Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Triplets Plus One- Save Money $$$!

The idea of having triplets sounds like it would be fun but also pretty expensive. On this installment of The Triplets Plus One, Rachel gives us some of her money saving tips!

From the moment I found out I was pregnant with triplets I have become obsessed with our family finances.  I read articles about the thousands of dollars it takes to raise a child from birth until the age of 18 and honestly it scared me!  I’m like all parents who want only the best for their children and figuring out how to do that on one income can sometimes be quite challenging.  So over the past four years I have learned a few tricks and tips to save money without looking like a weirdo from Extreme Couponing by purchasing 100 bottles of mustard.

Set Up A Monthly Budget
For an entire month keep track of every last receipt, even if it’s just for a $.99 drive-thru burger.  I kept an envelope in my purse and my husband kept his receipts in his wallet.  At the end of the month categorize the receipts in order to organize them.  This lets you know what you’re spending your money on (it can be quite shocking). Write down all your fixed expenses like your mortgage, electricity, cable, etc. Now you have a basic monthly budget.Here’s where things can get tricky.  Are you spending more per month than you are earning?  If you’re like we were, you are, and that’s no good!  So what I did is look at my receipts and figure out what I was spending on frivolous stuff I didn't need.  My husband spent $30 on vending machines alone. Yikes!  That sounds crazy, but how easy is it to just stick a dollar in a vending machine for a soda or bag of crackers.  So we vowed to do no more frivolous spending and no more eating out for our lunches.

Buy Groceries At The Grocery Store!
I know it seems like a basic concept, but you can really save a lot of money by just shopping for food at the grocery store.  For every dollar my husband was putting in the vending machine at work, I knew I could buy the exact same item at the grocery store for a fraction of the price.  So I had him write a list of stuff he would like for lunch, as well as snacks and drinks for break times and I purchased it all at the grocery store. A $1.50 12 oz. bottle of soda in the vending machine was $.83 a bottle purchased at the grocery store in a 6 pack for $4.99.  It may not seem like much but $.67 saved on every bottle (say you drink 20 bottles a month) is $13.40 saved in a month or $160.80 saved in a year!  Just on bottles of soda!  Once I did the math on everything I was buying, saving money became easy.  And the thought of saving hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a year on just food, became very exciting.  That was money I could be putting into a college fund, vacation fund, or just saved for a rainy day.

Clip Coupons!
When the show Extreme Couponing came out a lot of people were amazed at what you could save by just cutting out pieces of paper from the newspaper.  I had been couponing since my babies were born in 2008 so I was already aware of how to use coupons.  Let me just say, I have NEVER used a coupon to buy things my family doesn't use, and I have NEVER nor will I ever use coupons to buy 100 jars of pickles my family cannot possibly eat. I started out by purchasing one Sunday newspaper and clipping coupons for things I know I would buy and use.  I organized them in a 3-ring binder with baseball card sheets into categories like Frozen Foods, Baby, and Cleaning Products, so on and so on.  Next, I would look at our grocery stores weekly circular.  This lets you know what the store has on sale and I use that as a basis for what I would be preparing for our breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.  If chicken breasts were on sale for $.99 a pound I would look up recipes on the Internet for creative ways to prepare chicken breasts and that’s what I made for dinner.  If the recipe was good, I saved it in my coupon binder.  If the recipe was bad I threw it away!  Next, came time to use my coupons.  If the store had yogurt on sale for 10 cartons for $5.00 and I had a coupon to save $1.00 on 10 cartons, I matched them up.  Instead of my yogurt being $.50 each (on sale) it became $.40 each (with a coupon).  The savings over an entire month became amazing!  I was saving money on things my family needed and enjoyed and not once did I ever feel put out by doing just a little bit of work.

Kids Eat Free! 
Those three little words became the most exciting thing in the Triplets Plus One Mom’s vocabulary.  Certain restaurants will set aside a specific night of the week where kids 12 and under can get a child’s plate for free with the purchase of an adult entrĂ©e.  This was so wonderful for our family because taking a family of six to a restaurant can be really pricey, so we always pick a restaurant where we know they run this promotion and go on the special night of the week for a special treat for the whole family.  By doing this we save up to 50% of our total bill and still get a fun family night out.

Vacation On A Budget
We don’t get to take very many vacations but when we do we get very excited and very nervous at the cost of six people vacationing.  One year we decided we wanted to see the Grand Canyon and set our sights on making that happen.  I found an awesome website called sixsuitcasetravel.com, that specialized on travel options for big families. I found hotel rooms that could accommodate our family at no extra per person charge, or reserving a huge (and expensive) suite. I also researched the cities we were visiting and found awesome reviews on local restaurants that we kid friendly as well as wallet friendly.  I printed out addresses and phone numbers and when we were hungry we had some amazing food prepared by super friendly locals that loved visiting with our family. I also found a super cool app for my i-phone called Gas Buddy that finds gas stations near you and gives you the price per gallon that each station was charging.  This was an easy way to save money on gas as well as get directions to the closest station. Our Grand Canyon Vacation lasted 6 days and 5 nights and we loved every minute of it!  We also loved the fact that we only spent $1000 for the whole adventure.  This included gas, hotels, food, entertainment, and entrance into the park.  Not too shabby!





My Top Five Tips
Saving money can be beneficial no matter what size family you have.  It really only takes a few minutes a day set aside to saving money and you can easily get your family out of debt or saving a few extra dollars for something fun.  Here are my personal top five tips for saving money for your family:

1. Start small!  Set a small goal, say signing up for a discount card from your grocery store, and go from there.  Any small change you make toward saving money will add up in the long run.  So go for it! 

2. Prepare (most) of your meals at home.  Even if you’re a busy working mom, you can plan to put a meal in your crockpot or cook extra on a less busy night to eat as leftovers on another busier night.  Eating at home is not only budget friendly but also much more healthy.  Your children will look back at the times you all sat around the table sharing a meal as a cherished memory.

3. Buy what you need and use what you buy!  Only buy things you know your family will need and make sure you keep them organized in such a way that everyone in the house can use them.  A tube of toothpaste for $.50 bought with a coupon is only good if someone can find it to brush their teeth.

4. Set up a separate email account that you can have all your deals sent to.  I set up a free Yahoo account that I always use when signing up for a retailers discount program.  That way my personal email isn't always full of offers I may or may not use.  Also this is a great way to get deeply discounted or free merchandise from a retailer, restaurant, or grocery store.

5. Have fun with your savings!  You earned it!  The best part about saving money is knowing you did your best for your family.  Your effort can pay for things you never knew your family could afford like vacations or private education.  It’s all obtainable if you can become a dedicated saver!


You can find Rachel's other posts here: 

Triplets Plus One = Four Times the Fun!



-Rachel is one amazing Momma! She makes parenting triplets look like a fun party! Her babies are not only super cute but are all so well behaved. Her besting savings in one grocery trip was 86%! She was so excited she taped the receipt to the fridge for over a month!

6 comments:

  1. Rachel, you have excellent planning and organization skills. Your methods for saving money will help not only those with large families but those who want to retire early. Both my husband and I retired early; a lot of that had to do with how we managed our money over the years. Thanks for a great article.

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    1. Great point Tawny. We appreciate your feedback!

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  2. These are fabulous tips for anyone who wants to better manage their money! I like your suggestion of creating a separate email account for discounts from retailers, restaurants, and grocery stores. My family also purchases only items that they need or will consume.

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    1. I agree Isabel. I use to purchase a ton of canned goods that simply sat there (what a waste of money and food). I've cut that out! I love so many of this momma's suggestions and look forward to more of her adventures and your feedback. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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  3. Mint. com is a good app to use for budgeting. It shows you where you spend your money, it provides categories, and you can set up your own limits so that it notifies you when you're reaching that limit on a certain category. :)

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    1. Great tip. My hubby and I love Mint.com!

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Comment aka Props!