Ways We Save – Part 2

Last week, we shared some ways the Fetch clan saves a little moolah.  Here are a few more ideas that work for us.  We would love to hear the ways you creatively save as well.

We use cloth paper towels/napkins.
Last year, we made the switch to cloth “paper” towels.  We keep maybe one roll of regular paper towels on hand for those messes that just need to be tossed.  Otherwise, we’ve gotten completely comfortable with the cloth towels.  
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Stock up on sale or buy-one-get-one free items.
When certain items go on sale at our grocery store, we generally try to combine that sale with a coupon for added savings, and we stock up on that item since sales tend to run on about a 6-week cycle.  We don’t stock pile, we just get what we think we’ll use in that 6-week time frame.  There are some standard items we buy in bulk from our local warehouse store as well.  We’ve done the math and it really makes sense to buy certain items in bulk.

Use credit cards that offer rewards.
There are all sorts of choices out there:  airline miles, cash back, gift cards, etc.  Definitely use one that offers something in return (just be sure to pay any balance you have at the end of the month to avoid any crazy finance charges.)  Recently, we got a new blender and a new waffle maker by cashing in our points.  We were excited to get those free deliveries!  We’ve also been able to snag gift cards for dinner and home improvement stores.

We skip coffee shops.
Okay, we do treat ourselves when we’re out and about every now and then.  But for day-to-day coffee consumption we have a great espresso/coffee maker and we make ourselves a delicious coffee drink in a to-go cup each day.  Much better than spending $4-$5 per beverage at an expensive coffee shop.  

Vacation with a kitchen.
The past few vacations we’ve taken with the kids have been awesome!  In order to avoid the expense of eating out every meal, we’ve booked lodging that includes a kitchen.  The cost really isn’t much more than booking a couple of hotel rooms and we save a lot by not eating out every meal of the trip.  Plus it allows us to eat a little healthier.
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Bake your own bread.
Lucky for me, my husband is an excellent baker.  Usually, each week, he bakes two loaves over the weekend, which allows us fresh, tasty whole grain bread all week.  Have you noticed how expensive whole grain bread is?  
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Update the way you do laundry.
Having well water is a definite savings, so that’s a plus.  But it is not so kind to laundry, especially whites.  In our efforts to remedy this issue, we researched and eventually purchased the Pure Wash Laundry Purifier.  This method uses no, that’s right NO, laundry detergent or fabric softener.  So you can cross those two expenses off your grocery list.  And it uses only cold water, so it’s an energy saver too.  We occasionally add a little detergent if it’s an especially grimy load, but otherwise, the Pure Wash performs as promised.
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We also line dry some of our wash.  The kids cringe at the sight of laundry hanging and are worried that we’ve lost our minds.  “Isn’t that what they did in the olden days?!”  But, I gotta tell ya, it makes for fresh laundry – and don’t forget a lower power bill!  Typically I line dry and then throw some items in the dryer to fluff for a couple of minutes.  And we don’t line dry everything.  We really love fluffy bath towels and you just can’t get that from drying on the line.
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We DIY what we can.
I must brag that my handy husband really can do just about anything.  And with me as his lovely assistant, well, there’s just not much we can’t tackle.  In our current home, we’ve remodeled the kitchen, installed wood floors, changed out lighting, built a chicken coop, and have many more projects on the docket.  Often our biggest obstacle is time, so we do carefully weigh all options when selecting those things that we’ll pay someone else to do.  For example, we just paid to have someone replace our 25 year old fence.  And since it took 4 guys 5 days to do it, it was well worth our time and energy to have that task completed by someone else.  Our kitchen was a project we looked forward to tackling head on ourselves…
kitchen-hallway to kitchen-before   kitchen-hallway to kitchen-after

We are happy to share any other ideas we come up with.  Hope you will too.  Every little bit helps!

Ways We Save – Part 1

Over the last few years, we’ve put some good saving tactics to work around our house.  Mr F and I have had many conversations about our ideas and wanted to make sure we documented them so that others might benefit.  None of these are really new ideas, but we’re pleased with the success we’ve had in employing them.  If you’re reading this and have ideas of your own, we’d certainly love to hear about them!

We grow our own fruits and vegetables.
We are not gardening pros by any means, but we love trying.  And we’ve produced some pretty amazing produce!  Even in our last house which had a small yard and strict homeowner’s regulations, we had two small raised bed gardens and a couple of fruit trees.  Plus we were able to keep things organic – and organic produce tends to be quite expensive.
IMG_0582We have chickens.
Backyard chickens are becoming more and more popular.  We’re fortunate to have 7 who are all laying beautiful eggs!  
IMG_3588We use coupons.
There is a ton of info online about coupons and we all know about the extreme couponers.  We aren’t extreme, but we do save a considerable amount.  I clip coupons for items we actually use and try to combine them with sales.  We use competitors coupons at the store we shop in most often.  We sign up for email coupons at the stores we like to shop most frequently.  10% and 15% off coupons for merchandise add up over time.  

Ask for discounts.
Along the same line as coupons, we ask for discounts.  Don’t worry, we aren’t those people…  Here’s an example of how we make this work:  We went to a store the other day, one that I usually get email coupons for.  At the checkout I just asked the cashier, “Is there a coupon we should be using?”  She promptly just took 10% off our order just for asking.  Oh, and if you’re ordering something online, always always always look for a promo code.  We find usable promo codes about 90% of the time.  When dealing with service folks, Mr F will ask, “Is that your best price?”  They almost always reduce their price when we ask.  We’ve had success saving on cell phone packages, car insurance, homeowners insurance, etc. just by calling and asking for better rates at least once a year.

We do not use cable or satellite.
We cut the cable cord when we moved earlier this year.  It seemed like a good time to make the transition since we’d talked about it for awhile.  We were paying about $120/month to our satellite company for close to 600 channels that we NEVER watched.  We purchased an antenna (about $200) and a Roku (about $70) and haven’t missed satellite or cable at all.  Now we spend about $15/month paying for Hulu Plus and Netflix.  If you are a TV addict there are some cons to this—we don’t have a DVR so we can’t rewind or record shows we’re watching via antenna.  Also, you won’t always have immediate access to the shows you want to watch.  (We’ve been avoiding any and all talk about the final season of Dexter so we can watch it when it’s available!)  
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We bought a smaller house.
Obviously, this isn’t something everyone has the luxury of doing, but downsizing has made a huge difference for us.  We went from this…
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…and haven’t looked back.  Although the new house is about 1000 sq ft smaller and has required some updating, it’s on 5 acres!  It’s also one story.  Smaller house on one level = smaller power bill.  Even though it’s on a huge lot, we actually are saving a considerable amount on our mortgage each month too!  And we have a well, so we no longer have a $200+/month water bill.  

We have several other money saving tips that really work for us.  Stay tuned for Part 2.

Back to School 2013

Monday was the first day of school for the kiddos and they were two big balls of nervous-excited-scared-happy-frantic energy.  Since we moved earlier this year, Jessa and Joel are both attending new schools.  While they are excited about the change they are both really nervous about having to make new friends and finding their way around a new campus.  Certainly understandable.  They made sure to look their best on the first day…
jessa 7th grade first day 2013
joel 10th grade first day 2013Having some fun new clothes eased the nerves, but only a little.  Hopefully, after they get a week under their belts, things will get a little easier.

Here’s a look back at last year….crazy how much they’ve grown and changed in a year!
jessa 6th grade first day joel 9th grade first day 2012