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Category: Money-Saving Ideas

4 Reasons Why You Can’t Save Money on Groceries

On Monday, I am launching a brand-new eBook called . In it, I’m going to share my best tricks and secrets for sticking with a low grocery bill. (Psst! You won’t want to miss out on the ! Be sure to check my blog on Monday for all the details!)

In the mean time, I wanted to make sure that my eBook really covered your greatest budgeting struggles and stresses, so I polled all of my Facebook followers and Instagram followers to share their number one struggle when it comes to saving money on groceries.

I picked the top 4 struggles that were shared over and over again and I want to address each of these and give you some creative ideas and encouragement. You probably won’t be able to relate to all of these, but hopefully some of the tips I share will help you in your unique situation.

Struggle #1: I find it hard to menu plan consistently. This leads to extra trips to the store and overspending.

A few of my tips & suggestions:

  • I’d start by asking yourself what your biggest hang up is to menu-planning. Is it that you can’t find the time, don’t enjoy it, don’t like sticking with a plan? Or is it something else? Often when we ask why and try to get to the root of the issue, it allows us to come up with creative alternatives.
  • One simple solution might be coming up with four or six weeks’ worth of menu plans with grocery lists. Yes, this would take some time to put together, but then all you’d need to do would be to rotate through these lists again and again! One time effort could lead to months or years of benefit! (Need some inspiration? Read this post on creating an Annual Menu Plan.)
  • Have you tried using a menu plan service like Eat at Home? They do all the menu-planning for you and even make a color-coded grocery list so all you need to do is print, check your cupboard/fridge, and then go shopping or use grocery pick up.

Struggle #2: I feel like I never have enough time to shop strategically or cook much food from scratch.

A few of my tips & suggestions:

  • I’m going to stick my neck out here a little bit (and risk stepping on a few toes!), but the truth is: if you tell yourself you can’t do something, you probably won’t be able to do it. Start by deciding to change your language around this. We almost always have somewhat of a choice in how we spend our time. Instead of saying, “I don’t have time,” try saying, “I’m choosing to spend my time differently.” This simple switch reminds you that calendar is not the boss of you!
  • Instead of trying to shop at a bunch of different stores or use coupons or cook everything from scratch, I recommend starting out by just sticking with a budget and menu plan. Those two simple practices might be all you need to cut your grocery bill down to a realistic and doable figure.
  • If you are consistently sticking with a grocery budget and a menu plan and it’s not feeling overwhelming, then try challenging yourself to change one small thing to shave 1-3% off your grocery budget that month. That’s all. If that one small thing works, stick with it. When it becomes a habit and feels easy, then add on another small thing. And so on. This is a slow but surefire way to steadily begin to overhaul your grocery budget.

Struggle #3: We don’t have many grocery store options where we live. It’s frustrating to see all the good deals other people get.

A few of my tips & suggestions:

  • If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, I bet you can guess what I’m going to say: stop comparing. Seriously, just stop! It does no good and it only serves to steal your joy and make you feel frustrated and/or inadequate.
  • Instead, focus on what you CAN do. Can you have a budget? Yes, you can. Can you create a menu plan? Yes, you can! Can you stick with simple and inexpensive meals? Yes, you can!
  • Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. And be content with that! In addition, look for creative ways to save. Maybe that’s through a company like , or ordering online, or a local farm, or starting a garden, or cooking more things from scratch. When there is a will, there is usually a way!

Struggle #4: We have food allergies so I have to buy certain brands. There are not a lot of sales and coupons on the brands I have to buy.

A few of my tips & suggestions:

  • First off, read my suggestions above in response to the other struggles. I think some of those will encourage you.
  • Secondly, look for outside-the-box ways to save. Sometimes, Amazon will have great prices on allergen-friendly foods (you can set up price alerts on !) What about asking your local stores if they will give you a discount if you buy in bulk? Does deliver to your area? If so, check on the prices they offer.
  • In addition, if there are brands you regularly use, try ing them and letting them know how much you love their brand. They will often send you coupons! And be sure to sign up for their emails and social media to be alerted of special deals and coupons, too!
  • Lastly, you might not be able to lower your grocery bill as much as some can. That is entirely okay! I bet you can find other ways to save in your budget in order to free up the extra money you need to spend more on groceries!

What are YOUR greatest struggles when it comes to saving money on groceries? Tell me in the comments!

Cut your grocery bill!

Want to cut your grocery budget? Go here and sign up (it’s free!) I’ll send you my 10 Easy Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill By $50.

30 Super Easy Ways to Save Money

Want some easy ways to save money? Here are 30 easy ways to save money submitted by my Facebook followers. How many of these do you currently do?

30 Super Easy Ways to Save Money

1. Set up auto deposit to a bank that is hard to access.

Susan suggested: “Auto deposit to a bank you don’t have easy access to. I use our local credit union that is only open 9-3. While I’m working.”

Rachel says: “This is how I saved enough money to buy my first home outright. Lived on one check and sent the next 2 to a bank I didn’t have easy access too. (I had an account at a credit union 3 hours away so it was definitely a job to get the money out.)”

Kim says: “I automatically have money transferred into a savings account before I even see it from my check.”

2. Ask some questions before making a purchase.

Kelley says: “I ask myself more than once before making a purchase, ‘Do I really need this and will this make me happier a year from now?’ Pretty much stops me in my tracks most of the time!”

3. Take advantage of free family fun!

Lacy suggested: “We like to do outdoors activities and nature adventures as a family instead of dining out and shopping as ‘something to do’ as our family time.”

4. Cook and eat at home.

Hope says: “Cooking all our meals at home and making my own coffee drinks is enabling me to stay home.”

Moni also said: “Cooking homemade food and eating at home saves us a lot of money. My hubby also saves a ton of money each week bringing lunches and eating breakfast before he goes to work in the morning. Also coffee! Brewing our own saves as much as not getting food out!”

5. Shop at thrift stores.

Rachel says: “Shop at salvage stores and thrift stores.”

6. Record every purchase.

Shannon says: “Recording every purchase (yes, even things like a vending purchase!) in our budget spreadsheets helps us track categorized expenses and make sure we are staying within budget.”

7. Cancel your catalogs and unsubscribe from emails.

Jennifer says: “Limiting my exposure to beautiful things by canceling all the pretty catalogs and email blasts from the same stores is an easy way to save money.”

8. Cut your cable.

Rachel says: “Cut off your cable! Wish I had done it months ago!”

Laura also said: “We just did this, too! It’s saving us $65/month.”

9. Set a goal.

Tammy says: “When I have a goal set (usually travel), I can save money very easily. I have no problem not spending unnecessarily. No goal = I buy things I DO NOT need.”

10. Do it yourself!

Rachael says: “Easy ways we save money: Making my own DIY face/skin/cleaning products, canning, freezing, gardening, making our own wine, cutting my daughter’s hair, and doing handmade/homemade Christmas/birthday gifts!”

11. Only buy groceries on sale with coupons.

Valeria says: “Only buy groceries when on sale, using coupons and app rebates. Plus, purchase enough to get you to the next sale of that item.”

12. .

Edith says: “I save money by ordering groceries online. It keeps me out of the store and eliminates impulse shopping. I make my list at home, do the order, and pick it up outside the store.”

13. Stock up when an item is on sale.

Keiva says: “I use coupons with sales to buy more than we need at the time so it’s available to us when it’s not on sale. Also, stock up on sale items. This week, our grocery has Mott’s Apple juice 64oz. for $1. I’ll buy 40. With 6 kids, it goes quickly! They also have Peter Pan PB for $1, so I’ll buy about 20. I’ll be set for the next 6 months!”

14. Get rid of expensive habits.

Tiffany says: “Get rid of habits that cost money. I gave up coffee and tea a long time ago. Started saving me $15 to $25 a week. I stopped buying books unless they are $1 or less and just reserve books at a library.”

15. Cut your hair at home.

Barbie says: “Doing my husband’s and sons’ haircuts myself. My husband and older son only take about 10 minutes a piece. My younger son takes twice as long because he fidgets. I still figure I save on time by not going to a barber shop, and I save $60-ish every round of haircuts. My boys think going to a barber shop is quite the treat!”

16. Don’t buy it if you don’t need it!

Tosha says: “Remembering that just because it’s posted on MSM or another blog doesn’t mean I need to buy it! If I don’t need it and I buy it because it’s on sale, I’ve spent money I didn’t need to spend.”

17. Stay out of Target.

Sandra says: “Staying out of Target and buying necessities on Amazon is an easy way to save money.”

18. Don’t shop without a list.

Oghma: “I don’t go inside a store until I have a list. Also, don’t shop just one item and then feel like you need to buy other things so the trip is ‘worth it’.”

19. Use a wood burning fireplace.

Holly says: “We bought a wood burning fireplace insert to save money. We’ve gotten firewood free but when we’ve bought it, the wood was still 1/3 the price of natural gas. Also, when we had a natural gas outage, we had no power but we still had heat.”

20. Use Rakuten to earn cash back.

Michele says: “We save money by using eBates when online shopping (now known as Rakuten). In the years I’ve been using it, I’ve gotten almost $1,000 back. They send you a check every three months. I never order anything without checking to see if the website is on eBates first.”

21. Get a 15-year mortgage instead of a 30-year.

Melisa says: “We have a 15-year mortgage instead of a 30-year mortgage. Yes, monthly payment is higher, but not double. Plus, it’s going to save us $112,000 in interest on a $290,000 home.”

22. Use your local library.

Patricia says: “We utilize every aspect of our local library. DVDs, audiobooks, reading programs with prizes, free events for kids, game night, kid computer games, online library for ebooks, etc.”

23. Pack food before you leave.

Bethany says: “We save money by packing lunch/dinner if we go out, bringing coffee along for the ride, and eating before we leave!”

24. Don’t buy beverages!

Robin says: “We don’t drink pop and we don’t buy beverages when we are out and about. Bottled water is also a no-no. I can fill a bottle at home real cheap.”

25. Watch the prices as they are scanned.

Beverly says: “I watch the prices as items are scanned in at the register. I save often by catching an accidental higher price being scanned in. Also, 2 main stores I shop at offer a price scan policy. If it scans in wrong, you get one free if it’s under $10. Or, you get $10 off if it’s over $10.”

26. Don’t buy things the same day.

Betsy says: “I take pictures of things I like at stores like Target and don’t buy them the same day. Sometimes I do this and then find something similar at the thrift stores.”

27. Plan your menu based upon what you already have.

Elizabeth says: “When I’m meal planning, I shop my pantry and freezer first and try to utilize what I have and not let things go to waste.”

28. Don’t shop just to kill time.

Andrea says: “Don’t go shopping just to fill time. If I go wandering because I’m bored, I will find things to buy. I’m trying to simplify and save money for adventures instead of ‘stuff’ for my little one and me.”

29. Ditch your clothes dryer.

Tricia says: “I save money by hanging all my clothes to dry instead of using a dryer.”

30. Don’t buy it just because you want it.

Jennifer says: “I’m learning to be an adult and understand that I don’t HAVE TO buy everything I want.”

What are some of your favorite super easy ways to save money?

8 Ways to Get Books for Free (or Almost-Free)

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Do you love reading but also want to make sure you don’t break your budget with book purchases? 😉 Reading doesn’t have to cost very much money at all, I promise! This post covers my top tips on how to get FREE books!

8 ways to get free books

Marlena emailed in and asked the following question:

I’m motivated by all the books that you read! I’ve made me a list of (just) TEN books for this year for myself. My library only carries two on my list. I can’t afford to go out and buy all these books. (I doubt you do the same). How can I find all the books I want to read on my tight stay-at-home-mom budget? Thanks for ALL you do! -Marlena

Way to go on making reading a priority, Marlena! I promise that you won’t regret it.

How to Get Free Books

I’m constantly on the lookout for new book ideas to add to my crazily-long list of Books I Want to Read. Since I read so voraciously, I’ve had to come up with some creative ways to feed my reading addiction without running us out of house and home.

Not all of my ideas may work for everyone, but here’s a list of eight tips I’ve used to get books for free or almost free throughout the years:

1. Earn Free Books from MyReaderRewards

My Reader Rewards Club is a site that gives you the opportunity to earn free books and audio by filling out surveys, referring friends, and more.

It’s very easy to earn a free book — without even having to refer a friend!

Free Books from MyReaderRewards

My Reader Rewards Club offers Christian books from Tyndale, including Nonfiction books, Fiction books, Parenting books, Kid’s books, Audiobooks, Ministry Resources, and more! They even have Adventures in Odyssey audios and books!

Our family has gotten a number of free books from them over the past few years and I have loved being able to get brand-new books completely free!

Read more on how to easily earn books with MyReaderRewards.

2. Download Free Audiobooks from Libby

It’s no secret that I absolutely love books. And I try to invest at least a little bit of time in reading every single day.

But on really full days, fitting in reading time can be a challenge. Which is why I’m so grateful for audiobooks! They are the perfect solution to making reading a priority — even if you aren’t able to physically sit down and read a book.

Psst! Do you struggle with finding time to read? Read this post, check out these practical tips on how to find more time to read each day!

However, if you buy audiobooks online, they are often quite expensive — typically more than you’d pay for the paperback or hardback copy. Which is why I’m a fan of finding ways to listen to FREE audiobooks.

Free Audiobooks on Libby

Back in 2016, I told you about 8 Ways to Get Audiobooks for FREE. If you haven’t read that post, you’ll want to go read it right now.

I talked specifically about the Overdrive and Hoopla apps in that post — apps that allow you to “check out” audiobooks for free from your local library. Most libraries have since switched over to the Libby app, an app that is much more user-friendly and less clunky to use. And I have become a huge fan of it.

I liked the Overdrive app and the Hoopla app, but I LOVE the Libby app! There are so many different audiobooks to choose from on it and they are all at my favorite price point: FREE!

Read more on how to listen to free Audiobooks with the Libby app.

Home Library

3. Check Out Free Books at the Library & Through Inter-Library Loan

Of course, no list of how to get free books would be complete without a mention of the library. I’ve checked out countless books from the library over the years; it’s an invaluable resource!

If you have a relatively small library that doesn’t have a great selection, check and see if they offer Inter-Library loan. Most libraries do, and this offers a much, much broader selection. You have to request the book and then wait for it to come in, but it’s free–which usually makes it worth a bit of a wait!

You can also suggest books for your library to purchase. They might not heed your suggestion, but it’s always worth a shot.

4. Borrow Free Books from Friends

I’m always swapping books with friends–and this is a great way to keep your reading materials varied! Just be sure that you keep track of what books you’ve borrowed and loaned out.

Also, it goes without saying, but return the books in the same condition they were loaned in. Otherwise, your friends might not be so excited to loan you books again. 😉

Jo reading

5. Download Free Ebooks

If you have any sort of mobile device — an iPhone, iPad, iTouch, or other mobile device — there are dozens upon dozens of free books you can download on a daily basis. We even post free eBook round-ups to make it easy for you!

You don’t need a Kindle tablet to read the free eBooks. Just download the to access your free eBooks on any mobile device or computer.

Tip: Most public libraries also offer free ebooks on their site that you can borrow and download to your device for a few weeks.

6. Check Thrift Stores, Used Book Sales, and Garage Sales

Thrift stores, used book sales, and garage sales can be a goldmine for book lovers. Best of all, they’ll often have fill-a-bag sales where you can fill as many books into a designated bag as you’re able to — all for a few dollars.

You can also find bargains on hot titles that you can swap/trade on , at a , or at your favorite local book store! This is an easy way to get titles you want for very little money out of pocket!

Pile of Books to Read

7. Sign Up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Station

Okay, so this one is for kids, but I still had to share it! If you have a child between the ages of 0 to 5 and your local area participates, you can sign up to from .

We’ve never personally used this, but I’ve heard from others that they send nice, high-quality books really regularly.

There are participating communities within the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Republic of Ireland.

8. Buy Used From Amazon or Barnes & Noble

When I do actually “buy” books, I use my Swagbucks credit to buy them. offers a great deal on Barnes & Noble and Amazon gift cards, so I often request those as rewards.

Not sure how to use Swagbucks? Read this post on how to earn Swagbucks gift cards.

However, I usually do not buy books brand-new, unless I’m buying them to support an author (which I’ve become pretty passionate about doing after releasing books myself!). Instead, I typically purchase the book used from Amazon or Barnes & Noble Marketplace. I’ve been amazed at how much money I’ve saved just by being willing to go with a book that has a little wear and tear on it!

In addition, Barnes and Noble sometimes runs free shipping deals or I’ll find a coupon code. Combining that with shopping through a cashback site, I can usually get a great deal on a book I really want – all for free because is covering the tab!

Pile of Books

Bonus Idea for Bloggers: Request Review Copies From the Publisher

If you’re a blogger or review books for another type of social media, you can fairly easily obtain free review copies from publishers. Just search for the publisher of a book (you can often find this on Amazon) and then find their website and look for information for review copies.

Most publishers state their review copy policy right on their website and many are extremely generous in their willingness to send review copies to bloggers. However, please don’t take advantage of this. Only request books you are truly interested in, and those that you truly plan to actually review on your blog.

Many publishers are also more than happy to do a giveaway along with your review and see this as extra exposure for them. So it never hurts to ask, if you’re sure you’ll like the book!

I no longer actively ask for review copies, but I do receive a few each week from various publishers who are hoping I’ll mention their book on my blog, social media, or podcast.

What are your favorite ways to get FREE or cheap books? I’d love to hear your ideas!

The Best Things to Buy in October

Maximize your savings this month with this list of items that are best to buy during the month of October!

Did you know you can save quite a bit of money if you wait to buy certain items during certain months throughout the year? Check out this list of the !

We Stopped Buying Paper Towels

Is it possible to live without paper towels? Yep, it is. In this post, I share why we stopped buying paper towels. I also share how we manage to live just fine without them.

“Where are your paper towels?”

I get this question so often from new guests who are at our house. They always look a little shocked when I say, “Well, actually, we don’t buy paper towels.”

As I’ve mentioned the fact that we stopped buying paper towels online, I’m always met with curious questions about how on earth we manage to live without paper towels.

The process was really just two simple steps…

1. Stop Buying Them

You want to know how we’ve eliminated paper towels from our home? Well, here’s the answer: I just stopped buying them. Seriously, that was it.

Early on in our marriage, I realized that paper towels were one item I could never find that great of a deal on. I also realized that these were an item many people lived without for thousands of years, without any issue.

So I talked to my husband and asked him if I could do an experiment: could I just stop buying paper towels and see if we missed them?

You know what? We never really even noticed. When we needed to clean up a spill, we just used a towel. When we needed to wipe something up, we used a rag. It just wasn’t a big deal.

Honestly, the only times I’ve realized we didn’t have paper towels were when someone was at our home and they asked for a paper towel. I’d just tell them we actually don’t use paper towels, but the rags or towels are in the bottom drawer in the kitchen.

2. Find Creative Alternatives

I keep a drawer full of towels and rags in the kitchen handy for spills and clean-up. The only time I’ve found that paper towels were really handy (and I did buy some) was for our camping trips and when we moved.

Otherwise, for everyday messes and spills, rags or old towels/washcloths have worked just great for us. We can always toss them, if need be, if the spill was really messy.

A number of people have asked what we use to drain bacon on, since that seems to be a very common use of paper towels. We actually cook our bacon in the oven on a cooling rack with foil on a pan underneath. So yes, we do throw out this foil once it has been used.

No, You Don’t Need to Quit Buying Paper Towels!

Now, please know, I’m not writing this to make the case that all of you need to quit buying paper towels. However, I share it as an example of how there are many things we’ve come to think are “necessities” in life which really aren’t.

How about trying to live without some of these things and see if it really is that difficult or earth-shattering? You might be surprised to discover you don’t even miss these once-considered “necessities”.

What about you? What simple things have you eliminated from your life and found you didn’t miss at all? Tell us about it.