I don’t know about you, but I’m really feeling the need to reign in my spending and do a better job with budgeting and saving money! I am not a numbers or details girl and sometimes it gets me into trouble. But of course, that’s no excuse to quit trying. And God is so gracious and patient with me! He looks on our hearts, not our accomplishments (or lack thereof).
One thing I am good at, however, is finding deals! 🙂 And I can yard sale and barter with the best of them. Must be my Jewish blood. 😉 Here are some tips for finding good deals or saving money on the things you need to purchase anyway. Obviously, this list is far from exhaustive, but I’ve gone through a few categories that are often important to homeschool moms.
Printer ink is expensive and if you print everything at home, you may be going through it faster than you’d like! With the myriad of printables and eBooks we homeschoolers all end up accumulating, it’s important to find ways to cut printing expenses. Here are a few I’ve found:
- Don’t print. Maybe that’s obvious, but I thought I’d say it anyway. 😉 If you don’t mind reading on your laptop, why not do that instead?
- For those items that you definitely need to print, print in black and white when possible to save ink.
- If your eyes are good and size is not an issue, another idea for saving ink is to print four pages on one sheet. Or you could do just two.
- To save paper, print double-sided if your printer will do that.
- Speaking of printing double-sided, if you want an amazing printer that will do that, plus scan and copy and save you a TON of money on ink, the Epson ET-3760 is the way to go! We bought one early this year and have been extremely happy with it. With their replacement ink, you will save 90% compared to cartridges. Each set of replacement ink is equal to about 80 cartridges! Cost to print is about 1 cent per color vs. about 20 cents with cartridges. Now that I know I don’t have to be quite as careful to conserve ink, I’ve gone a little print-crazy and I’m printing all kinds of things! (Maybe I’m eating up some of that savings…ha ha).
- Another tip is to print out larger eBooks and print jobs at a local copy center or even online. Our local homeschool group used to offer discount printing through OfficeMax, but I believe that program has been discontinued. (Let me know if you find out something different). However, they now have a rewards program that you can sign up for to earn cash back.
- For printing online, I’ve found a fantastic source! After getting a $60+ quote on a color printing job from FedEx, I decided to do some looking online. I was so excited to find Best Value Copy because they saved me over $30! And shipping is fast and free on orders over a certain amount.
We all have to eat, right? We might as well find ways to save here, too!
- I used to be a big Thrive Market fan, but I recently switched to VitaCost due to Thrive’s very liberal leanings and vocally supporting things I disagree with. We can’t avoid every company like that, but I do what I feel I can. Plus, with VitaCost, I can still find a ton of organic options and there’s no membership fee! Keep an eye out for their fantastic coupons, too. I believe they still have 20% off your entire order for first-time customers!
- I also love shopping at Azure Standard and it’s nice to also know I’m supporting a Christian company! Buying bulk is such savings and I really enjoy having a stocked pantry (and fridge) and not having to worry about running out of things. We save a lot of money on things like cheese, bulk grains, bulk spices (I no longer feel comfortable supporting Mountain Rose Herbs due to their stance on abortion, etc.), and bulk dried fruit and nuts. I don’t find their packaged food to be any less expensive, though, so make sure you check prices.
- I recently discovered a new favorite way to save on grocery shopping! Did you know Costco has a ton of organic items?! Who knew! Just don’t go when you are weak and make sure you can eat what you buy or believe me, you will not save money. (Don’t ask about the time I accidentally spent almost $800. But to my defense, I did have a couple necessary big purchases thrown in with the groceries…including that amazing printer I mentioned earlier).
- Another way to save on grocery shopping is to find a local discount grocery store. I haven’t found a good one here in Charlotte, but every time we go to my parents’ house in SC, we hit a store called Deal Mart at least once or twice! You can find so many items for a fraction of the cost, but be aware that they are often past their expiration dates. Most of the time, this has not been an issue, but I would recommend caution with foods that contain oils, as they sometimes taste rancid. I generally avoid things with nuts and flax seeds. And don’t buy more than what you can eat in the next 3-6 months!
- We all want to make sure we get the most out of our expensive essential oils! In our house, when we get to the end of a bottle, we just throw it into our evening bath. The hot water takes care of every last drop!
- You can also leave that empty bottle open and sitting out where it can freshen the air with the remaining residue.
- Nature’s Fusions is a company I discovered a few years ago when we used to have our online store. I quickly fell in love with this brand! They are therapeutic grade and work just as well as any from an MLM company but at about half the cost. Plus, you can get 15% off every single order when you simply use my code, DANIELLE15. Not sure how to use essential oils? Be sure to check out my free eBook. After all, if you buy them and never use them, that’s not really a good use of money, is it?
- When we think of shopping online, obviously Amazon comes to mind. As a side note, I will say that years ago, I decided to stop going to the library and start purchasing my books on Amazon instead. There were several reasons:
- I can find more of what I really want.
- I don’t have to see the witchcraft-related and pro-homosexual books everywhere.
- Instead of supporting the library with the inevitable fines, I will accumulate (don’t even try to tell me there are ways to get organized and avoid them…I’ve tried and I am just not that gifted, apparently), I can support individual merchants on Amazon buying penny books and just paying shipping fees. I know it’s still a bit more expensive than the library, but it’s worth it to me to own the books and build my library for future generations. And if I’m going to purchase books rather than borrow, this is definitely the way to save money!
- Have you heard of Rakuten (formerly ebates)? If you want to get cashback from online purchases you need to make anyway, this is a simple way to do it! Just sign up with my link and you will get $10 when you spend $25! And VitaCost is one of their participating stores, so if you are going to follow my advice and start shopping there, why not get $10 back, as well?!
- Now here’s something free that will save you not only money but also time. Honey is a browser extension for Firefox that will notify you of any discount codes or coupons that can be applied to your order on any website. If you’ve ever taken time to try to search around for a discount code for an online retailer, you know that it can be a frustrating experience. It’s great to find something free that will help you save money so easily!
- Groupon can be a tempting place to spend money. But if you are careful to only buy things you would normally buy anyway, you can really save some money! I keep an eye on Groupon for gift ideas and have found some great buys, like magazine subscriptions or deals on local activities like indoor rock climbing. Experiences make great gifts! We have also purchased car detailing for about what I would pay to go to a normal car wash. Seeing my car (which is regularly subjected to a dusty gravel road) sparkle like that was so worth it!
- For beautiful handmade gifts, Etsy is a great place to check out. Last year, I bought my sister a piece of jewelry, which was a really tiny book on a chain, for under $10 including shipping. It’s the coolest thing! Of course, you can also splurge on yourself while you’re at it. Years ago, I bought some adorable hand made party favors for my daughter’s lady-bug themed birthday party. If you want to look like the mom who does it all, sometimes it’s worth paying someone else to achieve that goal! 😉
And of course, if we’re going to be careful not to get carried away with all these great deals. We really need to find a budget planner that will work for us, don’t we? Here’s one from my store that you might like. I think it’s perfect for those of us who would rather be doing something fun than budgeting! 😉 If you get a bit bogged down crunching numbers, grab your colored pencils and go to town!
The Beautiful Budget Coloring Planner is on sale for 50% off for the entire month of June!