I recently heard an expression that stuck with me: "The best way to save money is to double it up and put it back in your wallet."
I'd like to keep more money in my wallet, but I already cook at home, pack a lunch and carry my coffee to work in a ceramic travel mug. Not to mention, I dumped cable for a Roku, and I'm driving a twenty year-old car.
What else can I possibly cut out?
Dog food, for one.
Before you panic, I don't intend to stop feeding the dog. I just want to make his food myself. And the cat's food, too. I used to make it, but I stopped when it became too much to manage with the kids and all their activities.
Now I know what you're thinking--cat and dog food sold in the grocery store is already pretty cheap (about .60 for a can of cat food). The thing is, most supermarket pet food is made with non-food grade meats and is loaded with chemicals and fillers.
Even if I can't match supermarket prices making my own pet food, I'll still save something and I won't be sacrificing quality to do it. Not to mention, better nutrition means better health. Since healthy animals have fewer vet bills, that means even more money stays in my pocket.
The other Big Kahuna of expenditures I want to try to tackle is the human's grocery bill. This one is a bit tougher. At first I tried offering my services to weed/water people's vegetable plots in exchange for some of the produce, but I didn't get any takers.
My new plan is to get serious about weekly menu planning. I've got a chest freezer in the basement, so I'm going to try to maximize that resource by buying in bulk as much as I can. I'd also really like to get a freezer meal swap group going with family and friends. Participating in a meal swap group might not save me any money, but it will save me time and time is the most valuable commodity of all.
I would love to hear your tips and suggestions, too. Do you use coupons? Are you a member of a meal swap group and, if so, how is it working out? Do you have some other secret budget-busting tactic of choice? Your comments and suggestions are most welcome.