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MamaVoices: How are you pinching pennies?

Do you consider yourself a smart shopper? We’ve asked some of our favorite “penny pinchers” for their best tips to help pinch that penny and stretch that dollar.

Do you consider yourself a smart shopper? During these tough economic times it’s important to be on top of any and all savings… and TodaysMama is here to help! We’ve asked some of our favorite “penny pinchers” for their greatest tips & ideas to help pinch that penny and stretch that dollar. Happy Savings!

As a SAHM with kids and an injured housebound husband, a low budget is required to keep my household running smoothly. These penny pinching strategies maximize our family's income.

Grocery Shopping

1. Combine store sales with double coupon days for increased savings.

2. Shop at stores with price matching policies to reduce travel.

3. Ditch the convenience foods. Make a homemade version whenever possible.

4. Purchase bulk quantities separating into smaller containers when you get home.

5. Buy generic. Don't pay for advertising & fancy packaging.

General Tips

* Utilize warranty repairs. From leather goods to small appliances, many items are warrantied. Check the product's manufacturer for details.

* Stock up on free items and samples. Fill gift baskets with the freebies.

* Turn your trash to treasure. Repurpose empty coffee cans to storage jars, cut holey socks into wash cloths reducing your dependence on paper towels, etc.

* Earn cash by selling items through a consignment store. Items are priced higher earning you more money versus a yard sale.

* Donate items to charity & get a receipt for tax purposes.

* Take advantage of price adjustments (the difference in the price paid for an item versus the current sale price).

* Use layaway instead of credit cards. Payoff balances earlier with the same monthly payment avoiding huge interest rates.

* Switch to online billing & payments to save postage

* Call you provider for promotions on cable, telephone & internet

This is a taste of the penny pinching strategies used in my household but they are guaranteed to turn your pennies into dollars!

Jennifer Clark, blogger - Frugal Front Porch

We're all trying to stretch our dollars as far as possible in this economy. I've always been a bargain shopper intent on finding the best possible deal I could on everything from clothing and toys to groceries, but these days, it's even more of a challenge.

I still enjoy shopping online and save tons of money using online coupon codes and free shipping offers, but lately, I've made a deep cut in my grocery bill. I've always shopped with coupons but I've recently learned it's essential to plan every shopping trip. So, each week, I check online coupon forums and blogs as I carefully match up my local ads with available coupons-- including printable ones that are readily available online. Shopping at stores that offer double coupons also helps me stretch my savings.

I’ve also started a stockpile of regularly used staple items by picking up as many as I can of them when they’re on sale. For instance, I got a great deal on canned tomatoes a month or so ago and now I have enough to last me several months--at least until the next sale anyway. My stockpile will keep me from buying the items I use all the time at a higher price, leaving me a little extra grocery money for other things.

Since I started shopping this way, I regularly save 30-40% at the grocery store. Saving money on your grocery bill definitely requires patience, time and energy, but in the end, it is totally worth it!

Lana Boote, blogger - Bargain Hunting Moms

Make it a party! Entertaining at home can be one of the best money savers, especially when you have a family of twelve like I do. A great way to keep the family happily entertained without spending extra cash is to make a party right in your own living room or backyard.

Build a night around an activity that you all love. Whether it is to watch the NCAA final four or to arrange a pick-up game of your own, plan everything from a game winning menu you’d expect at the ballpark to picnic seating away from the traditional table setting. For sporting events, we bring out the bratwursts, nachos and hotdogs. For cheering on our favorite American Idol contenders, we love to make our own pizzas and gather around the TV with the lights down.

Create the right party environment on simple menu changes and the money that once went to eating out, movie theaters, the malls or tickets you’ll see put back in your purse. It’s fun to see the kids get excited and invite their friends over to our party too.

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Cooking at home can be one of the biggest and easiest ways to save, but to keep it engaging for your family (and you!), you’ll need to plan. Plan the special dessert, the different place setting or ways to incorporate a game of your own and let the party begin!

Kathryn Sansone, blogger - Shape Up Mom

Cut out ineffective warehouse memberships. Notice I said "ineffective." I wrote a post a few weeks back about my rocky relationship with Costco and I appreciated all the comments it generated. Seems like the general agreement is: know your membership options, know your local Costco and be aware of where you're spending or saving money. Some warehouses are better deals than others and savvy shoppers can save money only if they're aware of where the money is going. Me? I don't see that our Costco here saves me anything because I typically overspend, end up buying more expensive brands and in greater quantities than we can efficiently use which means more waste. So we're cutting our membership.

Oh, and by the way, if you can't live without Costco pizza or prescriptions you can buy both without having a membership. I asked our local Costco pharmacy about it last week and it was confirmed--you can buy prescriptions at Costco without a membership. Yes, you can thank me later.

Michelle Mitchell, blogger - Scribbit

I employ a lot of different strategies to save money. But one of my family’s most effective penny-pinching tactics is to buy as much as we can secondhand.

Buying at garage sales, thrift shops and from the classifieds has saved us a tremendous amount of money over the years. Much of the savings has been on items for the kids. I rarely pay more than $2 to $3 for each piece of clothing, or for coats or shoes, yet my children wear all the major brands — Gymboree, Gap, Children’s Place and even Nordstrom and Ralph Lauren.

We all love to read, yet we don’t buy books new. Instead, we pay 10 cents to 50 cents each at thrift stores and library sales. And toys? We have all the expensive Lego, Bionicle and building toys, purchased for a mere sliver of the retail price at garage sales. Even better, we’ve found an assortment of items for free from

We’re devoted to buying bigger-ticket items secondhand, as well. Last year, we purchased a low-mileage, 5-year-old, sport-utility vehicle with all the bells and whistles for one-quarter of the sticker price. The invoice, right there in the glove department, showed that the original owners had paid more than $50,000 for it new.

If you haven’t bought a lot of secondhand items, check out a nearby thrift store. Or stop and check out the next garage sale you see. Your wallet will thank you.

Lesley Mitchell, blogger - One Cheap Chick

Pinching pennies is definitely the topic of the year for 2009, unfortunately, but I’ve been pinching pennies as long as I can remember. Though currently is a bit different than my past efforts. While growing up in Illinois coupons were abundant and you could always maximize on double coupon day, but now in Toronto Ontario that just doesn’t happen. There are no coupons in the Saturday paper (that’s the big one here) and the flyer deals are just a mere ok.

To combat this I have started putting together a weekly menu and purchasing just what we need for the week. My menu has even become a kitchen design element with a homemade colorful chalkboard! (That was a DIY savings project too) In regards to food, which is what can easily break your budget, the menu has proved to be a winner. Since coupons don’t exist and Wal-Mart is the only grocery store that ad matches I pack up my tools and head to the nearest supercenter for all my grocery needs. I have saved on average $30 a visit, which I am proud of because with no coupons savings are more challenging. This has become fun for my family because we can actually think about what to cook for dinner, instead of the afterthought it once was!

Jill Pursell, writer

Isn't everyone trying to stretch their dollar in this economy? I will be honest, I haven't had to change the way I grocery shop because for the past few years I've been a self proclaimed coupon freak. I use newspaper coupons, magazine coupons, as well as printable online coupons to stretch my grocery budget to the max!

One of the best ways to save money with your groceries is to start stockpiling the items you use on a regular basis when the price hits the lowest, rock bottom sale. This is the moment I use my coupon. I am able to buy brand name products cheaper than generic items about 90% of the time. Some of the items on my stockpile list are bread (35¢ or less), cereal ($1 or less a box), and frozen veggies (50¢ or less) just to name a few. I never pay for shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, feminine products, etc!

While stockpiling helps stretch the family budget, it also helps to create a weekly menu plan. I plan our weekly menus based on items we already have on hand or items which are on sale at my favorite grocery store. I use sites like and when we get in a meal plan rut! Many manufacturer's sites also have recipe finders. So have a can of tuna and diced tomatoes on hand, do an ingredient search and find a recipe to utilize what is already in the pantry.

A few other things we have done recently to cut our spending is we cancelled our land line phone, we eat out less or use all the fabulous restaurant freebies out there, and shop/sell items at our local consignment shop. With a little effort we can all pinch a few pennies to survive in this economy!

Briana Carter, blogger - Bargain Briana


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