Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How to Get Huge Savings With a Creative Budget

With gas prices getting only higher it seems like everyone is tightening up their financial belts in a big way.  We thought things were tough before, and then the gas prices go up even higher!  Currently my family spends $400 on gas per month, yikes.  We have only one bread winner in the family at the moment, so we are becoming frugal experts, (or so I like to think!), these days.  Growing our own food on the homestead is definitely helping us in saving costs on groceries, but we're being forced to come up with very creative solutions for cutting our costs down lately.  I'm really glad I was raised by parents and grandparents who knew how to stretch a dollar right about now.  Here are a few creative solutions we have come up with for ways to cut down on costs, many of which also lesson our energy foot print, interestingly enough.

Ron is going to take the bus to and from work.  His ride will be extended by 1/2 hour each way, but it will save us around $100 per month.  It's also easier on the planet, great side effect.

We're going to be brown bagging it for school and work.  We're guesstimating that will save us around $100 a month as well.  Now we're up to a surplus of $200.

I'm planning on making snacks for the kids and I'm not exactly sure what the savings will be, but I'm estimating around $50 per month.  We're also planning on making a lot more meals from scratch.  I would guess we're talking around $100 in savings total.  This will be better for our wallets and our health!

When the car breaks down we trade services with friends.  Recently a friend offered to trade fixing our car for some truck loads of horse manure for his garden.  Instead of buying new wood from the lumber store we often are given re-purposed wood from friends for building on the homestead.  You would be amazed how many people are willing to trade, or give away used materials if you just ask!

We just switched from a cable company to a dish, which is saving us around $50 per month.

Growing our own veggies is probably saving us around $50 per month, at least, in produce costs.  When we start canning the savings will only go up.

Generally we shop at a local discount grocery outlet quite a bit, and avoid the Safeway stores and the like.  I estimate this saves us around 1-200 per month.

We used to spend probably around $100 per month on entertainment.  Now instead of going to a movie we rent one and have movie night at home, have friends over for dinner, or enjoy nature.

We're focusing more on using less energy - both electrical and otherwise.  We actually saw our PG&E bill go down by about $50 when we were more aware of turning off lights, using less water, etc.

The total savings here is about $500 per month!  It's amazing how easy it is to save when you take the energy and effort to make it happen.  At first the sacrifice can be tough, but once you're used to it you actually enjoy consuming less.  Life has so much to offer apart from material things, and you enjoy the important things more when you have less.  I think you actually gain a whole lot more by streamlining your life, and many of the choices you make help the earth.

So what about you?  What are your creative budget secrets?


  1. for some reason an idea popped into my head reading about remembering to turn the lights off... this is something we always forget to do... especially since our energy bill is included in rent... What if instead of a light switch people had timers like the hot tub at the ymca... that way you wouldnt have to remember to turn the lights off haha

  2. One thing we do that you didn't mention is homeschool. We save a TON of money by not having to have "school clothes," worry about packed lunches or buying lunch, school supplies (we can just stock up when on sale and make do with what we have the rest of the time), and school fundraisers. Not to mention the gas, if we had to get the kids there ourselves!

    I actually have so many money saving tips that my blog is all about that, so if you want to know ALL my creative budget secrets, that's where to find them!

  3. I second the homeschool savings...We have public school as an option (free lousy education) or private that would cost in the thousands...we teach two children for $400/year...we also make money with our chickens by selling their eggs, gardening saves grocery money, and buying bulk saves us a lot too! (plus our groceries are delivered to our door for free.)

  4. We cloth diaper! Saves in SO many ways- less cost, less waste, less manufacturing, no running out for diapers, used for multiple children. We use cloth wipes, too- as well as un-paper towels and family cloth (no paper towels and no toilet paper!). After I have our third child this summer, I will be using mama cloth and forfeiting disposable feminine products, as well.

    The savings, money-wise, is just crazy when you choose to skip disposable "stuff!" :)

    We're rural, so not quite urban homesteaders, but we're going the homesteading route!
    ^ there

    Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work!

  5. @Thrifty Mama - Our public school is a really good one, one of the top ones in the state, so we're doing the public school thing. :) We would save a lot on gas if we did home school, but our kids are so happy right now as it is. I've checked your blog out, great tips!

    City Sister - We're going to sell our eggs too once the chickens start laying, cannot wait!

    Dusti - My kids are out of diapers now, but we use wash cloths instead of towels. Never heard of the "family cloth", I'll have to check this one out. I use a Diva Cup, no more tampons, wohoo!

    Thanks for the support ladies!

  6. I'm a new reader, so this may not apply - but since you mentioned Ron riding the bus, would his employer be open to telecommuting or would that not be an option in his work? I spent several years working full-time from home for a magazine while homeschooling as a single mom and it worked very well for me. Someone once asked why I didn't just pay for daycare and get a "real" job - it would have cost me significantly more than I saved by being able to work in jeans & a T, not have to pay for childcare, and not have the gas/wear & tear on my truck.

    Definitely not an option for those in some fields, but perhaps something his employer would be willing to consider, depending on what he does? Even if he could swing telecommuting 2 days out of a 5 day work week you'd probably see some more savings (bus fare, etc).

  7. Melonie - I sure wish he could telecommute! He works at a hospital as a supervisor and has a staff, so he needs to be on site to manage them. Great idea though for those who have that option.

  8. Homeschooling (vs public school's yearly uniforms, transport cost [there is no school bus here], teachers who don't care, and false history propaganda. Can you tell we had a horrible experience?), Growing my own food, shopping sales @ the local natural market for what I can't grow, bringing my homemade shopping bags for a 5 cent credit each, planning menus from sale/in season items, canning fresh produce I've grown/bought on sale(I never buy tin-can food, it's expensive and full of BPA), cooking from scratch including the pasta and bread, making my own menstrual pads and pantyliners, making the laundry/dish/bath soap myself, shutting off the cable TV and just watching shows on netflix and hulu, sewing some of the clothes, and buying bulk dry goods whenever possible. If I had room for a clothesline I would use it rather than paying for the dryer. There are many little things that add up.

  9. Mama Turtle - Excellent tips, thanks for sharing! We're making our own bread and I want to start making pasta as well, bagels, etc. It's amazing how much you can cut grocery costs when you bake more!