Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cutting Costs - Help!

As many of you know, I recently entered the exciting yet frightening world of self-employment, where you enjoy a degree of extra freedom but also grapple with the uncertainty of not knowing how much money you'll bring home any given week.

It's great.

I've always been one to seek the good deals, but it's never been as important as it is now that my family is depending on my fluctuating income. So, my goal is to figure out whatever saving/ stretching money strategies I can. I'm going to tell you about a few of the things I do, and I'd really love to hear your suggestions too!

Consignment slippers = $2. Yoda feet for your kid = priceless.

1.  Consignment shopping.  This is a huge one for me, and not just because I enjoy finding gently used brand name clothing, toys and/or books....although I do, a lot.  Instead, I have really been able to pad my income by selling my own clothes. I go to stores where you get paid upfront and get a good value for your stuff.

You just drop off a big bag of clothes and come back the next day to claim your money or store credit. Whatever they don't buy from you can just be donated to Goodwill (where I also shop), so either way you're getting rid of stuff for which you may not have use or space. Often the store credit is a better value than the cash, but it just depends on what you need at the time.

Using this resource, I got two $80 winter coats for free this year, both of which are name brand and are in excellent shape.  Before I sold my stuff, I really didn't know how I was going to buy the winter wear I needed. Then the other week, I forgot I had important prescription refills to pick up. Thanks to another consignment sale, I ended up with an extra $75 so I was able to get them.

I definitely recommend scoping out the consignment shops in your area.

2.  Buying in bulk.  For a long time I resisted membership in bulk purchase stores like Sam's Club, in large part because I had nowhere to put all the stuff. But now that I do, I am sold on the value of buying in bulk. It's nice, especially with a variable income, to know there will be a week or two where you don't have to buy toilet paper or pull ups or dog food. The annual membership fee is quickly made up with what you save in one or two trips, but the savings last all year.

3.  Using coupon books.   We just bought a coupon book from our friend's daughter, and the coupons are good all year.  A lot of them are for restaurant and other entertainment options, which can be hard to afford in general, but especially when you have kids.  There are a lot of "buy one get one free options" too.

Photo from

The best part of the book, though, is the free trial offerings, like a week of free yoga classes. I really need to remember I have these, because the book contains a free week at several different places, so I could get almost a month of free yoga. This chills me out enough that it's not only a good value for me, but also for anyone who happens to be around me.

Speaking of coupons and discounts, I have a lot of friends who use Groupon and other online savings sites. I haven't tried those yet but would be interested to hear what you think of them.

Do you have any other ideas that provide a real savings benefit for you and your family?  Please share them with us in the comments!


  1. We do a lot of cost cutting in our house. Menu planning helps with grocery shopping and each person in the house picks a meal or two so everyone gets what they want. We have the kids pick out 1 snack a week that way we don't have a lot of waste in food. We are looking into using a new phone system that you pay for the box (like a vonage system) but with no monthly fee. Cutting cable down for us has helped us save a ton. For clothes I usually put a note on Facebook on the sizes I need or am giving away to create the very important "network" of trading. Eating out is a huge expense for us so we limit ourselves to once a week or even splurging a little on a nice cut of meat that is still cheaper than going out. 

  2. Yes, more menu planning would be very helpful for us. I think we always eat the same stuff because I'm a reluctant cook and $ is tight. LOL. That's a great idea too about letting the kids participate in picking stuff. Awesome! And agreed on the trading - we've been really fortunate in that regard.