1. Think Noah’s Arc, ~ go to warehouse clubs and food superstores in pairs. Love the idea of Superstores (especially the inexpensive price per unit), but know you’ll only use half of what you buy? Try pairing up with a friend and splitting both the costs and quantities to make your shopping more manageable and economical. **EXTRA MONEY SAVING TIP: Make a list before you go and stick to it, thus limiting those unplanned and often unnecessary purchases!
2. Make one day your “cooking day.” Limit the temptation to buy convenience foods such as “take out” or frozen entrees by making a week’s worth of food once a week and freezing / refrigerating daily potions. Most stews, soups, roasted meats and vegetable dishes taste great once they are warmed up and served. **EXTRA MONEY SAVING TIP: Choose recipes that use produce that is currently in-season.
3. Join a Farm Co-op: Enjoy fresh organic fruits and vegetables delivered to your door while supporting you local farms and agricultural communities. These “worker-owned” are committed to high quality foods while giving their members the best values. To Find out more information including co-ops in your area visit: http://www.localharvest.org.
1. Save money by reusing & transforming household objects into elegant gifts. For example: Give the gift of a perfect night in by filling on old glass vase with layers of popcorn and milk-duds, or fill an old beer glass with bath beads and loofa for a lovely bubble bath treat. For more ideas on how you can reuse ordinary household items visit www.almosthomemadgifts.com.
2. Buy gifts in bulk: When it comes to kids’ birthday parties, it’s not only okay to give the same present to over and over again but its also economical. Websites such as www.CDbaby.com offer discounts (up to 40% off the retail price) when you buy multiple copies of the same CD.
3. Adorn a gift with free samples: I am a big proponent of wrapping gifts in newspaper or the comics, but I love to use real ribbon as and free samples to add character to my gifts. Mini bottles of hand cream, shampoo and facial scrub offer a fun twist on a typical bow and offer a little something extra at no additional cost!
1. Eat Backwards: Celebrate your next birthday by having your whole family eat backwards. Serve dinner food for breakfast and breakfast food for dinner, and fit the birthday cake in where you see fit ~ your kids will think it’s hilarious or weird depending on their age, but it is sure to be a fun new tradition that is remembered for years to come.
2. Commit to a monthly family game night: Playing board games is one of the most effective ways to prepare your child for school. Taking turns, following directions, making decisions and working towards a goal are vital skills for success in school and success with a board game. So dust off your old Monopoly set or head to your local library where you can usually check out board games for free. And while you’re at it, make a night of it by making a special dinner or treat that works with the general theme of the game. For example you might be inclined to pair “mystery meat” & Clue, Cheese pizza & Parcheesi or bake a faux wedding cake and play the Game of Life!
3. Drink more water: A mundane task? Sure! But did you know being hydrated really does wonders for your skin, mood and hair? It also helps stave of fatigue, mindless eating and mild anxiety. So go out and get an inexpensive water filter, a water bottle with attached straw and drink your blues away. You can even spice things up by adding cucumber, orange, lemon, mint or cilantro & parsley.
4. Have a money party! Have fun while teaching your children the value of money by encouraging them to reach a financial goal through hard work, sacrifice and saving. As a family, decide on a goal ~ perhaps it’s having a party, going on a trip or buying a “wish list” item. Each week, every member of the family contributes money to the “kitty,” such as a small percentage of allowance or babysitting money, while the parents contribute spare change and extra grocery money. My sister-in-law is a genius when it comes to saving money with her kids. Whenever they are out and her kids ask for a $1.75 bottle of juice (located conveniently near the cashier at the grocery store) she offers to put the $1.75 in the money jar instead. Suddenly the juice doesn’t seem that appealing and they are $1.75 closer to going to Disneyland!
5. Give back: Do it for karma’s sake, your kids’ sake and your sake. Plan on at least one community service activity you and your kids can do together. It’s important, needed; character building and can start at any age!
6. Go on a Choose and Go adventure: At the beginning of the year, each family member writes down (or dictates) 3-4 things he/she would love to do on a Sunday afternoon ~ be sure to set parameters such as time limitations and cost restraints. Place all ideas in a box or empty hat and once a month (or once a quarter) choose one of the ideas at random and GO! You may be on your way to a museum, bowling alley or nearby train station but regardless of the destination, the spontaneity of a choose and go adventure is always exciting and fun – especially if your idea is chosen.
Beth Engelman, known as the "Do It Yourself" queen makes the prefect interview about how to save money on meals, gifts and fun things to do with your kids (on the cheap). Please let me know if you'd like to check out some of Beth's money saving tips, or set up a time to interview her. She has lots of great ideas and wants to help anyone stretch their dollar to the max.