Easy as pie.

“If it was that easy everyone would be doing it.” 

Not. Exactly. True. 
Some people genuinely don’t know how to save money.  It’s a skill set that is learned.  (And trust me, I have learned some hard lessons along the way.)
I find myself trapped in a culture that is continually trying to manipulate me into thinking I need everything right now.  And I can do it on credit!  Bad idea.  Very.  Bad.  Idea.

Now I love Saturday morning cartoons as much as the next girl.  (Grownups are still allowed to watch those, right???)  But the commercials!  They are so heavily marketed towards my children especially that it makes me ill.  My three sweet daughters are convinced they need a Happy Napper(I have yet to fully understand how they are much different from the plethora of Pillow Pets they already own.)  They are wishing for Stompeez (Slippers that open their eyes or mouth when you stomp.  Just what every parent needs.)  and my dear hubby and I can’t live without a Forever Lazy.  (Ummm… no.)

I am always looking to save a buck for the family, but its not as hard you might think.  A few of my favorite ways to save:

1.  Watch for tricks.  Stores are always running sale and specials, but sometimes they sound too good to be true… and they are.  For example, if you have $1.00 item that is on Buy One Get One 1/2 Off sale, you would pay $1.50 for 2 of them which amounts $.75 each.  Doesn’t sound too bad.  If the store were running a 30% off sale on the same $1.00 item, it would amount to $.70… a better deal!  Most people gravitate to the BOGO sales, but they are not necessarily the best deal.  Use a calculator if you have to, and be smart.

2.  Ditch the landline.  We were paying close to $50.00 a month for a basic land line phone that no one ever called except for the occasional telemarketer.  Even though hubby and I both have cell phones, I still worried about not having a home phone when we had a babysitter over or for other emergenices.  For us the answer was Magic Jack.  The initial device is about $70, then only $19.95 for a year of service.  Yes.  A whole year, including call waiting, caller id and voicemail.  The device plugs into your computer or in to an electrical outlet and uses your internet to make the service work.  We have never had a problem.  So worth it.
3.  Go partial.  I like to look good, and I am usually willing to spend a little cash to make that happen.  I used to spend close to $100 to get my hair cut and highlighted until my lovely hairdresser let me in on a little secret.  A partial highlight cost less than half of that and produced almost the same results.  A partial highlights the top layer of your hair, the part that everyone sees.  Makes total sense!  Now I can get the same look for less than $50.
4.  Cut back on cable.  How many channels do you really need?  Unfortunately, I live in a rural area where we get nothing but PBS.  We have the most basic of cable only to watch football.  (Go Packers!)  And the Olympics. In fact, we actually saved money on our cable bill by adding basic tv service to our internet service.  They love to bundle services together!  Go figure!

We also subscribe to Netflix streaming service for $7.99/month.  The movie selection isn’t that great, but their TV show selection is incredible.  My girls can watch all of their favorite Nickelodeon shows, hubby gets his Discovery Channel fix, and I get to catch up on my favorite crime dramas.  And the best part?  No commercials.

5.  Eating out.  We don’t eat out too often, but when we do, we’re pretty smart about it.  Know which restaurants offer Kids Eat Free nights.  Usually they happen on weekdays and even in our town there is at least one restaurant for each day of the week.

Order water (drinks are the most over-priced item on the menu!) and if possible, eat out at lunch instead of dinner.  Prices are lower and portions smaller.  Better for your budget and waistline!

Split an order with another family member (depending on where you’re dining, portions can be massive) especially for a picky eater.  I hate spending the money for a mediocre “Kids Meal” that is ultimately left uneaten.  Don’t be afraid to ask for an extra plate and let your child share your meal.

6.  Pay cash for vehicles.  I haven’t made a car payment in nearly 5 years.  Perfect?  No.  Paid for?  You betcha.  Look on Craigslist.  Search the paper.  Talk to people around town.  There are deals to be had.  And if you don’t know anyone who knows anything about cars… make friends with one.  We own two vehicles.  Both paid for.  Not having a car payment has been one of the most financially liberating decisions we have ever made as a family.  The vehicles we drive are not as new as the ones we used to drive, but… they’re paid for.
And that makes all the difference.

Now if I could just figure out a way to get my coffee for free… nah.  
It’s worth every penny.
This post is a part of Simple Lives Thursday.

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