Let’s face it; many of us are not rolling in the dough are we? With little mouths to feed and basic bills to pay, there’s not always extra money to do other things we want to do like vacations, days out or even put money away in savings accounts. So learning to save money is a reality we all are facing. Luckily, with a little effort, there are many ways to help dollars go further. We’ve put together 15 tips for families to save money on Long Island and beyond.
1. Shop Savvy
Clip coupons — those circulars that come in the mail every week? Don’t toss them! They not only offer good sales, but usually coupons. For example, Stop & Shop sometimes will provide $5 coupons and Waldbaums will offer 5% coupons. Over the course of a month, this can add up in savings.
Another tip is to only buy items on sale. You may be craving blueberries, but buy only when in season and you’ll get a lower price…almost 2/3 lower! Be open to using different brands too, so when your brand of bread is not on sale, try the brand that is. Same with meats — don’t EVER pay full price. Wait until they go on sale and stock up for the freezer. You can also consider buying some store brand foods and toiletries as often they are very similar to the national brands.
Visiting warehouse stores like Sam’s Club, Costco and BJ’s can help especially if you go often enough to make up for their annual fee, have a large family or own 2 freezers at home. In Nassau and Suffolk counties, there is one Sam’s Club, five Costco and 10 BJ stores.
2. Use Shopping Apps
If you have a Smartphone or iPad, there are a few shopping apps that act like rebates and put cash into your Paypal account. Buy the items they list, snap a picture of the grocery receipt and accumulate Paypal cash. Look for Ibotta and Endorse in the App Store and search often as new ones are sure to come along. With some you can earn up to $20 each time you shop. Other apps like receipt hog pay you for simply snapping picture of your receipt.
3. Buy Used Items
Stores like Savers in Holbrook and Medford as well as Selden Thrift and Once Upon a Child in Seaford can help you save a ton of money on clothing and other items if you don’t mind pre-owned. Jeans are often only $3 to $8 in Savers and kids clothes can be half of that. Many churches have thrift shops too. Salvation Army stores (Riverhead and West Babylon) also have everything from clothes and furniture to toys. Read Family Consignment Shops on Long Island
4. Yard Sales
Take a Saturday to go to yard sales. Not only can you save quite a bit of cash, you’ll also help someone clean out and do your part of being eco-friendly by re-using. Yard sales are particularly good for children’s items, home décor and kids’ books. Who can afford $8+ for a book at the larger stores when your kid reads a lot of books every week? Books are usually around $0.50 each and sometimes less.
5. Join Long Island Buy-and-Sell Facebook Groups
There are quite a few large and local Buy-and-Sell Facebook Groups like Nassau/Suffolk Buy and Sell, Bayslist, Bellport/Brookhaven Yard Sale and Nassau County Virtual Yard Sale. Usually you have to apply to the group or have a friend who is in it already in order to join. This is a new and wonderful way to not only buy items, like an online yard sale, but also to sell your own unwanted items to make some extra cash. What do you have laying around the house in closets, in the basement, in the garage, that you don’t use but someone else may be looking for? Children’s clothing and toys go especially fast in these groups.
Just like Home Depot and Lowe’s advertise, you can save a lot by taking on projects yourself. From power washing rentals and installing a patio or deck to in-home repairs, you can save quite a lot by investing a weekend or week on a project. Invite a friend or two to help, and reciprocate when they are re-modeling.
7. Conserve Electricity
No one likes those big electric bills when they come in. Turn off lights when you leave the room, run laundry less often or only in cold water (think larger loads) and keep the house warmer in the summer by using the air conditioning less. All of these simple tactics can save money on your next bill.
8. Bring Your Own Meals
If you buy lunch at work or the kids buy it at school often, consider brown bagging. We’ve read that you can save as much as $1,000 a year by brining your own lunch to work! Not only that, you won’t throw away any food since you’ll likely pack the right amount of what you love.
9. Reassess Your Bills
Are you paying for cable channels you never watch or renting movies too often when you can get many at the library for free? Is your cell phone plan the smallest one for the minutes you use? Cable can cost over $1,500 or even $2,000 a year, so see if any of the smaller packages fit your needs.
10. Make Your Own Products
Did you know you can make your own baby wipes, body scrubs and cleaners? Simple items like vinegar, baking soda, salt, sugar and water can be used to save quite a bit of cash over the course of a year. Search the internet for items you want to make at home as there are plenty of ideas listed. Read Unique Uses for Household Products
11. Join and Save
Sites like Recyclebank not only teach you how to conserve, but also offer coupons or free magazines in exchange for the points you earn. For example you can get seven free magazines just for being part of this site. Have the kids help earn points so they can learn about ways of going green along the way.
12. Save on Gas
Stop & Shop offers a points program where you can save anywhere from $0.10 a gallon to even $0.60! That can be quite a lot less filling up. Use your store card each time you shop.
13. Visit the Library
From children’s and family programs to classes, checking out books, CD’s and DVD’s, you can save a bunch. Classes from libraries can save parents from paying for kids’ art or mommy-and-me type classes yet they do basically the same things.
14. Swap items with Other Moms
Maybe you have a stroller your child just outgrew, and a friend has some size 6 clothes your daughter will need. All you have to do is ask around and you’ll find many Moms with items they no longer use and things they are in need of. Read Long Island Mompreneurs Create Snazzy Swap Clothes and Toys Exchange
15. Use Online Savings Sites
Don’t forget to take advantage of online savings sites like Groupon and Living Social where often you can save 50% or more on entrance fees and restaurant meals. These sites can filter by your county. On Long Island, there’s also Living Huntington, Living Smithtown and many more micro savings sites that target retailers in your specific town.
There are literally hundreds of ways to save money. The key is to combine as many of them as you can to really see a difference. Your family has better things to do with hard earned money. Consider taking in some local museums and do a fun day at a water park or aquarium with that extra cash on hand. Some libraries offer free museum lending passes — yet another way to save money on Long Island!
By Debra Ferrie
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