Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Some of “our tricks”

Wow, what an overflow of response from my previous post. No, not everyone totally agreed with me, and I’m a-ok with that, when it comes to parenting we should never just all agree, that would never get us anywhere. But nearly each email, comment, message thanked me for the insight in our personal opinions, even those that did not align with their personal opinion.

Thank you to the majority of you who took the time to read the title of the post, and the first few sentences, that clearly stated that my opinions are just that, my opinions. To feel the need to tell me that one plan doesn’t work for everyone is (again, in my opinion) calling me an idiot as well as calling me ignorant. That point is obvious, I was only relaying our personal decisions on the topic. Once again, and I will say it again for those who didn’t get the gist, the previous post was my opinion and how we personally make decisions in our family. It did not say that other decisions are wrong. It did not say other decisions are right. It stated my personal opinion, in our personal situation, that daycare outside the home is not for us.

Have I made my point? That I am allowed to my own opinion? That dozens of my friends have children in daycare and it does not change my opinion on their parenting? I am not one to sit at home reading parenting books, I have read only one. I live through experience, and not just my own but through the experiences of my colleagues/friends as well. If we all experienced the same stuff, and followed the same rules, we’d never get better at the most important job in the world…parenting.


Ok, moving on. Several people also asked me to share some of our money saving tips. As I mentioned yesterday, we’re still pretty new to this whole…find a discount everywhere…thing. But in the short time we’ve been extremely budget conscious, we’ve learned some pretty important ideas

When it comes to couponing…

  1. Coupons are meant to be used, so clip away! (and remember to bring them with you!!!) Don’t be embarrassed to use them, remember that everyone is trying to cut back on spending these days.
  2. Take the time to figure out the rotation your local grocery/convenience store puts items on sale, and learn their policies on coupons (some stores let you double them up)
  3. Do your best to align the sales with your coupons, read those circulars! (For instance, a box of cookies originally costing $2.50 are on sale for $1.50, you have a coupon for $1 off…cha ching!  you now pay a mere 50 cents)
  4. Make a list and stick to it. Don’t buy something you’d never use/have never used just because you have a coupon that only negates your initial idea of saving money.
  5. Find others who are crazy coupon-ers and borrow some of their ideas…there are many free websites out there providing great information, other people are doing the tough work searching for the deals for you at no cost!
  6. ASK the companies directly for coupons. The most costly expense for a company is gaining new customers/clients, they want to KEEP you! Companies are more than happy to send you coupons, all you have to do is ask!

Another cost saving idea? Discover local restaurants that have “kids eat free” nights. Our local Perkins has kids free meals every Saturday night (and they have coupons in newspaper inserts all the time). No it’s not the fanciest meal, but it gives us a night away from cooking/dishes and allows us an hour to be served. And because the entire place is filled with families, we don’t get utterly embarrassed when Gavin isn’t exactly being quiet. Click HERE to find local deals in your neighborhood.

Don’t be afraid of Craigslist or other online “garage sales.” If you don’t feel comfortable selling something at your home, or meeting someone at their home, just ask them to meet you in a public place. I have been asked this before, and have asked this of others before and I have never gotten a complaint. I have found some amazing deals on there, and yes, sometimes some pieces need a little bit of love but that just makes it more personalized to your own taste! Yesterday, we sold our platform bed for a mere $40 less than what we originally paid 3 1/2 years ago!  

Discover second hand stores in your area. And I am not just talking about the typical Goodwill or Savers. Oftentimes you will stumble upon a fantastic thrift store with fantastic items. We have two such stores downtown and when we are looking for a new piece they are some of the first places I stop at. Google search and ask your friends/neighbors…you’ll be surprised how many people have secret places!

Have you ever studied grocery stores? The shelving/end caps/floor plans are not a mistake, they are designed in a way to get you to spend more money. It is not an oversight that the milk is located all the way in the back of the store. It is not an oversight that stores have moved the bread back a few aisles. It is not an oversight that name brands are often at eye level, that generic items are located far below/above (did you know that companies pay more to have their items placed at eye level?). It is not an oversight that items appealing to children are placed at low levels. It is not an oversight that in order to get to the clearance/sale racks you must weave through several full priced racks. It is definitely not an oversight that stores such as Walmart/Target have added grocery departments to their stores. Remember this each and every time you enter a store…that a marketer has already planned your shopping trip…that they know the basics of your shopping list, what part of the store you frequent, and most of this information is stored in their systems every single time you swipe a debit/credit card. They study demographics, and use those studies to set up their stores…stay smarter than the “pros”

Those are just some of the basic “guidelines” we have been following lately. Sometimes the best part of shopping is seeing the bold print at the bottom of a receipt, informing you how much you saved!


  1. You can combine a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon. Target has their coupons available online and they even have discounts on their Up&Up brand!

    Another idea is look when items that can be frozen are about to expire. I'll stock up on chicken breasts when their sell by date is close then I freeze them and use them laster.

    Lastly, Rainbow has a double your coupon day. Check to see if your local retailer has a double/triple your coupon day.

  2. I save major bucks by combining coupons. My local grocery store (Publix) allows me to use one competitor (I usually use Target), one manufacture and one Publix coupon if it's available. Love it when I can get those coupons to line up!! I know you are in Minnesota, but www.southernsavers.com is a great couponing site. This site is also available on networked blogs through FB and lists great sales for all over and not just the South. Woohoo or saving money!! Work it. ;)

  3. Here are a few more we use (grad student budget!): Use half the amount of detergent and fabric softener when washing (it will work fine- they market it to waste so you buy more all the time), don't buy pop/junk food/candy if avoidable or save for special treats, make everything you can from scratch (make a lot, freeze it, or use as left overs), shop generic (we go to ALDI which is all generic) and buy in bulk on items you use all the time (Costco), carpool to work (I used to do this and it was a huge savings!!), cloth diapers/wipes, programmable thermostat or tough it out in summer (not so much winter now with a kid :)!!), keep dinners out to special occasions (instead buy something nice and make it at home). We have saved a lot of money this way and paid off all our student loans and a good chunk of our mortgage! LOVE saving money!