Right off the bat, I'm not the best person with money. I have some friends/personal heroes who are so dang good with their money and making their own everything and still manage to have the time to be sane, gorgeous, a wonderful mother, and a positive influence in everyone's lives. (I'm looking at YOU, Beccy.)
That being said, we do pretty well at not having a lot, and are learning more every day. Here are just a few of my amazing/not-so-amazing tips on how to save money day to day.
1. Read the suggested measurements on things like laundry soap and shampoo. Anyone else feel like when they're rinsing their hair, a small nest of birds could have snuck in under all those suds? I do. Anyone ever really look at the little cup for the detergent and realize that you're not supposed to fill that sucker all the way up?? Or even halfway up? Yeah, you basically just have to put a small amount in. Luckily, I figured that out about 6 months ago. It only took me 31 1/2 years. It may seem insignificant, but the little things really add up.
2. Learn to do without. Sometimes there are things that are nice to have, but not necessary. We used to go through paper towels like they were going out of style. We've largely replaced them with washcloths, and have saved money. A small sacrifice.
3. Eat at home. The biggest money waster I have found is not ever cooking for yourself. I know I have a big advantage, because I love to cook. We spend about $400 a month in groceries. If you break that down for the 5 of us, 3 meals a day, 30 days a month, that's only 89 cents a meal. Some of us eat more than others, of course, but when you consider that a typical meal at even a cheap fast food restaurant for us would be around $12-16, it really puts it in perspective. We do eat out sometimes, but it's few and far between.
4. When possible, garden. Especially if you eat a lot of vegetables. There's something super satisfying about growing what you eat. You can freeze some, make spaghetti sauce and freeze it, etc. It's awesome, plus it tastes better and saves money.
5. Keep what makes you happy. I'm a woman of simple wants. I want a really hot shower, and good toilet paper. (Not at the same time.) To me, it's worth it to spend a little extra for those things. Your "thing" might be the expensive butter or...I honestly can't think of anything that isn't lame like that, but you know what I mean.
6. Thrift shop. I am of the opinion that you should always check Goodwill first. There are exceptions, like if you're the same size you know you'll be forever or if you can't find what you need or if you just don't have the time to search. But for me, being between sizes myself (working on going DOWN in size) and having 3 growing kids, thrift stores are the only way. We have found some amazing deals, and some almost new clothes and shoes this way. It saves literally hundreds of dollars.
7. Take care of what you have. Buy good shoes so they will last, and then take care of them so they will last. That's it.
8. Waste not, want not. I know I'm not the perfect model of this, because my kids waste SO much food every day. However, when I give them small amounts and insist that they eat what I give them, it helps. You waste so much food by giving the kids three different meals in one meal just because they keep changing their minds.
9. Cheap dates. Mike and I do indoor dates sometimes where we rent a movie or watch something on Netflix and bring in something cheap but fun to eat. We like to get out, but this helps to stretch our date budget. Plus it's fun!
10. Make a list. Make another list. Make more lists. Never go to the grocery store without a list. Never go grocery shopping until you have planned out your meals for the week (at least dinners). Make lists of what you need from the store throughout the month so you aren't caught unaware with no diapers or foil.
11. Shop sales, but be cautious. Sometimes sales and clearance items seem like a fantastic deal. And sometimes they are. But they aren't always! If you don't need it, leave it for someone who does and who would probably appreciate the savings AND the item. Coupons are great, but if it still costs more than you'd like to spend on a meal or whatever, it isn't worth it.
12. BUDGET! If you don't know where your money is going, it will go down in flames. BUDGET!!!! It saves you sanity and money.
I know these aren't earth-shattering, but maybe someone would be interested in them. :)