1. Utilize the salvage food store at Hillside & Western once every 2 weeks. FYI…they only take cash or checks. Average yearly savings: a lot
2. Buy spaghetti noodles, a can of tomato sauce, and steamable corn every time you go to the store. When you have one of those “I don’t want to cook, let’s just go out to eat” nights, throw aforementioned spaghetti in a pot of water, boil for 10-15 minutes, drain, dump in a can of tomato sauce, steam the corn, and eat. This takes less time than loading up the kids and driving somewhere. Savings: Well, a family of 5 can eat fast food for around $30. This meal costs about $3. It feeds my family of 8. Fighting your “I’m too exhausted to cook tonight” urge with spaghetti once per week will save you over $1,000/year. That’s enough $ for a shiny new IPad. Side note: Adding ground turkey, salt, and pepper to the not-so-great canned spaghetti sauce only adds $1 to the cost. Good luck eating anywhere for $4.
3. If you ignore me and go out to eat anyway, go to the Chick-fil-A on Coulter on Thursday nights. Kids eat free on Thursday nights. Also, Chick-fil-A is awesome.
4. Buy the $9/month Netflix subscription that gives you unlimited streaming. If you have a Wii, get the Netflix disk for the Wii. Con a tech-savvy friend or relative into hooking your computer up to your tv and introduce yourself to hulu. Cancel your cable or satellite. Yes, the lack of tv during football season is sad; but, I can watch most of the games I care about on Espn3.com. Yearly savings: at least $300.
5. Make sandwiches (see costs here), eat, then go to the Paramount Baptist Church Play area (free to the community) rather than eat at McDonald’s. Yearly savings (if you go to McDonald’s once every 2 weeks with 3 kids): at least $300.
6. When you have kids, birthdays can get out of hand financially. We utilize the Dollar store. For example, for my wife’s birthday I took my oldest daughters to the Dollar Store. They got to pick out any item they wished for their mom for her birthday. This cost me $2.16 (yes, I bought her something that didn’t come from the Dollar Store). They do the same for siblings’ birthdays. Annual savings: no idea…but the kids seem to like it and it makes for some funny gifts.
7. Mortgage Tip 1: Look into refinancing now if your current mortgage rate is above 6%. Rates are at historic lows. Example: You have 26 years remaining on your mortgage. You still owe $150,000 and your current rate is 6.5%. Your current payment (excluding taxes and insurance) is $1,005/month. You refinance to a 15 year mortgage at today’s rate of 3.75% and add your closing costs to the balance of the loan rather than paying them out of pocket. Your new monthly payment is $1,120. You just saved yourself $111,960 over the life of your loan. Not bad.
8. Mortgage Tip 2: If you rate is low, and your loan balance is 80% of your home value, call your mortgage lender to find out how to get rid of PMI. Example: You bought a $150,000 house 5 years ago and put 10% down. Your house has appreciated in value to $160,000. If you have paid down your mortgage to $128,000 or less you may be eligible to stop paying PMI. This could save you an extra $1,000/year. Caveat: most companies will require you to pay for an appraisal (usually around $300) and file paperwork to make this happen. It is still worth it. If what I just wrote was gibberish to you, email me and I’ll explain it better.
9. Purchase a membership to the Don Harrington Discovery Center. $70/year for a family. We use ours a ton. Yes, I realize it costs money…but let’s be honest, if you don’t have somewhere to go you usually find yourself mindlessly roaming the aisles of Target. This is cheaper (on an annual basis) than Target or Walmart roaming.
10. Take your kids to the zoo on Mondays. It is free on Mondays. Yes, I realize that you can see the same diversity of wildlife on the road to Wildorado; but, hey, it is free. Again, this is cheaper than roaming around Target with your kids or going to McDonald’s. Disclaimer: Obviously, some of these ideas are Amarillo-specific. Also, you are probably aware of some or all of them. I don’t care. This is not your blog. It is my blog. Feel free to leave your own money saving tips in the comments. As you might imagine I’m a big fan of cheapness wise spending.