Welcome to a Week in the Life. Each week (or month, ACK) I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money or time. Or both. The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping.
This summer has been a rough one already for money-saving antics. We have been completely landscaping our backyard, building a giant playset, going to BBQs just about every day of each weekend and generally forgetting how NOT to spend money.
We’ve still had our usual suspects, like packing lunch and snacks for my husband to take to work instead of eating out, sort of kind of attempting to meal plan, using a few coupons at the drug store and grocery store. However, we have also been ignoring the use of our credit card, spending far too much on gas and not remembering how to say no because we probably “just can’t afford it”. Yikes. I’ve been trying to convince myself to keep posting my Week in the Life series, but truth be told, I’ve been a smidge ashamed at our spending habits.
Here are a few things we have managed to eke out in the midst of all the chaos.
Our oldest son had Vacation Bible School for a full week that ran from 9 AM to about noon. We went around 11:30 to watch their cute little finale and sing-along, but this also meant that our 3-year old ate lunch late and napped late. What I wanted to do every day was just stop and pick something up for lunch since we very rarely went back home while he was at school.
What I did instead was pack them lunch each morning before we left and kept them in the car in a little cooler. This saved a ton of money (at least $10 per day, if not more) and was significantly healthier. The boys ate lunch on the way home, they had full bellies and nobody fell asleep. Win win.
Free Streaming on Amazon Prime
I have mentioned the many benefits of a yearly Amazon Prime membership before, like FREE 2-day shipping on most items and monthly eBook rentals for your Kindle or PC, but my FAVORITE feature has to be the movie/TV streaming. They have thousands of shows and movies available to stream through your Internet-enabled TV, PS3, Xbox 360 and more. We use a Roku box that connects to our wireless Internet and it’s amazing.
We don’t watch a ton of cartoons, but I’ve noticed in the summer the TV has been on a little more (read: Before I’ve had my first cup of coffee). No matter what option I give our boys, they always fight. Even if one wanted to watch Mickey Mouse the day before, no way does he want to watch it today if brother does. NO WAY. So currently, we are working our way through all the seasons of Curious George for free on Amazon Prime. I have to start each episode, so it’s easy to limit. There is a huge selection of kids shows to choose from, including Dora and Diego, Scooby Doo, Blue’s Clues and more.
We have also watched tons of free movies and documentaries (and there are some you can rent for a fairly low price). I went out with some girlfriends last week and the boys watched The Avengers while wearing their super hero costumes. For free!
Homemade vs Store Bought
Our grocery budget has definitely hiked up since switching to mostly whole foods and no grains. Even though we eliminated most dairy, rice, grain flours, breads and sugars, we have ended up paying more on a larger stock of lean meats and fresh veggies. We are still working through how best to lower our grocery budget, but one of the things we have done is try our hand at making some of the items that are super expensive in the store.
Case in point: almond butter. Have you seen the price of this stuff at the grocery store? Even at Costco, it’s kind of atrocious.
I literally throw raw almonds into my food processor and after 20 minutes of scraping down the sides and remixing, there is this magical moment where it just transforms into almond butter. It goes from dust to butter after the oils in the almonds have a chance to warm up.
I use almonds from Costco (about $4 worth) and end up with the same amount I would have bought at the store for almost $10. Brilliant.
If you’re interested, I followed these directions.
Question: How do you limit your spending during the summer with so many opportunities for camping trips, short vacations, BBQs, swimming lessons and heaven knows what else? How do you keep yourself on a budget?
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