Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How do you save money?

We have been trying really hard to stick to our monthly budget (which we usually do pretty well!) so that we can have a nice lump of money left over every month to pay off my pesky school loan. We want to be debt free but the house (and then tackle it - big dreams). We don't have any car payments or credit card debt but that school loan is just eating away at me. It isn't very much. I didn't go to an expensive school. But it is taking time to completely cut it out.

On my account they have my loan broken into Part A and Part B. Not sure why. Same interest rate and maturity date, but they do. Last week I was able to write a check to completely pay off Part B. Yay! We are getting very close to being able to get rid of Part A also.

So as I look at my budget I am trying to figure out where we can cut and save money. We use the envelope system to make us stay in budget on a few categories (clothing for example). There are some things that will always be there and will not change: Mortgage Payment, Cell Phone, Water, Electric, Phone/Internet, Gas, Life Insurance, etc. So I have to leave them as is.

So I started looking at cutting in a few other groups.

First up: Baby Items.

In this group I have Formula, Diapers, Wipes, Puffs, Sippy Cups, Pacis, and other miscellaneous items. As much as I would love to switch to a generic brand of formula I can't. Well, I might be able to but I am too terrified. After trying multiple name brand and generic brands while going through the first few dark months (as I call them) we finally had a happy baby with the mix of GoodStart and the Levsin. Not going to mess with that now! I now try to stock up when I find it on sale and trade my neighbor Similac Checks for her GoodStart Checks. Works out well when they are generous enough to send them out.

Next I started to look at diapers and wipes. I am a Huggies mom all the way. But a couple of weeks ago I decided to try the Target Up & Up brand. I have heard mixed reviews. I bought a small package of those and a small package of the unscented wipes. So far we have had no leaks or blow outs with the diapers and Andrew commented he likes the wipes better than any of the other b/c they come out of the container so easily. This is a place I can save!

By purchasing a months worth of Target Diapers instead of Huggies Diapers I saved $26.64. I am giving them a month before I decide if I am a full time Target Diaper mom or if I go back to the Huggies. I only saved $2.08 by purchasing the Target Wipes Refill, but they do come out easier. I will probably stick with them unless they break or fall apart. (I still use Huggies Overnights though - they hold 12 hours worth of liquid. I am not messing with the possibility of wet sheets.)

I also decided to try the Target brand puffs. I haven't seen reviews on these but I am willing to try. After all - it is just cereal that dissolves easily. Can it be that different? Colin will let me know. I will save $3.50 a month if those work out.

Next up: Grocery

I know I can do better on this. We are trying to curb our sporadic eating out and tyring to plan more. I cut coupons when I get them but they are always for products that end up being junk food. I don't ignore cereal, yogurt, milk, egg, ice cream, frozen vegetable, canned good coupons. A lot of the others products coupons are for end up tempting me or Andrew avoids them because of high sodium content. I usually cut them all just to have...you never know. It might end up free!

Some things on our grocery bill just won't change because of brand loyalty or wanting specific items to be organic. So I am going to try my hardest to meal plan and stick to it. Get the most out of what I buy. Use all the flour tortilla shells that week even if that means we have tacos one night and make quesadillas a few nights later. Incorporating a left over night (we aren't left over people so this one will be a hard one to stick to!).

These are the only things I have so far to help save some money everyday. I was curious as to what you and your family do so save money. Do you have any tips or tricks to keep you in check and help you stick to your budget? Please share!

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