So you have money to do the things you really want!
It can be really hard to save money when you’re just trying to have enough for basic needs. Here are three tips to save money for families who want to have the money to spend on life experiences like travel. I hope these money-saving tips allow you to make memories with your family.
We don’t give it to the government
Seems a little ironic, right? While I’m patriotic to the US of A, the tax code should always be used to one’s advantage! FYI: It’s YOUR money. Since my husband is self-employed, we do our best to keep track of all business write-offs, everything from meals while he is away to our cell phone bill to mileage accrued.
It’s important to know what you’re able to write off and keep great records. We also get our taxes done by a CPA (Do not hire H& R Block, they will rip you off). Yes, it’s an investment up front, but they know the tax laws and they are able to package everything up for it. Your time is valuable. That said, if you have a small business, make sure you know if you need to be paying quarterly taxes. A huge bill come April is one definite way to get your budget off track.
Another way to save money on taxes is to consider the city where you purchase your home. Real estate taxes can take a huge chunk of money! If you’re planning to homeschool, or send your children to private school, consider living in a city or village with lower real estate taxes. So much of Ohio real estate taxes go to the School District. Is it worth paying the extra money if you don’t send your children there?
We were unclear about homeschooling before we bought our home (and we still are some days, Ha!), but it’s good to base your decision not only on what you can afford but the education you desire for your children. That said, don’t overpay in the area of real estate taxes.
Saving money on food
We need food to live (thanks, Captain Obvious), but more than that, food can control our budget! For our family, groceries are our highest monthly expense after our mortgage- and some months, the cost of groceries surpasses our mortgage! So making good choices with our spending on food is absolutely necessary! I’ve blogged before about shopping at Aldi and how we pay cash for groceries, but I wanted to go into a little more detail.
The easiest ways to save money on groceries are to only shop once per week (or once bi-weekly) and plan meals. I’m not organized enough to plan breakfast, lunch, and dinner so we stick to staples for breakfast like cereal, yogurt with granola, or Aldi’s frozen waffles). Lunch is typically PB & J or a cold meat sandwich, boxed Mac N Cheese, or Chicken Nuggets. I do plan most dinners (and yes, I even plan pizza nights, as I need to know if I have money in my envelopes).
I hate cooking, so planning meals helps not only save money – but sanity. I currently buy half of my groceries at ALDI and the other half at Kroger. Some ideas for quick and inexpensive meals- chicken & noodles, sale-priced meat with baked potato and salad, spaghetti and meatballs.
Some of my favorite recipes:
Chicken and vegetable pot pie from Real Simple (Tip: Use split chicken breasts. You’ll spend an extra 2 minutes pulling out the bones, but you’ll save about $1.50/lb on the chicken).
Pineapple pepper pork– Crockpot meal!
Green enchilada pork chili– It’s usually less expensive to use boneless chicken thighs. It tastes just the same!
Buy used instead of new
What do cribs, cars, and children’s clothes all have in common? We buy/bought them USED. I once bought a rocker on Craigslist for $20 and resold it 2 years later for the same $20! #winning
Places like Once Upon a Child can be a huge blessing because you can sell your clothing and toys to them and then use what they want to pay you as a credit towards things you need! This is perfect for growing kids that go through dress clothes and shoes so quickly!
Our local Volunteers of America also offers a once-a-month half-priced day! This is a great time to shop for children’s clothes. Think a season or a year ahead of time! What things will you need? I usually have an easy time finding great dress clothes, mesh shorts for boys, pajamas for both boys and girls, and sports bras and athletic tops for myself.
What have we bought used?
- Every single car
- Homeschooling curriculum
- Side tables
- 80% of our children’s clothing except for shoes and underwear
- Specialty children’s wear- Easter outfits, Christmas dress, snow boots. Most are worn very lightly and you’ll save 50% or more!
- Baby supplies – carrier, exersaucer, high chair
- Post-baby outfits. (i.e. clothes to after childbirth before your original clothes fit again)
Some things you have to avoid when buying used.
- Do not overbuy. Just because something is a great DEAL does not mean you NEED it. I don’t go to Goodwill/Thrift stores unless I’m specifically looking for an item, because I know I can be easily sucked in by a deal.
- Join a local buying/selling wall but ALWAYS meet at a public location. I will never pick-up or drop-off from someone’s home. Let a friend or spouse know what time and where you are meeting someone.
- Bargain. I’ve asked people to go lower on their price at yard sales, on selling walls, and even at Goodwill! If I see a small stain or pilling, I”ll ask for a discount. The best way to do this is at a yard sale. If you are buying 10 items and say they are about $1 each, say, “would you take these 10 items for $8?” As Mom always said, “The worst they can say is NO.”
I don’t think you can save yourself to wealth, you must work on your income as well. However, sometimes we need to start doing things the old-fashioned way, handling money like our grandmothers did.
What’s one way you save money? Have you thought about your tax rates before?? Are you a thrift shopper like me? I’d love to hear!