In the past two years, we have bought a house, had a baby, and replaced my husband’s aging car, and we have done it all with close attention to our budget. I trim the fat where I can, but sometimes I need less conscious methods, tricks that expose me to fewer opportunities to spend. Here are three ways how we manage to save money now that our “carefree” days are behind us.
Subscribe and Save – When we joined Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program, I immediately saw a drop in our monthly spending. I can never get in and out of the store with only the items on my list, so in addition to paying a greatly reduced price by subscribing, I also reduce my impulse spending. When I have toilet paper, paper towels, peanut butter, laundry detergent, shampoo, conditioner, diapers, wipes, and other necessities, delivered on a regular basis, I cut the time I spend in stores by over fifty percent – in effect, I trick myself into spending less money. Having frequently purchased items automatically delivered saves us at least $50 a month on the items themselves and another $100 in impulse buys.
Schedule Warehouse Shopping – We are members of a local warehouse store (think Costco and Sam’s Club), but we never go on our own. Rather than visiting a warehouse store sporadically, our visits are often initiated by a friend or family member who wants to go to the store and split the cost on items. Geography helps, as the store is at least a 30 minute drive, on a good day, but splitting some purchases decreases our overall bill. When we visit, we also make it a point to purchase their discounted gas, saving even more money. By limiting trips and splitting costs, we save at least $75 a month.
Cook Ahead – On those trips to a warehouse store, I bring along a grocery list for meals I can prepare ahead, store in the freezer, and pop into my slow cooker when I need them. I gather recipes from The Busy Budgeting Mama and Who Needs a Cape, buy ingredients for what sounds delicious to me, and start prepping. I try to get everything ready faster than the recipes estimate, making it a game for myself – I’m having fun and saving time and money. Given that we make the meals last for several nights and use leftovers for lunches, the cost of each meal, per person, is often less than $5. Even if we splurge on good cuts of meat, we still come out ahead. Keeping meals frozen and ready to go reduces our monthly grocery bill by over $100.
These three tips, alone, save us a minimum of $400 per month. I usually put this money toward paying off the car, and later, I can use it to save for other big ticket items.