November 25, 2009

How We Stay Afloat in This Economy -Yes, We're Really Not Made of Money!

In the past I have made it known on several occasions that we're not made on money. Yes, we are on a budget. Really, we are and I'm finally going to tell you how we do it for those who keep assuming we have money to spend.

Now I do want to make it known that while our budget is extremely strict, there are special treats for the kids(2 -5 kids ranging in ages 8 through 15) and the husband like eating out once in a while, a trip to our local coffee house and renting movies. And while those treats are rare, we felt cutting them out of the budget would make things really hard on everyone. And besides everyone needs a treat once in a while you know.

We do pay a house payment just like everyone else and we also pay the usual utilities such as electric, water, gas and trash. However, we do not have cable to watch television shows or a satellite dish. We watch movies that we own or rent from redbox which only cost us $1 each. We do have cable internet services however, simply because I work online.

We don't have a house phone though and while we both have cell phones, mine is at the lowest plan possible and my husband doesn't pay for his because it's a yearly Christmas gift from his mom. If we need a new cell phone we wait for our contract to need renewed and then get a free phone.

We of course have have a grocery bill, but I buy meats that are always 5 for $25 at a local store called Marvin's Food Saver. The entire bundle stretches easily for both lunches and dinners and there's always seconds and even thirds. The meats are also not just bologna or other processed meats. They are chicken breasts, steaks, pork and even fish.

On a family of 7 (when we've had all of the kids in the past), I could spend $80 a week without ever skimping on food. The kids eat well with fruits and vegetables for snacks and we rarely purchase process foods (unless my husband is absolutely insistent.lol). I get the fresh fruits and vegetables from our local farmer's market from spring until fall. It's not only a great way to save, but it also helps our community. I can get vegetables for as low as 25 cents each!!

And when the off peak season is here and the market isn't available I shop the produce section at Marvin's where I can buy overstock of vegetables for $1. And let me tell you they aren't small bags and the produce isn't going bad either. And with such huge bags I can chop and freeze the vegetables for future use.

It's also the same deal with bakery goods. We can get them at a reduced price for the day old stuff and it can always be frozen. But lately I've found it's healthier to make our own.

For herbs I have learned that a local shop called Magnolia Health and Home offers many herbs for under $2.00 an ounce and they're a whole lot fresher. It's half the price I tend to pay at our local food stores and even wal-mart. We also buy our teas there on occasions because they're just as reasonable as anywhere else and have a variety of flavors.

We don't buy soda. Soda gets saved for the occassional dining out and even then the kids usually prefer milk or juice over soda. We do drink coffee at home, but thanks to company reviews, friends and free samples, we haven't purchased coffee in months. The same goes for breakfast cereal (full boxes not little ones), pet foods (regular sized bags) and for tea. And we drink water from our tap and the kids drink milk and real fruit juice.

In the summer months I shop at yard sales. Yes, frown if you must, but you can easily find some great items there. Yard sales are great for clothing, household items and miscellaneous stuff like books, music and DVD's. And when yard sales are limited, we have a thrift store that offers all of their clothing at $1.

I also check freecycle where people locally are giving away clothing, household goods, animals, you name it! I also shop our local clothing stores' clearance racks where I've gotten t-shirts and tank tops for $1 each. And it's a wonderful way again to give back to the community and help those in need.

And as I've mentioned, another thing that helps our budget tremendously is the reviews I am asked to do from various companies. Not only do I receive a product to review, but a lot of times it's kids stuff that I can tuck away for Christmas and Birthdays. I also get beauty products and household cleaning supplies, clothing, fast food cards, gas cards, car accessories, books, music, movies, computer software, food and of course everything I get to keep. I also doesn't hurt when companies put you in drawings for free gift cards for stores like wal-mart, target and amazon which I just won one recently.

We also take advantage of our local Independence Public Library for books, DVDs and even kids activities like animal shows, science shows, etc. And we go to a lot of free events in our town such has live music, races, carnivals for the kids, etc.

And by the way, we usually just walk to the events which saves us money. We also don't drive anywhere we don't have to and in the summer months we've been known to walk to the library and even downtown. It not only saves our vehicle in gas and wear and tear, it also save the environment.

So while we're barely making it by, we still manage all of the extras thanks to companies and local businesses who want to help people saving during the economy as well as promote their business.

And one final note. The next time you believe someone has the money to spend or you think you just can't because the budget is at a zero -take a good hard look because there are always great opportunities all around. You just need to be willing to open your eyes.