Let’s face it nobody WANTS to be in debt. But the fact is, most people are, in fact, in debt. They may like to pretend that everything is ok, and maybe they really feel like they are treading water. But the fact remains that if Uncle Murphy decided to move into their spare bedroom, they would sink, quickly.
In order to become debt free (and stay there) there are a few things that one MUST have and several that REALLY help save money.
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KEEP A BUDGET AND STICK TO IT.
A budget will keep you on track. Knowing where your money is going is key to living a debt free life. There is a detailed explanation of how to create a budget How to Create a Budget When You Are Broke or How to Make a Zero Based Budget.
I almost always do my shopping on Friday, so Thursday evening I sit down with my family and ask for suggestions on what they would like to see on the menu for the following week. Everyone gets a say in the matter. .
Then I check the weekly flyers to see what is on sale.
Check the pantry and freezer to see what is needed and what can be used for the following week.
Make my grocery list.
ALWAYS have a shopping list and a meal plan this will keep you from buying whatever and then not getting everything needed or buying things you already have on hand.
I use the Cozi app to organize my menus, shopping list, family activities and recipes. It is free to use and save time and money having everything right at your finger tips. It can also be shared on multiple devices so my husband or kids can add to the grocery list in real time.
Using coupons will also save money on the items you buy. I do not buy the paper so no traditional coupons but I use apps on my phone as cash back options.
CASH BACK SHOPPING SITES
Checkout 51 can be used in conjunction with Ibotta and works the same way, select the items you wish to purchase then take a picture of your receipt. It’s that simple! I have not made as much with this one, $49.50 in the past year, but still more than if I had not used it at all. That’s a win in my book.
The Walmart Savings Catcher is another great app to have. Since Walmart no longer ad matches, this app does it for you. Scan your receipts and it will scour local ads and credit you if they find a lower advertised price. My savings to date is $289.73.
The average family of four can save $260.00 by switching out the shower head to a water saver shower head. The average shower head pushes 5.5 gallons of water per minute. A water saver shower head lowers that down to 2.5 gallons per minute.
Some ways to save in the kitchen are through small appliances. During the hot summer months, using the oven is not an option, but neither is eating cold foods for 3 or more months. Here are a few of our must have kitchen appliances.
Slow Cooker – I use mine several times a week. I buy chicken in bulk and toss in several pounds at once and let it cook all day. I then dice some and shred the rest and package into smaller portions to be frozen quick use later.
Instant Pot – I have heard great things about these but have yet to make to switch from my slow cooker. Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Saute/Browning, Yogurt Maker, Steamer & Warmer all in one!
Air Fryer – This one is newer to our household. It is AMAZING! I bought one for my husband for Father’s day this year.
He has made french fries, potato wedges, bagel bites, chicken strips, onion rings, mini pizzas, chicken wings and even EGGS. yep, he made me eggs one morning. They came out perfect. He just popped them into ramekins and cooked them.
Clean up is a breeze. He is always on the look out for things to try out in the air fryer. This one is a definite money saving must have!
This one is not a small appliance but is top on my list as a money saving must have. A freezer. Yep that simple. Buying meat is expensive so when given the chance I buy all our meats in bulk.
We have a smaller chest freezer. I do not want to have to search through 900lbs of stuff to find what I am looking for. It is also important to be able to use what we buy and not have it forgotten about at the bottom of a freezer.
HEATING AND COOLING
I never really thought must about my thermostat. I always believed if you just set it lower, you would save money. Turns out I was wrong (((GASP! do NOT tell my husband I uttered those words))). We had just an every day thermostat, you know the one with the dial you turned. I would lower the temp every night before bed and turn it up again in the mornings, all the things my Grandmother taught me to do.
We found out that even though it was turned down, it was still running, almost constantly. Once we made the simple switch to the Honeywell Programmable Thermostat we were pleasantly surprised. That little $16 gadget has saved us, on average, $58 per month. That’s $696 annually!
SMART POWER STRIPS/SURGE PROTECTORS
Once again, Grandma always taught me to turn things off when not in use. But did you know that electricity is still flowing through even when the appliance is off? You could go and unplug everything when not in use but that is not very convenient.
The solution is a smart strip, these little babies have an on and off switch that stops the current from flowing. We have several in our home.
The first one we placed in our son’s room. He has several electronic devices. We found that by placing them all on a smart strip and switching it off at night when he goes to bed and turning it back on once he gets home from school has saved roughly $17 per month on just his room alone.
What are some of your Money Saving Must Haves?