Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How Do you Penny Pinch?

So, money is usually pretty tight around our house, and I am trying to think of ways that I can cut back on expenses right now so I can start saving money. I would love to hear ideas from you guys of how you make your money stretch.. here are some of mine:
1) 90% of my kids clothes are garage sale clothes. I know many of you think I am obsessed with garage sales.. and I kind of am. Chris might claim that buying too much garage sale stuff doesn't really save that much money, but I beg to differ my dear. I already have a closet of 5 or 6 4t dresses for Sofia just waiting for her to grow into.. which leads me to my next one on the list.
2) Buy ahead. If I hit a great winter sale at Old Navy, I will buy the kids hats, coats etc.. for the next year so that I don't have to go out and spend a ton when things are not on sale.
3)I buy food locally and do u-pick in the summer as much as possible. In the summer and fall, most of our produce comes from local farms. I like having fresher food and picking your own food is good for kids to do and cheap! (In my next house, I want to grow a lot of my own food).
4)I try to think of things to do as a family that don't cost a lot of money. In the summer we are at the fountains downtown, on walks, or playing at the park all of the time. It is not so easy to think of cheap things to do in the winter here.. ideas?

Those are just a few of my ideas.... please share all of yours.


Heather said...

Here is how I save money:
I have a really hard time convincing myself to buy anything! I'll look and look and if it's not exactly what I have in mind, I won't get it. It's actually really frustrating - I need shopping help.

We heat our house mostly with our wood stove. The furnace kicks on when the temperature in the house gets too low, but we try to keep the wood stove cranking out the heat. That alone saves hundreds of dollars a year.

I grow my own veggies - not sure how much money that saves when you consider the infrastructure - but I love gardening and I love the fresh food.

Pre-tax medical accounts - we save hundreds a year with that, too.

I also have lots of ways of wasting money - I don't look for sales, clip coupons, send in for rebates, etc.

Aaron and Amy said...

Hi Kara,

In addition to the gardening/local food, canning or food preservation is a great way to save money and eat wonderful food in the winter months. Jam, fruit, tomato sauce, and spaghetti sauce are all easy to make. It is a few days of work in the summer but is well worth the effort and fun!

I have been able to find free canning jars on freecycle and craigslist.

Shahnaz said...

I'm pretty bad about penny pinching. No matter how strapped we are, I seem to always be able to justify a trip to Starbucks. One thing that I've done to save money and to take care of the planet is switch to CFL light bulbs. They take some getting used to, but it's pretty easy and saves a lot in electricity. I also use cloth diapers, which are a big expense upfront but save in the long run (also much better for the planet).

Amanda Nemelka said...

I love to get a bargain, but I can't say I'm great at it. That's why I just don't go shopping...other than for food. But something that doesn't decrease your expenses but helps make it more predictable is to see if your electric or gas company does equal payments throughout the year. You might not see such a big fluctuation in your gas bill since Oregon doesn't get that cold, but here we have like $30 gas bills in the summer and $130 in the winter. So, I just got on equal payments and now it's the same $45 price every month. So...maybe your companies out there do that to?

Other than that...I'm not a gardener, canner, or cloth diaper type not much help there.

juliette said...

Kara, it is so funny, because we have barely talked, but it's like we're on these weird parallel paths, first the ultramarathon, er, half mara--uh, 10k (walk?) and now this money thing. I have recently realized that we haven't been saving ANY money! So I'm on a rampage, starting a budget next month, like in two days. I think we are going to try the mostly cash thing, because as some financial expert pointed out, it is much more painful to part with cash, and sort of abstract when you just swipe a card.
Also, it helps that you don't drink alcohol, because beer and wine can really take a bite out of your wallet.
This summer, I plan to do a lot of preserving. We should have some preserving work parties. I really want to can peaches.
Sorry this is so long, we can meet and talk about it at length in person, but part of my penny pinching right now is...Sweet Peas only once a week!
Sorry this comment is so long. Your blog is always quite thought-provoking.

Margaret said...

I agree with what others have said. Austin and I do a cash budget (after many failed attempts at other kinds). Find what works for you. The cash one works for us because as your friend said, it hits you as you see cash leaving your wallet.
Also, I avoid the mall at all costs because I'm a sucker and will find something that I MUST have!

Sarabeth said...

Get a programmable thermostat, and set it lower than you do now. Most people set it close to 70, but we set it at 67 during the day, 65 at night. It seems cold at first, but you totally get used to it (and learn to wear sweatshirts). I've heard that even a 1-2 degree difference makes a huge difference in your gas/electricity bill.

This is not a way to penny pinch, but something free to do in the winter...we love story/craft time at the library every thursday at 10:30.

Kara's Blog said...

I grew up with a wood stove, so I would love to have one in our next house. Hey, if you ever need help being convinced to buy something.. I am sure I could help.
Hello.. glad that you found my blog.. I am obviously guessing through E? Let's can this summer!! I have done a little canning, but I lack confidence in the area a little (I am scared I won't seal right.. and kill my family with some weird bacteria).
We need to switch to CFL lightbulbs!! That is a great idea.
That is a good idea. I should definitely do that. For some reason I have been keeping my house way too toasty this winter.. and you don't even want to know what my last bill was!
We should talk about penny pinching.. because then we can hold each other accountable!! It looks like between this similarity and wanting to get in shape.. we need to hang out more!
I want to try the cash budget!!! It is so true that it is harder to see money leave our hands even though I can swipe the debit card like a mad woman.
I need to layer the kids and not keep my house so toasty, because it costs way too much. Oh.. you are wise for your years.

Thanks everyone for the great advice!