Savvy moms are always on the lookout for a bargain, and in these lean economic times even more of us are looking for ways to tighten our belts. Some of us are good at coupon strategies, but I, myself, am never quite organized enough to fully capitalize on them. Coupons make me buy things I don't really need. But I've learned from other Circle of Moms members that there are many other ways to reliably save, and here are six that I'll be trying.
1. Buy Extra Items When On Sale
Dennika G. suggests having a stash of cash — even if it's beyond your weekly budget — to buy extra amounts of the non-perishable items you always need when they're on sale, even if you go into next week's budget. If you buy extra, your stock might just last until the item goes on sale again, and avoid ever having to pay full price. This works not only for soaps, detergents and other cleaning items, but also for canned food, oils, jams, nut butters, and even perishable food items that freeze well.
2. Buy Concentrates
Lots of moms are making their own laundry detergent, but if you're not that industrious, you can still save money by buying concentrates, suggests Katrina P. And Kristen H. uses concentrated dish soap to treat stains on clothes, which saves her money on expensive stain-removal products. She finds that it works just as well. Figuring out how you can use items for multiple purposes cuts down on the overall number of products you need to routinely buy.
3. Visit the "Scratch-and-Dent-Shelf"
Every store has one: a scratch-and-dent shelf. And, as Angela points out, there's nothing wrong with cake mixes and cereals that have torn outer packaging, as long as the plastic inside is sealed. These items are often marked down 33-50%, and might include canned tomatoes, vegetables and fruits. Buying day-old bread has long been a popular money-saving option; also look for freezable homemade bakery items that are on sale for the same reason (bagels, croissants, muffins, etc.).
4. Check Out the Dollar Store
My grandmother loved to shop, and I think that even if she'd had lots of money (which she did not), her favorite store would still have been the Dollar Store. Alleah P. and several other Circle of Moms members head there first for cooking utensils, washcloths, glassware, and oven-safe dishware.
5. Preserve Your Own Food
Home-canning is the most ambitious suggestion on this list, but hey, it's trendy, affordable and healthful! A Circle of Moms member named Angela preserves pick-your-own farmer's market produce in mason jars, which requires only a few pieces of inexpensive equipment and basic instructions. Other moms preserve by freezing; this is a great way to enjoy seasonal produce in the off season. It can be as simple as throwing fresh berries into a Ziploc bag during in the summer, then treating yourself and your kids in the winter. (Frozen berries are perfect for smoothies.) Freezing is also the preferred technique for preserving homemade stocks. Boil that carcass down into a delicious broth simply by adding water (and optional herbs), and save yourself from needing to buy bouillon cubes or cans of broth at the store.
"Freecycling" is a new word for an old concept, and the Internet has made is easier than ever. Katherine C. recommends craigslist.org — there's a "free" section for every city represented on the site, and you can score clothes, food, furniture, and other untold freebies.
The bottom line: Even if your household is too chaotic to coupon, you can save money on household staples in many ways!
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.