How to Save Money » Frugal Living

7 easy ways that we save money

Saving money hasn’t always come easily to me. I used to be a big-time spender, not a saver.

Now, I actually find saving money fun. I feel like it’s a game – trying to see how much I can save each month.

Here are a few ways that our family easily saves money:

1. Cook at home, mostly from scratch.

I’ve always loved experimenting in the kitchen, so this was a definite no-brainer for me when we were paying off debt and saving money for our future. We cook from scratch all the time now.

We do go out to eat once or twice per month because you have to allow yourself to indulge every so often if you don’t want to go crazy – but to be honest, I much prefer eating at home. Food always seems to taste better when you make it yourself.

Now, if only I had a waitress and someone to clean my kitchen, I’d be set!

2. Use entire sheets of printer paper.

I print a ton of coupons and other things, so our printer sees a lot of use.

I don’t like using one piece of paper for a single coupon (which often only takes up 1/3 of the page), so I will cut out the coupon and put the paperback in the printer to print off another 1 or 2 coupons. This way no paper is wasted.

Also, if I am printing something other than a coupon, I always print something else on the other side of the paper when I am done with it (if possible). This makes our printer paper last twice as long.

3. Use coupons – a lot!

If you’ve been reading this site for any length of time, you know that I use coupons all the time. They have saved my family so much money over the years.

Not only have I been able to build up a pretty large stockpile by using coupons, but I have also been able to donate items to countless women’s shelters, food banks, and other charitable organizations. You can get so many things for free using coupons.

4. Allowances.

My husband and I both have an allowance line in our monthly budget that we use on splurges.

It’s only a small amount, but knowing that we have this money that we can spend on whatever we want makes budgeting a lot easier.

We are currently saving for a down payment for our first home and sometimes all of the saving and cutting back on things can become a huge chore. Knowing that we have this fun money to play with every month is such a good thing for us.

5. Research before we buy.

Whenever we need to buy something, we do our research – and we do lots of it.

This can be anything from a pair of shorts to a new car. Whatever we plan to buy (that costs more than $10 or so), we will read reviews on it to make sure that the item we are thinking about buying is actually worth the money.

I remember when I bought our Samsung Laser Printer. I did the research for DAYS on the best printer for printing tons of coupons.

By reading dozens of reviews online, I found that most printers were either too expensive, or they didn’t last very long. The Samsung Laser Printer that I ended up buying has lasted us well over a year and I haven’t had to change the cartridge once!

Doing my research saved me from buying a printer that probably wouldn’t have lasted as long as our current one has.

6. Take advantage of rewards programs.

There are many rewards programs in Canada, and most are definitely worth your time to sign up to.

Rewards programs are great for earning points that you can redeem on items in the store, gift cards, and even household items and electronics.

My favorite rewards program would have to be Shoppers Optimum, but I do use others as well (Air Miles, HBC Rewards, PC Points, etc.).

7. Avoid convenience foods.

When you buy things like shredded cheese and pre-cut fruit and vegetables from the grocery store, you are buying them at a premium.

It’s not much work to shred some cheese and chop produce yourself if you want to save some cash.

When I first lived on my own, I bought convenience foods all of the time. Mostly because I was lazy. Eventually, I realized that those purchases were eating up over 25% of my grocery budget, so I eventually decided that enough was enough.

Ever since then I have been buying big blocks of cheese and grating them myself, and I have never bought another package of pre-cut fruits or veggies. I can’t even get over how expensive those things are! I could never go back to paying those kinds of prices.

It feels good knowing that we have money in the bank at the end of the day because we practiced restraint and were disciplined with our money management.

Saving money is so very, very important. Don’t wait – start right now!

What are some ways that your family saves money?


  1. jessica

    we buy the prepackage cups of fruits from sams club for hannah. they are excellent for outings. i just can’t keep fresh fruit long in a cup while out and about with her. but you get 24 cups of mixed fruits for only like $7.00. that’s probably what we would pay if we purchased the cherries, pineapples, peaches, etc to cut up in to tiny little pieces and put ina cup. i just always wonder why prepackaged fruits do not have to be refridgerated but if you buy fresh fruits they do? also – do you have tips on storing fruits/veggies? ours go bad in like 5-7 days, so we are wasting money when we don’t eat it all!

  2. Tanya

    I totally agree with you on buying convience foods! I avoid it as much as I can! I read once somewhere that when you buy packages of shredded cheese you are in essence paying someone something like $40 an hour to shred your cheese for you! However, there is some fruit that I have to buy cut up. For instance, no matter how hard I tried, I can’t eat a whole watermelon by myself in a week! I’d end up throwing over half of it away and then even the part I do eat ends up costing more then if I just bought a quarter of a watermelon at a premium!

  3. Lynne

    I can (maybe) help out a little with the keeping produce fresh part. A couple of years ago, I bought some containers from Tupperware to keep produce fresh and they (*gasp*) actually work! It’s their FridgeSmart line of containers. I was quite skeptical at first (since they’re pretty expensive), but since produce seems to be the hardest thing to keep for long periods of time (since we’re only a 2-person household), I figured I would try and have had great success! I kept some romaine lettuce and celery for over a month and it was still crispy ๐Ÿ™‚ I had tried those produce-saving green plastic bag thing and I don’t find they work very well, but I love my FridgeSmart ๐Ÿ™‚ Though I’d share in case you can ever get your hands on them cheap.

  4. Daniell

    I never by anything already cut up this includes carrots! I always buy them in bulk and wash/peel when I need them! The other thing I do is meal plan! By doing this we eat out way less and have saved lots of $$$

  5. Carrie

    “Itโ€™s only a small amount, but knowing that we have this money that we can spend on whatever we want makes budgeting seem a lot less rigid.”

    Can I ask what a small amount is?

  6. Krissy (WhomeverIbe)

    My way of saving would be in the home decor…I am a self taught artist, I love to paint….instead of buying canvasses…I buy boards from home hardware which are 24″ by 48″…which usually is a little bit more than five dollars each….the paint…usually is about 1 dollar each at the dollar store…or it’s usually on my christmas wish list….I have made numerous paintings for myhome and have given many paintings away as gifts….another saving is that I purchased at rona…moulding for about 12 piece it was less than 6 dollars for the whole pack, and wood glue and brackets…maybe 10 dollars….I had enough material to actually build my own picture frames for my artwork….each bundle of moulding allowed me to build about 3 frames…which saves me and the gift receivers alot of money instead of paying hundreds for custom framing…. And now I am building a stockpile with all the savings I have been doing with couponing…thank you

  7. daf

    Ditto on the Tupperware FridgeSmarts (for veggies & fruit)!! Absolutely LOVE them! & they do work. I use mine all the time & even when they become empty, I store them in the fridge, so there right there when I get groceries.
    Another thing that I do, is ALWAYS watch the flyers….if an item I just purchased is currently on sale, I go back to the store & request the difference….sometimes can be quite a bit of money!

  8. Nicole

    Thanks Cassie! I always love your tips! My husband and myself have been living on a monthly budget since we got married 9 years ago, and we too take a bi-weekly allowance. An allowance is money we spend for fun, and don’t consult eachother about. We also research everything we buy, and we have had a strict rule of not spending more than $100 on any one purchase without consulting the other (advice from my Aunt when I got married)- and because of this we never fight about money. That way no one ever impulse buys, and it doesn’t cause conflict. Good luck on saving for your house – home ownership is a great thing. Because of our monthly budgeting we were able to buy a second house this last fall – that we are now renting out. I’m hoping with my coupon savings we will be able to buy a 3rd in the next 5 years!

  9. Leia

    One of my biggest savings is using our city library. I go there at least once a week with my kids to get movies, magazines, books, etc. They have brand new DVD’s, tons of kids movies and current magazines. I haven’t bought a magazine in years. I just get to read them all and take them back the next week. This includes current issues of People, Time, etc. We can also borrow PS3 and Wii games and they have a huge selection of current music CDs so I know if I really like it before buying it from iTunes. Our library even has cake pans (we borrowed a super cute Thomas train for my son`s birthday – it would have cost $10 to rent it for 2 days!!) Our library also has great free kids programs which is great since I`m a stay at home mom now and the budget is tight.

  10. Julie

    A good way to finish up a large watermelon, is to toss a bunch in the blender to make watermelon juice.

  11. Karyn

    A few things that I do to save money:
    1) Coupon, coupon, coupon!
    2) Plan for leftovers and take my lunch to work every day.
    3) Return recycleables for refund.
    4) Make my own bread.
    5) Make my own laundry detergent.

    My husband and I also do the bi-weekly allowance thing. Works great!

  12. amanda

    some things we do:
    we live on cash (no CC’s to run up)
    we buy used cars to avoid car payments
    we make our own bread
    we make our own wipes
    we make our own laundry soap (unless i have coupons of course!) ๐Ÿ™‚
    We cook mostly from scratch

  13. teachermum

    Cook from scratch. If you don’t know how, learn.

    If we do pick up fast food (we actually rarely eat out in a restaurant) don’t buy drinks. Even the McD $1 drinks…for 4…that buys a case of 12!

    Buy used cars (for cash) and drive them until it isn’t reasonable. Our 93 Toyota van is still going strong and I sure am going to miss it when dh proclaims it is time to replace it(he actually would have long before now…guy thing…but we have been covering insurance for a 20 yr old son…much cheaper for him to be listed on an old van)! A $250/month car payment for 5 years is $15,000. Drive a car for 10 years (even North American ones should last that long!) and you have $15,000 cash in the bank ready for the next one. Way more than you need for an excellent used replacement!

    Ask for things you need for gifts. We have never spent that much money on clothes and early in our marriage (read much less money to spend) we often asked for needed clothing items for birthday and Christmas presents. Lawn chairs, bathroom towels, sheet sets, kitchen appliances, etc…

    If at all possible, don’t skimp and get the cheapest when you do need to replace bigger ticket items. We paid $800 for a dishwasher not long after we were married. It was still working when we replaced it when we redid the kitchen 15 years later. In the same time, friends had gone through 4 “cheap” $300 dishwashers. Kitchen and laundry appliances are my tools of the trade, I can perform my job the best when I have the best possible tools. Get the best (well researched) that your budget can buy.

    Do you really need it NOW? We redid our kitchen, eating area and family room 4 years ago. Paid cash. People thought we were nuts. Our theory? The cupboard doors weren’t falling off creating a tripping hazard…yet…we could either pay off a loan for 5 years or save for the 5 years first, then pay cash (big savings on interest!). Yes, looked ugly longer, but so what.

    If you have kids, learn how to say no! I never once bought expensive branded clothing. If my kids wanted them, they had to use their own money. Ds owns mostly Aero and American Eagle stuff now. I haven’t bought a single piece of it. If they want me to advertise for them, they can may ME!!! They don’t need every latest thing. My kids really only got toys on Christmas and birthdays. Easter was always a smaller gift and usually summer stuff-skipping ropes, sidewalk chalk, etc. as birthdays are in the fall. My mum says her mother’s favourite line was “you can live your whole life without that”…I came out fine and so have my children-don’t set the stage early that you will buy that stuff!

  14. Krissy (WhomeverIbe)

    I bought a sweing machine when my children were small….taught myself how to use it….and learn how to read patterns…I had made alot of clothes (pants, skirts, jackets)…..I use to get alot of great deals on materials buy 1 meter get 2 free type deals…I had sewn alot of halloween costumes for them as well as neighborhood kids…I always made their birthday cakes…much cheaper than buying them… and I always found the homemade icing tasted so much better and I always knew what ingredients went in.
    I really never bought playdoh (didn’t like the smell of it) so homemade playdoh was the way to go….at least I knew they weren’t playing with chemicals..

    Homemade christmas ornaments (homemade clay that hardens like clay) I still put them on my tree….those that have survived over the years. (playdoh and clay made from ingredients from your pantry)

    Strange as it may seem…but my grandson and I have collected seeds from our flowers …stored and kept them for next seasons garden….I prefer perrenials ….saving alot. because our flowers come back every year.
    I love yard sales.. alot of great treasures…just this weekend alone…3 cameras for 5 bucks…and they work….clay food stampers(Rycraft cooki stampers) free, the woman gave me a handfull(they are beautiful) .10 cents for a book to make a string puppet (pinnochio)….almost brand new wiggles car$1(my grandson loves it)….

    I found over the years that it din’t take alot of money to have fun, learn a new hobby,learn to sew…recreate some clothes that you don’t wear, turn them into pillows blankets scarfs…etc…

  15. Cassie Howard

    jessica – They do not have to be refrigerated because there are preservatives inside. =/ Our fruits/veggies go bad in about a week as well, I think most fresh produce does. We only buy what produce we need for the week, to ensure that it doesn’t go bad. We keep apples, peppers and potatoes in the fridge to make them last longer. I also know that when you buy bananas (which we buy alot of!), you should separate them from the bunch as soon as you get home, as this makes them last longer.

    Lynne – Thanks for sharing, I am definetely going to have to look in to them!

    Carrie – It varies from month to month, but it’s often not more than $50 a month (each).

    Krissy – Great tip about the artwork! I planned on doing that for artwork in Elliott’s room, but never got around to it.

    Nicole – We follow that $100 piece of advice as well and it really does prevent conflict!

    teachermum – We learned the hard way that you shouldn’t always buy the cheapest model when you are in the market for a big ticket item!

  16. Theresa

    One way I save money each month is to NOT have my gas bill on budget billing. I have higher bills in the winter months, but that only means I am much more aware of keeping the thermostat lower. The year I had budget billing I didn’t give it a second thought, and ended up just breaking even at the end of the billing cycle. In the spring and summer I have low bills, instead of paying one rate even when my furnace is off. This is a huge savings over the year.

    Great tips. I think I do most of them.

  17. Linda S.

    For my oldest, I get hand me down from my cousin. Then my youngest has what Valerie use to wear. Luckily, Valerie Birthday is Sept 1st, just in time for back to school. ๐Ÿ˜‰ For our self, never buy full price. Love Frenchys (second hand store). I need to start sewing more. I have everything to do some outfits (fabric, sewing machine, tread, etc).

    Coupons, sales, bake from scratch and meal plan. I often make sure that one kind of meat is cook for more then one meal (ie: whole chicken, is turn in hot chicken the next day, or soup, or sandwich). Buy fruits and veggies that are in season. We also grow our own veggie garden. Nothing huge, but enough for us. It may cost a bit to get it started in the beginning of each season(maybe $20-30), but we save so much on veggies.

    we go to the parc a lot. It,s FREE. Our even have a FREE splash park. We had invested in a swing set, sand box and little pool over the last 3 years. So now, most of the days can be spend in our own yard. Go to the beach. One night that I couldn’t sleep, I want on the site of our city and the two serounding one to look at the summer activities that they will have. I also went on their public library site too. Made a calender up of all that was available to us. WOW!! there is a lot you can do for FREE!!

    My 4 yo makes the card ๐Ÿ˜€ grandparents loves them! WE also have lower the amount that we spend. ALso watch for sales

  18. travelgeek

    Teachermom says it right with regards to “Do you really need it NOW?”

    That camera, computer, shirt, tv or whatever that you charge on your credit card and don’t pay off in full compounds significantly in interest eventually costing you more than twice the sticker price. I do financial planning for friends and relatives and it boggles the mind what their rationale is for having large amounts of credit card debt. Personal finance and budgeting is a subject that is sorely lacking in our schools.

  19. TJ

    I buy reduced produce all the time from stores like METRO etc ..usually I will get 6 large apples or 6 large tomatoes or 6 large oranges or 6 large avacadoes or 2 large peppers or 6 large pears etc for only 99 cents each pack !!! ..they are not bad or anything ..just a bit ripe that’s all ..they are kept on reduced racks with small black styrofoam plates & plastic rapping around them near the produce section ๐Ÿ™‚

    People buy reduce meat nearing expiry dates like pink stickered meat @ Loblaws etc why not buy reduced produce can save tons as fruits & veggies can be pretty expensive ..more often than not fruits & veggies which are healthy are more expensive than junk food like pop , chips etc .

    Just yesterday I got 9 black plums pack , 8 red plums pack , 6 nectarines pack for 99 cents each from the reduced rack ๐Ÿ™‚ ..they were a bit ripe I had to refrigerate them ..but they were all eaten in 4-5 days in my house .

  20. Cassie Howard

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful tips, everyone!

  21. Graeme

    Along the lines of printing numerous coupons on one sheet of paper, I use both of a sheet of paper. I also stockpile used paper if it has a blank backside. As a teacher, I come across 1000s of pieces of paper with a completely usable backside…these become my scrap paper. Great for making shopping lists, printing coupons, printing recipes, etc.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*