8 Obscure Money-Saving Ideas (that I’m Not Doing) from the Peaceful Mom

by Kim on December 11, 2012

Ever since we gave up our DINK status (double income, no kids) so I could stay home with Mason, I’ve been much more mindful about moolah, and much more interested in learning how to manage it better. In our house, Brent handles most of the bills, but I do most of the shopping. Since the bills are pretty static from month to month, this means that if we’re spending beyond our means at any given point, I assume it’s probably my fault.

I’m pretty good at things like following lists, buying generics, paying attention to sales, and noticing which stores sell things cheaper and when, but still, every time I’m checking out at a store, there’s an irritating little gremlin living in the back of my brain that will inevitably pop up and say, “you coulda done better.”

gremlin It’s the nice gremlin, too, not the mean one. Which makes it worse because he pulls the passive “I’m disappointed in you” thing, rather than giving me the full tongue-lashing, so I can’t even feel sorry for myself for undergoing a tongue-lashing.

Anyway, in my efforts to fight the gremlin, I’ve been extra attentive to anything I stumble across on the interwebs that has to do with money management.

I can’t help being drawn to stories of families who live (and live well) on crazy low amounts of money. For example, I’ve been reading Kimberlee of the Peaceful Mom’s series about how her family of 6 lives on a yearly income of $28,000.

Kimberlee has a ton of great tips for saving money and making a super restrictive budget work. A lot of her tips are ones I’ve heard before-like adjusting the thermostat, creating your weekly menu based on the grocery store’s current sales, and going to beauty schools for haircuts-but others are more obscure. She’s also a Christian, so “trust God” and “don’t worry” are on the list, which I like.

Anyway, I decided to jot down a few of her more unusual tips-many of which were completely new to me when I read this. Some of them (like #1!) are probably a bit too radical for me right now, but I like how Kimberlee’s not afraid to question the most basic of “needs.”

And the nominees are:

1. Only drink water. Kimberlee considers any (and I mean ANY) other beverage part of the “entertainment” category, rather than “groceries”-that includes coffee, tea, soda, alcohol, etc. I know, sounds drastic and scary-personally, I’m not really interested in parting with any of those right now!-but she’s right that nothing except water is truly essential, and I have a feeling it would make a noticeable difference in our monthly bills if we did this.

2. Record the lowest prices you’ve ever seen on easily freezable foods like meat and veggies. Of course, the idea is to stock up and freeze foods when they’re at their cheapest. But how many of us can actually recite the lowest prices on common foods? Writing them down forces us to actually learn those price points, so we can recognize good deals when we see them. Kimberlee says most stores follow an 8-12 week cycle for sale items, so you might see the lowest price every 2-3 months.

3. Set up a “Freedom Account” to handle irregular expenses. The idea is that you add up any expenses that aren’t monthly but hit you all at once, such as Christmas gifts, and divide the amount of money you’ll need for that by 12. Then, set aside that amount each month. I’m not sure I fully understand this idea, because aren’t there a lot of irregular expenses you wouldn’t be able to predict? But I like the idea of having a “miscellaneous” account that you can use to deal with all those random things that are never going to fall nicely into one of your budgeted categories.

4. Buy the Sunday newspaper. I know, PRINT IS DEAD. But you get gobs of coupons in those papers. And I know online coupon printing is all the rage these days, but I personally find it painful and overwhelming-maybe I just haven’t found the right site. (Kimberlee recommends Coupon Mom.)

baby The other great thing about paper vs. electronics is that it’s not such a big deal if you, uhhh, drop it in.

5. Cut down on your use of the dryer. Kimberlee hangs her laundry to dry and says it saves her at least $50 a month! If you’re not ready to go that far (hello!), she also recommends taking clothes out of the dryer before they go through the “cool down” cycle, to save electricity. I love hot, fresh-from-the-dryer clothes anyway, and (bonus!) skipping the cool-down can leave you with less wrinkly clothes.

6. Mindfully tweak your cooking habits by season. I think we all kind of do this naturally (we use the oven less in the summer and more in the winter, for example), but it’s even better to be truly mindful about it. I wonder if I could go all summer without turning on my oven? I’d still have the crockpot, grill, and microwave…

7. Never spend a $5 bill. Or make up some other kind of similar rule (like this one maybe). Anytime you find yourself with a fiver, stash it away for that vacation, or the inevitable ultra-traumatizing car repair, or whatever.

8. Clean out your pantry. This was actually a tip I saw in a comment from one of Kimberlee’s readers. The idea is to avoid accidentally re-buying things you already have. We’ve done this sooo many times-we actually have a running joke involving Parmesan cheese in our house because of this problem. I also love challenging myself to find creative ways to use up random things buried in the pantry or leftover in the fridge. Seriously, you should try it-it’s a total high. (Oops…I try to avoid revealing how lame my day-to-day life really is…fail!)

For more great info about how to live on less, I highly recommend checking out Kimberlee’s series, and her blog in general! I still have a looooot to learn (did you just read that “loot”? haha sorry), but it’s inspirational people like Kimberlee that help point me in the right direction.

Have you learned any new money-saving tips recently?

Do you do online coupon clipping?

If so, what’s your secret? (And teach me!)

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

lindsey December 12, 2012 at 10:21 am

I made my own laundry detergent back in August. I spent about $30 on everything and probably won’t need to buy more ‘ingredients’ until next August. Clothes still come out clean and fresh smelling :)

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Kim December 12, 2012 at 11:38 am

That’s awesome!! My mom tried that once and gave me some, and I wasn’t super in love with it, but maybe I would have liked a difference recipe better. I’m crazy picky about my laundry! :)

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