Cut Costs

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Being a family of 7 on a shoestring budget, we often have to get creative with ways to get through our day-to-day. With Christmas coming up sooner than it seems, I was thinking about ways we do our best to cut costs here and there. Everyone seems to have their favorite ways of doing things and what works for some may not work for others. Nonetheless, here are the top 5 ways we cut on costs:

  1. Haircuts at Home – I know, I know. This can be a scary thought! I have seen some pretty bad home haircuts but, well, I have been practicing for a while. I began cutting my husband’s hair just after we were married {which is just about 17 years now} and his last haircut looked pretty good… if I do say so myself. It did not start out looking so good… more like a chili bowl cut… but it looks much better now. Plus, with the girls, they typically just need a trim or some bangs cut and those are simple. Now my {almost} 16 year old daughter, Pepper, has gotten a bit “fancy” on me in the past year or so, but thanks to YouTube and carefully studied tutorials she has had some great looking hair! And with Jake, he is into that long, shaggy, sweep all the hair to the front look… but we have got that down as well. Once we invested in some thinning shears this past year we were all able to go to “new dimensions” with our hairstyles! I am also slowly teaching Pepper so that she too can cut hair and help me more when it is time to cut mine.
  2. Coupons and Price Comparison – Let me preface this by saying, {#1} I am NOT a shopper and {#2} I am NOT a coupon lady. I cannot even justify the money spent on newspapers every weekend to even buy a newspaper. Why? We found that we did not use most of the items there were coupons for and would not purchase them if we were not given a coupon. Plus, we simply do not have the room for any stock piles. Our family supply of food and toiletries on a normal basis take up enough room and we do not have room for more than we can use. But, we do use coupons for items we were already planning on buying and the coupons can be obtained without purchasing anything. Printable or mobile coupons are my favorite! Mobile more than any other. I like to use Foursquare to help determine where to eat or shop by looking at the specials nearby just for checking in. On top of that, knowing Walmart will price match just about anything, all we need is a sale price and we can pick the item up on our weekly shopping trip there.
  3. Eating In and Out – We have found that eating both in and out can actually save us more according to the day of the week. For instance, a local Mexican restaurant has kids eat free on Mondays and Tuesdays… 2 children per 1 adult. So, if my husband and I both order a meal, we can get 4 kids meals free, leaving just one more dinner to pay for. By ordering water and a budget-friendly meal, we can often still eat cheaper out than we could have at home. Sometimes. We weigh out the options and decide which way would be more cost efficient and go from there. Often it is actually easier and less expensive to eat at home depending on the food in the house and the number of children at home for the evening.
  4. DIY Everything – I know I already mentioned home haircuts, but we tend to try and do everything in some do-it-yourself manner. The kids like to do crafts so we often paint on pizza or cereal boxes to save paper. We have made our own play dough, piñatas, detergent, clothes and more. If there is a way to make it on our own that is cheaper than buying it then we do it. Thankfully it helps that my mom is an excellent seamstress and my dad is a skilled carpenter and mechanic. These skills alone save us hundreds.
  5. Free or Gently Used – If we do not have the cash for a purchase then we simply cannot have it. We do not use any credit cards and enjoy being debt-free {except for our truck}. Therefore, and Craigslist can be our best friends sometimes! We have no problem using gently used or free items from others. In fact, often times we do not even have to go looking for things. People at our church know our family and we are frequently asked to “come outside” after church to grab a bag of clothes or a bike that their child has outgrown. We learned long ago not to be proud and to accept the blessings of others so that they, in return, can receive their own blessing. Being humble is easy when you know no other way.

Well, there you have it. A quick glimpse of the way we make ends meet without much coming in. Of course, there are other ways we save and these may not be the best way to do things… but they work for us and fit our family so we do alright by them. How about you? What are your best cost cutter tips? I may give one or two a try… if I could ever bring myself to change the way I do something. You know the saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” 🙂

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