Tightwads Unite

When I got pregnant with Amelia two years ago I knew I wanted to cut back on my work week. I also wanted to take some unpaid maternity leave. So I went through our expenses and tried to cut as much as possible. I won’t lie to you, people. I am SO good at spending money. Really, I could be paid to be a professional spender of money. Your money. My money. Your mama’s money. Send it on. I’ll spend your hard-earned cash in lightning speed. But we did live on a tight budget last year, aka TYOAB. (The Year Of Amelia’s Birth).

Mir at Woulda Coulda Shoulda has a great new blog,Want Not, which focuses on ways to save money. Several bloggers blogged about it and you, too, should check it out. Mir is not advocating radical spendthrift type advice, like making deodorant by melting shards of Speedstick in a saucepan. It’s good, practical advice for people who like nice things. And really, who doesn’t like nice things?

So, here are some money-saving steps we made:

* Switched to Vonage. For $24.99 a month (not including tax) we have unlimited local and long distance calls in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and some European countries. We have experienced some bad/under-the-water reception, but for the most part it’s fine. We are not big on phone chatting, though.

* Cancelled our family YMCA membership, which was $80 a month (although we are rejoining as we’re getting a brand spankin’ new YMCA in our neck of the woods…yee haw!)

* Started buying many household cleaning supplies and other items, such as garbage bags, at Dollar General. They have great cheap snacks, too, like cereal bars or graham crackers for a big fat crispy dollah! Forget Wallyworld. Too huge, too scary, too many people on the verge of going Wallyworld at Wallyworld.

* Buy generic diapers (I particuarly like Publix brand). I still love Huggies, though, and will buy them when they are on sale and I have a coupon. Something about Pampers’ smell bugs me. It’s like the talcum powder scented car spray you see at the car wash. I’m sorry, I just don’t want my baby’s bottom smelling like Luvs Baby Soft.

*Registered our credit cards and debit cards through UPromise (which will pay off later when the girls head off for college and we start living on our boat in the Florida Keys…of course we don’t have a boat yet).

* Shopped around for cheaper car insurance. We changed carriers and our new premium is $60 cheaper a month.

*Cancelled our Sunday paper…we read it online and my mom passes along her coupons. (I am not good with coupons, however. I do buy generic store products whenever possible, although I draw the line at certain items such as ketchup.)

One of my favorite time saving techniques, and we all know time is money, is doing most of our holiday shopping online. Check out the Current Codes website for the most recent savings codes for all the online retailers. And although I have not used these websites, I’ve heard great things about Woot and Wine Woot.

I was able to cut about $200 from our monthly spending by making a few simple changes. We still eat out way too much (we may need to build a toy chest just to hold all of our Happy Meal items) and I am the queen of impulse purchases. But every little bit helps.

Do you have any money saving tips or websites you’d like to share? Do you clip coupons or do you feel they are a waste of time? Do you shop at Sam’s Club or Costco?

12 comments

  1. mothergoosemouse says:

    I totally clip coupons. That’s why we get the Sunday paper. And I use them. I also watch the weekly specials at the grocery store and Target for double-whammy savings. Some items I just don’t buy unless they are at or below a certain price – usually produce or meat.

    We’ve not yet joined Costco. I’m still in the “not enough space to buy in bulk” mode, even though now we do have the space.

    Phone-wise, we have local service only on our home phone – no call waiting, no voice mail, no caller ID, no long distance. When we call long distance, we do it from our cell phones, which have more minutes than we’ll ever need.

    I do not want to scrimp on the cable yet – broadband connection and HBO/Showtime (for the original programming) are important to us.

    I have stopped buying clothes (for me anyway) at upscale stores. Target and Old Navy are cool places. But I don’t scrimp on shoes or my hair.

    I dig Upromise – great way to save for college without even thinking about it.

  2. kara says:

    As much as I hate putting anymore money into Walmart’s world market stronghold, I have to admit that when hubby finally convinced me to start shopping at Sam’s, we’ve probably shaved $400.00/mo off of our grocery bill and a couple of hours time from the grocery trek. The kids have a blast there anyway.

    I won’t get rid of cable modem/cable package yet. Maybe it is just because I won’t admit my kids have outgrown Noggin, or maybe it is because it is so DARN convenient to be able to watch One Life To Live at 8:00pm w/out having to record it.

  3. MamaChristy says:

    I saved $15 at the grocery store this very morning because of coupons. And I didn’t even use the ones that were about to expire even though I didn’t need the items. It’s a good thing to save $15 on stuff I was gonna buy anyway.

    I LOVE Mir’s new site. Did you see the free bunco set? A-W-E-S-O-M-E.

    I love me some Sam’s, too. Mainly for the convenience of having so much great food in my freezer at all times. If I don’t make it to the store one day when I should have gone, my family won’t go to bed hungry!

  4. Blonde Mom says:

    My mom just reminded me that Walmart matches any other store’s price (she clips store circulars and takes them with her). Also, she uses a lot of natural cleaning products like vinegar and baking soda.

    Oh, and we can’t live without high-speed wireless Internet at our house. And I definitely splurge on my hair. There are some areas I will not cut corners on… 😉

    p.s. Thanks everyone for the great tips and insight so far!

  5. mamatulip says:

    Yup, we shop at Costco — we get diapers and wipes there and they have fabulous sleepers, too, if we can get them in the right size.

    I’m pretty tight with money — Dave could spend it all in five minutes but I keep a pretty tight grip on the cash flow…

  6. Helene says:

    Haben’t tried vonage, but since Skype added free calling to any US/Canadian # (not just Skype accounts) that’s all I’ve been using to call family members with- saves on cell phone minutes.

  7. Java Junkie says:

    I am with you on the phone, although we use Packet 8, same thing.

    As far as other money saving tricks, yeah we buy our diapers at Sams (or rather my in-laws do for us and we pay them back, thus saving even the money for a membership.) We also buy the wipes in the refill bags.

    Not sure if you have a Kroger’s grocery store where you are but if so, Kroger’s brand food almost ALWAYS actually tastes BETTER than name brand. For instance my entire family prefers Kroger shells and cheese over Kraft. And Monkey joined the Kroger’s club or whatever it’s called, where you get extra savings just for shopping there on your groceries. Not to mention they’re now offering money off on GAS if you grocery shop there. If you spend I think it is $1K a month in groceries you get 50 cents off a gallon on gas! 50 cents!

    Heat we just bundle up a little more and cool we just tough it out as long as we can before turning on the AC.

    Oh here’s one. We replaced ALL of the light bulbs in our house with fluorescent ones. This saved us almost fifty bucks a month in electricity and they now have fluorescent bulbs that have a soft light that are meant for home use vs the harsh light of tradition fluorescent.

    There’s also usually a consumer’s advocate group in even smaller cities that will come, for free, and economize your house. They’ll put aerators on your faucets, show you the best way to weather proof your windows (for both winter AND summer) etc. If you live in a house and you don’t find out if there’s a group like this near you and/or don’t call them you’re literally throwing money away. They’ll save you hundreds of dollars a year in utilities.

    Our downfalls are impulse buying (mostly Monkey believe it or not) and we get into these grooves where we eat out so much my kids actually cringe at the sound of paper bags, but then thankfully we get back into grocery shopping.

    Things I won’t scrimp on – cleaning products. I have to have my Lysol, my Ajax and my Downy, etc. And paper products, can’t do the sandpaper generic TP.

  8. Nancy says:

    Great post, I read it earlier but wanted to come back when I had a chance to think about it before I commented.

    We’re excellent savers in terms of long-term stuff — both kids have got their college funds established, we have good money in retirement funds, and we’re getting ready to pay off our last bit of debt other than 1 car payment and a mortgage.

    J is more of a penny-pincher than I am, and I’d say we’re careful with money in general, but probably could save more. We have certain things we splurge on: hockey tickets, computer equipment, organic foods, certain name brand products. But we probably save in other ways, even though we don’t intend to — we do eat out a lot, but not at very expensive places, we don’t go to movies or hire babysitters much, we don’t drink a ton, we don’t have a huge budget of clothing and personal expenses.

    We tried Vonage several months back but I felt like there was an echo on the line, and it bugged me. We did switch to a less expensive cell phone plan, and got a rebate on our old phones, but we didn’t get rid of those phones so we have double phone coverage (pretty imperative with kids in day care and since we work several miles from our home.)

    One of my long-term goals is to simplify life by having less stuff and thus saving time (and hopefully money) by having less things to maintain, buy, and generally deal with. After that I’d like to focus on making more homemade goods to save money (rather than prepackaged) but the maximum amount of STUFF right now is my huge focus.

  9. Anne says:

    I’ve heard about the dollar general dance but the store location wigs me out. If Cosco wasn’t 30 miles away, I would totally have renewed our membership but as it is, they are building a new Sam’s very soon so woohoo for bulk shopping. Not always cheaper tho, when you wind up buying other thang you didn’t need in the first place. Um, the melting speedstick in a pot to get the last remnants doesn’t seem like a great way to save money, I mean, how much extra time does that buy you before you have to purchase a new deoderant?

  10. College Savings 529 Plan says:

    People with larger families were the first one to get hit with this economic recession that is happening all over the world. We are just lucky that even though we live somewhere in Asia, the global economic crisis does not really affect our way of living that much.

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