Tuesday, January 26, 2016

7 surprising things that have totally saved us money.

ok, i want to be completely honest here: my absolute #1 pet peeve with the majority of personal finance/frugality type bloggers is that they tend to make saving money into a neat little system and say that their way is the only way and as long as you do exactly what they say your money problems will disappear. well, i shouldnt have to tell you thats a huge load of bologna. there are as many different ways to save money as there are people on earth. and depending on the needs and preferences and even location of your family, some of the traditional "money saving tips" end up doing the exact opposite. 

it can be really frustrating, trying to figure out how to make your budget work, researching different ideas and having them not work at all. i cant even tell you how many times thats happened to us. so in the interest of showing the other side of things, and maybe help encourage anyone out there who is not having good luck with the typical frugal living tips, heres a list of a few of the more surprising ways weve saved (a lot) of money: 

quitting coupons. i used to be big on coupons, but theyre a lot of work for not a lot of savings, plus i had to buy newspapers/paper/ink and keep all of the coupons organized... one day i lost my coupon book at sprouts and never looked back. surprisingly, our grocery spending went down because i was just buying what we needed and not trying to work in the things i had coupons for. 

ditching the "normal" grocery store. about a year and a half ago i stopped shopping at vons and just bought groceries at sprouts. the grocery bill went down like $20 a week. i was like "wait what how is that possible because its vons that has the crazy sales", then i realized that everything else at the regular store is marked WAYYY up to compensate for that cheap cereal. 

avoiding thrift stores/yard sales, etc. one of the most important things that took me way too long to learn is this: if you dont need a thing, no matter how cheap it is, buying it is just a waste of money. now we only go to thrift stores if were dropping stuff off or my sister calls me frantic that theres a gorgeous vintage emmaljunga pram at salvation army that i have to buy RIGHT NOW. 

getting rid of as much as possible.  embracing minimalism and getting rid of as much as we possibly can (which were still in the process of, apparently this never ends) taught us that we dont actually need about 90% of the stuff we think we do. so we buy about 90% less than we used to, saving about 90% of the money we spent on clothes and miscellaneous house stuff (mostly at thrift stores). 

not shopping at dollar stores. this kind of goes along with the thrift store one, except that basically everything at dollar stores is either so crappy you just have to replace it with the more expensive version of the thing you were trying to save money on, or (in the case of food and cleaning supplies) its so small/watered down that you have to buy 10X the amount youd buy at target for like 50 cents more. 

my gluten free diet. being gluten free forced us to pay more attention to what we eat and basically only eat fresh, homemade food because gf packaged food is absurdly expensive. also, we have WAY less options for eating out so we eat out WAY less than we used to. 

moving back to california. southern california has a reputation for being the most expensive place on earth, and maybe it is (our one bedroom apartment costs literally twice as much as the much nicer one bedroom duplex we rented in northern arizona), BUT were in a MUCH better position financially, partly because james makes way more money here but mostly because we need way less stuff, utilities arent a million dollars, and we dont have to drive up and down a mountain to get anywhere. 

long story short, saving money isnt a one size fits all thing. just because something works for one person, does not mean it will work for you. you just might find savings in the most surprising of places. i know we have. 

have you had any surprising money saving decisions? id love to hear about them in the comments! 

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