Years ago, when I bought my first house and began grocery shopping on my own, I was sure that using coupons would be the key to grocery shopping success. Each week I would sit down with a copy of the Sunday paper and the weekly grocery ads and match up the coupons and advertised sales. It always felt like I was winning the lottery – there were always tons of matches, and I always had a grocery list that covered the entire sheet of paper.
Week after week I’d head right to the grocery store and fill my cart with all of the fantastic deals I’d found. I really thought I was doing it right, until the day I looked at the groceries I’d purchased and realized something – all of the stuff I’d gotten was all junk food that I really didn’t need. My grocery bags were full of Fruit Roll-Ups, packaged cookies, pop-tarts and brownie mixes. But there wasn’t any real food. I had lots of odds and ends, lots of snacks, but absolutely nothing that I could make a meal out of.
When it comes to budgeting and spending, not only is my husband an expert, but he is also extremely disciplined. This is no surprise, given that he earns a living as a financial planner. When contemplating a purchase, whether it is big or small, he takes his time deciding whether or not he truly needs the item in question, thinking about whether or not he already owns something similar, and deciding whether or not he really needs it.
I, on the other hand, haven’t always been as mindful about my spending. Don’t get me wrong – you won’t find me running to the mall every week to buy purses and shoes. Instead, I tend to buy little things here and there, a coffee at the grocery store, a magazine at the pharmacy. But, rest assured, those impulse purchases certainly do add up quickly.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I am not crafty. I am not creative. If my life depended on it, I couldn’t come up with a super cool, uber chic art project. And even if I did, I can guarantee you that nobody would pay money for it. That being said, I do have a fairly successful Etsy shop. Here’s how.
Last November, I joined Etsy as The Mitten Mom. I’d learned how to make felted wool dryer balls, and since other people were selling them on the website I thought I’d give it a try. For just $0.20 per listing, what did I have to lose? (I also listed homemade scented play dough and dishwasher detergent, but those haven’t done nearly as well as the dryer balls).
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My husband is a financial planner and when it comes to money – whether it is spending, budgeting or saving – he is really on top of things. And I’m thankful for that, because if it were up to me, I’d have all the credit cards at all the stores, and I’d go shopping everyday.
Up until last year, we only had one credit card. Yes, you read that right, one card. We used it for purchasing things like gas, Christmas and birthday gifts, and for household expenses. Like most people, we are constantly being offered credit cards from various stores, credit card companies and even local banks. But we have never accepted any of the offers, until we found out about the Target REDcard.
I’ve been a Sam’s Club member for over a decade, and in that time I’ve learned a lot about choosing products that are going to save money.
When I am shopping at Sam’s Club, I have learned that just because a product is a good price, that doesn’t mean it’s a good deal for me and my family. These are some of my favorite Sam’s Club bargains – things that really do save us money.
If you live in a small house, like we do, you know all too well the value of being able to use one tool to do several different things. I have to economize the space we have available, which means we don’t have room for gadgets that only do one thing.
I am always looking for items that can pull double-duty. Finding new uses for things I’ve already got not only helps me reduce the amount of clutter around the house, but it also helps me save money – if an item is not going to serve more than one purpose, I’m definitely not going to waste my money on it!
Lately, life has been busy. Really busy. Between our bathroom remodel, our vacation in Cheboygan, and the general busy every day life, I’m spent. On Monday I spent most of the day in Ann Arbor, running errands and visiting my endocrinologist (after 14 years, my thyroid just might be straightened out!). Yesterday, I spent the morning volunteering in The Goose’s classroom, and then I was lucky enough to go to lunch with his class. Boy was that loud! And today, I spent all morning and part of the afternoon running to three different home improvement stores, a sporting goods store, the grocery store and the pharmacy, and then I had to stop to fill up the gas tank. And while I am happy to have a bronze shower curtain rod, to match our new bathroom, I’m exhausted. So that’s it for today…
I have always been a list maker. When I was a kid, I was always listing my Barbie Dolls and Cabbage Patch Kids, counting out my shoes and clothes. I was constantly writing things down. Now that I’m older, I make lists of chores I need to do, things I need to buy, projects I need to start. In all honesty, if I don’t write it down, it’s not going to happen.
I’ve tried several online techniques for making lists – including using Google Tasks, using the reminders and notes functions on my phone, even sending myself e-mails with things I need to do. But I’ve found that nothing works as well as putting pen to paper and writing it out. It’s almost as if the physical act of writing something down solidifies the information, and makes it actually stick inside my brain.
Years ago, when my husband and I were deciding where we wanted to raise our family, we looked at a lot of homes. We looked at colonial style homes, homes with odd shaped additions, homes with crawl spaces, and even a home with a clawfoot bathtub at the top of the stairs (seriously!).
Just when we had given up hope on finding a home we could imagine living in for the rest of our lives, we finally found it. A 1920s era craftsman bungalow. We loved this house for a lot of reasons – the beautiful arched doorways, the beautiful dark wood doors and molding, the enclosed porch with nearly 20 windows to let in tons of light, and it’s proximity to family. But, the biggest reason that we loved this house so much is because it was small. And that’s exactly what we were looking for.
At my house, Friday is grocery day. And because I really dislike grocery shopping, I try my hardest to make it as quick and painless as possible. This means that I do a lot of planning before heading to the grocery store, and that I work hard to save money on groceries each week.
I usually stick to the same stores when grocery shopping, because I know the layout and can get in and out quickly. I also follow the layout of the store when making my shopping list. But the real savings comes with being organized and thinking about what we really need – and this is how I do it.