Monday, February 3, 2014

100 Ways You Can Save Money This Year

  Most people I know (me included) like to figure out ways ways to save money. There are lots of reasons for this, some simply don't have have any other options as they are struggling to make ends meet. Others like to learn how to save in some areas so they have some splurging money for other areas. Some people like to learn how to save some money so they can be free to give more. Others might have some big goal that they want to build up their bank account for. Whatever the reason that you want to save I thought you might find this list of ideas helpful.

I know that I have been blessed by others sharing their ideas on blogs. Sometimes I don't learn anything new but still it is fun to hear that others do the same things that we do - but other times there is a new idea and it is fun to learn something. Of course we are all different and I don't use every idea that I see but sometimes I do find a jewel that becomes a part of our life.

Below I have shared more than 100 ideas that we have used in our lives to save money. We might not do all of them 100% of the time but every little bit helps. Some will help you save a lot of money and some just a little - but again - every little bit will add up. I hope you might find something in here that will help you in your life.

For the Family
  ~ Do home haircuts. It doesn't have to be complicated and it sure saves a lot of money.

  ~ Be the family photographer (read up on how to take good pictures) or find a friend or relative that is willing to do it for fun. My sister or other friends take our family pictures and I like them better than if we would have gone to a studio and spent money on them.

  ~Taking care of our health and for the most part taking care of our medical needs.

 ~Create your own alternatives to expensive involvement in organized sports. We have created our own summer baseball get-togethers rather than put our boys in baseball. It saves us money and has also ended up being a very fun FAMILY activity -rather than taking one child at a time to do his sport.

 ~Avoid daycare. We have done this by me being a stay at home/work at home mom. Also we have chosen to just not to leave our kids very often. When we do, my parents generally watch them and now I can actually leave my oldest kids in charge. However if we didn't have parents or older kids around I think I would try to figure out friends to swap childcare with for that occasional outing.

For the Home

  ~Decorate using items that you collect from the great outdoors. In the Winter you can find evergreens, pine cones, logs, etc and in the Summer fresh flowers (wild or garden grown) can beatify your home. Rocks, feathers, moss, grasses and much more can be used to make your home beautiful.

  ~Learn how to do many of your own repairs. There are books (you can check them out free from the library)  and YouTube videos that can teach you many things and you can also possibly get advice from friends.

  ~ Scrub sinks and toilets with baking soda instead of expensive products with questionable chemicals.

~ Wash windows with vinegar mixed with water. Add some Tea tree oil to this and use it for other cleaning as well.

~ Make and use cloth napkins.

 ~Make your own rag rugs to use around the house.(Crochet, braided, woven or sewn.)

~Cut up old clothes (like 100% cotton t-shirts, socks and flannel shirts) into rags and use them instead of buying paper towels.

 ~Wash and reuse plastic food bags. I do this with bread bags and ziplock bags. I do not resuse any that have had meat in them. It isn't hard to do.

 ~Be patient, put out the word and check out all sorts of options when looking for furniture. There are great deals to be had at times but they can sometimes be hard to find.

~ When having a special meal that you want to decorate for there are all sorts of fun ideas where you can use what you already have to make a centerpiece. Check out this idea with books and branches.

 ~Use your children's art for decorating.

~Learn to recover chairs. It isn't all that hard and can really update a room's look without a huge investment. Here are some posts about that: Cushions for a Rocking Chair,

A dress that Megan and I made for her this past summer.


  ~Shop at second hand stores. Lots of nice clothes can be found at greatly reduced prices. You also have the benefit of being able to tell if a sweater will develop pills right away upon being washed and other things like that.

  ~Say "Yes, Thank you" when someone offers you a bag of hand-me-downs. Use what you can and remake, repurpose or pass on what doesn't work for you.

  ~Think creatively about the clothes you already have in your closet and develop "New" outfits.

  ~Keep some clothes that are old to use for times you need to paint or do something else really dirty so that you don't wreck good clothes.

 ~Have a system with your shoes where you wear new ones for going places ("good"), old ones for time at home or outside and really old ones for mowing or gardening and things like that. The good ones will stay good for quite a long while if you follow this system.

  ~Mend. We can really stretch the life of jeans, socks, shoes - about anything when we are willing to do a little mending.

~Make your own underwear.

  ~ Polish your shoes to make them look better and keep them lasting longer.

  ~Attend or host a clothing swap. A way for everybody to get "new" clothes without spending money. Also it is a great way to declutter.

  ~Try to buy things that you really like, are good quality and will last for a while. In other words be picky (when you are buying but not when somebody gives you something) and buy less and not very often.

~If you have children in diapers - why not give cloth diapering a try?

~Learn to sew. This is especially helpful for us in making modest dresses and skirts.

Food and Drink

  ~ Buy in bulk. This saves money in many instances. Check out how I buy cheese in bulk here.

  ~ Don't waste your leftovers. We usually eat them for lunch or we have them for a "buffet" for one of our weekend meals or I freeze them for later.

  ~Drink water! This is not the only thing we drink (we do like to have milk, herbal tea, coffee for Ken and juice very occasionally) but it is our main drink. We don't need the other drinks as a general rule - we just like them. Water is good for you and free (just don't buy bottled water).

  ~Stretch your meat. We do enjoy a steak (from our grass fed- naturally raised beef) every so often. In fact Ken and I and some of our kids are rather fond of meat. But even with that I am often able to stretch little bits of meat to work for a whole meal for the 6 of us. There are lots of meals (casseroles, biscuits and gravy, soup, etc) that can use just a little meat but still be very filling and satisfying. Meat - especially good meat does tend to be expensive and cutting back the amount you use for a meal can help to save quite a bit of money.

  ~Find places to glean in your area. We do this regularly with potatoes but I have heard of others doing this with fruit and other things.

  ~ Learn how to find and eat wild foods.

 ~Cook from scratch instead of buying packaged foods.

 ~Make your own dressings, mayonnaise, BBQ sauce and more.

 ~Make broth from meat bones and then make nourishing soups from that.

 ~Grow much of your own food. Can, freeze, dry and use cold storage to save some of it for winter.

 ~Grow Sprouts.

  ~ Try to only shop around once a month. The less you go the less you have a chance to buy impulse items.

 ~Don't buy cereal for breakfasts. Making oatmeal, cornmeal mush, pancakes and such like are cheaper and better for you. They also don't really take that long!

 ~Get a grinder (this is a rather expensive initial step) and then buy wheat in bulk and grind your own flour. Much better for you and pretty inexpensive. We buy our wheat from a local grain elevator which is by far the cheapest wheat that I have found.

 ~Raise your own bees in order to have honey for sweetener at a much reduced cost. There is again a somewhat expensive start up with this but I was able to quickly make up that expense. However I do know that we have been very blessed in bee keeping and not everybody has the same results. It has been a worthwhile endeavor for me both financially as well as for our health and learning.

  ~Make and eat soup regularly. These can be extremely delicious and extremely economical. Look around for recipes (avoid ones that call for expensive ingredients) and give it a try.

  ~Avoid going out to eat as much as possible. You can make meals much, much cheaper than going out to eat especially when you are feeding a whole family. Eating at home is generally healthier too (which saves money in the long run).

 ~Find a farmer in your area that raises good meat and buy straight from him. This is how we get our beef for the year. It is good quality meat and cheaper than the grocery store.

~When you buy your good natural beef ask for the tallow too and then process it to use for cooking and baking.

~Grow and learn about herbs. Dry them to use for tea and seasoning your cooking.

~Save energy while cooking your food. Here is one method.

~We pack lunches for Ken to take to work. This saves a lot of money each and every week.
An End of Summer Party at our house - Playing a Game

Having Fun

  ~Bike riding it a great way to have fun and as long as you already have a bike the cost is pretty much nothing - not even any fuel expense. Our family likes to take day trips or even camping trips on bikes. Packing a picnic to eat while you are out is nice. You can use bikes instead of your vehicle quite often if you want.

~Be an active part of a church and attend services and other events.

  ~Go sledding. If you don't have sleds you can make do with big pieces of cardboard or old political signs.

  ~Play games. Our family does this a lot. If you don't have games already you can often find them second hand and also they make great gifts for one another. We enjoy inviting others over sometimes and have a game night party.

  ~Save empty squirt bottles (like ketchup) and use them to have water fights.

 ~Attend free community events.

 ~Trade in old books for new ones. We have a used bookstore in town that allows us to bring in books and then they give us store credit to use on other books. We don't get a one for one trade but it is pretty nice.

~If you are a blogger - check out Booksneeze, a company that lets you review books. It is a fun and easy way to get new books for your collection - for free.

~Host parties. Now I know that doesn't sound all that money saving but if you think outside the box and creatively use what you already have you can have really fun parties (for you and the guests) that cost basically nothing. Today for example we invited a bunch of people over for the super bowl and to play games and we served economical things like homemade chili, homemade pies and other homemade treats. I used economical ingredients that we already had one hand. Here is a post about a fun Musical Christmas Tea that we had.

~ Make music together. Singing around the piano or jam sessions with all the instruments can be a lot of fun.

Birthdays and Holidays

 ~Re-think gift giving. Try not to just buy because you feel you need to but rather think it through very carefully, possibly give a little less, give hand-made, give used things, give consumable things and don't be stressed by the whole process.

 ~ Allow yourself to choose not to have big birthday parties if they are to much for you. We have chosen to never have that big traditional party with a bunch of friends. We do have fun on birthdays and generally we do have some extended family over but we do not have that traditional party which generally costs quite a lot of money. Here is a post with more detailed thoughts on this. Here is a post with lots of ideas for more frugal birthday parties.

~We choose to keep our Christmas simple and only exchange gifts with our immediate family and have a rule that everything has to fit in a stocking.

~Learn to do your own cake making and decorating. My kids usually love to help with this and come up with ideas. You don't have to be great with frosting (I am not!) but use candy, coconut, nuts and such to help with the decorating. You can also wash up little toys to put on top. You can also have creative shapes which makes it more interesting. I have found that kids really aren't that particular but enjoy something that is a little special.

~Make holidays special by using things you already have. Here is a post with lots of tips for having a frugal Valentine's Day.

~Wrap your presents with recycled materials. It is a lot of fun to get creative!


  ~Take camping equipment and sleep that way instead of in motels. Very fun and saves a lot of money usually. We don't always do this but we enjoy it when we do.

  ~Pack food and water bottles for eating and drinking while traveling.

 ~ Learn to pack lightly so that when traveling by plane you can just use your carry on bags and avoid the baggage charge.

 ~Plan ahead and look around online for deals for rooms, tickets and activities.

    ~Make homemade laundry soap.

    ~Hang clothes on the line.

    ~Skip using fabric softener or dryer sheets. They really aren't necessary when you hang clothes on the line (for avoiding static) nor do you really need them as long as you don't let your clothes over dry.

    ~Re-wear clothes if they aren't dirty. This really reduces the amount of laundry that you need to do which does save money. Wear aprons/bibs to keep your clothes clean as well.


   ~Use non-consumable textbooks (like Saxon Math) which each child can use throughout the years.

  ~Make use of the library and all it's resources.

  ~Buy used books or take advantage of ones that are offered to you for free.

  ~Realize that a lot of learning can take place just by living and without the need of expensive curriculum.

  ~Stock up on notebooks and other supplies when stores have really cheap sales in the fall.

~When you travel think about educational places that you can stop at on the way. Historical markers and things like that can be very educational.


    ~Make a compost bin from old pallets (which you can generally get free for the asking from places like lumberyards) and then compost your kitchen scraps and such to build up your garden soil and get better results.

  ~Save your seeds for next year (make sure you use heirloom seeds).

  ~For the seeds you do need to buy, we have found Fedco seeds to save us quite a bit of money. They are not genetically modified, are good for our northern growing season often and they cost much less that most I can find at the store or in other catalogs. They also tend to share their politics in their catalog and I don't agree with them but I like their product.

 ~ Start your own seedlings inside. We start tomatoes and peppers and quite a few other odds and ends inside sometime in March or April usually and then they get planted outside in May or June.

  ~Grow things like tomatoes, lettuce and green onions inside throughout the winter for fresh veggies.

 ~Use newspapers for mulch between your rows (I cover them with weeds I pull to add to the mulch and to keep them from blowing away). They are free, they help to keep the soil from drying out, they prevent weeds from growing there and then they decompose and turn into dirt. I find it an easy and good method.

Toothpaste that we made.

Personal Products

   ~Make your own deodorant. Here is how I make mine and here is another post I found with links to 6 different recipes.

  ~Stop using Shampoo and Conditioner and use baking soda and apple cider vinegar instead.

  ~Make your own lip balm.

 ~Make your own lotion.

 ~Use a Diva cup and /or cloth pads for your monthly cycle.

 ~Make your own soap.

 ~ Use bar soap instead of soft soap. It is quite a bit cheaper and doesn't have Sodium Laurel Sulphate in it either.

  ~ Make your own toothpaste or use baking soda.

 ~Use handkerchiefs instead of Kleenex.

Office and Crafts

  ~Make envelopes from old calendar pages and magazines.

 ~Make your own greeting cards.

 ~Use #6 plastic containers and recycle them into fun jewelry by cutting, designing and shrinking.

~Save things like buttons, zippers, elastic and more from worn out clothes to use on your new sewing projects. These little notions really add up so having used ones really saves money. You can also often find notions at 2nd hand stores and garage sales and they are still in their original packaging but for just a fraction of the original cost.

~Use old candles to make new ones.

Lifestyle changes

~Have "no buying" sprees. Choose a length of time say a week , a month, a year and decide not to buy anything or choose something specific not to buy like food, clothing, eating out, etc and then work to make do in the meantime. You can train yourself to think outside of the box, to make do with what you have and save money in the process.

~Embrace buying used. Shop thrift stores and garage sales first when possible.

 ~Keep track of warranties on items you have purchased. In the last few months both Mara and I have gotten new cameras thanks to holding on and paying attention to our warranties. With mine is was extended for a year by the credit card that I purchased it with (otherwise it would have been beyond the warranty).

 ~Be careful in the choices you make. Many times we think we "have" to do something or another but we really do have a choice.

~Organize and clean your house and stuff (and get rid of clutter) and you will find that it feels like you have more or new stuff.

~Learn to do Frugal Networking.

 ~Use Swagbucks as your search engine and through that and other things that you can do with swagbucks you can earn Swagbucks which you can use to buy giftcards to places like Amazon. I don't spend that much time on it and I have never made huge amounts of swagbucks but still I am able to earn a fair amount over the course of the year.


 I would love to hear any ideas that you have for saving money. Please add any ideas that I didn't mention in the comments. With your help this could become a real good resource for those that need ideas for making the most of the money that they have.

I am linking this up with:

The Chicken Chick

@The Prairie Homestead
@The Abiding Woman


Amy and Mark said...

Thank you for sharing!

What a great amount of work must have gone into this list for all of us readers - thank you!

My Mother-in-Law received a sewing machine for Christmas so she and I plan to try making quite a few bags and things from your blog. Thanks for the encouragement!

angie said...

This is an extensive list. Thank you for categorizing the list and linking to previous posts. A great reference!

Sharm said...

Great post and it was a good reminder of all the things we already do, and inspiration for a few things I don't currently do.... maybe if I wasn't having to leave the home to go out to work part time :( Hugs Sharm

Unknown said...

Wow, what a great post! I do a lot of these things but there are many on the list I haven't tried yet. I'm bookmarking to reference later. Thanks! Visiting from Tending the Home Tuesday.

Unknown said...

These are wonderful! I look forward to exploring some of the recipes for homemade lip balm and lotion, etc that you've provided. Thank-you :)


Jackie said...

This is an awesome list, Abbi! I love your ideas. Thanks for inspiring us to be better stewards.

Abbi said...

Thanks to all of you for stopping by! I hope this might have been useful for you. :-)


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