How's your piggy bank looking?

Everyone is feeling the crunch these days. It's hard to save when it takes every dime you make just to keep a roof over your head and food on your table, not to mention gas in your car.

Growing up in a family with four kids, you learn to stretch every penny. Over the years, I have found ways to make my dollars go farther. I thought I would share some of those tips today.
Many of you know I love to read. I can read one, sometimes 2 books a week. With a paperback book now costing $7.99 and up, it is too expensive to buy new books. I keep a running list of new releases so I don't forget what I want to read. Every few months, I take a trip to a local used book store, McKay's. I'll take all my old books & trade them in for McKay Money. I normally earn anywhere from $20 - $40 dollars that I can spend on more books. The key is to look closely at the used books for sale. If one is in mint condition, you could pay $3.95 for it. However, if you look at all the copies, there may be one that has a bent corner or a slight mar on the cover and they have those marked anywhere from .75 - $1.25.  Once you read them, you can take them back and get more money to get more books. Don't have a lot of used books setting around? Go to yard sales and buy some off the 10 books for $1.00 shelf to get yourself started. They don't even have to be books you'll read, they just give you a chance to have something to swap.
Does your local grocery store have a value card? I love my Food City card. I don't even purchase a newspaper without scanning my card. Many items are heavily discounted if you have a store card. Just about every time I shop at Food City, I have at least $2-$3 savings at the bottom of my receipt. When we get "weekly" groceries, I have saved in excess of $20 - $30 in some cases....without counting any coupons I used.

Visit Shortcuts.com
This is a neat site. It has electronic coupons that you can add right to your stores card (such as Kroger). That way you have no need to carry a ton of coupons. Just click an item and add it to your store card. When you purchase the item and use your card, the savings will automatically be deducted. The site also has printable and electronic coupons. Be sure and watch for double coupon stores.

I hate utility bills. We decided to see what we could do to save on our water and electric. These are things we used to do back in our younger days, but over the years have gotten a little relaxed about it. We have cut the amount of time we spend in the shower by about 5 minutes. When I take my bubble bath, I run about 1/2" less water for my soak. We don't use our dishwasher. With just the two of us, we can hand wash faster and use less water. We now do laundry one day a week (I have a zillion towels and wash cloths, so this is very doable). We place the maximum amount of clothes in each load. Since cutting out those little 1/2 loads mid week, we have been saving as well on the electricity for the dryer. Bottom line? Our water bill averages $55 - $59 per month. Since we have made those changes these past three months, our bill is running between $34 - $37.

Same thing with the electric. We make sure we do not leave the lights on when we are done in a room (a bad habit of mine). As I stated before, the laundry being done once a week has kept the electric dryer down. I have a fax machine for my work. I used to leave it on 24/7, but realized that most of my faxes were outgoing and I always know beforehand if someone is going to be faxing me anything. So now I turn it on at 8 and off at 5. I replaced two electric clocks with two battery powered clocks in the bedroom. We each have our own alarm clock. But you are only in your bedroom at night, so why should a clock be using electric all day. We have been using our toaster oven for small things like biscuits, pizza's, fish sticks...little things that take just about 10 minutes in the toaster oven. It heats up faster than a conventional oven, saving time and electricity. We also keep my little coffee pot unplugged (again, clock is being powered) unless I'm going to use it. It is only used for hot water for my hot chocolate, which I don't drink daily. I don't leave my printer on. I turn it on if I'm going to be doing any work that will require me to print anything. Bottom line? In the past few years, our electric bill for Feb - Mar averages around $156. Since making these changes, Feb was $115 and Mar was $110.

Check back tomorrow for more savings tips......


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Deb said...
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