Saving more of that green stuff.

Let's sit down and talk honest here for a few minutes. Honest like "money-honest." We don't make a lot of money. Jake works hard full-time and goes to school, while I am a full-time mom to our miss Hadi. I am graduated, so we are paying on my student loans without having the added income of me working. Sometimes thats tough. Sometimes I feel like I should find work, but I know that right now my place is to be with Hadley. So we have to get creative most months to make our life fit into the paycheck that we get. Some months are better than others, and some months we are better than others. But in an effort to remind myself to be better with money as we start off this new year, here is a list of the things we do to help make our money go a little bit further:

Freezer cooking:  My favorite way to buy groceries is to buy them all at the beginning of the month. I sit down and plan 12-15 meals, and then buy enough to make double of all of them. Then I have one big (or 2 sorta big) freezer cooking days when I buckle down and cook/put together as many meals as I can and freeze them to use throughout the month. Saves me a ton of money, a ton of time cooking during the month, and I have no wasted produce at the end of the month. Win-win-win. Most months I can get our months worth of groceries for under 125. And cheaper than that if I can buy the meat on sale.

Less meat, more veggies: Jake is a lover of meat, and I like it myself, so I can't go all vegetarian. It just doesn't work with our family. But I have found that if I cut the meat in half (sometimes even less than that) and double the veggies, the meal tastes just as good - if not better- and we are then eating healthier and saving money. Win-win.

Drink water! This one is not a sacrifice for me, because water is my most favorite drink. I have hated soda/carbonation since I was little, so not getting drinks when we go out isn't a problem for me (We are working on getting Jake there...). But we sure save a whole lot of money just from me not getting drinks and choosing water instead. Plus, it's healthier!

Do it myself- Pinterest has made this one much easier. I try and make as many things myself rather than going out and buying it new. I usually like the end result better, and it cuts out a bunch of unnecessary money. And then I get the pleasure of seeing something I made with my hands, and also teaching my kids different skills.

DIY Laundry Soap: This goes along with the previous one, but making our own laundry soap saves so much money. My sister and I make up two batches at a time and it lasts us months. And since we don't have to buy the ingredients each time we make it, sometimes it's totally free when we do. I love it. Smells good, cleans well - what more do could you need?

Cloth Diapers: We are still using them, and still loving them. I love not having to worry about buying diapers each month. I stress about enough things, so it's nice to check a few things off the list. Next step is combining this and the "do it myself" and make my own cloth diapers. Now to find the time to do it...

Buy it used: KSL is a lifesaver for this one. And I also love shopping at kid-to-kid and Plato's Closet when it comes to clothes. I've gotten into a habit of always checking those types of places before going and spending full price on something because you can generally just as get for half the price. And if I am going to buy it new, I try and go for the clearance first. Also, have you ever bought used books off of Amazon? Because you can get them for a penny. $0.01! Plus shipping of course, but still, 3.99 for a 12 dollar book? I'll take it.

Home Sweet Home: We live in an older apartment, in a not so "pretty" neighborhood. We have ugly off-white walls, a blue counter top, and a kitchen floor that never looks clean no matter how hard you scrub it. Sure, there are plenty of things I would change about where we live, but we get an amazing deal on it and we are able to save so much money out of our budget because of it. We have learned to be happy with things that aren't the newest and best because we have seen how happy we can be with it. I can't wait to one day own a home and live in a beautiful neighborhood, but I also want to have the experience to teach our kids that newer isn't always better.

Date nights at home: We are terrible at having weekly date nights. Monthly ones, even. There just usually isn't the extra money to allow it and so we have to get creative about the time we spend at home. I prefer it this way though, to be honest. Going out once in a while is wonderful (and needed), but I love just sitting down and watching a show on Netflix, or playing board games once Hadley is in bed. I don't have the stress of wondering the whole time if Hadley is okay/is she being good for them?/is she eating anything other than cheese? Less pressure, more relaxing. Also, this website also has awesome ideas for dates to plan at home, for free or cheap!

The Envelope System- Using cash, and knowing exactly where all your money is going. Dave Ramsey people, check.him.out. You won't be sorry.

Pay tithing: Giving back in gratitude for what I have been given just makes sense to me. We have never had a month where we have paid tithing and not had things work out. We've got a Heavenly Father watching our backs, thats for sure.

Give thanks for what you have when you feel like you want more: It's easy for me to get caught up in all the things we want, on top of the things that we need. We see friends who seem to have so much more than we do, and we want to be the same. But I am quickly humbled when I take a step back and realize how very, very, very much we have been blessed. Our time will come, but for now, we just got to take it one grateful and faith-filled step at a time.

What about you? What tips do you have on how to save money?


Lesa said...

I love this post!! I'm going to have to remember all the great points you made because they're all things I need to work on!!

One of the BIGGEST things for us it to stop eating out. Period. It adds up so quickly and all you get is one meal for $20 or so. That could be a few meals worth at home!!

Dave and Lizzie said...

Ooooh... I so so love this post. We are in a similar boat trying to find ways to save money. One thing we do when we really want to eat out is we go to Cafe Rio and split a burrito and the boys both get their free quesadillas (Kids 6 and under get a free small quesadilla when dining in). This way they whole family eats for $8, which is pretty good for eating out!

Carlie said...

Dani! You're like a super woman! I didn't realize you did all that stuff with the freezer meals! I wish I would have taken advantage of that and done it with you when I lived in Provo. I just started trying to freeze some meals and it really does help on time a lot!
My in-laws do the envelope system and they love it too.
If you need new cheap games to play for date night you should check out Monoply Deal at Barnes and Noble it was $5.95 and we get endless enjoyment out of it!

Sarah said...

Geez girl! I need to come do freezer meals with you! Where do you get your ideas for them???

And totally out of curiosity- do you like the clothe diapers? I don't know how I would feel about them. But, then again, I don't have kids. I would love to know how they all work cause I saw the diapers on the thirsties site and what not, but do you put the liners in? I am partially retarded. That's why I don't have kids yet ;)

Love ya girl! If you ever want a game night! We'll bring something and gladly stay in. We do it all the time!

Steph said...

We do a lot of that same stuff! It feels good to save money. I think even if came into a bunch of money :) I would probably always stick to some of my money saving ways how could I not it feels good to save money!

The Ferrons said...

I love this post! We are in the same boat a lot of the time. We were just talking about doing freezer meals and I have wanted to do the soap. Would you mind sharing some of the freezer meals you use?! Dani, you are such a great example! You are one of the mom's I look up to most! Thanks for the great posts!!

Kristin said...

I'm totally digging this post. I need to talk grocery budget with you sometime. Also, cloth diaper making, come OVER! Once my snaps come in it's going to be mayhem. :)