15 Ways to Live Well On A Budget!
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If you've hung around here at any point in the last year or so, you know I'm all about minding the budget and living well for less. That wasn't always the case, however. Before we hit rock bottom in 2015, we lived absolutely, unequivocally, and (sadly) unabashedly beyond our means. And we did it for over a decade. Coming to grips with that reality and the people we'd become was probably the hardest part of our transition. When we looked at ourselves, we couldn't see the entitlement and privilege until God opened our eyes. It was an excruciating, but necessary step toward becoming the human beings we truly longed to be. Miraculously, we made it through without incurring debt or doing serious damage to our credit scores, two gifts I'll never take for granted.
Anyway, now that my husband and I have adjusted our mindset, we've come to realize it's more than possible to live well on a budget; all we needed was the right tools. One of those is undeniably Groupon Coupons! Now, before you commence with the visions of clipping endless coupons from the newspaper or those extreme couponing shows, let me assure you this is nothing like either of those things.
I'd already been using Groupon for their local deals, but when I found out they now offer coupons, I was so excited! As a busy wife and mom of three, I don't have time to search and sift through a ton of other coupon sites to find what I need. With Groupon Coupons, everything is conveniently located on one site! When I find a deal at one of my favorite stores, I just click the link for the code and I can immediately apply it to my purchase, making it simple to use and easy to tailor to my family's interests.
In addition to the money-savers on Groupon, I'm sharing a 14 of our best tried-and-true tips to have fun and live well without breaking the bank, so read on!
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1. Sign up for Groupon Coupons!
I mean, you knew this was coming, right? 😂 Now, I know what you may be thinking. "That's all well and good, Dara, but will these coupons only work at obscure stores I've never heard of?" To that, I would reply, "Have you heard of Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Kohls, Sephora, and Barnes & Noble? Those are just a few of the stores featured on Groupon Coupons." I don't know about you, but if there's a way to save at my favorite stores, I am so there!
2. Track daily spending
Listen, I know this sounds a bit extreme, but it will change the way you look at your money, I promise. Even once we became more budget-minded, my husband and I were blown away by how much we spent on non-necessities throughout the week. Those small, seemingly-insignificant purchases can really add up at the end of the month! Once we started writing everything down, we were better able to see where improvements needed to be made. So far, we've saved hundreds of dollars just by being more mindful. Want to know more? Read my post and download the daily budget tracker here!
3. Buy what's on sale & in season at the grocery store
This one's fairly self-explanatory, but this simple change has saved us hundreds of dollars a month and food tastes better!
4. Walk (or bike) for distances less than a mile from home
One of the reasons we chose the Denver neighborhood we now call home was its walkability; everything from grocery stores to the kids' school is just a quick jaunt away. It is such a blessing to get outside, get some exercise, and minimize wear and tear on our car.
5. Have a park day!
Denver has so many beautiful parks to hang out and play! One of our favorite things to do is shake up the usual routine by exploring an unfamiliar park. Our latest adventure took us to McWilliams Park, a fairly hidden gem we'll definitely be revisiting.
6. Use your phone to save BIG
Downloadable apps like those from Whole Foods and Target (Cartwheel) provide additional savings on a wide range of items! For example, we recently found a pair of shoes for my oldest son that were already marked down from $19.99 to $7.50, but with the app we saved an extra 20% off, making them $6!
Further, tracking the sales cycles of your favorite stores helps, too! I find that signing up for email lists is incredibly useful as it allows me to plan ahead instead of wasting precious time hunting down good deals. Again, Groupon is great for this because it includes sales alerts as well as coupon codes, so your inbox isn't clogged by different messages from every store.
Need more money-saving tips for kids clothes? Check out this killer post by 4 Hats & Frugal on how to keep your children stylish without breaking the bank! Pin and save it for back-to-school shopping.
7. Cook in bulk & morph your meals to stretch your budget
Instead of cooking a couple chicken breasts, make 4 and use 'em for chicken salad and tortilla soup (omit the beans, cheese, and tortilla strips to make it paleo/Whole30-compliant) later in the week. Similarly, last night's meatloaf and roasted potatoes can become tomorrow's hearty breakfast hash just by adding a couple fried eggs. Don't be afraid to get creative—you never know what you'll come up with!
Also, since I've recently returned to the workforce, I've begun making my lunch rather than buying it. At first, the temptation to eat out was overwhelming. I mean, it's so convenient, right? Well, I wasn't so enamored when I realized spending just $5 a day five days a week added up to over $1000 a year! I promptly found a cute reusable lunch bag and have been packing my lunch ever since. That $1K will look much better in our bank account, thanks.
8. Go Local
Chances are, there are wonderful adventures to be had right outside your front door! Scan your local newspaper or do a Google search to see what's going in your town. If you're a Denverite like me, check out my post on over 70+ fun and free things to with kids this summer and download the pre-filled calendar while you're at it!
9. Rediscover the library
In addition to providing a wide array of books on just about every subject, the library is a great place to grab movies and explore music! In addition, many offer free or low-cost classes for kids and adults on everything from computer literacy, coding and STEM to tai chi and art. Check your library's website (or go to the branch in person) for more!
10. Host—or participate in—a book swap
Gather a group of friends and swap a few of your old books for some new-to-you treasures! Our kids' school hosted one right before the end of the academic year and we came home with an entire basket of amazing books on nature, science, math, and more, all for FREE! Plus, we were able to help the school make space for new resources. If that's not a win-win situation, I don't know what is!
11. Become a member of your local museum
Despite being on a modest budget, when it comes to educational endeavors for our children, my husband and I are always willing to invest. When we discovered the value of a family membership to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, we were more than happy to pay the very reasonable annual fee of $90. In exchange, our family receives free membership to the museum, plus a discount on exhibits, tickets to the IMAX theatre, and food, and more! We have made countless visits to the museum in the last year and have always come away having learned something new. It's a beautiful thing!
12. Cut the cord
We've been cable-free for about a year, but like many folks, we don't miss it! Thanks to Netflix, Hulu, HBONow, and other apps, our entertainment needs are more than met. We regularly pop some corn and enjoy a Family Movie or Date Night right in the comfort of our home for a fraction of the cost of a cable package (or trip to the theater). Plus, we have the opportunity to introduce the kids to classics like The Goonies and E.T., and fall in love with them all over again!
13. Have a Game Night
Turn off those screens and get reacquainted with the wonder of Chutes & Ladders, Monopoly, Sorry!, and others! We recently rediscovered how fun Life is and had an absolute blast! Also, games like Uno, for example, help kids learn their numbers, problem solve, and strategize, all while they're having fun. Here's a few more ideas on how to introduce your children to old-school games from your youth via Brandi Riley of Mama Knows It All!
15. Give your kids an allowance
I know this seems a bit counterintuitive, but hear me out. When you give your kids an allowance, they can finally stop spending your money! If they want something, instead of whining to you every time you go to the store, they'll start saving (and learning some rather valuable lessons along the way). Recently, our 8 year-old saved his allowance for a new Lego set. Instead of impulsively buying everything he saw, he patiently saved his money for several months and thoughtfully weighed his options at the toy store. He was so damn proud of himself and you know what? So were my husband and I.
If you're interested in implementing an allowance, but aren't sure where to start, check out my post on the book, The Opposite of Spoiled! It really helped us figure out where we stood with regard to money and the values we wanted to impart to our children. 👊🏾
This concludes my 15 ways to live well on a budget, folks! Transitioning to a frugal-minded lifestyle wasn't easy, but I am so glad to be here, now. It's truly one of the best decisions my husband and I have made together, and the fact that our children will have the benefit of our hard-won wisdom? That means everything.
Oh, and don't forget to give Groupon Coupons a try! I'm already signed up and thinking ahead for back-to-school savings and the upcoming holiday season. Happy budgeting!