Friday, March 18, 2011

What are you wasting money on?

Ok, I'm sorry but this picture was just amazing.
Anyways, my bank account is looking pretty sad these days, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm not the only one. Well, Oprah had an awesome article that gives some great advice from other families just like yours & what they're doing to make the rent.

Cassandra & Stacy
Redecorating, Bartering, & Gifts

Even in difficult times there are things everyday people can do to save money, and Oprah Show viewers have been leading the pack. Best friends Cassandra and Stacy each wanted to redecorate their living room, but neither of them wanted to spend the money on new furniture. Instead, they traded couches and saved $2,000!
Seriously LOVE the idea of switching furniture! I do it all the time with my wardrobe (which, by the way is a GREAT way to refresh your closet without opening your wallet), but I'd never thought about doing it with my living room.

Stacy, who owns a dance studio, says she is also bartering to save cash. "There's a family that dances at my studio, and they have a restaurant that my family enjoys," she says. "So they come and take lessons ... and we get to go to their restaurant and eat."
Makes me wish I had a business I could barter with.

This year, Cassandra is using the plums from her plum tree to make jelly and jam for all her friends instead of spending $350 on Christmas gifts. "Thirty dollars for buying the cans, the sugar and wrapping paper, and I ended up with 32 jars of jelly and jam that is just fabulous," she says.

To save on her electric bill, Rhondalyn unplugs everything in her home when it's not in use. Appliances, TV sets and lamps that are plugged in pull in energy even if they are turned off, and Rhondalyn says the small change has added up. In May 2008, her energy bill was $268. After she started unplugging, her bill went down to $91. And when Rhondalyn got really vigilant—even turning off the air conditioning—her energy bill was only $60.42. That's over $200 in savings!
I've always seen my grandmother do this, but I had NO IDEA you could save so much doing it.

Marvel Family
The Marvel family takes an annual camping trip. Last year, the getaway cost them more than $1,500. This year, they passed on travel and set up Camp Marvel in their backyard for an at-home vacation.

Tracking Your Spending
Felicity is a mom of three with a baby on the way. To keep better track of where her money goes, Felicity takes cash from the bank every Friday and divides the money into six envelopes labeled for allowance, gas, groceries, takeout and everyday use. "When it's gone, it's gone," she says.
I think I am FOR SURE gonna try this out. I'm afraid it's gonna make me cut down my York Peppermint Pattie money.

Gas Prices
Kristi got tired of paying high gas prices, so she decided to put her entire family on bicycles. Her two older children can pedal themselves, while the three younger kids sit in bench seats attached to her bike.
Tad & I saved on gas by moving closer to his work & school, and selling our 2nd car. Of course, this worked for us because we're still moving around quite a bit for college. We were amazed at how much we saved going down to one car. In addition to gas you also save on yearly registration fees, insurance, & tune ups like oil changes. Tad walks to work and school and he loves the exercise, especially since he's not a morning person and hates getting up early to run.

Being Downsized & Cutting Back
Andrea's household income was slashed by more than 60 percent when she lost her job and her husband's hours were cut back. They've started saving big money by making small changes, including taking a calculator to the grocery store. Her husband makes his coffee and lunch at home each morning rather than buying them at work, and Andrea teaches an aerobics class at her gym in exchange for a free membership.
I wonder if they throw in free access to the daycare?

Heinz Family
A Family That Loves To Save
Families all over the country are tightening their belts during this economic crisis, but some people are actually finding that cutting back can lead to richer lives. The Heinz family makes a net income of $58,000 a year—but they have $70,000 in savings. How'd they do it?

Sue Heinz is a stay-at-home mom with four children living in Sarasota, Florida. To keep their family out of financial worry, she and her husband, Brett, have gotten thrifty. With a prepaid cell phone used only for emergencies, the family's monthly bill is just $5.
Not sure I could do that, we just forgo a land line, although once we're settled somewhere for more than a year I may reconsider.

By brown bagging his lunch and carpooling to work, Brett spends little money during the work week and saves $122 each month on gas.

Sue has found a way to snip $550 from their yearly budget by cutting the family's hair herself. And with a little online research, Brett found out how to do his own home repairs and says he has saved more than $6,000.

Sue says their thriftiness began 11 years ago when she and Brett first moved to Florida on a teacher's salary. "We had goals," she says. "We wanted to own a home, we wanted to have a big family—and we knew we had to set our priorities to make that work."

The ride hasn't been all smooth sailing, and Sue says they incurred some credit card debt along the way. "But I'm very happy to say, and proud to say, that we're paying it back at nearly three times the minimum balance," she says.

Although they've had to cut back in certain areas, Sue says their thrifty ways haven't curbed their lifestyle one bit. "We go to the beach once a week, we go bike riding with the kids, we do all kinds of fun things," she says. "There are second-run movie theaters; there are a lot of ways to have fun without spending money."

"It's an alternative to living beyond our means, really," Brett says. "Instead of spending too much money on things, we just make choices."

Sandberg Family
Learning to Live on a Smaller Budget
On the other end of the spectrum, the Sandberg family is learning the need to cut back for the first time. Vicky and Mark have been married for 15 years and have two children. Until recently, the family has always brought in a double income. "Times in the construction industry have been really tough, and four months ago I lost my job as a recruiter and as a trainer," Vicky says.

With about 40 percent of their total income gone, the family has a new set of stress. Vicky and Mark say they've had to cut back their investment contributions toward their children's college funds and froze their individual retirement accounts. "My personal biggest fear is losing what we have, what we've worked so hard for," Mark says.
Unfortunately Tad & I did loose a lot of what we'd worked for a few years ago, including our house. We learned how easy it is to lose the things we have, but that you'll always have the people that matter.

Can thrifty couple Sue and Brett help Vicky and Mark find ways to cut back? They begin with the Sandbergs' monthly budget and discover the Sandbergs are spending $650 a month in department stores on things for the kids—clothing, video games and DVDs. "That's a big number," Sue says.
That's a HUGE number! About the size of my rent!

In addition, the Sandbergs are spending $190 each month on their phone, Internet and cable bill and $350 a month eating out at restaurants. All in all, the family is spending $8,744 a month, which is more than they are bringing in.
We had to keep our internet for Tad's classes, but we dropped our $60 cable bill and replaced it with a $9 Netflix one and a TV antenna we mounted on our balcony. Once you buy it it's free to use and you can pick up a lot of local channels. We get about 20 channels including all the basics ABC, CBS, FOX, PBS, even the CW! I've never missed the cable, mostly because I can watch the shows we don't get the channel for online. Poor Tad takes the bullet with ESPN. If he had any free time it would probably be a bigger deal.

To get Vicky and Mark on track, Sue says they need to bring their monthly budget down to less than $8,000 per month. Sue gives them a basket for storing their daily receipts and a journal to write down their needs and wants. "You're going to take a good look and start to become extremely aware of where this money is going," she says.

First to go are all but one of Vicky and Mark's credit cards—for emergencies only—in exchange for a debit card with a rewards program. "I love the idea of having a debit card and paying as you go," Mark says. "I think that would relieve a lot of stress at the end of the month."

Because Vicky and Mark have two cell phones, Sue suggests dropping their landline and finds a cable company that offers a better deal. They instantly save more than $100 a month!

Sue takes the couple to the grocery store and teaches them how to prepare a meal for under $5. There are even leftovers, which can be used for Mark's lunches. Sue says the family can still enjoy eating out—with the proper research. By searching online, Sue says you can find restaurants that let kids eat for free on certain nights of the week. "Google your town's name plus 'free stuff' or 'kids' free meals,' and things pop up," she says.
I know in St George you can pick up a 'Family Fun' pamphlet at almost any restaurant and they have a list of 'kids eat free' places.

Sue also has a tip to save money on the DVDs the kids ask for—go to the library and rent the DVD for free!
Most libraries will also do a Story Time or Toddler Time that's free for the kids. St. George's Library does Toddler Time on Thursdays.

In all, Sue and Brett helped Vicky and Mark find an extra $2,000 a month. "It felt great because we didn't know what we were spending," Vicky says. "It's really a mind-set. Mark and I have worked very hard to have what we have for our family and provide for them, but he'd spend what he'd spend, I would spend what I would spend and we'd pay the bill at the end of the month, and we just weren't paying attention."

Mark is also thrilled with the family's new money habits. "It was a lot less stress at the end of the month," he says.

Grocery Shopping Tips
Stephanie Nelson, The Coupon Mom
With the cost of food rising and moms everywhere cringing over their grocery receipts, one mom has found a way to save her family thousands of dollars. Stephanie Nelson, founder of, says she actually looks forward to grocery shopping! Can she buy a week's worth of food at half the price?

Stephanie begins her plan of attack by researching coupons online. "It's actually easier than ever to use grocery coupons today because we can use the Internet to print coupons," she says. "In about half an hour a week, you can make a real difference in cutting your grocery bill in half."

With coupons in hand, Stephanie hits the store and fills up her shopping cart with $127 worth of groceries. "Don't panic," she says. "That's not what we're paying." As the clerk scans coupon after coupon, the total falls lower and lower—until it hits $37.16, a 71 percent savings!

Get Stephanie's strategic shopping tips to save money on your groceries.

Selling Your Home Tips

It's no secret that it's a difficult time to sell a home—so some sellers are getting creative. When Jennifer from Charleston, South Carolina, needed to sell her house, she says no one was biting. After five months and no offers in sight, Jennifer put her house on Craigslist. Two days later, it sold.

Karen from Hancock, Maryland, was having trouble finding a buyer for her farmhouse, so instead of selling, she decided to raffle off her home. She sold tickets for $100 apiece and agreed that any extra money raised beyond the appraised value would go to charity. After selling more than 6,000 tickets, Karen was able to unload her house and give more than $200,000 to a local charity. If this sounds interesting to you, check the laws in your state.

After two and a half years on the market, Mike and Pam from Streamwood, Illinois, needed an unconventional way to sell their home. They searched online to see if anyone wanted to swap houses and found—did they make a match?

Mike and Pam found Lauren and Ryan, homeowners in Elgin, Illinois, who wanted to upgrade their home. It was the perfect match for Mike and Pam, who were looking to downsize. Mike and Pam sold their home for $295,000 and purchased Lauren and Ryan's home for $180,000. "We were able to sell our house at the price we wanted, and they were able to sell their townhouse at the price they wanted," Pam says.

"We're all happy," Ryan says. "It was an even trade in the sense we both got exactly what we wanted. We were looking for a house with four bedrooms, a basement and a backyard that would be fenced in for our dogs, and we ended up getting that."

If you're interested in finding a creative way to sell your home, make sure to check out the laws in your state first.

Being a stay at home mom with limited resources I always feel like my kids are the ones getting the short end of the stick. I try not to go to places where I could spend money, because I almost always do. Sadly that means that my 2 year old is stuck at home in our tiny 3 bedroom 1100 sq ft apartment. To help this problem a group of moms with small children are starting a rotating play group where each mom takes a week and does a project or activity with the kids. I'm so excited to see how it works!

So tell me what tips do you have for me?


  1. James tracks all our money, even at the dollar store. It really helps to see what you are nickle and dime-ing your self on. We also got rid of our newspaper and magazines, and the long distance on our phone (we use a calling card now . .plus with Skype we hardly use that). There are tons of free things to do around here and my kids love just going to the park. You really can save a ton of money if you try. Nice post!

  2. This post was so great, I've been trying to do more things like this and there was some I hadn't heard of. I have done the money in the envelopes before and need to start doing it again, it works great I think. I am also super excited for the rotating play group it is so what me and my little girl need!

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