Let's share tips on saving money and budgeting with a family!?
1 - We cut down on eating out (and this means no McDonalds, BK, etc!) to two times a year. On New Year's Day and on our wedding anniversary, which is June 29, so they are spread out pretty well.
2 - We buy drinks in bulk at the grocery store, in single serve containers (like a 12 pack of soda, 24 pack of Snapple, etc) and when we go out shopping for a few hours we pack a couple in a cooler. We are like 30-45 minutes from malls and Wal Mart, etc. so when we go, it isn't just for an hour. This way it eliminates that extra stop at a gas station where we pay the same price for 2 sodas as we did at the grocery store for 12. We also pack snacks so that we don't have to buy those at gas stations either.
3 - We don't buy single serve food/snack items though. We buy the big bag of goldfish instead of the individual packs. You get so much more for your money because you aren't paying for the extra packaging and the convenience. Then when bring them in the car or something, we simply put an amount of them into a bowl with a lid for the kids instead of putting them in zip-lock bags, which would defeat the purpose of not buying them that way in the first place.
4 - We shop the sales fliers for grocery stores. We have 2 major ones right across the street from each other, so it is easy to "shop around." We buy half our groceries at one store, and half at the other. If you save 0.50 per item on 20 items even, it is well worth it! And if one store is running a sale on a non-perishable item that we use often, we stock up on it. Like canned diced tomatoes for example. When they run the big cans 10 for $10 we buy at least 10 of them. That way we got them a lot cheaper than they normally are, and we don't have to worry about buying them for a while.
5 - I don't know if they do this everywhere, but they have started doing it here. They no longer put burger out with a date good for 2 days. They now have to turn it over every 24 hours. So if you go shopping at like 7am, they are selling meat from the day before (that is still fine to eat that day or freeze) at $1 off per pound.
6 - We buy bigger packages of burger. If we buy just 1 lb it is 3.69 per lb. If we buy 2.5 - 3.5 lbs at a time is is only $3 a pound. Then we divide it up, put it in freezer bags, label the bags with what to use that portion for, and freeze it. The amount you save on the burger totally justifies buying the freezer bags.
7 - We try to buy the kids clothes a month or two before the "season" starts. If you buy them, say in April for next winter because they are clearing stuff out, it is too hard to judge sizes and the child may outgrow it by the time winter comes. But I have noticed that they also mark down things before the season starts. So for example, we are getting ready to buy the kids summer clothes at the end of February/ beginning of March. It will be on sale (maybe not as good a deal as the other items were) and I will know that the items will fit my kids when spring hits.
I guess we do more than I thought once I write it down! What does everyone else do to save money? Let's all help each other out.