Thursday, November 6, 2008

The little things

I've been noticing lately a few small things I've changed that seem to be saving us at least a little bit of money every month.

1. I stopped buying Maple Syrup. At first my kids, the addicts, were ready to stage a coup and find a new mother, but I've slowly convinced them that jelly or brown sugar is an acceptable toping for waffles. Maple Syrup had a bad crop or something this year and we were buying two bottles a month at Trader Joe's, not even Grade A and they were still $16.99 EACH. Total savings $30 a month.

2. I made two small changes to my beauty regiment that seem to be saving me BIG money. Ever since we moved to Washington, my skin has been more prone to breakouts (I blame AGE more than climate, but whatever). I'd been using Neutrogena's line of Rapid Clear anti-acne products, which magically and immediately cleared up my bumpy skin. (Like magic, seriously.)

But the cleanser is around $8. The cleansing pads are around $6 and I was mixing two lotions, the anti-acne lotion ($7) and Neutrogena's Visibly Even SPF 15 lotion ($14). So my total average monthly cost for everything was around $30. (Most of the items last slightly longer than a month, but not much).

Recently I decided to see if I could go back to using Neutrogena's original bar of soap, the soap my high school Dermatologist recommended when I had real teenage acne. And it worked GREAT. I could spend $1.49 a month instead of the $8 I had been spending on the cleanser.

After I confirmed that my soap substitution was working, I switched lotions, substituting TWO expensive Neutrogena lotions for a bottle of Target brand salictic acid lotion (same active ingredient) that I found on sale for $3.45. Again, it's working fine and my skin looks exactly the same as it used to.

Total beauty savings: $25 a month.

3. Next I was planning to brag that I haven't had a Wyder's Pear cider in over a month, but I caved tonight after swimming class and bought myself a six pack. For some reason it just doesn't taste as good when it's cold and rainy outside, so I definitely see myself drinking less. That could save us another $10 a month if I cut my habit in half.

So, overall these three nearly imperceptible changes are saving us $65 a month. Not a TON, but again, these changes were easy and have mostly gone unnoticed (the syrup did take a little getting used to, but kids are easy to brainwash).

And gas? I filled up my SUV for $40 this week. SHOCKING but true. It's a 2005 and I don't think I've ever paid less than $50 for a fill up. At times it has cost me over $80. (Please don't feel the need to chastise me for my SUV ownership, it was one of my biggest mistakes EVER. I LUST after your mini van and wish I'd been smart enough to buy one. Of course, my car is paid for, so the chances of me getting a mini van any time soon are basically slim to none.)

Have you made any small changes that are saving you big?


Rhiannon said...

I've been bringing cereal and milk to work in the mornings instead of getting my $2 pastry from Starbucks. And, for the most part, I've been making coffee and bringing it with - this also puts me in the office about 15 minutes earlier.

Ellen said...

I didn't consider myself to have a "latte factor" because I almost always make coffee at home in the morning, but I was still going to Starbucks 2-3 times a week in the afternoons. So I cut back to just Wednesdays, because Wednesday always has the worst 3PM slump. So that's about $30 right there. And I canceled my subscriptions to Glamour and Real Simple, less because I was making an effort to cut back than that I just wasn't reading them that much.

Oh yeah, and filtered all my online sale e-mails to skip my inbox in Gmail... out of sight, out of mind!

Stephanie said...

Syrup --

I know the recipe sounds crazy, but it turns out delicious and we've started using it for our pancakes.

LizP said...

$65 a month is $780 a year! It's the little stuff that adds up quickly.

I bring my coffee to work rather than buying one on the way. Savings - $2 per work day.

Rather than buying new clothes because it's a new season, we're wearing what we have. The only new things I got were a new pair of black shoes because my old ones were toast and a new pair of jeans for my husband because his old ones were toast. Savings - $300

Anonymous said...

Our big thing is taking the time to PACK our lunches ... not buying school lunches and my husband's lunch at work equals about $50/week!!

Kristine said...

My big saver money & health wise.. giving up diet soda. A 2-4 can a day & getting soda when we dine out . I'm saving easily over $30 monthly.
I gave up my gym membership which was $30 monthly & the cost of taking my daughter to the play center they have for the kids , $2.50 a visit for her, she went 10 times a month $25. Plus the drive to the gym, gas was easily $15 monthly Gym savings, $70.
Our blockbuster dvd rental closed, so i haven't rented dvd's saving $30 month.
So i'm less bitchy-jittery w/ out the sodas. I have lost 10 lbs sense I quit the gym, i focused more on eating healthier. And not rewarding myself w/ crappy food after a work-out. And w/ out the dvd's we have been playing more board games as a family & doing more arts & crafts.
Monthly Savings $130 . Which worked out nicely cause our health insurance & trash service both went up in price.

Anonymous said...

I've been making recipes that are heavy on veg so last longer and making sure we eat everything we buy.

Vetmommy said...

We hardly eat out anymore. I LOVE eating out, but as you mentioned on the other blog, its harder to eat out w/kids than eat at home. Plus, its more expensive and not as healthy. We take turns with the dishes. I still miss it, but I love when we all sit around the table together.

Katy, Planet Perspectives said...

My family stopped spending money a week ago, and took a vow to not spend any money for 2 weeks, though we are considering continuing the pledge! No more coffee, no more snacks while running errands, no more trips to the grocery store. You can read about it at my blog - and cheer us on - or give us more advice on how to make it through!

1hottiredmama said...

I switched from Clinique's facial liquid soap to Clean & Clear and i haven't noticed a bit of difference. That's $3.45 vs. $15.00 -- quite a savings.

We love to eat out and do so about twice a week. We drink only water at restaurants now. With a family of six that's about $10-$12 savings per meal out. ($80-$96 per month!) We still have the fun of eating out with a huge savings. Also -- no more cocktails out. We're having our cocktails at home.

My next endeavor is to go the library more often. I'm an avid reader and constantly buy books. I have been trading them/buying used at a local store, but it still costs money so I'm going to try the library more often. I'm also hoping to replace any movie rentals with movies from the library . Our local library has a huge selection.

Mandajuice said...

I haven't been to Starbucks for almost a year now and to be honest, I don't miss it AT ALL. I drink more than enough coffee at home.

But, the cocktails can add up! (Especially if you’re a lush like me). I try to order water when we go out to eat, too, or if I'm planning to drink (on date night), I'll at least make myself ONE cocktail before we leave the house, so I don't drink as much while we're out.

I stopped buying books over a year ago. The savings are HUGE from that since I LOVE to read. The library has plenty, though. We go about every two weeks and stock up. Recently I decided to read the Twilight series and there were 315 people on our library's hold list before me. So I tweeted that I was looking for the books and ended up finding a swap. For free!

Kady said...

I used to buy lots of beauty supplies, not b/c I actually used them, but b/c I was in the fashion industry and a friggin' shopaholic. I stopped all that about 2 years ago. I haven't bought an item of makeup in that time, and have pared my daily regiment to one bottle of moisturizer (which I've been using now for over a year) and a large bottle of Philosophy face cleaner (expensive, but I probably use only two bottles a year). But that's like going from $400-$500 a year down to $50?

Anonymous said...

I still buy maple syrup, but we only use it once or twice a month now when I make pancakes on the weekends.

FYI - Grade B is actually superior...

I'm intrigued by the link Stephanie left - I want to try that buttermilk syrup!

Christie D. said...

We like our waffles and pancakes with honey - it's a bit expensive, but not as much as maple syrup, and maybe I am fooling myself, but everytime I use honey I tell myself I am protecting myself from colds, etc.!

BethanyWD said...

Just packing my lunch every day - maybe that's a big change? I didn't think I was spending that much, but it was a bit here and a bit there EVERYDAY - even when I didn't really go OUT, just the salad bar at Top Foods, it was still easily $7. And, making my salad (or bringing leftovers), etc. from home each day really isn't increasing my monthly grocery bills. Bonus? I'm eating better, too.

LobotoME said...

We really limited holiday spending this year - just a few key gifts for kids (one want, one need, one to wear, one to read and one to make).