The economy is in rough shape. And experts tell us it's going to get worse instead of better. Right now everyone is looking for ways to save money. Everyone is tightening their belts. Everyone is pinching their pennies. (Got a cliche you want to add?)
What kind of things do you do to save money? Are you feeling the pinch? Or has it not really hit you yet?
In our house, we've been feeling a pinch for the last year and a half. That's when my husband closed his painting business and we moved to Florida, where he began pastoring a small church. We watched our savings dwindle down month by month as we sorted through the bills, choosing between the must-haves, the would-really-like-its and the can't-afford-its.
Some of the cuts didn't hurt so much. I dropped a couple of magazine subscriptions. I don't go shopping as much. we cut off our cable. We went to only cell phones. (I hate not having a house phone.)
Our grocery bill got readjusted. More of our meals contain ground beef (how do I love thee, let me count the ways) and chicken. We don't eat out as much. We stopped ordering pizza once a week and now save it for special occasions. I buy some more generic stuff.
But that is a fine line for me. There are some brands that I will not compromise on. There are some areas where I won't sacrifice quality to save thirty cents on the generic brand. Laundry soap is one of those items. Tide works for us. It cleans well. No one is allergic to it. It's not overly-perfumy. I won't go generic. I also use Dawn dishwashing soap. I will not settle for anything else.
I am more flexible on some other household cleaners. I have my favorite brands of bathroom cleaners and toilet bowl cleaners, but I will compromise for a cheaper price. I also buy generic flour and sugar, but my husband will not compromise on his coffee. That's fine with me. I buy big bags of individually frozen chicken breasts. I could save a couple of dollars by buying the store brand, but I stick with Tysons because they have no added hormones.
We haven't set timers on the kids' showers yet, but we do watch how long they're in there. And I've become a fanatic about turning off lights. I like our home well-lit, but I've even been willing to keep it a little darker than I like for the purpose of saving a little. I also keep our home a degree or two warmer than I want in order to save on air conditioning bills. (Heating bills are no big deal. We might use the furnace one week out of the year!)
Here's where saving really hurt: I carried the same purse for an entire year. I know, hard to believe. I like to change with the seasons. I get bored with the same old thing. But I bought a purse in December of '07 and carried it for an entire year. It was starting to fall apart, so I did finally get a new one this week. Talk about saving!!
So what's important to you? Where have you cut back and where will you spend the money because it's worth it to you? If you have a few suggestions for saving, I'm all ears.