Archive for Money Saving Ideas

Five Ways to Cut Down on Cleaning Costs

One of my least favorite things to buy is cleaning products. As necessary as they are they’re just no fun! They don’t taste yummy and they don’t bring me joy and yet, I’m constantly buying more and more. I’m always trying to reduce my cleaning cost. From clipping coupons to making my own products I’ve learned a lot and now I’m ready to share with you!

So without further ado here is how I cut down on cleaning costs!

1. Ditch The Chemicals

I don’t know about you, but there was a time in my life where I had a different chemical for every surface in my home. Why? Because I fell for the advertising. Buy this product! It’s perfect for natural stone surfaces, this one is good for windows and glass, this one is “all-purpose.” So I had them all. In reality, a lot of these products had the same ingredients and some were completely unnecessary.

For example, window cleaner. As a mom of 2 young children and 2 slobbery dogs, my windows tend to be a nightmare. A never-ending battle of smudges that required a constant supply of window cleaner. Until one day I discovered that I could get my windows just as clean with a spritz of water. I simply spray some water on my windows then wipe my window down with a wet microfiber cloth and then buff the window with a dry one. If this method cleans my windows, you know it’s effective.

Instead of using so many different chemicals I now use a natural cleaner that is safe for all surfaces for my everyday cleaning, a bleach and water (or vinegar if bleach is inappropriate) solution for deep cleaning, and toilet bowl cleaner. That’s it. My house is just as clean, my wallet is happier, and I eliminate a lot of unnecessary chemicals from my home.

2. Coupons

So as much as I do really hate clipping coupons (it’s very time-consuming!), I still always search for coupons and sales for cleaning products. Often I can find coupons for Seventh Generation cleaning products that make them comparable in price to standard chemical cleaners. And of course, I always like to stock up on bleach and toilet bowl cleaner when I find them at a great price AND with a coupon.

3. Concentrates

One of my favorite cleaning products is Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Concentrate. Just ¼ of a cup of this concentrate makes a gallon of Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner. For less than $10, that’s a steal!

Even if you are still a fan of the harsher chemical cleaners, buying concentrates and making your own cleaners is still a great way to reduce your cleaning budget.

4. Do Away with Paper Towels

Okay, before I get into this, I am not anti-paper towels. I still buy and use them. Just not as often. I think they are great for absorbing cooking grease. And believe it or not, companies that make paper products often use sustainable farming practices that actually CREATE forests that we wouldn’t have otherwise. (Don’t believe me? Check out Adam Ruins Everything, the going green episode.)

That being said It’s easy to overuse paper towels. Which is why we switched to microfiber cloths. If you’re skeptical, don’t worry so was I. It just seemed, “icky” to clean my house with something that I had previously used to clean my kitchen or bathroom. But after a lot of research, I found that often cleaning with a microfiber cloth and water can actually be more effective than using an all-purpose cleaner and paper towel. The best part? You only have to buy them once!

This brings me to number 5…

5. Norwex

If you haven’t already heard of Norwex you’ve been missing out! Norwex is a company that sells microfiber cloths as well as other home and cleaning products. Their quality is top notch. If you are like me and a little grossed out by using a reusable cloth for cleaning your bathrooms, Norwex is perfect for you. Not only do their cloths pick up 99% of bacteria but they also have bits of silver in the cloths which inhibits bacteria from being able to survive on the cloth and discourages mold, mildew, and odors as well.

The best part is that because Norwex is available through a consultant, it’s really easy to get what you need at a low price; by either hosting a party or taking advantage of other savings the consultant might offer. It’s a great way to get quality products on a tight budget.

Need a Norwex consultant? Check out my friend Shari’s website!

I’m always looking for effective and CHEAP ways to save on cleaning costs! What budget-friendly cleaning ideas do you have? Let me know in the comments below!

Save Money on Groceries WITHOUT Coupons!

Is your grocery bill out of control? Do you need to cut down on some household expenses but don’t have the time to clip coupons? Well, you’ve come to the right place, my friend! I used to be one of those crazy couponers and not only is it a great way to save money but it also gives you a nice stockpile which can come in handy during natural disasters and other emergencies (or even just not running out of diapers after you’ve just had a baby!) The downside is that it can be time-consuming. Not only was I constantly clipping coupons and searching circulars and couponing sites for sales, but in order to get those rock bottom prices, I had to go to multiple stores. It can very quickly become a full-time job. I was okay with this until I had a colicky baby. After my darling daughter was born I could hardly manage to get through the drive to the store; let alone shop at more than one place. And forget about trying to sit down and clip coupons! Unfortunately, I also just started my journey as a stay-at-home-mom and could not afford to start spending a ton of money on groceries.

Don’t Worry there is another way and I’m going to tell you how to do it!

MEAL PLAN

Yes, you’ve heard it before. Plan your meals out so that you know what you’re making and have all the ingredients. This way you don’t have an excuse to run out to eat and spend more money. BUT you can take this a step further by meal planning around sales.

How; you ask? First, I like to find out what meat and produce are on sale. Meat usually ends up being the most expensive item on the menu but if you’re not buying produce when it’s in season your grocery bill can get out of control just as easily as if you’re buying filet mignon! Instead of shopping around your recipes, pick your recipes based on what is on sale and in season. Many times I will even supplement vegetables with sale vegetables. For example, my recipe may call for bell peppers but sweet peppers are usually less expensive (and honestly, I can’t taste the difference). So, sweet peppers it is! It’s also a good idea to use the same vegetables in most of your dinners. This way instead of buying a different vegetable for every night, you buy the same vegetables at the sale price and eat them all week.

You can use this handy Free Printable Meal Planning Worksheet! to help!

SKIP FRESH PRODUCE

Okay, I know I just said to buy produce on sale, but a lot of times frozen produce is actually cheaper. Not only is it usually cheaper, often it’s even better for you! This is because the produce is picked at its peak and then frozen. Giving you all the nutrients without the expense!

MEAT

Once you find what meat is on sale, it pays to buy it in bulk and freeze what you’re not using during the week. You can find more tips on buying meat in bulk here.

Another way to save on meat is to eat less of it. Instead of making meat the star of the show use it as an add-in. Instead of pot roast, make beef stew heavy on the veggies. Or add beans into your taco meat to make it stretch. Our family even has “Meatless Mondays.”

QUICK SALE!

You may have seen items in your grocery store with a sticker that says, “manager’s special,” or “marked for quick sale.” Pay very close attention to this! These items are usually close to the expiration date or need to be moved for shelf space. Don’t be afraid to purchase these products! This is a great way to save money on groceries. Common places to spot these stickers are the meat department and bakery. Even if it’s about to expire you can store it in the freezer until you are ready to use it. Just last week our bakery had quick sale bread for $0.58! Our local grocery store has even done this with wine!

STOP FOOD WASTE

We live in a very privileged time and society. Food is abundant and most of will never know true hunger. While this is something to be grateful for it has also caused us to take food for granted. Every time food is thrown in the trash your money is being thrown out too. There are a few ways to solve this problem.

Serve less food. Something I have found to be effective is actually put less food on my family’s plates. If they want more, they are more than welcome to a second helping; but I found that often they are satisfied with what they have and throw less in the trash. (Okay this works for everyone except my two-year-old. Toddlers.. am I right?)

Freeze your leftovers. Just like you would make ahead and freeze dinners, do the same with your leftovers. Once everyone is finished eating, put enough leftovers for the next day in the refrigerator (because let’s be honest, usually if it hasn’t been eaten within 24 hours it’s getting thrown out). Whatever is left can be frozen in single serving portions for a quick meal for one!

Get creative with leftovers. Another way to eliminate food waste is to re-purpose your leftovers. Our family likes to do a pizza night every Friday. It’s a great opportunity to use leftover produce, meat, and cheese before it goes to waste.

REBATE APPS

One of my favorite rebate apps is Ibotta! It’s super easy to use. You just download the app pick your stores, scan your purchases, snap a picture of your receipt and your account is credited. The best part is that you can cash out for gift cards or even have the money deposited directly into your PayPal account!

Another great app is the Walmart savings catcher app. I love that it does the work of comparing lower prices for you. Just snap a picture of your receipt and you’re done! Then you can use your refund on your next Walmart shopping trip.

ALDI, ALDI, ALDI!

Yes, Aldi! My favorite place to grocery shop. You just can’t beat Aldi deals on the essentials. Milk, eggs, butter, and pantry staples are always the lowest price at Aldi. (I have never even seen a gallon of milk cost more than $1.90 at our Aldi!) Even their generic products are high quality. And don’t even get me started on their Little Journeys baby line! The small store is becoming a big hit. I could probably do a whole post about everything there is to love about it (and I probably will).

A couple of things to know about shopping at Aldi:

  • Aldi does not accept store coupons. So if you plan on purchasing a name brand product. Go someplace else where you can use a coupon.
  • You have to bag your own groceries. You also need to bring your own bags or you can purchase bags at Aldi. Don’t worry, once you see your receipt this won’t seem like such a pain.
  • Don’t forget a quarter! In order to use a cart at Aldi, you need to insert a quarter. Don’t worry, you’ll get it back once you return your cart!

I LOVE learning new ways to save at the grocery store. If you have your own tips I’d love to read about them in the comments!

How to Save Time and Money with Your Freezer

Have you seen those post?  You know the ones. MAKE 30 MEALS IN ONE DAY AND SAVE MONEY! It sounds great, doesn’t it? Spend one day cooking and have a month’s worth of dinners in your freezer ready to go. And since you have all this food, you won’t be tempted to eat out all the time! Sounds awesome, right? While I think this idea is wonderful for busy families who are trying to save time and money, I had a few issues with it.

First, in order to have everything you need to make these meals you’re not able to cook based on sales. So sure you’ll save money by not eating out but not necessarily on your grocery bill. Second, most of these meals require a slow cooker. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my slow cooker! but I’ll admit I get a little bit tired of slow cooker meals after a while. Lastly, THIS IS SO MUCH WORK!!! I know it’s only one day BUT, I attempted to do this before my first daughter was born and after about seven meals, I tapped out.

So if you’re looking for something a little less extreme, please continue reading.

BUY IN BULK

It never fails. Some of the most expensive items on the grocery list are always meat. And if you’re a meat lover like me, you can’t avoid buying it. So the first thing we need to discuss is buying meat in bulk! I know you’re probably thinking, “I’ve already tried to buy meat in bulk but I never use all of the meat in the package. It ends up getting thrown away or sitting in the freezer getting freezer burnt.” Yes, I understand. I have committed the crime of throwing pounds and pounds of freezer burned chicken in the garbage. But I promise there is a better way.

When meat goes on sale, buy it in bulk. Then when you get home COOK it. I’m not kidding that is my secret. As soon as we get home from the store, we put away the groceries and either grill or bake all the chicken. Then I’ll put a couple of breasts in the refrigerator to use in recipes for the week and the rest will go into freezer bags and into the freezer. Why is this more effective than just freezing raw chicken? Because, now, I am stocked up with chicken that I purchased for a low price AND since it is already cooked it will save me time. Therefore, I am more likely to use it. 

This method also works with other types of meat. For example, you can buy ground beef in bulk and make and freeze hamburger patties and meatballs. Or, simply brown the meat and place enough for one recipe in each freezer bag.

PRODUCE

Produce can be another easy way to lose money. This is mostly because a lot of it gets wasted. To prevent this it’s a good idea to freeze produce before it goes bad. The best way to do this is by flash freezing. Flash freeze your produce by cutting it up then laying it on a sheet pan lined with parchment or freezer paper. Pop it in the freezer for about 2 hours then place the food in a freezer bag. Frozen fruit is great for smoothies or just a nice cold snack on a hot day!

DOUBLE DUTY

This next method might seem obvious but maybe you have never tried it. Instead of making one meal, make two. One for now and one for later! For example, lasagna is a lot of work to make. But it doesn’t take any more time or energy to make two lasagnas at the same time. Just simply double the recipe. Then place one lasagna in the oven and the other in the freezer! Then, in a few weeks when you’re ready for another lasagna night, simply thaw the frozen lasagna in the refrigerator overnight and bake it for dinner the next day.

Worried about losing all your dishes to the freezer?

Try this! line your dish with heavy-duty aluminum foil before placing the meal in the dish. Freeze for 2 hours. Then lift the foil and the meal out of the dish. Wrap with clear plastic wrap, label it and place it in the freezer to be consumed at a later date (see photos below).

 

Take a Walk

Not sure what will keep well in the freezer? No problem! Just take a walk up and down the freezer aisle. Odds are, if you can find it in the freezer section, you can probably make it yourself and freeze it too.

Do you have a favorite meal or ingredient that you like to freeze? Tell me about it in the comments!