Now that you have your budget up and running you might be wondering how to save money in different areas because you really wish you weren't spending $500 each month on food for 2 people. These are a few things that I am doing or have done before to help save money each month.
I like to use coupons. I am not a huge coupon-er but if it will save me some money on the things that I already buy each month I will do it. I use Hip2Save, it is a great site and tells you everything that you need to know about couponing. Just remember that it is only a good deal if you have the money to do it.
Meal planning is helpful even if it is just for dinner each month. I have found that if I meal plan for a month and shop for a week it works out the best for me. Look through the adds and your cupboards and see what you can come up with. A couple of sites that I like to use for recipes are: Our Best Bites, Your Home Based Mom, Mel's Kitchen Cafe. Keep a list of what you need and remember the more often you go to the grocery store the more you usually will spend, so try to keep it to once a week.
If eating out is something you are trying to limit try making freezer meals or using your crockpot more. You will save a lot a money and probably some weight as well so it is a win win situation. The above sites have several meals that can be frozen or put in the crockpot. To start a little slower you can brown your hamburger all at once and divide up and freeze. I also have used a cookbook called "Dinner is Ready". It gives recipes and instruction on how to buy, prep, and prepare 30 meals in one day. I have not been able to do this because of limited freezer space but I have tried a lot of the meals and they are great!
Go to discount food stores. They aren't just for poor people they are for everyone and they have a lot of great products. I like to go to Aldi and they even have a guarantee that if you don't like the product they will replace the item and give your money back.
Take your calculator. If you are going to try and stay in your budget it will help if you calculate as you go eliminating the stress of the total at the end of shopping. If you go to Sam's or Costco make sure that you are only buying things that are truly a good deal. Just because they sell it in bulk doesn't mean that it is going to save you money. Find the deals and stick with those don't just get everything all in one place because it is convenient especially if you have to drive a distance to get it.
Keep track of what kind of prices are at each store. I usually have this in my head but sometimes I have had to write it down. I have found that I go to Aldi and get the basics, Sam's to get meat and some produce, Meijer for sale items, and Walmart for the rest. If I do it in that order I know that I am getting the best deal.
Look into the book series "Tightwad Gazette" (remember to look at your local library for these books). They are great books that give you helpful ways to save money on everything. Some of the things that I have used from the books was every time you flush the toilet it is the same as taking a 10 min. shower so we used the if its brown flush it down if it is yellow let it mellow. We spent $20 less a month then our neighbors who usually spent about $50 in water each month. We were living in an apartment at the time.
They talk about making homemade wipes, how to repair lots of different things using what you have around the house, and recipes as well.
It might be obvious to turn off the lights when you leave a room but what about unplugging things? I know that it is unrealistic to do that every time you leave a room but what about when you go on vacation or if you rarely use the appliance. Even if the item is not on it is using a little bit of electricity because it is ready for you to use at any point.
Don't turn your heat or your air on and off. Keep it on, if you turn it off and on it takes more energy to get your house to the right temperature then it does if you keep the air on and open the windows. If it is cooler outside then it will cool your house and the air won't come on. The same goes for your heat. You might be thinking "well if it isn't going to turn on why not shut the air off?" Well because usually we don't remember to turn it back on until it is really hot in the house so it takes more work to cool off.
Clothing/ Household items
Go to thrift stores. It is fun and you save a lot of money. It does take some digging sometimes but you can find some great deals. I know that the last Saturday of each month Goodwill has half off a lot of their store.
Buy items at stores that have good return policies like Kohls or Lands End. They will return items anytime and it doesn't mater how long you have had the item. My husband bought a pair of shoes and a couple of months later there was a hole in them. They just gave us new shoes and since they didn't carry his any longer he got the newer model. We now try to buy things at these stores because we know in the end we will be saving a lot of money.
Craigslist. We use this all the time. We have used their free section and have gotten some great things. The trick is you need to set it up so it comes to you in your e-mail so you can be the first to respond because free items go quick.
Sign up for a stores e-mails. This is when I find out they are having sales and then I know when to go to their stores or when I should shop online. You can also get coupons this way as well.
For Diapers I use Amazon. I sign up for the subscribe and save program and I get about 30% off on diapers. This is cheaper then Sam's Club. I can set it up so it comes once a month or every other month and I never have to go to the store to get diapers. I wish they had more things that were as great of a deal because then I wouldn't have to go to the store so much.
Yard Sale. I have found that the best sales are the neighborhood sales. Just talk with your friends and usually they can tell you when their neighborhood sale is. You can get some great deals and you don't have to do a lot of driving. There are two great times to go, as soon as they open because you get the best stuff and latter in the day because they will give you things for 1/2 off or free.
If you have a g-mail account you can place calls from your computer (if you have speakers) for free as long as it is in the United States. I have been doing this for a little while and so far it is great. The only down fall is that you have to have your computer on and your account open to receive calls.
If you have an iphone you can get apps that let you call for free if you have Wireless internet. Usually all you have to do is give out the number they give you and people can call you and even leave messages. I know some apps it will come through your cell line if you are not in an area that has the internet.
Skype. This is a free service if you are calling in the United states. This also lets you see the person that you are talking to. You need a web cam, and some speakers and you are set.
There are lots of things out there to save you money. Just look at books and the internet and usually you can find something to help you save money. Just make sure that you research everything so you don' get scammed. Let me know if you have a way that you like to save money or if you have any questions about saving money that I can answer for you.