It’s time for another frugal entry. Here are just a few money-saving tricks I use, and some of them not only save you green, they also let you BE green:
1. We just moved, and I didn’t pay a cent for moving boxes (and we needed a lot of them). I asked for free ones at our local Panera Bread, and they were very happy to give them to me. When we moved from Los Angeles to New York two years ago, I did the same thing at my local Starbucks.
2. I always use those free store rewards cards from grocery stores and pharmacy chains, and I use coupons. I try to only buy the products I have the coupons for when they are also on sale — that adds up to incredible savings. Sometimes the product is free that way. I saved close to $1,000 in two years, and that was just at the A&P!
3. A lot of people don’t know that Target takes coupons. They will take up to one of their coupons plus another manufacturer’s coupon per item.I find that their food prices are lower than supermarket prices on a lot of items. I also use the coupons Target sends me. And here is a link to the Target coupon site. Just pick the ones you need and print them out — instant gratification!
4. There is no need to shell out a lot of money to entertain your child — find out about the kids’ programs at your local library and find free events in the free parenting magazines in your area.
5. I buy cards, gift wrapping paper, toilet brushes, sponges, etc. at dollar stores. You can’t beat their price for those items. I have scored beautiful silk pillow covers, Gund plush toys, and Filofaxes there. If you are spending more than a dollar on a great calendar these days, you are wasting your hard-earned money. Another tip: use the comic pages of your newspaper to wrap gifts! It’s colorful and I always get a great reaction when I do that.
6. Check out Freecycle.org for free items someone else wants to get rid of. Craigslist.org also has a free section, or you can get used things on there for very cheap. I have also sold a few items through Craislist, and I don’t have to worry about shipping them since the people who want them are local and pick them up.
7. Buy generic brands instead of the brand items. Different package — same item inside. Before your doctor writes you a prescription, make sure he or she writes it for the generic drug. Also, ask for the stronger prescription and cut the pills in half — it’s the same strength in the end, yet insurance companies often make you pay more for the lower-dose pills.
8. I go to VistaPrint.com for all my printing needs — I love them. They offer a lot of free products — cards, stamps, business cards, sticky notes, calendars, etc. I have free rubber stamps from them and used to get my 10 beautiful, personalized Christmas cards there (with envelopes) for our closest family members — everyone else gets pretty cards I bought at the dollar store (10 for a dollar!). It seems like they might not offer free cards anymore, though. Every year, I make my parents (they live in Germany) a beautiful calendar with recent pictures of L at Vistaprint. I get everything done in one order and save on shipping costs that way.
9. Breastfeed! :) Can you imagine how much I saved in formula and food costs in three years? I am going to let L self-wean because of the amazing health benefits from breastfeeding for him AND me, so the savings are secondary, but they are a welcome side effect!
10. Buy affordable, multi-functional furniture pieces that can be made smaller or bigger. I love Ikea, so we have a lot of Ikea furniture. There might be nicer furniture around, but with a 3-year-old in the house, you can’t beat the price of Ikea furniture, plus I don’t have to stress if something gets scratched or dinged up. If you go shopping at Ikea, you HAVE to eat breakfast or lunch there, it’s such a steal for a nice meal. Plus you can leave older kids in the playroom while you can shop in peace.
11. I love the dollar/2.50 station at Target. I avoid the toys made in China, but I like the storage gizmo for shoes that you hang on the door. You can use those to organize all kinds of things — we have one in the hallway closet for scarves and hats and one in L’s room for little toys. Super functional.
12. I only buy batteries from the Target dollar station or the dollar store — you can’t beat getting four for a buck. Landon’s Thomas train seems to need another battery every day — I’d be in the poorhouse by now if I bought batteries at their regular price. Better yet, invest in re-chargeable batteries. And make sure you collect and recycle batteries! They DO NOT belong in the trash! Find out from your town where and when you can drop them off. Or bring them to Ikea — they have a recycling program for batteries and other things.
13. Save cardboard, address stickers, and toilet paper rolls for fun, free, green art and craft projects. I have a box full of those free address stickers. I cut off the address and let L play with the pretty little pictures.
14. Before I go shopping at stores like the Children’s Place, Borders, or The Body Shop, I go online and find and print out coupons for the stores. I can always find one with at least 10 if not 20 percent off.
These 14 tips should save you some nice green!
Leave a comment and add to this list! What do you do to save money and be green?