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As a mom of three kiddos, I could certainly use some more time and money. It always seems like I'm running out of both! I remember when we used to live paycheck to paycheck and the stress it would put on our marriage. I remember being so busy that I didn't have time to do the things I loved. Well, fortunately, the times, they are a-changing.
After some soul-searching and making a few changes, my family and I have finally gotten into a good rhythm. We are able to make ends meet and now have more time to spend with one another and to do the things we love. Here are 12 practical tips for saving time and money that work for us and hopefully work for you too!
1. Buy in bulk. We finally bit the bullet and purchased a small deep freezer (off Craigslist, mind you.) Our goal is to buy our meat in bulk (maybe even half a pig/cow, etc.) so that we always have food available. Meat aside, there are lots of things you can purchase in bulk to help save time/money
Milk. The girls go through a gallon of whole milk in about 2-4 days, so I try to buy 2 gallons at a time so we don't have to make an unnecessary trip to the store.
Beans. Beans are cheap and good for you and we eat them a lot. When they're on my list to buy, I always get extra.
Toilet paper. It's SO MUCH CHEAPER in bulk.
Laundry detergent, diapers,etc. You can buy nearly everything you need at a big-box membership store or from Amazon Prime which saves so much time and money in the long run.
2. Stock up during sales. Anytime a grocery store has an awesome sale on produce, I stock up. Especially if I can freeze it to save for later. There's a grocery store in town that has frequent sales on meat. When they do, I buy as much as I can and stick it in the freezer. Any time pricey things that we use/eat a lot are on sale, I stock up. Olive oil. Meat. Organic everything. Deodorant. Soap. Toothpaste. You get my point.
3. Double a recipe. If you're cooking for 2-4 people, this is super easy to do. It adds just a few minutes of cooking time and saves you SO MUCH TIME in the future. I always double a recipe if it can be frozen. Soup. Stew. Lasagnas. Cinnamon Rolls. Wheat sandwich bread. Shredded chicken. The list goes on and on. We used to waste so much money on nights when we didn't have any food in the house because we'd go to a restaurant instead. Now, we've always got a back-up. Pro tip:Make all your meals for the week on Sunday. It will take you 1-2 hours, but then you don't have to do a thing on weeknights!
4. Freeze things. When you buy in bulk, stock up during sales, or double a recipe, you've got to utilize the freezer! Just label things and keep it organized so that it's easy to find. If you've got something that's about to go bad, try freezing it! I do this a lot with chicken broth, buttermilk, and tomato paste or tomato sauce. It seems like I never need the entire container, but they freeze really well. You can also freeze already-made foods to save time later. Cookies. Waffles. Muffins. Bread. The things that make a huge recipe!
If I had a dollar for every time we went to the store and only got groceries for that night, I'd be a rich, rich woman
5. Use dryer balls. If you're like us, the laundry is never done. Ever. Even when you do 8 million loads in one day, there's already another laundry basket filling up again. A local friend of mine made me some wool dryer balls and they have cut our drying time in HALF! I kid you not. Not only are we saving a little bit of electricity, we are saving tons of time.
6. Utilize a clothesline. You can save on your electricity bill by air-drying your laundry. If it's warm where you live, an outdoor clothesline is ideal. If not, grab a drying rack and put it to use inside. What's good for the planet is also good for your wallet!
7. Open the windows. When the weather is nice, especially during the fall and spring, open your windows! There's no need to pay for heat or air conditioning when opening the windows can help regulate the temperature and bring in some fresh air.
8. Say no to paper products. We used to spend anywhere from $20-$50 a month on paper products. Paper plates, paper towels, etc. While they are super convenient, they are also super wasteful. It takes half a second to rinse a dish and put it in the dishwasher. You can save yourself over $400 a year just by cutting out paper products.
9. Fill up the tank. I don't know why, but I used to only put 20 or 30 bucks in my car at a time. Maybe I was hoping the price would drop? I don't know. Lately, I've been filling up all the way, every time. Instead of making multiple trips to the gas station each week, I usually go just once. That's about an hour's worth of time that I now have with my family.
10. Make lists. If I had a dollar for every time we went to the store and only got groceries for that night, I'd be a rich, rich woman. I always have a grocery list, a Target list, and a to-do list in my phone. We try our best to only go to the store once a week. Same with Target. And if we have another errand that needs to be done, like the post office or the library, we try to do it during the same outing.
11. Grow a garden.Gardening can seem intimidating. I get that. But I promise you, if you have two hands and some good dirt, you can make something grow. We spend about $50 on our garden each year and reap the benefits because of it. I love cooking with fresh herbs. Fresh herbs from the grocery store are EXPENSIVE. Often, more expensive than a plant itself! There is nothing like the satisfaction of picking your own basil, parsley, or rosemary straight from your backyard and chopping it up for your recipe. Same with veggies. Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash. These things are SO easy to grow. Fun and saves you money!
12. Turn off your TV. We actually got rid of cable a couple of years ago and I think it was the single best decision we have ever made in terms of spending our lives the way we'd like to. We still have a TV for watching Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or movies, but we're no longer wasting time watching crap TV every night like we used to. That time is now spent together, doing the things we love.