Save Money by Cleaning Up

a couple of years ago

Have you ever spent a day cleaning up an old car, with the idea of trading it in for a new one? You spend all afternoon washing, vacuuming, maybe waxing, only to realize your car doesn’t look so bad after all. If you think about it, the same could be said for a lot of the items we think we need to replace. Often, just a little time and effort you can save money and still have something “new”.

⇒ Paint Your House

Tired of the way your house looks? Clean the rooms and paint your walls. Wal-Mart sells paint for around $25 per gallon. Add a $5 paint tray and roller and for less than a tank of gas, your room has a whole new look. I suggest repainting the main living space, kitchen, or the Master Bedroom. Walk through your house and look for accessories that match your new paint. Rearrange your furniture. This is guaranteed to make you fall in love with your house and your furnishings all over again.

⇒ Save Money With Spa Treatments at Home

Feeling like you need a day at the spa? Skip that, and take a nice long bath. Throw in some bubbles. Make a salt scrub out of the stuff in your pantry. Indulge in an hour of shaving, plucking, trimming, and exfoliating. There is no need for expensive products. Save money by finding recipes for homemade spa treatments online. Tell yourself that your “all natural” products are giving you a holistic glow. You are going to feel like a whole new person and you never bought a thing.

⇒ Clean Up the Yard 

Do you wish you had the money for a lawn company? Is your yard overgrown with weeds? Mow it and trim it. The weeds don’t show when they are shorter and cleaning up edges give the yard a manicured look. Get rid of the plants that look spindly and sad. It’s better to display a cleaned-up yard with nothing in it, as opposed to overgrown, weed-filled beds. Finally, sweep your front porch, walk, and driveway. Tidying up the front of your house increases your home’s curb appeal.

Everyone agrees that something clean, clutter-free, and organized is much more eye appealing and just makes a person feel better. Cleaning up takes time and work, but little-to-no money. It is an excellent way to feel like you received something new, without going shopping.

Date Night at the Thrift Store

Sounds romantic, doesn’t it?

craig and kim equals loveNo matter how tight your budget is, it is important for a married couple to get out of the house without the children and spend a little quality time together. Having been happily married for more than a quarter of a century, I highly recommend time away from the pressures of everyday life, doing something you both enjoy. Date night for a lot of couples involves dinner and a movie, or perhaps something special like a concert. Not for us. My husband and I save money by spending our date night at the local thrift store… by choice… because we think it’s fun!

Hunt for Treasure

A few years ago, I was tasked with the job of finding 36 pairs of overalls for a church musical I was directing. We weren’t really thrift store shoppers, but overalls being out of style at the time, we had to think vintage. In desperation, we decided to search the local Goodwill Store.

While we there, my husband happened to find a $100 Patagonia shirt for $3.99 with the original tags still attached. Due to our practical natures and a very limited budget, we have never been the kind of people to spend $100 on one shirt. So to say he was excited over this shirt is the understatement of the century.

Catch the Fever

That shirt was all it took to consume us with the fever… bargain-fever that is; and, it’s a pretty powerful disease. The thrill of the hunt became more fun than any movie or fancy dinner. So now our idea of a good time is to pile into our pimped-out Chevy Station Wagon, without the kids, turn on loud music, and cruise down to the local thrift store. While there, we spend the evening pawing through racks of old clothes; looking for treasure just waiting to be discovered.

We always seem to find at least one item we can get excited about and we have managed to outfit our family for the season in clothes that are name-brand, new (or at least almost-new), and at ridiculously low prices. New clothes for five growing children would have been next to impossible during past recession years.

I even found a really nifty magazine rack for $1.00 that I didn’t realize I needed so desperately.

The cool thing is that we often have enough money left over that we can go out afterward for a romantic dinner at the local McDonald’s.

Why Am I Telling You All This?

The point of all this is that date night should be time spent together doing something you both enjoy. It does not need to involve spending a lot of money. Look at your options, make the best out of what you have, and find the humor in it all. It will help you to live a happy (and cheap) life.

Feeding a Family of Seven on $50 a Week

Have you ever had to feed seven people for two weeks with only $100.00? I have. There were a couple of years where our family was forced to evaluate how we spent our money at the grocery store. The rising cost of food doubled our grocery bills and the increase in gas prices reduced the amount our family had to spend on those groceries. There were a lot of us to feed and most of them were teenagers. Making sure that they ate regular meals became a full-time occupation.
Here is how I did it.

Save Money by Learning to Cook

Cook and save money

First of all, I had to dust off my cooking skills – my real cooking skills. No longer could I buy mixes or prepared foods. Instead, we purchased flour and sugar in 25 lb bags and made everything from scratch. At first, this took a lot of extra time but once I got the hang of it, a routine developed and soon I didn’t spend any more time in the kitchen than I once did. A $2.00 loaf of bread can be made for about $0.25. When your family eats eight loaves a week, that saves $14 off of your $50 grocery budget.

Get Rid of the Coupons

Second, I quit using coupons. Yes, you read that correctly. I quit using coupons. Occasionally I would run across a good deal where I had a coupon for an item that a store put on sale, but usually, coupons are for things I don’t need, and normally wouldn’t use. Staying away from coupons kept me from buying items just because the “deal” seems too good to pass up. Buying off-brand products is much cheaper than purchasing brand-name items with a coupon.

Shopping Smart

The thing that saved us the most money was the clearance aisle at the grocery store. Our local grocer put meat and dairy items about to expire on sale for half price. We snatched up everything they put out and put it in the freezer. I would pull out a gallon of milk or orange juice the night before so it could thaw for breakfast. Our large family can drink a gallon of milk in two days, so there is no risk of it going bad. Sometimes, I cooked the meat before I put it in the freezer. This extended the life just a little bit longer and also gave us a quick meal when our schedule was rushed.

Another local store discounted produce. They put bananas on sale for $0.10/lb when they start to look a little too ripe. I sometimes bought 20 lbs of bananas and made banana bread for the freezer. You can freeze mashed bananas. They turn a brown color but if you are just going to cook with them, it really doesn’t matter.

It’s Easier to Save Money…

Even today, when money is not so tight, we are not eating like royalty. We do not cook steak, and we eat a lot of casseroles. It is easier to save money than it is to increase income. With planning, a family can eat cheap and healthy. An added benefit to home cooking is losing some weight, not because of hunger, but because there is less fast food in your diet.Finding ways to feed a family economically is sometimes a lot of work, but with a little ingenuity, you can save money and cut your grocery bill.


Kim Schmutzler

About the Author

Kim Schmutzler

Kim and her husband, Craig, live in Overland Park KS where she successfully manages a marketing company and homeschools her two children still at home. Twenty-two years of juggling business and homeschooling has taught her a thing or two about time management. In addition to work and family, Kim helps her husband with the College and Career class at the church and also directs the Children's Music Ministry and drama team. The Submissive Spirit was born from her desire to reach out to other Christian women across the globe and share encouragement and the love of Christ.

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