a budget that you can print out to get you started. http://financialplan.about.com/cs/budgeting/l/blbudget.htm Also if you have a spreadsheet program on your computer it might already have a blank budget plan you can use and modify to your specific needs. Once you establish your budget then you need to stick with it. This will probably be very hard to do at first. But once you get into the habit it will become second nature.