Here's a quick list of the main ingredients to my frugal lifestyle:
I'm a bargain hunter! I rarely, if ever, buy anything that is not on clearance or deeply discounted. I shop for Winter clothes at the beginning of Summer when department stores are trying to clear their shelves to make room for Summer and Fall. I shop for Summer clothes in the Fall when they go on clearance. I can usually get the best deals at the more expensive children's stores thanks to clearance and shopper's "bucks" like Crazy Cash or Gymbucks.
The best time to purchase holiday items are right after the holiday ends. Walmart almost always discounts all of their bath sets and other holiday special sets by 50% starting on Dec. 26th, as well as all of their holiday merchandise. I typically do half of all my Christmas shopping the day after Christmas. I get gift wrap, decor, gifts, etc.
Coupons are fantastic, but there are a few "rules." First, don't buy something just for the sake of using a coupon. Some people use coupons and buy things they wouldn't normally use, and end up throwing away. Only buy the things your family normally uses. Cross reference your coupons with store specials and price matches. That is the ultimate way to stretch your dollar. I often pair coupons with register cash and price matches to get the bottom price. Sometimes the off brand is still cheaper, so that is something to keep in mind. There are loads of Facebook pages and websites dedicated to teaching you how to coupon. I typically get mine online or out of the Sunday paper. BUT you have to be careful! Some online coupon sites are havens for spyware. Here is a great link to help you learn the couponing ways: http://www.familyfriendlyfrugality.com/strategic-shopping-how-to-use-coupons-effectively/
I LOVE points cards and shoppers cards that reward you with extra discounts. I have a Shop Your Way rewards card from Sears/K Mart, and I've gotten several free gift cards just from buying what I normally would buy. Plus, I get coupons for extra savings! And always check your sales receipt. A lot of times coupons will be printed on the bottom, or you can get free gift cards or coupons for completing short surveys. Just today I got a $5.00 off a $25.00 purchase this Saturday only at Dollar General!
I always check the meat department for daily specials. Often times, these are items that have a sell by date of that date or the next. I once stocked my freezer with 20 pounds of various cuts of chicken for less than .99/pound! I always buy the larger family packs when they are on sale, then I break them down into individual meals and freeze in smaller portions. I always cross reference the freezer and pantry to see what I need in relation to the meals I have planned. (MEAL PLANNING IS AWESOME!) I save a lot of money this way. I set up a monthly menu, go through the kitchen to see what I need, and what I have on hand, then I create a shopping list. I try to get as many of the non perishables as I can. The less frequently you go into the store, the more money you save due to the lack of impulse buys. I found that one carton of eggs would end up costing me $30+ in impulse buys!Here is a link that will show you How to Meal Plan.
I hit up special sales and stock up on frequently used items. Back to school sales are the best! I load up on crayons, markers, pens, pencils, paper, etc. with these sales. I get enough to last through out the year, and even enough for spur of the moment gifts. I am a crazy Black Friday shopper. I start scanning popular sites such as www.bfads.net at the end of October to see what will be on sale. I am conscience of how much I will truly be saving. I purchased 1600 legos a Walmart for only $30.00, this was a great buy. But some others aren't that great, so be mindful of what you actually need. I scored HUGE cans of BIG SEXY HAIR hairspray at ULTA beauty for only 6.99, again a huge savings. I also think ahead. I found some leftover Black Friday goodies this week at Walmart marked down. So that color lab that was $8.88 was marked down to $5.00, so I grabbed one to put back for my son's brithday in JUNE. It's only $5.00, it's a great gift, so my pocketbook is happy!
Gifts: Speaking of gifts, I tend to keep a few things on hand for those moments when you've forgotten about a birthday, or you get a surprise gift. I get these when they are on a deep sale or clearance. I keep a small supply of candles, bath goods, children's art and books, and the like. This way if someone has a birthday and funds are a little stretched I can easily throw together a gift bag of goodies that make a really nice gift! I had a few unexpected gifts to buy at Christmas, and I used items from my gift stash to fill the gaps. I also periodically go through the clearance aisles and get little things here and there. I got my mom, sitter, and niece some great things for Christmas from a 90% off spring items sale! .30 for a gift, not too shabby!
Save the Gift bags! When someone gives you a gift in a gift bag, save the bag for another gift! YES...I re-gift them! Why throw them away????
These are just a few of the ways I run our household on a frugal dime. I find deals, I only take in cash, and I set a budget that we stick to. Next time, I will show you how to entertain and go on vacation in a frugal lifestyle!
If you would like to read more great tips on living frugally, check out some more great blogs from the Schoolhouse Review Crew! Just click the banner below! And don't forget to check back weekly to my Blog here at The Open Window for more great money saving tips! If you haven't already, please click on the Facebook banner above and join The Open Window Facebook blog page for great tips, helpful advice, and conversation!