How I save money

The second thing people ask me the most when they find out I have 6 kids, 5 of them being boys, is how do you afford to feed all those kids? My boys can eat, I will tell you. We go through a lot of food at one time. So, here are some ways we save money.

1. Shop at Aldi. I love Aldi. It saves me about 40% on my grocery bill every week. The only thing about Aldi is that it doesn’t have everything you need all the time. Sometimes you go and they have a certain food item and then next week they don’t. Most of the time they stock pretty much the same stuff, but they also stock special stuff and they don’t carry it very long. And they don’t carry some “normal” stuff all the time, like green onions for example. It’s a no frills, cheap place to shop. The best part is they are starting to stock more organic and all natural products, which I love. We eat organic as much as possible.

2. Shop online. I do a lot of shopping online. It saves money and who wants to drag 6 kids around a store? So, here is how I save money online. First, sign up for Ebates. If you don’t know what that is, it’s an online rebate site. There are more than one out there, but I like Ebates because it has a lot of stores I frequent. So, you sign up for free and then before you shop online you go to Ebates and check to see if they store you would like to shop at is on their list. If so, you just click on the link to that store and shop away. Then you get a percentage back through Ebates. That’s it. It’s that simple. They send you a check every quarter. The next thing, is to regularly read blogs that troll the web for deals. The four blogs I read are moneysavingmom.com, junglestealsanddeals.com, southersavers.com, and totallytarget.com. The first one is a general saving website, the second is for Amazon.com, the third is one is local to the southeast where I live, and the fourth is for Target. So, I read these blogs every day or two and see what deals are out there for something I might need.

Amazon- I do a lot of shopping on Amazon. I save a good bit of money and it gets shipped to my door for free. Here are my tricks. First, I sign up for an Amazon Prime membership. It’s $99 per year and that gets you free shipping on every order, exclusive discounts and you can stream video as well, think Netflix. Then I look at junglestealsanddeals.com to see what items are on sale on Amazon right now. Then I buy five subscribe and save items listed on junglestealsanddeals each month. Why five? Well, because if you buy five items then you get 15% off. So, you find five items you need and subscribe to them. That means you are signing up to get them every month or whatever, but don’t worry there is no real committment here. You are signing up for these because they give you a discount to do so and they have coupons for you first order. So, once the items come to your door you unsubscribe. For example, last month I bought toilet paper, paper towels, baby wipes, diapers and deodorant. I bought those things because we use them and there were coupons for them. As soon as they were shipped I unsubscribed. Then, if I need something else this month I will subscribe for that thing. This month I am actually taking off, because we don’t need anything and we will be using down our stock pile I have accumulated over the past two months. You get large quantities with subscribe and save, but not so large the average family can’t use it.

Target- Target has a lot of ways to save. The key to Target is to stack up the various ways to save to make an even better deal. First you need to sign up for a Redcard. It’s a credit or debit card that saves you 5% every time you use it. Then you go to totallytarget.com and see if there is anything you need on sale. There is an app for your ipad or iphone called Cartwheel which has ecoupons for target. You can sign up for that as well, it’s free. Then you take your device with you to the store and have them scan the ecoupon and save. You cannot use Cartwheel online, only in store. I usually combine my Redcard with a sale item and also go through Ebates to save more.

3. Use rebate apps. Ibotta, Checkout 51 and Savingstar are all rebate apps you can load on your mobile device to save money. Each of these will post items you can buy at certain stores and then you scan the item when you buy it and take a photo of your receipt and it gives you a rebate. Once your rebates total a certain amount they will send you a check or gift card. I like Ibotta the most because it has generic items like eggs or milk and not certain brands. However, you have to shop at certain stores and Aldi is not one of them. But Walmart and Target are. Checkout 51 has fewer items that are generic but you can shop at any store even Aldi. I have earned about $20 in two with these. Not bad, for buying stuff I would have already been buying.

4. Swagbucks. Swagbucks.com is a website that you can earn points for searching online and do little quizzes and tasks. Each swagbuck is worth about a penny. So, when you earn 500 swagbucks or more you can redeem them for gift cards to major stores like Target. I made swagbucks my default search engine so whenever I search something every so often I get the message that I have earned 6 or so swagbucks. It takes a while to earn a lot but I have earned about 2000 swagbucks in about three months now. That’s not bad.

5. Ask yourself before you buy anything if you really need it. I do this when I am shopping for most anything. It keeps you from buying impulsive stuff and stuff you really don’t need.

6. Make a budget and stick to it. My husband is the king of spreadsheets, love you honey, and I am not. He has a handy-dandy spreadsheet that he loves to use to track our spending. It used to drive me nuts because I am not a details person but because of that spreadsheet we have worked hard saving money and are doing some cool stuff like going to Disney this winter, so I have made my peace with the spreadsheet.

7. Have a low house payment. Our house payment is really low. We were approved for a much larger house payment when we bought this house, but we didn’t feel comfortable with it and I am glad we didn’t. If something happened and Glenn lost his job we wouldn’t have to worry about losing the house and that feels good. We are also saving a lot per month that we couldn’t save if we had a larger house payment. The tradeoff is we don’t have a large house. Our house is three bedrooms and 2 baths with 1500 square feet and we are 8 people. That is very un-American to have that many people in that small of a house, but it works. We will eventually move to a slightly larger house, but we will still not have a large house payment.

8. “If you have to buy it on credit, you can’t afford it”. I didn’t say that, that’s Dave Ramsey, but I live by it. We do not use credit cards except in an emergency. We have had credit card debt and it is crippling. I don’t ever want it again. It’s all about saving up for what you know you will need and sticking with what you have until you can afford what you want. That is not easy, but it’s going to make our financial future much brighter.

9. Stay home. People are always in the car. It’s expensive to be in the car driving from here to there and doing this activity and that. Stay home more. It’s cheaper and better for you.

10. Don’t compare yourself to others. Muffy McSpendsalot with the nice car and big house, has a nice car payment and a huge mortgage and if they run into financial trouble they will be in big trouble. Don’t look at them. Go for financial peace by having less and saving more.

11. Tithe and be generous. The Bible is really clear about testing God with finances. Tithe every month and give as much as you can and then give some more. I could tell a hundred stories just from my own life of God honoring giving by giving more than I could ever have imagined. Trust me. Try it for yourself.

12. Make casseroles and don’t eat out. We spend $700 a month on food and feed our family of 8 including 5 boys who eat a ton! Most of what we eat is organic. We have a very strict eating out budget and we don’t take the kids out to eat ever. The eating out is just for dates for Glenn and I. I tell the boys that meat is a side dish, not the main course. We eat a lot of casseroles because then you can use just one pound or less of meat and feed everyone. We also eat a lot of meatless meals. I limit snacks they can have and we drink a lot of water. I also always have an emergency, I forgot to turn on the crockpot, I don’t feel like cooking meal. I keep jarred spaghetti sauce and pasta in the pantry and there you go. Make a monthly calender of meals and stick to it. Then make a grocery list and stick to that when you shop. You will save money, I promise. It’s boring, I know, but it’s cheap.

13. Make your own cleaning products and use cloth diapers. I make all my own cleaning products, not that hard. And I use cloth diapers while at home. When I am out and about I use disposable.

14. Buy less clothing. My kids have about 5 pairs of pants and 7 shirts each. Then they have two Sunday outfits each. One swim suite and three pairs of pajamas. That’s it. You really don’t need as many clothes and you think you do. I also buy most of that stuff at Goodwill or on sale, or they are hand me downs.

Those are a few ways I save money. What ways do you save money?

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