When your budget won't let you give gifts to everyone in the world—which is always, by the way—who should you give...
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Weekly library trips are fun. Brown-bag lunches are the norm. And eating at home is routine. Is there anything else you can do to see more money in your wallet this new year? Absolutely!
Dave’s active Facebook fans suggested some off-the-beaten-path ways to save some cash and have fun at the same time.
Family Fun in the Kitchen
Got kids (or a spouse) who beg for McDonald’s when you say “leftovers”? Take Heather Houze’s advice: “I always make extra servings [of food] and one night we have ‘second-chance buffet.’ No one ate leftovers till I renamed the meal!”
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Vernon Jones’ tip will make this “buffet” disappear even faster than you expect. During his family night, he lets the kids find recipes online and then help shop for the most cost-conscious items to make the dishes. Since everyone has a part in choosing the recipes, they’re more likely to gobble it up the second time around.
Not many people actually like washing dishes, but most people do like saving money. So how are they connected? Jason Thompson explains: “The number-one way we save money in our house is by washing the dishes every night. Before, we would look at the mountain of dirty dishes, sigh, and then go out to eat. Now the dishes are washed right after dinner, and it saves us hundreds of dollars per month.”
One of the biggest money-savers is taking a little time to plan. If extra time is only a dream in your world right now, do what Ali Sevier does—sign up for a meal-service plan. “Each week I get the shopping list, then go through my local ads and figure out who has it the least expensive. What I've paid for the service is made back super quickly. I'm saving a ton of money, and we're eating healthier (fresh fruits and veggies, balanced meals), even on a tight budget.” Take it one step further with E-mealz. You pick the store, and they send you a meal plan for the week based on the store’s sales.
It’s Time to Party!
Everyone needs to budget some fun into their lives! And Lynn Hunter says that hosting parties is a good way to save some money—really! “Plan simple get-togethers with simple treats (go potluck) centered around a game, a holiday, or an event. You will find that celebrating with friends and family creates an appreciation for the wealth at your fingertips rather than spending to find it.”
This idea can easily be transferred over to birthday parties for your kids without you feeling like a cheapskate. Lisa Williams let her 6-year-old daughter plan the last celebration—a dinosaur and cupcake-decorating home party—which was a ton of fun for everyone! Of course they chowed down on punch and cupcakes, but they also did a dino dig, ate popcorn, watched a dino cartoon, and left with goody bags full of inexpensive things from the dollar store.
Get Real Discounts
Just because something is on sale or at a “discount” store doesn’t automatically make it a deal for you. “It sounds backward, but stay out of the discount stores. There's always something there that you feel like you need,” Karen Lowry advised. If you stay out of these stores the majority of the time (and only go with a strict list), you’ll also avoid the temptation to start or continue collections. “Things that are really just money wasters—limited edition Christmas ornaments and Elvis plates—things that collect dust and don’t increase in value,” Karen also commented.
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Larinda Lolley has first-hand experience with getting a cash discount from a hospital. “When we get a bill from the hospital, we call and ask for a discount since we will be paying off the entire bill at once. We have saved a couple hundred dollars at one time doing this,” she said. You can also do this with most kinds of insurance premiums.
Have you ever considered YouTube as a “digital library”? Larry Kelly did and saved more than $100! “I repaired a computer monitor for $8 that Best Buy wanted to charge $150 just to look at,” he said. (Disclaimer: If you’ve tried stuff like this in the past only to mess it up and cost yourself more money, check with local freelancers you trust first.)
Networking doesn’t just consist of attending costly events. It can actually lead to saving you money, as Jen Lowman has discovered. “I networked within a group of other homeschool moms. I was able to borrow teacher's manuals and all the reading books needed, and I only needed to buy student worksheets for a total cost of $60. I was able to lend what I had and in the process saved myself more than $400! You can do this with just about anything!” she said.
New Year, New Results
Last but not least, Kevin DeMoss suggested the most entertaining thing we can all do: Send the prepaid envelopes back to the credit card companies with nothing in them but a picture of Dave. You are doing two things: introducing them to Dave and helping out the almost bankrupt USPS (not to mention saving yourself a ton of debt temptation too)!
It's time to get the new year off to a productive start! We're here to help you keep your momentum and focus throughout 2012. Discover how you can achieve new results in the coming months and make 2012 different!
Got some crazy ideas like these? Tell us how you are saving money this year by leaving a comment below.