Archive for the ‘
Ways to Save ’ Category
Thursday, January 10th, 2013
No two ways around it, diapers and wipes just get to be plain expensive. It’s galling to have to spend so much money on something that just get thrown out in the end. Yes, I know there are cloth diapers and that they are supposed to be cheaper, but if you are like me and just can’t bring yourself to switch to cloth diapers, take heart. Without too much hassle, you can save money on disposable diapers and wipes and probably keep from going broke in the process.
1. Use Coupons
Hands down, this is the way that I save the most money on diapers and wipes. There are almost always coupons available for at least $1.00 off Huggies, Pampers and often Luvs too. Combine that with sale prices and you can save a bundle, especially at drugstores. I almost always can get a pack of diapers for $5 or less and wipes for $1.00 or less.
Here are a few of the current diaper/wipes coupons available.
2. Be Slow to Switch Sizes
Why is this such a big deal? Because the bigger the diaper, the less diapers there are per package and so therefore the more expensive it gets.
Diapers come with a suggested weight per size. I’ve discovered that with both of my children, I could wear the various size diapers for longer than what the package suggested. For instance, my daughter weighs more than the size 3 diapers say they are made for but they still fit her fine, we don’t have leaks and so we continue to stick with them. Instead of going with what the package recommends, we change sizes once we start having lots of leaks.
3. Be Mindful of How You Put On the Diaper
And speaking of leaks, I know we get more mileage out of smaller diapers by using this little trick. Your child can stay in smaller diapers longer if you are careful how you put the diaper on. If your child’s tendency is to leak out the top, then pull the diaper up more in the front. Have problems with messes oozing out the back? Then pull the diaper up more in the back. Both are a problem? Well, then it’s definitely probably time to switch to the next size!
4. Watch Package Sizes
Instead of thinking price per package, think price per wipe/diaper. The reason for this is because not all packages contain the same amount of product. For instance, Pampers Soft Care wipes come in 72 ct. packages while Pampers Sensitive wipes come in 64 ct. packages. Both products cost the same amount but by purchasing the larger count you get 8 more wipes per package, reducing your cost.
You’ll find similar things in diapers. Huggies Snug & Dry size 2 come in 42 ct. packages while Huggies Little Snugglers size 2 only have 36 per package. Again, they typically are priced the same but you can save around $0.04/diaper by choosing the larger package.
Whenever you see diapers or wipes at a low price, if you have room in your budget, buy them even if you don’t immediately need them. The concept behind this simple. Why pay full price for something that you can easily save a couple of bucks on. By waiting to buy diapers and wipes only when you need them, you end up almost always spending more.
I take diaper stockpiling pretty seriously. When I was pregnant with our daughter, I started buying diapers and wipes when I would see them at rock bottom prices. By the time she was born 12 1/2 months ago, I had 42 packages of diapers and around 30 packages of wipes. I’m just now starting to use up the last of what I bought then. The great thing is that I’ve continued to be able to keep buying ahead so I have never had to pay more than $5 for a package of diapers and $1 for a package of wipes. That has translated into huge savings for us!
6. Be Willing to Vary Brands
If you are going to maximize your savings, you are going to have to be willing to use whatever brand of diapers/wipes you can get for the least amount of money. Some weeks Pampers are the cheapest, other week Huggies. And sometimes it’s the store brand. Be willing to try brands other than the one you typically use. Often you will find that you like it just as well. And while I’m not a huge fan of store brand diapers, sometimes they actually are surprisingly good. Both Costco and Target brand diapers are really decent in my opinion and have great reviews online.
And remember, often store brand diapers have a money back guarantee, so if you don’t like them you don’t have anything to lose!
7. Buy in Bulk
If you don’t plan on using coupons, the next best way to save is to buy in bulk. Places like Amazon and Diapers.com are great options to purchase boxes of diapers and wipes at decent prices. Amazon even has a program called Amazon Momthat allows you to get 20% savings on many of their diapers and wipes plus free 2-day shipping on most items too.
(Update: the prices below were current in Jan. ’13. They are obviously going to change frequently and are given as an illustration.)
Here are two current Amazon deals:
- Pampers Softcare Wipes 864 Count $17.51 with Amazon Moms and Subscribe & Save. (Be sure to clip the $0.50 coupon found just below the product description too!) This comes to just $0.02/wipe.
- Huggies Snug and Dry Diapers, Size 3, 222 Count $35.74 with Amazon Moms and Subscribe & Save. (Be sure to clip the $2.00 coupon found just below the product description too!) This comes to just $0.16/diaper.
Do you do any of these things? How else do you save on diapers and wipes? I’d love to learn from you!
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Wednesday, December 5th, 2012
I’m all about saving but I still love to give gifts. And I enjoy trying to give beautifully wrapped gifts even though gift wrap might seem like a waste of money. To me, giving and receiving beautifully wrapped gifts only adds to the joy of the gift itself. So while we try to keep our Christmas spending low, we also try to get creative and wrap our gift beautifully without blowing our $250 Christmas spending budget.
Here are some ideas I collected for inexpensive Christmas gift wrap. I hope it can inspire you!
1. Use paper bags or Kraft Paper to wrap gifts, then embellish with greenery or lots of other things as you’ll see below. (I’m guessing that the Kraft paper would probably be less expensive at a local craft store, although I haven’t checked it out. Or check Dollar Tree. I’m told they have a 15 foot roll for $1!)
2. Aren’t these beautiful? And for free, you can even print out your own gift tags just like the ones pictured above!
3. Recycled Bread Tag Snowmen. If only I were craftier, I would make these cute little fellows to go on the bags of cookies I give to neighbors and friends.
4. Love the simplicity of these stamped brown paper packages. If you have beautiful hand writing, you could just write the names on.
5. Totally into this look! And what a great “free” gift wrap! Use comics for fun “kid” wrapping paper. Or use old book pages or old sheet music for a similar look.
6. Use old clothing to embellish gifts: creative, frugal and green!
7. Isn’t this fun? I’m thinking Christmas colors would create a festive look.
8. Again, simple but oh so sweet! (Pun intended.)
9. Don’t you love this idea of a gift wrapping ornament made from none other than a toilet paper/paper towel roll?
10. Use Black Kraft Paper to get a chalkboard look. I really like this for different! (I realize the paper is kind of pricey but it is a huge roll. And again, you very likely could find it at local stores for much less).
How do you get creative and save money on gift wrapping? I’d love to learn from you!
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Tuesday, November 6th, 2012
Over the last year or so I kept seeing little comments online where people would mention something about homemade stock. But for some reason I just kind of ignored it until one day recently when I read a friend’s blog post and she talked in more detail about how she made her own chicken stock and how simple it was and how rich the broth was and well, I decided I was crazy for not doing this! Not only is it super simple, it is also considered really healthy since the nutrients from the bones get “cooked out” into the broth. And to think that all these years I was glibly throwing out the bones thinking they were useless!
I cooked up a turkey recently to have for some dinner guests and so I used the bones and skin from it to make my first stock. The stock or broth turned out so rich that I actually watered it down a bit. And it really was as simple as 1-2-3!
Here’s how to make your own chicken stock:
Homemade Chicken Stock
Bones, skin and any scraps from one chicken or turkey
Dash of vinegar*
Approx. 1 Tbsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 onion, chunked (opt.)
2 carrots, chopped (opt.)
1 stalk celery, chopped (opt.)
1. Place bones, skin and scraps into your slow cooker. Add vinegar, salt, pepper and any onions, carrots and celery that you want (as well as any other seasonings you feel like throwing in). Cover with water and put the lid on the slowcooker. Turn it on to low and let cook all night or at least 8 hrs. Cooking it longer will not hurt anything—you’ll just get more nutrients from the bones.
2. Strain out the bones, skin and other ingredients.
3. Once cooled, put the broth in containers and freeze any that you won’t use within a few days.
(You can also do this on the stove top. Just simmer on low all day.)
* The vinegar helps draw the nutrients from the bones and you won’t taste it as it is such a small amount.
For other recipe ideas, check out Balancing Beauty and Bedlam’s Tasty Tuesday, Blessed with Grace’s Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, and 33 Shades of Green’s Tasty Tuesday.
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Friday, October 19th, 2012
The holidays are such a fun time…twinkling Christmas lights, festive holiday music, beautiful decorations, the excitement of gifts being given and received. I love the Christmas season! But I don’t love the feeling of spending more than we can afford to make the holidays a fun time. Christmas gifts are one of the easiest holiday things to blow money on and we realized that soon after we were married 6 years ago. We were torn between giving nice, expensive gifts that we really couldn’t afford and smaller, less flashy gifts that fit our meager budget. Thankfully, the last several years we’ve come up with several ways to give gifts that are both meaningful and yet easy on our pocketbook. Here are 5 things that we do to accomplish that.
(There have been a year or two where we’ve spent more on a gift for each other such as the year we decided to buy our son a very sturdy handmade tricycle to ride around town here. But that is the exception, however I thought I should clarify it!)
1. Set a budget ahead of time
I’ve found that I can keep my cost down significantly by deciding ahead of time how much I’m going to spend on each person we are buying for. It’s just way too easy to get sucked into all the great advertising schemes and before you know it you’ve spent $75 for each person on your list when you could really only afford $25. Set your budget and then stick to it. If you spend less on one person, have fun spending a bit more on another.
(And just in case you are wondering, we typically try to spend about $20 per person. And honestly, I’ve been amazed at some of the things that we’ve been able to give spending that amount!)
2. Shop all year long
This is one of my favorite ways to save. By shopping year round for Christmas gifts you have more opportunity to get great bargains. Watch for online deals on sites like Living Social and Groupon, check clearance racks, flip through sales flyers and anytime you see an item for a great price ask yourself if it would work as a Christmas gift for someone on your list.
(I try to post some of the best of those deals on my blog, so subscribe via RSS feed, Facebook or Twitter!)
3. Exchange names
I know that some of you might balk at this idea but both my husband’s family and my family have chosen to exchange names for Christmas gifts. Each person gets the name of one other person, meaning that our family only buys 8 gifts total for extended family unless we choose to do something special for our parents too. We all love it because we get to experience the joy of giving and receiving gifts while keeping costs down. As Christians, to us Christmas is about Christ’s birth and so by keeping things simple we’ve found it easier to also keep the real meaning of Christmas in perspective.
And actually both of our families take it a step further and say that it’s okay to buy used items to give as gifts. This allows us the freedom to buy things at yard sales, thrift stores and Craigslist, saving even more money. It is especially easy to find great toys for cheap this way! Give them a good bath and they are good to go!
4. Get creative
Some of the best gifts don’t cost a lot, if any money and often are more meaningful than huge, expensive gifts.
Give the gift of time. Make coupons or a coupon booklet for things like this: 1 breakfast in bed; a 20 minute back rub; 1 prepared meal; an afternoon of helping you with anything you want; an evening of babysitting. Last year my sister-in-law gave me five such coupons and I think everyone else was jealous! And as a busy mom I’ve loved being able to redeem those coupons to give me a lift whenever I need it!
Use your talents and things you enjoy doing to give homemade, personal gifts. Do you enjoy baking? Give homemade bread, cookies or cupcakes. Love to craft? Make some fun items such as sweater pillows, homemade soap or wall decor. A fan of knitting? Give some handmade mittens, scarves or socks. Good at changing oil? Give a free oil change or two.
Not sure what to get that hard-to-buy-for person? Think about what they enjoy or the things that they do. Do they love to read? Give them a book or a magazine subscription. Do they enjoy golfing? Why not give some golf balls. Are they an avid gardener? Plants or gardening supplies are a great idea. They have no hobbies? Anyone can use stamps, food or toiletries.
Want more simple gift ideas? Check out my 20 Inexpensive Homemade Gift Ideas!
5. Inexpensive Gift wrap
I don’t know about you, but I hate spending lots of money on gift wrap. But at the same time I really like for gifts that I give to be attractive and beautiful too. I’ve found a couple of ways to accomplish both things.
Use brown craft paper or if your gift is small enough, cut open brown paper bags, wrap your gift, then decorate it with whatever your heart desires. I’ve also wrapped gifts in newspaper before. This looks especially lovely when you wrap a nice red ribbon around it. Instead of bows, be creative and use things like twine, lace, scrap fabric, buttons, yarn, holly or even a hair bow or flower pin.
If you’d still rather go the route of using traditional wrapping paper, watch for coupons for stores like Hallmark or Michael’s and buy it for less than full price. Or better yet, buy it on clearance after Christmas and save it for the following year.
My post on 10 Inexpensive Ideas for Christmas Gift Wrap might give you more inspiration if you are needing it!
What things do you do to cut Christmas gift costs? I’d love if you would share!
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Friday, September 14th, 2012
**ALWAYS check with your doctor before making any alterations to your medications.**
If you take any prescription medication whatsoever, you know that prescription drugs can really make a dent in your wallet, even if you have insurance. While working as a certified pharmacy technician for 11 years, I learned quite a few ways to save money on prescriptions medications. Here are a few of my top tips.
1. Use generic where possible.
Generics are usually amazingly cheaper than their brand counterparts. There are many reasons for this and I won’t bother boring you with them.
Worried that the generic won’t be as effective? The actual drug is the same in both the generic and brand medication so the only thing that is different is the “filler” product. Ninety-nine percent of the time people notice no difference. Assuming your doctor okays it, I suggest that you always fill your prescriptions with the generic medication.
2. Ask for a less expensive alternative- whether you have insurance or not
If you have insurance, your insurance company decides which drugs they will cover and for what price. Some drugs are considered non-formulary, which means that you have to pay more for them. So if you go to the pharmacy and your co-pay is $60 and you usually only pay $20 for a prescription, ask the pharmacy technician if there is an alternative that may be cheaper. Or you could even call your prescription plan and ask them what other drugs in that category are covered for $20.
Obviously, any changes have to be approved by your doctor, and sometimes the doctor thinks it is best to stick with the more expensive medication. But if at all possible, try a less expensive alternative.
3. Ask your doctor for drug coupons, vouchers, and free samples
Drug reps are constantly trying to gain sales for their company and as part of that they drop off vouchers, coupons and samples at doctor’s offices. The thing is, often the doctors forget they have them. So, just kindly ask…it won’t hurt anything. And the worst thing that can happen to you is you are told no!
4. Check with the drug manufacturer for savings programs and coupons/vouchers – usually only available for brand name medications
If you take a brand name medication, especially if there is no generic alternative, call the manufacturer and ask if they have any patient assistance programs or can give you any coupons or savings vouchers. Nine times out of ten they’ll be able to at least offer you a one time savings coupon, most of which are good even if you do have insurance.
A couple of years ago I was checking to see what kind of savings I could get for a friend who takes Carbatrol, a seizure medication. Because they don’t have health insurance, she typically spent several thousand a year on this drug. I discovered that Shire, the company that makes Carbatrol, has a program available that would cover the entire cost of the drug for my friend!
5. Find out if a 90 day supply will save you money
If you have insurance and your plan allows you to get a three month supply of medication at one time, you can often save money by doing so. For instance, some insurances give a steeper discount for a three month supply. Some will actually allow you to get three months worth of medication for the price of two. And if you don’t have insurance, generally the more medication you get at a time, the cheaper it is per pill/unit.
6. If you don’t have insurance, shop around
Prescription drug prices vary greatly from pharmacy to pharmacy and from medication to medication. Just because your usual pharmacy is the cheapest around on the blood pressure medication you take, does not mean it will be cheaper on the asthma medication the doctor just prescribed you.
Please do note though, if you use multiple pharmacies, it is VERY important that you keep a list of all the medications that you currently take with you and show it to the pharmacist every time you get a prescription filled. This is the only way they will be able to catch any drug interactions.
7. Ask if your pharmacy price matches
This one is for those of you that don’t have insurance. Many pharmacies will price match another drug store’s price if you simply ask them to. Even though they may lose a little bit of money, they figure it will pay them in the long run to keep your business.
How do you save money on prescriptions? Please feel free to leave a comment!
Disclaimer: All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.
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