50 Ways to Save Money in 2012

Last week I shared how I cut out $295 from my monthly expenses.

This week, I am sharing some smaller ways that my family saves money in combination with some ways that other readers have shared with me about how they are saving money in their households.

I have read plenty of lists similar to this post and sometimes I’ll get through the list and find that I am already doing everything on the list or the expenses to cut out don’t apply to me.

For example, I already don’t go to Starbucks every day so cutting out those trips to save money would not apply to me.

My goal with this list is to (hopefully) provide our readers with a new tip or two that they have not come across yet.

Make sure to leave a comment if your best money-saving idea is not on this list!

1. Maintain “excellent” credit.  We have qualified for 0% financing on our auto loan and obtained $0 in closing costs to refinance our home all because of our credit score.

2. Host a swap party with friends – swap clothes, purses, jewelry, etc.

3. Don’t buy kids clothes new.  Even adult clothes can be purchased on consignment, but kids outgrow their clothes so fast.  My take on this – buy the majority of their clothes from garage sales or consignment, buy a few clothes new, but let the majority of their new clothes come from family members in the way of birthday and Christmas presents!

4. Use credit cards with care – if (and only if) you are disciplined enough to pay off your credit card each month use credit cards to your advantage and build cash-back points.  We use our 1 credit card throughout the year, always paying it off each month in full and then at the end of the year we turn in our reward points for cash back and usually end up receiving $200-300 back and we never paid a dime in interest or fees!

5. Before turning up your thermostat in the winter to stay warm, purchase a heated mattress pad, blanket or small heater…or all three!  It will be cheaper than turning the thermostat up even by 2 degrees.  Thank you, mom, for buying us our heated mattress pad 2 years ago!  It has dual controls and we love it!!

6. Insulate your water heater.  If it is warm to the touch that means you are losing heat and wasting money. Check your water heater to determine if it needs insulating.

7. Programmable thermostats are the way to go, no question about it.  Even a few degrees during your 8-10 hour work day will make a dramatic difference each month.  Also, my energy company issues a $5 credit to all customers with programmable thermostats during the summer months!! Double win.

8. Buy a faucet aerator to control how much water comes out at one time. Great for households with children or teens.

9. Use a battery charger.  This can pay for itself with just 6 uses.

10. Buy a water filtration system in place of buying bottled water.  My husband used to buy bottled water and it drove me crazy until we compromised with a water filter pitcher.

11. Buy a $5 rotisserie chicken (at Costco or Sam’s Club) use the meat for dinner and then use the skin and bones as a base for a great broth.  If you don’t need the broth right away you can freeze it for later use.

12. Costco or Sam’s Club is great ways to save money.  We buy our extra virgin olive oil in the huge bulk containers and save over $20 versus buying the small ones in the local grocery store.  Both stores issue one-day free passes for non-members throughout the year.

13. Buy all of your turkey near Thanksgiving and store them in your freezer. One turkey can make several meals in my house, but if you try to buy a turkey during any time other than around November you will pay more than double! No, thank you.

14. Plan your meals.  This is a part of my New Year’s resolution (later post to follow), but every time we plan our meals for the week we save so much money by not making an impulse trip to get fast food. And of course, it keeps us healthier.

15. Make your own bread.  This is super easy and I will post some of my bread recipes soon to prove it!

16. Go to Farmer’s Markets.  You can often find great deals.  I get a discount from certain vendors because I buy from them regularly.

17. Use 1/2 the recommended amount of meat in your meals.  When hamburger helper meals (for example) call for 1 lb. of meat only use 1/2lb. Or, like our mom used to do when she made meals for our family of 6, combine potatoes with taco meat to help add to the serving portion.  As kids, we never knew the difference and I still do this for my family.

18. Eat more eggs.  Eggs are cheap and you can make many high-protein meals with them! For recipes click herehere and here.

19. Start a garden of fresh herbs.  Keep rabbits and other “interested guests” away by surrounding the garden with mothballs.

20. Learn how to can!  My sisters and I learned how to can last year.  I recommend throwing a canning party it will make it A LOT easier and a lot more fun too.

21.  Dilute your juices.  Hawaiian Punch is often so sweet that I dilute it nearly every chance I get.  My husband says he notices a difference, but that’s only when he sees me do it.

22. Our dad’s best tip before going to bed – If you want to use the warm water, but don’t want to watch the water run down the drain while waiting for it to warm up go ahead and brush your teeth while waiting for the water to warm up. Once warm, wash your hands and then it’s off to bed!

23. Our mom’s best tip – know your favorite retail stores discount days.  If markdowns routinely occur on Thursdays (for example) you’ll know when to get to the store so you don’t miss a great bargain or end up shopping the day before the great sale!

24. Stop using disposable products (as much as you can, toilet paper is obviously an exception!) Use rags instead of paper towels, real plates instead of paper ones, cloth napkins instead of paper napkins, etc.

25.  If you don’t have an energy efficient toilet, put a jar filled with water in the tank (or 2) this will cut down on the amount of water that fills and refills your tank after each use.

26. Energy efficient lights are one thing, but go one step further and change out your light switches too.  Save money and get longer use out of your lights by installing dimmers.  We use dimmers on most of our lights, which I love because my energy efficient lights are too bright, in my opinion. Bonus!

27. Use www.shopathome.com or other cashback sites that reward you for going through their site to locate online retailers to make your online purchases.  We purchased our washing machine and dryer this way last year and earned $50 in cash back!!

28. Keep your oil changed, air filter clean and tires inflated. Your car will not run at its peak without keeping it well maintained.

29. Also, keep an eye on gas prices when your car is at half a tank.  This will ensure that you don’t have to fill-up at higher prices.  Also, take advantage of loyalty programs (like Kroger’s) that offer between .10 – $1 off your gas purchase!  I saved $7 on one fill-up using this combination.  Another double win!!

30. Put your loose change at the end of the day in a jar and at the end of the month use it to do something fun.  You’ll be surprised how much money you will have accumulated by just saving pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.

 

31. Cut your own hair.  Caution – I am not going to try this on myself, but my husband cuts his own hair with a pair of $25 trimmers.  I tried helping him once and I messed up his cut, oops.  Needless to say, his brother now does it.  With proper care, these trimmers have lasted us over a year!

32. Re-use all of your boxes.  When I receive a priority mail box (for example) I just push it inside out and re-use it.  Walla – a new box!

33. Check out free activities in your city or town.  www.Macaronikid.com is an excellent resource for kid-friendly activities happening in your town right now.

34. Re-use your plastic zip lock bags.  Do this whenever you can.  I understand that sometimes the bag just needs to be thrown out, but other times a simple soapy rinse and a quick dry and they’re ready for round two, three, four and beyond!

35. Limit how much you use your dryer.  For sheets, towels and jeans (that take forever to dry) invest in a clothesline.  Your dryer is the most inefficient and costly appliance in your house.  Invest in a clothesline and you could save about $25/month or more.

36. Use dryer balls instead of dryer sheets.  They are just as effective, a lot cheaper and better for the environment.

37. Gamefly, Netflix, Redbox or Blockbuster Express are great money savers for movies and games.  Keep an eye out on frugal blog sites because they will post current codes for buy 1 get 1 free movie codes!! I love frugal blog sites!!

38. Which brings me to #38 – fall in love with frugal blog sites.  They do all the hard work for you and you save! (If you have a frugal blog site please post your link using the Linky Tool below for our readers to explore).

39. Do your dry cleaning at home with Dryel or another in-home kit.

40. Research before you buy.  When are car prices at their lowest? Dealerships try to get rid of their last years inventory in July to make room for the new year models so they usually run 0% financing for 60 months alongside cash back and rebate programs.

41. E-mail the companies of your favorite products letting them know what you like about their product and don’t be surprised when they send you back coupons for free or “$$’s off” your next purchase.

42. Pay bills online and save your stamps.

43. Re-fill your ink cartridges or buy from discount services versus buying new.  We save $20 every time we need to refill our ink cartridges this way.

44. Measure twice, cut once.  Making a hasty cut whether it is on a home DIY project or while scrapbooking will waste your resources.  Be careful and save money.

45. Start a compost.  Here are the advantages: free fertilizer and less trash to fill up your trash can with.  And it should go without saying, but it is great for the environment!

46. Switch from cable to hulu.com or Netflix.  As a bonus, you can watch your favorite TV shows on your time!

47. Use a power strip. This will reduce the energy consumed from common devices that may be turned off, but still plugged in.  TV, computer, alarm clock, etc.

48. Set up automatic deposits from your checking account into your savings account.  In addition to automatic deposits from my paycheck, I have also set-up an automatic deposit into a savings account for my baby’s future college education.

49. Don’t be brand conscious [all the time].  It happens, my family does favor one brand of product over others sometimes, but by in large if you are open to a variety of brand name products than coupons in conjunction with sales can add up to big savings. I tracked my savings with coupons one year and using coupons with sales saved my family over $1,200 in one year!!

50. Use daily deal sites with caution.  Daily deal sites can be your best friend or nemesis.  Don’t fall for the latter by giving careful consideration to the deal.  Take a little extra time to determine if this is something you were planning on buying or if your family will really use it.  If I love a deal in the morning I will usually let the email sit in my inbox and if by the end of the work day I still love the deal then I’ll buy it! I love Plum District because they cater to moms by providing daily deals for mom’s and children!