I don’t know about you my dear readers (I have just finished watching Bridgerton on Netflix, can you tell), but this year has only just begun, and I am already feeling overwhelmed with all the changes that have been happening, especially in my household.
Unfortunately, the company I was working has closed due to COVID so like so many people in our country my family’s spending habits are going to have to undergo a drastic change as we are now a one income household. I will not lie; it is a very scary place to be! I know that even so, our family is still lucky that there is still an income coming in, so many families are having to try and exist on next to nothing.
It is because of this that I have decided to bring you a column full of my general ways to save money. I encourage you to read through them all and implement as many as you can.
WAYS TO SAVE ON YOUR MONTHLY FOOD BILL
This is one of the best ways to save on groceries every month. If you are new to meal planning, start with a simple meal plan and then slowly build it up. I have a 1-week meal plan. I work out my 7 dinner meals according to what is on special in my area and go from there. Breakfasts in my household consist of cereal for my oldest son and hubby and a home-made muffin and yoghurt for my youngest son. They are all very particular about what they want so I am not going to mess with morning meals. Lunch in our house is just sandwiches or rolls so not much I can change there either. Our dinner meals are what I really want to be able to save as much money as I possibly can.
SHOP AT HOME
Do not let food you have already bought or food that is sitting in your cupboard/freezer go to waste because that is just money you are throwing down the drain. Before I do my monthly grocery shopping it check all my kitchen cupboards, fridge and freezer and take stock at what I already have so I am careful that I do not buy more of what I already have. The part I find the most difficult is that I really battle not to buy the specials! That is something I know I need to work on. Just because it is on special it does not mean I HAVE to buy it, especially if I already have that item at home so it potentially could just go to waste and therefore there is nothing special about it.
MAKE A GROCERY/SHOPPING LIST AND STICK TO IT
Again, this is something I battle with. I am all fine to make the grocery list, but it is the “sticking to it” part where I have my problems. I am always so tempted to add a few extra things into my trolley that are not on said shopping list as I go through the store and wow all those “little things” they add up! Stick to your shopping list that is why you have it.
SHOP GENERIC / HOUSEHOLD BRANDS
This is something that I DO stick to. In my opinion the generic grocery branded items are just as good as the expensive name branded items. I shop generic as much as possible (even for medication if possible) and that saves me money. My family are not going to be able to tell the difference between no name branded pasta vs name branded pasta, but my purse is going to know the difference 😊 Obviously there are a few exceptions but that is all personal preference.
BUY AND COOK IN BULK
I do this every month after doing our monthly shopping, mainly with our red meat dishes. I buy mince and stewing meat in bulk and then I set aside an afternoon and I cook a huge pot of savoury mine and a big pot of stew. I add in all sorts of veggies and potatoes etc (you can add soya mince too to add even more bulk) and then I portion it all out and freeze it for dinners during the month. Not only does it save you money by buying in bulk, but you also save on both time and electricity because the days you eat your freezer meals you basically are just heating and eating. If you follow my column you will know I found out recently that you can even cook rice in bulk and freeze it so I will be doing that too.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF STORE LOYALTY CARDS
Again, if you have read my previous columns this savings tip will not be new to you. Pick ‘n Pay, Spar, Checkers, Dischem, Clicks, in fact probably just about any major retailer nowadays has a loyalty card/ reward system. I swipe my Pick ‘n Pay, Spar and Clicks cards regularly as they are the places I shop at the most and I save up all my points and use them around Christmas time. It is amazing how much it adds up to, one year I managed to buy a full month’s groceries just using my loyalty card points at the different shops.
WAYS TO CUT DOWN ON YOUR GENERAL SPENDING BUT STILL DO LIFE
USE THE FREE RESOURCES AROUND YOU
You do not have to spend money on movies, books and magazines. Visit your local library and see what they have to offer. Currently at our library as a family we can take out 40 books for a month – that is enough for even a bookworm like me. Look around you and see what else you can make use of. We are incredibly lucky to have 3 community parks within walking distance of our house and we spend time there riding bikes, walking and having picnics, it is brilliant family time and lots of fun without a price tag. Spending time on the beach is another wonderful yet free thing you can do with your family if you are lucky enough to live on the coast.
PLAN A NIGHT IN INSTEAD OF A NIGHT OUT
This is also a great idea to try and keep your costs down while still being sociable. Instead of going out to an expensive dinner with friends, why not organise a dinner at home. You each take turns to host and turn it into a “bring and share” scenario where each person brings a plate of eats with them to share with the rest. Also, being at home you do not need to organise a babysitter if you have kids which also is a money saver.
TRY OUT A CAMPING HOLIDAY
When my hubby and I first got married we were flat out broke, but we still wanted to go on a bit of a holiday, so instead of springing for an expensive hotel that we could not afford we borrowed some gear from friends and went camping. The weather did not really cooperate, but we had a wonderful time at a fraction of the cost. In fact I am hoping to convince my husband we need to take our kids camping sometime.
YOU DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO BUY NEW
When we are looking for something for our house or garden the first place I go onto is Marketplace on Facebook. We have bought a few wonderful pieces of furniture as well as bits and bobs for our garden at great prices. Personally, I don’t buy 2nd hand appliances but that is because I don’t know anything about them, and I feel better buying those new with warranties and guarantees but anything from games to furniture and even grass and compost we have bought very successfully from Marketplace with no regrets.
DO YOUR RESEARCH AND PRICE CHECK
If you are in the market for something like a large appliance do your research, do not just go out and buy. Read reviews and do price checks between different shops. I have found a few times that it might be advertised by being on special, but another shop has the same product at a cheaper price, or you can get some retailers to match prices. On that note also you need to weigh up your options, sometimes it is better to buy something a bit more expensive, but you know it is going to last a lot longer than something that is much cheaper which will break easier. You will be spending a bit more now but in the long run you are saving money.
ADJUST YOUR INSURANCE EVERY YEAR
I don’t know much in terms of saving money from this point of view, but this is something our insurance broker advised us to do a while ago. Every year things like your car or possessions depreciate and a lot of insurance companies do not automatically adjust your policies accordingly. Once a year contact them and get them to do that, it could save you a lot of money!
CANCEL MEMBERSHIPS AND SUBSCRIPTIONS THAT ARE NOT USED
A few years ago I made the huge mistake of taking out a gym membership. I was on a “health kick” and I had convinced myself that I WOULD go to gym every day. Long story short I took out a year’s membership and ended up at the gym maybe a handful of times… what a waste of my hard-earned money! I have since learned my lesson about signing up to memberships. Another great example is do you really need Netflix, Showmax, Amazon Prime and DSTV? I found at one point we had everything, but we only ever really used Netflix regularly, so I cancelled everything else and you know what, we have hardly missed the others at all.
So, there you have it, those are the top money saving tips that I use in my daily life. I hope that after reading them they will inspire you to do the same.
Until next time,
My family are not going to be able to tell the difference between no name branded pasta vs name branded pasta, but my purse is going to know the difference