Category Archives: Simple Savings

I love to save money! Here are some things that have worked for our family. I would love to know what works for yours!

How to Save on Groceries

Who doesn’t like saving money? I am always excited to find new ways to save. Over the past two years, I have really worked hard to find ways to cut back and save some money. Since I don’t work, this is a way that I can “contribute” to our financial well-being.

When I really started to investigate different ways to cut back on our expenses, there was one that stood out. It was the easiest place to start and reaped the fastest benefits. One thing that will never change is that we have to eat. Groceries are so expensive! Here are some things that I have found to work to save on groceries for our family. I’d love to hear what works for you!

✍ Make a menu. I like to make a menu for a month at a time. This is what works for me, but weekly might work best for you. It’s not my favorite thing to do, so I’d rather do it once month rather than once a week. I sit down with my menu calendar and my calendar that homes all of the families activities. This way I know that I need a quick dinner on nights that there are sporting events, or a crock pot meal on a night after I had a day of running errands. I make a menu for breakfast and dinner. I usually make a general menu, more of a list, for lunches, we switch it up a little each week. Lunch meat, cheese, yogurt, fruit, juice, and a snack. I buy enough to last the week. There are several benefits to making a menu.
✎ You won’t have to come up with last-minute meal ideas.
✎ The kids will know what to expect.
✎ It’s a great asset to making your grocery list.

✍ Avoid processed foods. I make as much as I can from scratch. This way, you know what you’re eating and you save a lot of money.

✍ Avoid disposable things and use re-useable instead. I bought each of the kids a sandwich box, a juice bottle and I have various size small containers to pack lunch snacks in. I used to only use Tupperware, but my kids have a hard time getting the seals on and off, so I started using Ziploc containers instead. They aren’t as expensive and if they leave their lunch box at school all weekend, you don’t feel as bad throwing out the rotten container when it cost 50¢ as opposed to the $4 Tupperware container.

✍ Avoid individually wrapped items. Individualized snacks might be convenient, but they are overpriced. Instead of buying a large package of individual chips, I buy a bag of pretzels for $1.19 and put them in containers. I don’t buy juice boxes, I buy a large jug of juice and put it in individual juice bottles. It almost always costs less to divide things up yourself, than to buy it already done. You pay a lot for a little bit of convenience.

✍ Set a grocery budget. Don’t go over. Adjust your list to fit your budget not vice versa.

✍ Make a list! Never go grocery shopping without a list! It’s so easy to go to the store and spend a ton of money, get home and wonder what you’re going to have for dinner. Use your menu to make your list. When I make my grocery list, I get my menu down and the first things to go on my list are the items that I will need for the meals I have planned. Don’t forget to add your lunch items. During the week anytime I run out of a staple item, it gets written on my dry erase board that hangs by my refrigerator. These things will go on your list. When I have completed my list, I go over it and make sure I need everything on my list. I usually end up crossing a few things off that I will not need that week. Keep your list within your budget!
**DO NOT buy anything that is not on the list!

✍ Watch the sale flyers. Make sure you watch the sale flyers for items that you regularly use. Sign up for the store shopper card to ensure you get the sale price. Keep in mind the things you will need for your menu for the month. If it’s on sale and you will need it next week for breakfast, buy it ahead of time if you can.

✍ Use coupons. I never used to use coupons. I always thought “what’s a dollar here and there?”. Was I ever wrong! I have learned to save a ton of money using coupons. We get the Sunday paper just for the coupons. If Wishbone salad dressing is on sale for 2/$3 and you have a 75¢ off 2 coupon, you can get 2 bottles for $1.50. Most grocery stores double coupons. So that 75¢ coupon just turned into $1.50. I am not a pro yet, but I usually save 50% using coupons matched up with sales. Make sure you know your stores coupon policy. I could say so much more, but there is a lot of info available from people who are far better at couponing than I. There a lot of great blogs to help you get started couponing. Here are some that I have used.

http://coupondivas.com/
http://couponing101.com/
http://thekrazycouponlady.com/

✍ Aldi. Three years ago had you told me that I would be shopping at Aldi, I wouldn’t have believed you. I had an ideal of what I thought Aldi was like. After reading the book

    The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bill in Half

by Stephanie Nelson, I decided to give Aldi a try. It turns out Aldi is great! I don’t buy everything there, but I will try anything once and I have learned what to buy there and what items I would rather get somewhere else. Aldi is a great place to buy breads, cheese, butter, chips, sugar, flour, fruits and vegetables, just to list a few. Take a quarter for your cart and your own bags.
Aldi doesn’t accept coupons. They accept cash and debit cards.

✍ Don’t be committed to one store. I usually go to four or five different stores when I go grocery shopping. They are all in the same town. I don’t go driving all over creation. I like to get my meat from Wegmans. They have good consistent low prices, but they don’t typically have big sales. Price Chopper usually has good sales, so I go there for whatever I need that is on sale. I try to avoid Walmart only because it is so easy to spend money there, but there are some things that you can get for a better price. Just be sure you stick to the list. It might take a little bit longer, but if you have the time, I would suggest shopping around.

I would love to hear ways that you have cut back on your grocery bill. Let me know what works for you!

Homemade Laundry Detergent

With a family of 7, there is a lot of laundry that goes through our house. One way I’ve cut back on our expenses is by making homemade laundry detergent. It really saves us a good bit of money. I also make my own fabric softener.

When I started doing this, I didn’t think I would like the liquid detergent. I used the powdered for several months, and then I looked into the liquid option and realized that the liquid has the better value. I don’t think I will go back to the powder.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap

4 Cups – hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar (Wegman’s sells a 5.5oz bar for 1.29) (you can also use Ivory)
1 Cup – Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (Wegman’s sells 55oz. for $2.79)
½ Cup Borax (Wegman’s sells 76 oz. for $3.99)

Grate the bar of soap and add to the saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until the soap dissolves and is melted. (It works best if you grate the soap fine. I have a grater I use only to grate soap.)

Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to the top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken. (I went to Lowe’s and bought a 5 gallon bucket with a lid. Total cost $6-$8)

Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill the rest of the way with water. Shake before each use. (I use a gallon water jug.)

Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil. (Essential oil is expensive, so I don’t use it.)

Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.
Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)
Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

Powdered Laundry Detergent – Top load machine only

1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup – Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Borax

-Grate soap or break into pieces and process in a food processor until powdered. Mix all ingredients. For light load, use 1 Tablespoon. For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 Tablespoons. Yields: 3 Cups detergent. (Approx. 40 loads)

Recipe cost approx. $2 per 10 gallon.

Homemade Fabric Softener Recipe

2 cups Vinegar
2 cups Baking Soda
4 cups Hot Water

I use a funnel and put all the ingredients in a gallon jug. Be careful because vinegar and baking soda fizz when they are mixed together. You can also mix this in a large bowl or bucket and then transfer it into a jug. I just funnel it into the jug because I like to use as few containers as possible, although the baking soda doesn’t necessarily like going through the funnel. I don’t know why I do it that way. I may have to reconsider. The baking soda settles to the bottom of the jug, so be sure to give a little shake before each use.

Use 1/4 cup per load. One batch does approximately 32 loads.

I had a friend who had been making her own detergent and raved about it, but I was never sold. When I started looking for ways to cut back on expenses this seemed like a place where there could be a big savings, and now that I’ve tried it, I love it and will probably never go back to buying laundry detergent.

Try it out and let me know how it works for you!