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Cutting Costs and Saving Money

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I’ve been diligently working at trying to cut some costs around here, with some mixed-results to share.

First, let me share another of my money saving tricks (see more here and here). This one really isn’t a “trick,” but still fun to share.

Remember how I mentioned that one of my friends was gifting me a hand-me-down dehydrator when she upgraded to a newer one? Well, I inherited the new-to-me dehydrator last week and I have been a FRUIT-LEATHER MAKING MACHINE since then!!!

To be fair, right now the prices on strawberries are at their once-a-year low. For the past 3 weeks I’ve been stocking up every time I go to the store. I’ve been able to get pints for as little as 89 cents, and I’ve bought about 2 pints per week the past 3 weeks. Some of them we’ve eaten (lots of smoothies and strawberries as snacks), some of them we’ve frozen for later (my goal is to really stock up now at the all-time low so we have strawberries still on-hand once prices go back up), and some of them we’ve used to make fruit leather!

It couldn’t be easier! You heat up strawberries on the stove-top with a little water (about 1/2 cup water per 4 cups fruit), then mash with a  potato masher (or throw in a food processor or blender), then add sugar to your desired sweetness, a little lemon juice, and that’s it! You can do it with all kinds of fruit, too. So far I’ve done plain strawberries, strawberry-banana, and strawberry-orange-pineapple. Loved them all!

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When it’s done dehydrating, I put the sheets of fruit leather on parchment paper, roll up, and store in the fridge. I did a calculation to see how much it costs to make my own versus buying fruit roll-ups from the store. I haven’t bought fruit roll-ups (ever), but I found a price for buying bulk online.

  • You can buy a 3 pack (10 roll-ups per pack) for 9.25 = .31 cents per roll.
  • I can make 1 sheet (4 roll-ups) out of 1 pint of strawberries ($1 or less) = .25 cents per roll.

Not a huge savings, but it’s 100% natural. It’s probably even more of a savings compared to the fancy fruit leather that’s sold in individual packages at stores nowadays. In all, probably not something we’ll be doing year-round, but its a fun little Spring treat when strawberries are in season and on sale for cheap!

Now, onto cutting costs….

I’ve been looking at every area of our monthly budget to try to cut costs and one thing I had zeroed in on was our phone bill.

I have a success to share – I managed to lower our phone bill (wahoo!), but perhaps not as much as I could have if we’d switched providers.

In the interest of full transparency, I <3 my phone! For real! I had pined over the iphone for years and finally bit the bullet and bought one when they came out with the 5c, since it was so much cheaper than the regular iphone (I switched from TMobile to Sprint in order to get it). So this is still really new to me. I’ve only had my “baby” for about 6 months at this point and I lurve it! I really do!

When talking about trying to reduce my wireless bill (it was a whopping $150/month!!!) many of you suggested that I switch providers. I looked into a couple of different providers – Ting and Republic Wireless, for example – but no one would let me keep my beloved iphone.

So I called Sprint and told them I need my bill to be lowered. The guy let me know we weren’t using nearly as much data as I had believed, and that we could get rid of our unlimited data and downgrade to 1 GB per line and still have data to spare. This was moving to their “Framily” plan that’s being heavily advertised now. And although we didn’t save $100/month, as we might have if we’d switched providers, I did manage to get our bill reduced by approximately $50/month (down to $100 from $150). The new plan didn’t go into effect until the 25th of this month so I won’t see the savings until the next month’s billing cycle ends but every little bit helps!

But….I did mention “mixed results” at the beginning of this post.

So, where have we done *ahem* not so well?

Well, you’ll have to wait for a full budget update from the month (coming next Monday), but I definitely went over my limit in a couple of categories. Nothing too terrible, but still not what I’d hoped. The only thing I can say in my defense, is that the overspending came from one specific category that I had tried to slash by over 30%. Our spending wasn’t outrageous, but it was pretty much in-line with the “old” (pre-slashed) budget. So I’m hoping this was just a growing pain that takes a month or two to figure out and hopefully we can work harder to spend less in future months.

In the meantime, I’m trying to finish the month strong. No spending of any kind until the 1st of May!

 

What have YOU have done lately to cut household costs and/or save money??

Ashley

Texan at heart; Arizonan on paper. Lover of running, cheese, camping, and family (fur-family included!). Blogger, motivated to get out of debt YESTERDAY! Follow along with my journey!

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11 Comments

  • Reply Angie |

    Ting now allows you to bring your own device as long as it was a Sprint activated phone. If you really wanted to cut down further you could sell your 5c (5c isn’t a bring your own device yet) then buy a used sprint iphone 4, 4s, or 5 and use Ting. You’d probably be able to break even selling your 5c and buying a 4s. May not be worth it now since you have 18 months left on your contract. But definitely something for other readers to consider. Also, they will pay 25% of your ETF if you switch.

  • Reply Bobby |

    I think most people will not consider contacting their provider to ask for a better price.

    Here in the UK it is not uncommon to phone up your provider and to ask then for a better price on your current deal with the same data, free minutes etc. If you can prove that another service provider has offered you a better deal with then you will most probably get a lowered bill.

    I found the “framily” word quite funny, I assume its a morph of friends and family?

  • Reply OC Budget |

    I am in week 2 of having Republic Wireless and so far, i’m satisfied with the service. Everything works smoothly but sometimes the voice quality is abit lower on cell service but i think it’s got to do with sprint network. For example, I went up north to my parents’ house in Lancaster/high desert and the cell signal and 3G was not as strong/fast as where I live. My Cell bill is lower than $50 per month going forward so I’m happy about that. The only thing is that I had to buy phones directly from Republic Wireless which was not an issue with me since I only had a very old dumbphone previously and needed to get a smartphone anyway.

  • Reply Helene |

    I’m actually not doing well at all. In fact this month was an enormous setback for me, and I’m very, very discouraged. I paid cash for a speeding ticket (dumb dumb DUMB, I know, but even with a reduction it was still $228 I wasn’t planning on spending) and that left me short of the cash I needed to carry me through to the end of the month. At my work, we’re only paid 1x/month and it can make the last week of the month pretty ugly sometimes.

    Anyway, my dear friend’s baby shower was last week, and as one of the core group of “hostesses” at my workplace, I was on the hook for more money than I wanted to be. And I had to get a gift, and I totally went overboard. She’s having twins, a miracle birth after several rounds of IVF, and one of the babies will have special needs once born. I wanted to “help.” Stupid. Stupid stupid stupid.

    And now I’m sad to know that after months of declining balances, I will now see a hefty spike in them. Not only that, but I was completely out of cash/liquid $ by the middle of the month. That really stunk. I had to charge essentials. Which I will pay off, yes, but that’s again less money I have liquid or to throw at other bills to make them go away.

    Add to that Mother’s Day coming up and my son’s birthday in May, and the fact that my car is truly on its last leg — and that I had to go buy several pair of bigger shorts yesterday because I can’t fit into any of the many, many pair I have — and I am just super majorly in the dumps.

    So to get back to the thread topic, I’m trying to use my evenings this week to get together all the clothing my son has outgrown — it seems to multiply! — and unload it on our company bulletin board. You get almost nothing for it at consignment so I don’t bother. I also need to start selling off the things in my closet that I don’t wear. I’ve already given away so much to the Vietnam Vets, so I got no $ for it but gained peace and space.

    Didn’t mean to be a post hijacker. This week just kinda stinks all around.

    • Reply Ashley |

      That’s rough! I’ll admit, I’ve been having a tough time with gifts, too. I was all determined and resolved to just do cards, but last month I spent $30 on gifts (two $15 gift cards) for 2 separate people’s birthdays. That’s part of the reason I went over on my budget (doesn’t come close to a $228 speeding ticket, but still…).
      I just looked at the calendar for May and realized we have 3 family members’ birthdays, plus mother’s day. I’m trying to convince myself that cards are enough, but its emotional too. I have a hard time just sending my mom a card without some type of gift. I know she wants me to be out of debt more than she wants some crap, but its more of an “I’m thinking of you & I love and appreciate you” type of thing. It’s tough!

      • Reply Ashley |

        Yikes!! just double checked…make that 4 family member’s birthdays this month! (My Dad, and my husband’s Mom and both brothers, so all pretty “immediate” family, too!). Yelp!

        • Reply Juhli |

          Have you thought of writing them letters to put in the card. My BIL just got a very emotional letter from his eldest daughter talking about how much he meant to her and how much she appreciated him – it was the best gift ever.

      • Reply Jasmine |

        Have you considered DIY gifts? A lot of times those are more appreciated because they’re personal. Last Christmas, I made my mom a scrapbook of our Christmases since moving, and she cried. (I actually knew she’d cry when she started tearing up just at the photo magnet…).

        This is a great idea that can be personalized for various family members: http://www.ourbestbites.com/2013/11/glowing-photo-luminaries/

        Another friend of mine just made a jewelry board for her friend’s birthday using a nice frame and corkboard, so she could hang all her jewelry and see it easier.

        If you’re crafty, there’s plenty that can be done on a budget.

So, what do you think ?