Saving Money Year Round

By: Audrey Okaneko

As moms, many of us want to stretch our incomes as far as we can. I’d like to offer some ideas that have worked for me in saving money year round.

1. Check with your local newspaper and see if you can read the paper online. I am able to only subscribe to the Sunday paper in order to qualify for online access. I can read seven days per week but only pay for one.

2. We go to garage sales often. I can not count the number of times we’ve found something we needed, in almost perfect condition and at a fraction of the cost.

3. Either buy books at the used book store or rent them from the library. Used book stores sell books at ½ of the cover price. They then buy them back at ¼ of the price. So, in essence you can get a book at ¼ of the cover price. We also buy books at garage sales. Often they are only 25 cents each.

4. Look into being a mystery shopper for restaurants. Pizza places are great. You can get a free pizza just for sharing your experience and taking notes about wait time, hold time etc. We recently ate at IHOP for free. The questionnaire took about 10 minutes to fill out. Please note there is NEVER, under any circumstances, a fee to become a mystery shopper.

5. Our local cable company charges about $50 to get more than the basic channels. If you add a movie channel, it goes up to about $70 per month. Why not order Blockbuster Online instead? For $18 per month, you can have 3 DVDs out at any time plus get a coupon to rent one more in the store every week. By the time you ship one back and get the next, you’ll always have DVDs to watch. You can rent both television shows and movies, eliminating the need for cable.

6. We do not have a long distance plan on our phone. Instead, we use prepaid phone cards. The per minute rate we are charged on our calling card is far less than the per minute rate if we add a long distance plan.

7. Commit to eating what’s in the house for a week. When we do this, we are able to finish off cans of soup, cans of tuna, pasta, crackers and many other items with long shelf lives. You may need to buy meats, fruits and vegetables, but really make an effort to use everything in your pantry. You’ll be surprised how much you can save by not buying new foods at the grocery store for a week.

8. Invest the time to examine what you pay for monthly. For example, are you paying for magazines you are not reading? Can you read them online? If you are saving a years’ worth of magazines for when you have time, save the money and buy it at the store when you really do have the time. Do you belong to a gym you are not using? Many people join a gym with good intentions, but if you are only working out once every three months, then saving the monthly fee and paying per use might be the way to go.

9. Plan out what gifts you will need for the next year. Shopping spur of the moment is always more costly. Buy gift items when they on sale and put them away. Birthdays, holidays and anniversaries come once each year. If you plan, you’ll save money.

10. Get credit card balances paid off. When you have a balance, you are charged interest on not only the old balance but also on any new purchase that you make. Take all of the money you have saved above and pay that credit card balance off.

Once you begin applying these tips to everyday life, you’ll find you really can save money year round.

About the Author: Audrey Okaneko is mom to two girls. She can be reached at or visited at

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