5 ways to stretch your dollar

Coupons and Sales

To spend less you first need to buy less, before you purchase anything ask do I really need this?

Now that you have the application process started it is time to look at some of your day-to-day spending and see where you can stretch your dollar. First before you go shopping look for coupons, coupon codes, and applications that help you find the best price and coupons. There are applications that you can use online that will check for the lowest price and tell you about coupons. The one I use is Rakuten, but do your own research to find what is best for you. There are printable coupons on coupons.com. A lot of stores such as BJ’s has online coupons that you can clip through their application. Make it a habit to search coupons, sales, and price comparison before you go shopping.

Keep an eye out for sales usually around the holidays to see if you can get even more off especially if you can combine sales with coupons 🙂 Some examples, I have a side crochet business and the yarn stores typically have sales around holiday weekends, so I usually do not buy yarn unless there is a sale going on. Then I check the on-line applications for coupons or coupon codes. Some stores also have reward programs which I use as well. I can get an extra $5 dollars off as well as sales and coupons. This means that I am paying a lot less for yarn I need. The other thing to be careful of is shopping just because you save money, that is not spending less. You need to check-in to ensure that what you are buying is actually needed. That is key to spending less so I am going to say it again only buy what is actually needed!

For activities you can see if you are on SNAP if there is a discount. A lot of local bus/trains have discounts for people on SNAP. Sometimes you can get discounts through your local library. Groupon is a good application to look for discount activities. Finally you can search online for local free activities that you might like. Maybe go exploring on local hikes or bike trails.

Spend less on house supplies

Yup we all need to buy things to keep the house running like laundry detergent, cleaning spray, towels, dish scrubbies, and anything else you use in your house. One way to spend less on this is to go green. What?? Yup, using cloth instead of paper is going to save you money. Replace paper towels with cloth towels, they do not need to be anything you buy. Take an old (clean) t-shirt and cut it up and use as cloth towels. If you take the way back machine just a few decades ago these were what we use to call rags and used for cleaning. If you know some sewing – which I suggest you start learning – you can sew up the edges to make sure they don’t fray. And if you do not sew then use fabric that does not fray. If you or a friend crochets or knits you can make re-usable dish scrubbers which costs a lot less than sponges. You can wash the scrubbers and they won’t smell like a sponge.

For cleaning your house no longer buy spray cleaners, instead make your own with some water, liquid soap, tea tree oil, vinegar, and any other essential oils you like. I make my own cleaning spray using mint or clove since it helps with critters 🙂 There are books and online tutorials with recipes for various cleaning sprays and tasks. I make it easy and just have one general purpose cleaning spray.

For my floors I sweep with a broom and then use either a cloth towel or a crochet mop head for my Swifer mop. Then weekly I will vacuum. Keep in mind I have mostly wood and tile floors. YouTube has a lot of how to videos where you can find all sorts information on make your own projects to find cleaning supplies and make your own crochet/kint/sewing projects.

For the dryer I use the wool balls and spray them with homemade room spray (water & essential oils) instead of dryer sheets. Look at what you use in your house and see if you can find a cheaper way to do the same.

Personal supplies

So, exactly what was done with house supplies above can also be done with personal supplies. This is more of personal preference and if you have the time and ability to make your own. So, if you menstrate then you can look into using cloth pads, cups, or period underwear. You would need to do the calculation to see if these items would save you some money over the throw away products. You should read reviews of a product before buying and then do a test run to see if it is right for you. There are youTube videos on how to make some of the cloth items if you are interested.

Perfume – I like to make my own with a carrier oil and essential oils I can make it as strong or not strong as I like.

For washing your face you can use cloth face rounds that are re-usable. I like to use the foaming soap dispensers since you combine water with liquid soap and I find for my house it stretches out the soap. When it comes to tooth paste there are recipes on how to make your own – this depends on your own needs. You can also make your own soap, shampoo, and conditioner, there are many books and recipes on line that you can find for these. My daughter likes to make her own deodorant, she started with a recipe and has modified it overtime to a recipe that is best for her. She also makes a sugar scrub that all the family enjoys. Basically look at what you use on a regular basis and see if there is a make your own alternative that will save you money. These are all personal decisions and depend on your time and ability.

Terminate subscriptions

Go through your spending for the past year and ½ to find all of your subscriptions since some are yearly. List them out and put a priority to each – so which subscription is the most important.

Once you have your priority list of subscriptions then start with the least needed item and cancel it, moving up the list until you get to the ones that you need to keep for now – although if they are not needed they may eventually get terminated too.

For me AAA is important since I have used it at least once a year and has saved me a lot of money. When I first did this I found a few subscriptions that I had forgotten about. It took me some time, but I have canceled all of the subscriptions that are not a priority. I have a list by priority for the remaining items like Netflix, so if I need to decrease spending I know which is first to go.

There are so many free streaming services today that there is no need to really pay at this point. You can also get DVD’s from the local library. Another item that I canceled was the landline in my house since it was never used and we all use cell phones. If I need a home phone there are much less expensive options through cellular companies. I researched a variety of cell phone companies and found one with the least expensive for my needs and my family size. I highly recommend taking a look at what is out there on a regular basis since it is always changing.

Yearly vs Monthly payments

Call up your monthly payments and see if they offer a one time yearly payment that costs less and how to get started on that if and only if you have the cash to pay it. One that I do is car insurance, since you can usually save a few hundred dollars doing it that way.

Although not really a subscription you could also include in this category insurance payments or other bills that you can save money on by paying yearly instead of monthly. For car insurance I can save hundreds by paying yearly, this is an option if and only if you have the cash on hand to pay this. You do not want to put bills on credit to pay them. The credit fees will out weigh any savings.

Look to see if there are free ways to replace your subscriptions – like most libraries have subscriptions to magazines and some even have them online if you are looking for a magazine. Do you really need a home phone if you only use your cell phone? If you do see if there are less expensive cellular options for a home phone. For subscriptions that you really want to keep, but just can’t afford the payment now you can sometimes put a pause or hold on the subscription – I was able to do this for a cell phone and audible. This is an option if your income is variable to make it through a difficult month. The cell phone did have a slight charge to put the hold on but was better than the monthly amount.


Creating a weekly menu and using that to generate a shopping list helps limit the food you buy to just what is going to be used for the week. It is a good exercise to take one week and base that menu off of what you already have in your house to ensure you are rotating food storage. The menu you create can assist in so many ways include incorporating more economical ingredients, like rice and beans. Like a meatless Monday or include more fresh fruits and veggies since you are getting lots from the local farmer’s market. I find that meal planning ensures that the food I buy actually gets used and there is less waste. Without a meal plan I tend to cook what is easy not necessarily what is most nutritious or economical. Creating a meal plan can also help with meal prepping if you are short on time during the week. There are a lot of meal prepping videos on YouTube that walk you through how to do that even based on various diets.

I create my menu based on my nutritional needs and diet restrictions, which is very helpful in my efforts to incorporate more fruits and veggies in my diet along with enough protein. For me the menu planning has the added bonus of helping me stick to my diet.

Here is a link to the next step – which is de-stressing

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