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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

10 Simple Ways to Save Money

At the beginning of the year, Wes and I looked at our budget, and realized we have been spending a lot more since having a second baby. Some of the expense is formula we didn't initially plan on having to buy. We also had been spending more just because of lack of time and energy since adjusting to life with 2 littles.

We wanted to get back on track and stay within our budget. We also would like to save. We have a list of things that are important for us to save up for by the end of the year. We need a new vehicle-- I'm gonna be honest, a minivan is on my wish list. Yes, we are to that point in life. ;) We would like to move closer to the places we go daily and weekly (work, church, preschool, friends). We live a ways out of the city, and everything we do is either in or just outside of it. Also, now we have to buy Joslynne her own plane ticket when we travel. And, since the girls have a baby cousin on the way, traveling is just going to have to happen. Often. ;) We've been wanting to make some changes to safer, healthier products in our home for a while now too!

Last week I shared all the ways we've been working to save money on food. You can find that post here! There have been a few changes we've made to get more than just our grocery bill down. 

We started doing simple things that don't disrupt out lives or take too much time! :)

Use EveryDollar
We use the EveryDollar website to look at our budget every month. There is an app too! You can input your income, then break down how much you've spent by category. We set a budget for each category and the site will show how much more you can spend in each as you enter purchases or how much over budget you went in that area. It helped us so much to have an amount in mind for each area of our lives and be conscious of how much we can spend. You can look back at other months and see how you're comparing from month to month. I think it's a fun thing to do and it's kind of become a game for me each month to see how much better I can do than last month.

It's encouraging to the see the progress. We also can see where to prioritize, and you find out how much you can live without when you intentionally focus on each category. :)

Use a Credit Card with a Incentive Program
We use American Express for groceries, gas and big purchases. We pay it off at the end of the month. So we still only spend what we have, but the points back for using the card are worth it. We get points  to spend on traveling, which we do often to visit my family. This American Express card also allows me and everyone traveling with me to check free bags. It's really nice that our everyday purchases that don't take any extra time or effort, are funding our trips home! You can get 70,000 miles (about 1 ticket across the country) when you sign up!

Decrease Use of Paper Products
We stopped buying as many paper goods and try to use dishes, containers, and baby food pouches we can reuse. We also use microfiber cloths to wipe things down and less paper towels. :) I honestly still have a stash of paper plates and paper towels, but they last forever when we save them for when we are in a Time crunch.

Cut Hair at Home
I started cutting Wes's hair at home years ago. This kit of razor and scissors was less than $40 and it paid for itself after 2 haircuts! I don't do it every time especially when we have a newborn, but it has saved us a lot! It's also much easier to learn than I expected. ;) Wes's dad just told us that he calculated he saved about $8000 by cutting his and his boys' own hair over the years! 

Amazon Subscribe & Save
We love using Amazon Subscribe & Save for things we purchase regularly. Items on Amazon are discounted with Subscribe & Save and you can unlock even more discounts when you order 5 items. You can choose how often each product comes to you, skip months, and add or cancel items anytime. Amazon sends an email a few days before your items ship to give you a heads up to make any changes you'd like.

Our girls do best with Huggies diapers, and this has been the cheapest way to order them. Diapers and wipes are discounted even further than other products through Subscribe and Save!

Rewards Program for Formula
I haven't checked other brands, but I would think most have some sort of rewards program! We use Enfamil and joined their Family Beginnings program. You just create a free account and include your email. We get multiple $5 and $10 coupons in the mail every month!

Ordering from the website is the cheapest option a lot of the time! They have sales often. They also offer free shipping over $50 and you can buy in bulk. You earn points back with each order that can be redeemed for free cans of formula as well!

When we have to grab formula in the store, I assumed Walmart would be the cheapest option. I was surprised how much the prices vary between grocery stores. We have found the cheapest prices at Costco (when they carry our brand) and Lucky (a local grocery store). So, it's worth comparing prices. A couple dollars makes a huge difference with something we have to buy so much of!

Use More Concentrated Products
We have saved quite a bit by using concentrated products for cleaning. We use Young Living's Thieves Cleaner which comes as a concentrate. We add capfuls of the concentrate to a reusable glass bottle with water and the concentrate lasts for months! The nice thing is that Young Living doesn't charge to ship water. Many of their products are concentrated and we add our own water and use glass containers and bottles.

We do this with All Purpose Cleaner (Counters, sink, bathrooms, toilet bowl, floors, everything!), Dish soap, Laundry Detergent, and Hand Soap.

I used to have a swiffer mop and kept buying the disposable pads for it. Last year I bought a spray mop and just wash the pads and refill the mop(similar to ours)! I fill it with water, white vinegar, and Thieves Cleaner. :)

Health Incentives
We found out that Wes's employer not only reimburses us for 50% of what we spend on health/fitness memberships like the gym, but there is also an incentive program to take dollars off our insurance premium. We get $3 off the premium for every 30 minutes of physical activity up to a certain amount per quarter. We just enter our minutes for anything from skiing to walking or even rigorous housework! It's worth checking what your company offers!

Since Wes works downtown, he also found out that his company will pay for a bus pass. Our city is pushing for less vehicles to improve the air quality. Other big cities might do the same. ;)  He started taking the bus in to work as much as possible and it saves a ton on gas and parking. It's also less miles on our car. ;)

Boost Immune System
When Joslynne was a baby, we were sick all the time. We had multiple visits to the doctor that year. She and I were sick everytime we traveled. We caught everything. That was even more expensive since the only option while traveling is an urgent care.

Since being intentional about our health, we have seen SUCH a difference. We haven't been to the doctor at all for sick visits this year!

Here's what we've been doing:
Thieves is an essential oil blend that is amazing for boosting immune systems. Wes and I put a drop of thieves vitality in water to help keep us from getting sick. We also diffuse thieves in our home almost everyday.
  • Wellness Rollers
We roll a blend of essential oils on the bottom of our kids' feet and down their spines everyday. We use wellness rollers on ourselves too.

Baby Wellness Roller

Kid's Wellness Roller

Adult Wellness Roller
  • Antioxidants
We drink an antioxidant drink called NingXia Red made from Gogi Berries. It is packed full of antioxidants and is powerful to keep our immune systems up.

FUN FACT: The name comes from the thieves who used these same elements on their bodies before going to rob homes and bodies during the Plague. The blend of cinnamon bark, clove, eucalyptus, and citrus is naturally antibacterial and helped keep them from getting the Plague themselves.

Let me know if you have any other tips that have helped you! We are on the hunt for all the ideas!

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