Finding my own way…

17 Sep

No this is not a post about being lost or needing to “find myself”…..I honestly don’t even know what that means and probably wouldn’t have time for it anyway. This is about trying to figure out my own ways to save money every month without going crazy in the process. I’ve been finding all these money saving ideas on (wait for it)…….Pinterest! I know you guys are so surprised. The problem is that while there are some good tips, most of them either don’t apply to us, don’t make sense for our family or are just plain weird and counterproductive. Yes I know I could save money on electric by sitting in the dark and reading by candlelight, or money on groceries by eating ramen noodles and mac & cheese every night  and ok i guess the water bill would go down if we showered once a week, but  come on….I need real ideas!

A little background on our family – we are a family of 5 ….Me and my husband( or is it my husband & I…I never know this one!) , and our 3 kids – 14, 8 and 2. We live on one income right now….my husband goes to work and I stay home with our toddler. We can live ok on what we make right now, but I would like to have money left over at the end of the month to put where we need it.  The only way to do this is either  for me to get a job(not an option right now) or find ways to save money. If you’ve been reading my posts lately, you will see a few of my attempts at this. Some of them have worked really well and others have really sucked! I’m going to make a list right now of each and then some ideas I’ve come up with that I’m going to try. Please feel free to jump in with any suggestions, comments, tips, etc. If there has been anything you’ve done to save a few bucks every month please share! I will let you know that I’m not terribly talented in the domestic area and I can’t sew so please no ideas for making my own clothes:)

DIY Successes:

Laundry Detergent – I seriously felt like one of the Duggars doing this, but it really does make sense! It saves me at least $15 every month or so and gets my clothes just as clean.

Deodorant – Its not like I spend huge amounts every month, but its natural and aluminum-free and works better than the store bought.

All Purpose Cleaner– this is awesome! It cleans the cushions on the chairs in my kitchen and makes them look new! I also use it for the bathtub, appliances, countertops, fridge, etc.

Lip Balm – I love this stuff! It works just as good or better than store bought and is so much cheaper!

There are a few others that I’ve tried that I haven’t posted about yet…..I will try to get posts up soon with exact measurements and pictures.

Fabric Softener – Its vinegar, water and a bottle of conditioner – I don’t love it because it doesn’t smell as good as the bounce sheets, but I really like it because it does work getting the clothes soft and static free and it only costs around $1.50 for a large container of it.

Lotion – I use beeswax, olive or coconut oil and water….I love this stuff! It keeps my face and hands so soft and is so inexpensive to make.

Carpet Fresh Powder – all you do is take baking soda and add some essential oil to it. It smells so good and is ridiculously cheap to make.

Air Freshener – This is water, essential oil and vinegar. Sounds like it wouldn’t smell good, but the oils overpower the vinegar and works really well!

Ok, now for the failures:

Shampoo – I kept seeing where everyone was mixing baking soda with water and washing their hair with it. I mean people raved about this so I tried it. OMG it made my hair into cotton candy! It was seriously like Barbie hair……I couldn’t brush through it and it was so thick and out of control. I will keep looking.

Conditioner- Almost the same as the shampoo – its apple cider vinegar and water……terrible! Conditioner is supposed to make your hair manageable and soft – it was crunchy!

Dish Soap – There are just some things you don’t mess with – I like Dawn and use it in some of my cleaners and I don’t see myself changing this any time soon. It was so runny and didn’t clean very well at all. It was a bar of soap, vinegar, and water.

Ammonia to clean drip pans on stove….not that this was a money saving idea, but I just want to bitch about it for a sec. I was almost the most disappointed in this! Not only because mine are really really dirty, but there were numerous successful posts with before and after pics on Pinterest and it didn’t work at all for me. Not even a little bit.

I probably should have an in between category because that is where I would put my body wash…..I didn’t come back and update on it after I used it a few times, but I’m on the fence on this one. Some of it was operator error and I think some was the recipe…..it doesn’t lather as much as I would like.. Not  really to call it a failure because it was really inexpensive to make and it does work – you just have to use a large amount of it. I’m going to try different things to fix it.

Ok, now for the things I’m going to give a try:

Shopping sales at the grocery store and planning dinner menus for the week. I’m even thinking of buying enough dinner ingredients for a few weeks, making up the meals and freezing them. I’m not a fan of cooking before freezing so I’m thinking of putting together freezer bags of crockpot meals.

Air Drying  towels, comforters, etc on a rack or hanging them outside. My dryer seems to take forever and I just really like the smell of sheets dried outside 🙂

Potty training – I’m half joking ….it would save $30 a month on pull ups but its not really part of the budget plan….it would be nice though.

Turning off lights, unplugging unused appliances, setting tvs on timers, etc to save electricity.

Garage Sale – my sister and I were just talking about doing a combined garage sale and getting rid of all the junk(sorry, treasures) we don’t use…. this will not only bring in a little money but will free up some space so I can get more organized.

I’m really trying to thing of ways we can cut costs but we don’t really go out much, I’ve already called and saved money on car insurance, put the gas on budget, use money from the account instead of credit cards, and only have cell phones – I got rid of the house phone last year. Also, our combined cable and internet bill is cheap (around $30 a month)because my husband works for a cable company so no cost cutting there either.

If anyone has any other ideas or tried and tested products please share them here.

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6 Responses to “Finding my own way…”

  1. Terri September 17, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    I don’t know what u use for cell phones or how much u spend, but My hubby and I only have cell phones and we use Virgin mobile… It only cost us $25 a month per phone, although the phone itself cost more than if u have a plan and conisdering your luck with phones you may end up spending more in the long run 😉

    • gelisgoodies September 17, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

      Hahaha thats true! Unfortunately we still have a year on our contract but after that I will definitely consider going somewhere else…..wonder if anyone has an unlimited phone plan – forget unlimited minutes, I need a never-ending supply of phones!

      • Terri September 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

        I also use Swagbucks online to earn amazon gift cards and the Shopkick App on my phone to earn gift cards (I usually use mine for Old Navy but they have target, macy’s and some others) Good ways to save some money for Christmas or whenever… I know there are other free sites like these also, just depends on how much time u wanna put into it.

  2. gelisgoodies September 17, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    Thanks Terri I’m going to check it out!

  3. Denise September 17, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    My biggest saving come from designing a weekly meal plan, three meals a day for a week where lunches are leftover previous dinners…and sticking too it! I create a weekly menu that while having many cultures foods represented, use mainly the same ingredients. Cuts down on the amount of different ingredients I buy, and after I’ve written my shopping list, that’s all that goes into the basket. I also don’t buy in huge bulk unless I know I will use it all before it goes bad. Also planning around inexpensive staples saves even more. Rice, potatoes, dries beans etc.

    I make my own almond-milk.

    Shopping at asian/indian markets can also save a ton if they’re close by. I can buy huge bags of rice and spices for very little.

    Turning the thermostat just a few degrees (higher for summer/lower for winter) can be a way to save and most people don’t notice a degree or two shift.

    Finding air leaks in your home before winter! Take a candle and wander the house, slowly move it around windows and door to check for leaks. Seal what you can, and make or buy insulated curtains for leaky windows, or make an interior or exterior storm window.

    Try extra virgin olive oil instead of expensive moisturizers (just a drop or so)

    Hope these help, I’d like to see more ideas too!

    • gelisgoodies September 18, 2012 at 7:20 am #

      Denise, thank you for the tips! I’m definitely going to try planning ahead for meals….and that’s a good idea about the leftovers. I pack my husbands lunch every night so I’m thinking he will be eating the previous nights goodies:)

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