As a single mother, money can get very tight at times. I was tired of living paycheck to paycheck so I knew things had to change. I sat down one day to analyze where most of my money went, not including the necessary bills. I found that I spent a lot of money on things such as movie tickets and video games.
One of the most productive changes I made was in using coupons. I emailed every corporation I knew and asked them to add me to their mailing list. In doing so, I now receive excellent coupons as well as free samples all the time. I also found a newspaper that is free every Sunday that has the same coupons as the paper you have to purchase. I compare and match the coupons with the store flyers. By doing this, I once got ten tubes of toothpaste for free!
I have learned that most department stores will put their clearance items on endcaps. When I go to a store now, I hardly ever enter the middle. I browse through the endcaps and pick up great sales. If a clearance price is exceptionally good, I will buy all of the products. By doing this, I have been able to stock up on at least a year's worth of supplies for a fraction of what it would have cost normally.
We now rent movies from the library, which are free. I get passes to the museum there also. This is a huge savings. If we want to treat ourselves to a movie, we go before noon. The ticket price is half off and we usually have the theatre all to ourselves. I pack our snacks and bring juiceboxes.
I also find I am no longer addicted to brand names as well. Did you know that Cains mayonnaise and the Market Basket brand are the same exact product, just different packaging? And it costs a fraction of the price. Laundry detergent works just as well if you only use half a capful rather than the full capful they suggest. I recycle my dryer sheets by putting them into bureau drawers and shoes. Everything smells great.
By making these small changes, I have been able to save more money than I ever thought possible. I find I spend more quality time with my son now. Instead of him asking me for the newest video game, he asked me for a picnic at the park. It's free and we have a blast.
It's the small changes that really shape your life in ways you never though possible.
Lynne from Lynn MA
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More power to you, lady! I do the same, and you're right -- you can make a big difference!
I like your essay, Lynn. I think all of your suggestions are excellent. I would only add to shop for unadvertised post-holiday clearance sales on seasonal merchandise. I used to work part-time at a huge retailer and I know sometimes you have to hunt for the markdowns. They're not all displayed on endcaps. Ask until you find them. Best hunting times - the day or 2 after the big "commercial" holidays - Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day, Easter, Mother's Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving. The bargains can be amazing and often are picked up by people who work there. In fact, if you need a part-time job, a retail store doesn't pay much but the discount helps - and sometimes you can buy returned, slightly damaged merchandise for a few dollars.
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