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Moms Talk: Pinching Pennies

Familes can save money by following these great tips.

“Ouch” at the gas pump this morning!

Every day the price is creeping up and driving up other costs as well. I’m sure that I’m not alone in my grocery bill more than doubling for the same amount I normally purchase. I get it. Everyone is feeling the pinch and has to make up for it somehow, but it’s really putting families in a bind in an already-difficult economic time. 

My kids even asked for an increase in their allowance! When it seems as if a dollar can’t stretch as far as it used to, there are ways families can cut back and really make a difference in the wallet.

Do you really need it? Sometimes this means going back to the basics. We all learn early on the difference between a want and a need. When things are more financially comfortable, we tend to splurge on items on which we may not otherwise indulge. When contemplating a new purchase, be honest and ask yourself if it is a true need or if it something that you can get by without. This also equates to getting rid of things you currently have such as cutting out premium cable channels, DVRs and home phones (if you have a cell phone).

You may be surprised how many things you can live without. One of the luxuries that I’ve given up is my daily latte at Starbucks. At over $4 a cup, I’ve invested in making good coffee at home. Now I’ll treat myself once every two weeks versus every day. This saves me more than $80 a month!

What can you do yourself?  Cut out the gym membership and go for a daily walk. Investing in used weights and workout videos is far less expensive than a monthly membership. Color your hair yourself and stretch out haircuts, give up the lawn service and mow your grass yourself. Also consider getting rid of the pool guy and  treating the pool with store-purchased chemicals. All these services and perks add up and can save quite a bit.

Coupons equal money

I was flipping through channels this weekend and came across a new show called Extreme Couponing. One family received $600 worth of groceries for under $10 total. OK, so that’s a bit drastic, but I’ve decided I’m going to invest one to two hours a week in cutting coupons. This will save me at least $30 to $40 a week. 

Another way to save is consider buying generic brands over leading labels, and look for buy-one-get-one-free deals or other in store promotions.  Shopping later in the evening can also mean big discounts. Meats are often lowered in price by a third to half off after 8 p.m. at some grocery stores.

Used versus new

You can find great quality clothing, furniture and other items at thrift stores and garage sales. Mix it up. Jeans always fit better worn in. Buy a new shirt but pair it with gently worn jeans. Purchase previously owned belts and accessories to get more bang for your buck. When it comes to clothing, stick to basics and classics versus trends. Also consider buying separates over coordinates. You can mix and match and create more versatile outfits.

Need a new dresser? Many times you can find great pieces at estate sales, garage sales and donation centers. A fresh coat of paint or stain can bring an older piece to life and add interest in your home. Another option is Craigslist or eBay to find previously owned items online.

Bigger compromises

Can your family go down to a one-car family? If not, consider working out a carpool with co-workers or other parents to take your kids to school. Make meals at home and freeze leftovers, even if it’s just one serving.  Going through a drive-through for a family of four can easily cost $25 to $30. You can make a homemade meal for under $12 and have enough for lunch the next day. 

Rent movies instead of going to the big screen.  Go to your local Redbox or Blockbuster self-service rental machines available in most grocery stores.  You can rent about eight movies for the cost of just one movie ticket at the theater.
Following just a few of these tips can keep money in your wallet.

Here’s where you can save locally:

Dollar Tree, 901 E Bloomingdale Ave., Brandon

Dollar Store, 16727 Fishhawk Blvd., Lithia

Big Lots, 843 W. Bloomingdale Ave., Brandon

Consign Dezigns, 3322 Lithia-Pinecrest Road, Valrico

Hut No. 8, 3448 Lithia-Pinecrest Road, Valrico

Goodwill Industries, 1106 E. Brandon Blvd., Brandon 

Once Upon A Child, 752 W. Lumsden Road, Brandon

Trendy Teens, 11250 Boyette Road, Riverview

Carousel Kids, 10429 S County Road 39, Lithia

Lucky Day Emporium, 3322 Lithia-Pinecrest Road, Valrico

Lighthouse Ministries Thrift Store, 535 E. Brandon Blvd., Brandon

Family Dollar Store, 843 W. Bloomingdale Ave., Brandon

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