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Image by Melissa Hincha-Ownby

By Matthew, Contributing Writer

Back-to-school time is usually a spendy season what with new shoes, outfits, backpacks, notebooks…the list goes on. And it’s an expensive season every time I walk into the grocery store. Because our budget isn’t growing as quickly as prices are rising, my wife and I are trying a few new things to cut our spending. Here are some unusual ways to pinch a few extra pennies this month and who knows? You may start a long-term money-saving habit.

1. Be Your Own Barber

You can learn anything from YouTube videos. For me, it makes sense to buy a $15 pair of barber shears and proceed to save $12 every time my wife busts my wig in the kitchen. Earn bonus points by sweeping up the cut hair and throwing it in your garden to ward off marauding animals.

2. Make Your Own “Snack size” Snacks

Those big packages of smaller bags cost more than if you were to just buy a regular-size bag and divvy up the snacks. You may want to go with plastic containers so you don’t need to keep buying baggies.

3. Try Oil Pulling

The internet is full of information about how swishing coconut oil around in your mouth will loosen plaque and fight gingivitis. It’s not as gross as it sounds, especially when compared to gargling chemical-laden mouthwash. Dentist work gets expensive quickly when insurance doesn’t foot the bill and if there’s a simple trick that will keep your family’s smiles healthy for cheaper, why not try it?

4. Buy Prescription Eye Glasses at a Big Box Store

Optometrist offices charge a premium for lenses and frames so instead of being whisked in front of their frame display, just ask for your prescription and take it to a store with a vision clinic. You’ll usually be able to leave with a nice pair of glasses for a few hundred dollars less than what you would have paid for name-brand frames.

5. Plan a Swap with Friends

Clothes, cloth diapers, shoes, and books are all expensive and their original owners don’t use them for more than a few years. Even if just a few families get together, there’s bound to be some good stuff to trade. Maybe your friend had a baby five years ago. She doesn’t need her cloth diapers anymore, but you may have that book she wants.

6. Groom Your Pooch

Even if you don’t know how to cut human hair, you can cut your dog’s hair and avoid a groomer’s bill. Buy electric clippers that plug in to an outlet because rechargeable clippers don’t have enough power to cut dogs’ thick coats.

7. Buy Food in Bulk

Visit the nearest Latter-Day Saints Home Storage Center. The centers sell dry foods in bulk along with Mylar storage bags for very good prices. They even rent grain mills and the tools needed that will let you seal your own #10 cans. Customers don’t need to be members of the church and we have been treated well during our visits.

8. Try Discount Grocery Outlet Stores

You know the stores that sell day-old bread and foods that are past their expiration date? Sometimes it’s a wasted trip, but sometimes they have good organic food for good prices. Either way, it may be worth the effort.

9. Shop Ahead and Buy Clothes Out of Season

If you have small children and see a great outfit for one of them, think about how big they’ll be when that season rolls around. If your child is five months old in August, it doesn’t make sense to buy a 15-month-old heavy winter outfit because when he reaches that age, it’ll be summer again.

10. Become Friends with Craigslist

If you aren’t already familiar with craigslist, go there right now and look at all the items that your neighbors are selling for less than retail. Once you learn how the ads and categories work, you can even sell things cluttering up your garage.

What money-saving strategies did I forget? What are your strategies for shopping and selling on Craigslist?


This is the writings of:

Matthew
Matthew is a freelance writer in Central Ohio. He and his wife of five years are enjoying the adventures that come with having an infant son. Matthew writes at matthewtforte.com and goes by @matthewforte on Twitter.

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1 Comment

  1. Good list. I struggle with #4 about glasses. You can definitely save money this way, but I feel guilty bypassing independent optometrist offices for big box stores. I may be paying less, but what I *am* paying lines the pockets of a huge corporation instead of a self-employed eye doctor and his/her family. Growing up with parents who ran a small business, we were never allowed to get big-box glasses because of the small-town codes of mutual patronage “they’re our client, so we support them too”. Sometimes I’ve dealt with this tension by buying frames online and having lenses put in locally, or alternating “cheap” glasses purchases with expensive ones that support local businesses.

    Reply

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