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Thrifty Tuesday: Part 5 ~ Saving Money with Green Living

Hi there! This week wraps up my 5-part creative cost-cutting series for the month of September! Thanks for joining me for the journey thus far. Our last topic includes ways to save money through green, eco-friendly living. Yes, some of it might cost a little more upfront, but it can truly save you hundreds, if not thousands, in the long run!

7 Ways to Save Money by Living Green | Lea Ciceraro | www.leaciceraro.com | www.lovemesimply.com

A Few Tips for {Green} Living (tips #64-70)

64. Buy/build/rent an eco-friendly, energy-efficient home with solar panels (sometimes you can even sell unused energy back to electric companies!) and well-water (then you don’t have to pay for city water). This will significantly cut down on your monthly utility expenses!

65. Investing into some energy efficient items for your home can save money in the long run, such as energy-saving lightbulbs, low-flow faucets and dual-flush toilets, etc.

66. If you’re able, move to a city/state where the cost-of-living is on the less expensive side, taking into consideration things like property taxes, sales tax, state income tax, and even toll roads in the area.

67. Grow a garden! If you have a greenhouse or live somewhere with mild weather all year round, great! This will come in very handy. If not, you can get a jump start on your spring/summer garden by planting your seeds in small containers and keeping them inside first, giving them a chance to sprout. This also saves lots of money, because buying seedlings can be rather expensive! And use rain barrels to water your garden!

68. Compost! Not only will this cut down on your household waste, but it will be great for your garden, and it will be another thing you don’t have to buy! Plus, in some cities you can opt for a smaller trash can which ends up costing you less!

69. Move closer to your job if you’re able to. It will not only save on gas usage, but it will cut down on time spent commuting. It may even open up the possibility of commuting by foot or bike!

70. Try to become a one-car household, if possible, especially if you do not have any children of driving age yet. Carpool and utilize public transportation.  You will save money on gas, car maintenance and repairs, possibly a car payment if you didn’t buy it with cash (recommended that you do, though!), and insurance!

What else would you add to this green living list that has worked for you? Please let me know in the comments below!

Thank you again for coming along on this money saving journey with me!

Thrifty Tuesday: Part IV ~ Fun & Entertainment & Shopping

This week’s focus of my Thrifty Tuesday series is all about the fun stuff. My goal is to help you find ways to make that discretionary income last, once all of your bills are paid and you have put a little money away into savings.

23 Ways to Help Stretch Your Fun Money | Lea Ciceraro | www.leaciceraro.com | www.lovemesimply.com

Fun & Entertainment & Shopping (tips #41-63)

41. State parks! Look into getting a state park pass that will last for a year, and then get out and explore! Many are beautiful day trips, too.

42. If you want to go out to eat, use www.restaurant.com to get good gift certificate deals. Of course, NOT going out to eat will save you tons more. Or, if friends and family are asking you for birthday/holiday gift ideas, you could suggest gift cards to your favorite restaurant(s)! That way you can still indulge once in a while but it doesn’t have to come out of your pocket.

43. Cancel cable and go to less movies in the theater, but try Netflix (especially streaming!) instead. I promise life without cable isn’t that bad. ;-)

44. Use the library instead of buying books. There are often great movies and TV series available to check out, as well!

45. Find out if your employer offers discounts on any products or services around town.

46. Unsubscribe from weekly store ads to reduce shopping temptation.

47. But, if you must shop, always scour the sale racks and just don’t even let yourself look at the full-price items. One of our favorite things to do is something we like to call “thirfting at Old Navy!” I don’t know why they have such great deals all the time, but if you wait for their sales and stick to the clearance racks, you can make out with several new pieces of clothing for just a couple of bucks each!

48. Also, if you want to shop at a store that you know your size in like Old Navy or Gymboree, you can go to the website and see ALL the sale items from their main inventory instead of just your local store. Sometimes you can find stuff for about 50% that way.

49. Did you know that you can link your debit card to a Target REDcard account and it still works just the same as your regular debit card drawing from your checking account, but you also get 5% back on every purchase!? And don’t forget to scour their Cartwheel app for even more coupons!

50. Keep an eye on websites for deals on things you’re already looking to spend money on (don’t use these as an excuse to spend money on things you don’t need!) like Groupon, LivingSocial, BabySteals, Totsy, Kidsteals, BabyHalfOff, GreenBabyBargains, etc.

51. Never be afraid to ask for a discount! I learned this from my dad. He asks everywhere he goes (for military and/or senior status!)! And I’d say 7/10 times, he’s successful!

52. And, did you know that stores like REI and Crate & Barrel have Outlet sections on their websites? Great deals there, too!

53. Amazon is LOADED with ways to save money. One is with their program called Amazon Basics, where you can get inexpensive electronics accessories (I know I could always use more rechargeable batteries!). Another is with Subscribe & Save (15% off with a subscription of 5 or more items– easy to change and update each month (seriously, we get our awesome dog food for half of what it costs at Whole Foods!). And you can save even more with Subscribe & Save if you’re signed up for Amazon Mom (think: baby wipes!!). I’ve saved tons on diapers, wipes, vitamins, dog food, batteries, cleaning supplies and laundry detergent, canned goods, bath and body products, etc.! If you’re a student, you can get an Amazon Prime membership at a discount via Amazon Student, plus a free 6-month trial period!

54. Another note with Amazon: You can go through Amazon Smile to shop, which allows you to pick a charity you want a portion of your purchase to automatically be donated to! We personally chose the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America. :-) What better way to grab that Halloween candy and support a great cause!

55. Some people feel like they get as good of a deal on bulk items at their local warehouse store like Sam’s or Costco. Check it out for yourself and see what suits you, especially if you live really close to one! Buying certain items in bulk can certainly save you lots of money. I even heard that Amazon has started offering a bulk pantry items program!

56. Get creative with your coupons! Look for double coupon days at grocery stores, and see if you can combine certain coupons. Sometimes you can combine store advertised coupons with manufacturers’ coupons (and sometimes there are certain rules like the discounted amount has to be different on each coupon).

57. Group your errands to make for shorter and less car rides and gas usage.

58. Make sure your car has good tire pressure and a recent tune up. Inflating to maximum recommended pressure can improve gas mileage by 3% and regular wheel alignments also boost fuel economy.

59. Sign up for points on sites like Pampers and get some really good coupon books from them every so often, which also include coupons on everyday items as well, like paper towels and toilet paper.

60. Hand-me-downs from friends and family are fabulous. Furniture, adult clothing, kids clothing, baby items, whatever.

61. Or search secondhand via thrift stores, Craigslist, Freecycle, and garage sales!

62. Also, try resale shops like Kid2Kid or Once Upon a Child for secondhand toys and baby gear, for about a third of the cost of buying them new.

63. Finally, if you have a certain skill set, try to use that to barter with someone else for a service or item you might need/want.

Thanks for tagging along for this money saving journey! Next week will be the last post in the series, and then I’ll do a recap post as well. As always, feel free to comment below and let me know what has worked for you and/or what you would add to this list!

XOXO

Thrifty Tuesday Part III: Recurring Bills

This week’s post about creative cost cutting solutions is centered around those recurring bills that are a regular part of your monthly budget. With some creative thinking and a couple of phone calls, you can do wonders to reduce your living costs!

15 Tips to Save You Money on Recurring Bills | Lea Ciceraro | www.leaciceraro.com | www.lovemesimply.com

Recurring Bills (tips #26-40)

26. Refinance your home for a low if it works for your life and your current home situation.

27. Check out cheaper car and/or home/renters’ insurance. And sometimes grouping those can save you even more money. It really does pay to shop around.

28. Same goes for your cell phone plan! If you must have a smart phone, check out what your actual data and minutes usage are. You might be surprised how little you’re using in comparison to what you’re paying for each month. Downgrade your plan, if you can! And ask for discounts! A lot of cell phone companies offer discounts to certain employers and professions (i.e., nurses, teachers, etc.).

29. Compare rates with other gas and electric companies (and TV/internet/phone, if you like– although we dropped our home phone line and cable altogether). Changing to another company sometimes gives you a huge “switching incentive” that could save you from paying that bill for a few months, and just get you a lower rate overall!

30. Also, some energy companies will give you a discount if your home is green certified! Check into it!

31. And, unplug appliances and turn off lights that aren’t in use. Being extra conscious about that really adds up!

32. Set your thermostat higher in the summer and lower in the winter. For every degree above 72°F in the summer, you’ll save up to three percent per month in energy costs.

33. In the winter, be mindful of that gas fireplace usage if you have one! We got a shocking bill last January, not realizing how expensive it was to flip that switch and enjoy the fireplace! Ouch.

34. Same goes for water usage. Be smart about not letting your shower run for too long before you hop in (even better, let a bucket collect the water while it’s warming up, and use that to water your garden!), turn off the sink faucet while you are brushing your teeth, turn down the faucet while doing dishes, etc.

35. And, don’t run your dishwasher until it’s completely full. Same thing with laundry (and use cool water).

36. Use a rain barrel to collect water for your lawn, plants, and garden.

37. Paying extra on your student loans/car payment/mortgage will save you TONS of interest down the line, and it will get paid off sooner!

38. On that note, never buy or finance a brand new car! They immediately lose value the moment you drive it off the lot. Instead, opt for a pre-owned or used vehicle and save yourself thousands. Even one that is just a year or two old but has been traded back in to the dealer for whatever reason can save you thousands. Plus, any issues or recalls have already been worked out which leads to a few less things for you to worry about right off the bat.

39. Check our favorite financial planning guru Dave Ramsey for more awesome help and ideas! Using his budget forms have been a life saver to help us live within our means and reduce our monthly spending!

40. Also using tools like Mint.com is helpful to get an overall picture of your debt (if you have any) and to track your spending. It’s very eye opening. If you’ve been too scared to take a look at your current financial situation, now is as good a time as any!

XOXO

Thrifty Tuesday Part II: Health

I’m going to keep the next set of creative cost-cutting tips short and sweet this week! So let’s get right to it!

 

5 Healthy Cost-Cutting Tips | Lea Ciceraro | www.leaciceraro.com | www.lovemesimplyphotography.com

 

Health (tips #21-25)

21. Cook at home as often as possible! Grains, beans & lentils are cheap, healthy, and nourishing. Add salads & greens for a complete meal! Some would even suggest that their vegetarian diet costs less than when they have to buy meat. Animal products and processed foods are expensive. Eating tons of whole foods is just healthier, too.

22. Stop drinking soda! It’s an unnecessary calorie hog and money waster.

23. Same goes for smoking. Waste of money and just awful for your health.

24. Alcohol. Moderation is key! Hey, I’m not going to say totally cut it out if you love craft beer and/or wine as much as I do. ;-)

25. Cancel your gym membership and buy an exercise ball and bands. And start up a home yoga practice! There are lots of free podcasts out there if you take a look around, such as TeriLeigh and Elsie’s Yoga Kula. Check YouTube, too! Or, just get outside and be active! Walking, running, cycling, kayaking, hiking, sports, etc.!

What else would you add to the health section!? Let me know in the comments below! :-)

XOXO

Thrifty Tuesday: A 5-Part Creative Cost-Cutting Series

There’s never a bad time to sit down and review your spending habits as well as take a closer look your budget (wait, you don’t have a clearly laid out budget? You might want to get on that!). Sometimes most of us could use a little cost-cutting in our lives for a variety of reasons.

For one, while it may feel like the economy has recovered a bit in recent months, the cost of living is still increasing and your paycheck may not be keeping up. Or, maybe your family has grown recently and now one of the parents in your household wants to quit their job and stay home with the kiddo(s). Or perhaps you are finally ready to take the leap and open that craft brewery you’ve always dreamed of, but it means you have to quit your full-time job and regular paycheck.

Whatever the reason you are here and reading this, I want to give you a list of 70 creative cost-cutting solutions over the course of this series (every Tuesday for the month of September!) that you can try or at least think about to help reduce your monthly spending (and in turn help you pay down debt, save for retirement or your kid’s college tuition, and/or follow some big dreams!). Each part will consist of the following: (1) Home & Family, (2) Health, (3) Recurring Bills (plus a little nudge in the right direction on helping you create a budget!), (4) Fun/Entertainment/Shopping, and (5) Green Living!

20 Home & Family Cost-Cutting Tips | Lea Cicearo | www.leaciceraro.com | www.lovemesimply.com

Part 1: Home & Family (tips #1-20)

1. When grocery shopping, clip coupons and only buy items on sale; www.couponmom.com is a good website to try.

2. Speaking of grocery shopping, we were loyal to Whole Foods for a lonnng time. Still are. We LOVE Whole Foods and just honest-to-goodness great quality food. My favorite places to shop, though, are our local co-op market and the farmers’ market. After all, it’s what you’re consuming and making a part of your body and can get great stuff from these places while supporting local! Why wouldn’t you want it to be high quality!? However, if you want to talk mainstream and shopping at places like Whole Foods (sometimes jokingly referred to as Whole Paycheck)– when we switched to Trader Joe’s and started to pick and choose between which items we really wanted to buy organic, we chopped our grocery bill down by 2/3! Huge savings and Trader Joe’s still gives us a lot of peace of mind when it comes to the quality of the food we’re buying!

3. Pack your lunch instead of eating out can easily save you $25-$50/week or more, depending on where you choose to dine. Plus, you can make your bagged lunch a lot healthier, too! If you pack your food in a brown bag, reuse that, too!

4. Cook and freeze leftovers. Chop and freeze veggies and other leftovers like meat that you think may go bad before you get to them, and then you can make soup out of it later. Use parts you would discard on veggies to make veggie stock – like leek tops, radish/turnip greens, etc. And, keep frozen meals ready that are quick to prepare to reduce your temptation to get take-out when you’re tired or don’t have much time to cook.

5. Don’t buy bottled water. Invest in a great sink-top water filter (if you don’t already have one on your refrigerator) and have a nice drinking thermos or canteen to keep liquids cool or hot.

6. Purchased machine-washable fabric snack bags, lunch bags, and sandwich bags (or make your own if you’re handy with a sewing machine!). Another option is to wash and re-use ziplock bags a few times before recycling them.

7. Have fun with home cooking! This is one of my favorite blogs for great, family-friendly recipes!

8. And, that same oh-so-awesome blog also has a great post with meal-planning tips that will also help stretch your budget!

9. Wait until later in the evening to do laundry. Running the dryer during the day or early evening can make your house hotter and the air conditioner has to work harder. But I guess in the Winter you can try the opposite! :-)

10. Use a clothes line to dry clothes to save even more! Stores like IKEA also have great clothes drying racks!

11. Buy baking soda in bulk to use as laundry detergent.

12. Find natural hair care alternatives like baking soda, honey, etc.

13. And, don’t buy things unless you REALLY need them. Use up ALL of your lotion/shampoo/etc., before you are “allowed” to buy more. Don’t let those 1/4 full bottles stockpile!

14. Use old rags, t-shirts, cloth napkins, and dish cloths instead of paper towels.

15. Cloth diapering! Or even a combination of cloth and disposable, like we do.

16. Try your hand at making your own wine and homebrewing beer!

17. For cleaning, try vinegar and lemons for cleaning, as well as buying Bac-Out in bulk (a gallon jug concentrated will last for a long while).

18. Try doing a babysitting swap with other families instead of paying to hire a babysitter.

19. Perhaps setup a dinner co-op if you can find others with similar eating habits who live nearby!

20. Be your family’s hair stylist! Well, this might be a little easier if you have a husband and two boys. :-) I can’t personally speak for cutting another girl’s hair!

So there are your first 20 cost-cutting solutions to give a shot! I’d love to hear in the comments below what else you would add to the Home & Family money-saving list! You may find some ideas on here that you’re more willing to try than others, but I hope there are at least a few that help you keep a few more bucks in your bank account this month! Please come back next week to read about my next few tips as they relate to health. Thanks for being here!

XO