It’s so hard to go cold turkey and not spend ANYTHING even when the well is dry. Beyond clipping coupons and only buying clothes on sale, here are some tips that I have used over the last two years or longer (at least it seems longer) to curb spending and not feel like I am totally living a life of austerity.
USE YOUR SAMPLE COSMETICS: Even if they are not the right colors, which they probably are not, use them instead of buying more. Put vanity aside and venture out with copper lips , pink cheeks, and midnight blue mascara. Just add a button on your lapel that says, “Clowns Rock!” and no one will look at you twice.
TREASURES FOR A BUCK: Suck up your pride and venture into the 99¢ store or the Dollar Tree and just look around. A lot of it is just junk, but look at the next aisle. I bought the kids musical toothbrushes that play tunes from “High School Musical 3,” I have found bottles of Softsoap there that were $2.59 at Target—same scent, some great card games like “I Spy Snap” that retail for about $5 at Target. Those stores are bountiful resources for really great birthday goody bags. I have found Disney Princess addition and subtraction flashcards, jumbo ballpoint pens on necklaces with Tinker Bell and other Disney characters on them, those shrunken washcloths that expand in the tub with images of “Toy Story” characters on them. My most recent find that I wish I had thought of a long time ago—sunglasses! Cute, UV-rated sunglasses! I am notorious for losing sunglasses and if I don’t lose them I bend them like a pretzel. A buck a pair is well worth it!
PAYLESS BOGO: Buying shoes at Payless is a rite of passage for stay at home moms. The transition from two incomes to one income, not to mention one income that is not as much as it was a few years ago, makes vinyl look cuter. Call them ‘vegan’ and you can feel better about your choice. By all means, wait until the buy one get one (BOGO) half off sale. Yes they are cheap shoes—usually with man-made materials but there are a few leather uppers on the racks—so take it as license to buy some trendy styles that last just one season. If they last longer, celebrate. If not, no big deal.
PAPER AND PLASTIC: Eliminate the things you just throw away like paper plates and even paper napkins. You can use a cloth napkin for most meals without needing a wash for a few days. Your real plates are so pretty anyway—use them. As for cleaning supplies and toiletries, buy in bulk at Costco or Smart & Final or buy at discount stores like Walmart. I always buy toilet paper in bulk. My father eyed my huge supply in the garage one time and asked, “Are you expecting diarrhea?” He’s funny! Nonetheless, it is much cheaper to buy 20 rolls than four at a time.
FRESHLY BREWED: One of the best ways to cut down on your cash disappearing from your wallet is to make coffee at home. Treat yourself to a new travel mug and a bag of coffee beans that you can grind and brew yourself. You will save more than a few dollars a day, you’ll have a few extra minutes without the stop at Starbuck’s to do sit-ups–yeah right!
NO COVERGIRLS: Don’t renew your magazine subscriptions. Between on-line sources, a trip to the library, or a browse at the newsstand, you can find the information or gossip you are looking for—FREE! Yes, I miss some favorites like Real Simple, but I have ridden myself of the guilt when I didn’t read them all.
If your budget is limited you have likely already cut your wine of the month club and cutback on the DirecTV or eliminated it altogether. There are all kinds of little luxuries we live with that we have forgotten cost us money. Netflix, Sirius/XM Radio, favorite candies from the vending machine, quick drive-thru trips for a diet soda, and $1-$2 bottled water when it is so much cheaper to bring your own.
Look for some deals and don’t be embarrassed by going the frugal route—your piggy bank will thank you.