I've been thinking on some of the ways saving money is a possibility, ways that anyone can get into without going total "Extreme Couponing". Please note - I'm no expert at this, but I do enjoy finding bargains and saving some cash (who doesn't?) every once and a while.
Here's a list of some ideas the A. Bears have had some practice with...
Trade a Service
Sometimes it's easier to part with a talent than it is cash. That being said, awhile back I made an agreement with a friend who has his own recording studio to get David in for a session for the price of a photo shoot - he was happy to do it and I was excited to share the gift with David. Not a photographer? No worries. Trade your friends babysitting nights, homemade meals, or anything else that you + them could benefit from. Just remember - don't ever hold a trade against a friend, if they forget their end of the bargain, no big deal - they were blessed by your service and that's all that really matters.
Check It Out
Looking for a movie to enjoy with your spouse? Wanting to treat your kiddo to a show? There are few reasons we find to purchase movies anymore, in fact we've gotten rid of probably a good 90% of our collection. The library is a great place to find tv series, new releases and some old classics all for free.99. If they don't have the new release you're looking for in stock, RedBox probably will, and if you haven't used your debit card there before, you might be able to get in a free rental by signing up for their e-mail list.
I do still love buying new/used books, but our little man gets special date nights to the kids section where he can pick out all of his favorites to read throughout the week,
fun family time + educational too!
Free to Celebrate
Birthdays are a great day (or sometimes month) to receive offers of free meals, desserts, samplers, etc. Don't know where to start? Check out this site for an extensive list of birthday deals.
Be a Cheap Date
If you're going to splurge on dinner out, you might want to look for a way to save on an after party. Go support local art by checking out what new gallery openings are happening, see if there's any live music playing at your favorite coffeehouse/bar, or share a dessert somewhere - less calories/less money.
There are tons of possibilities to save by simply checking out sites such as Groupon, Living Social, and Amazon. If you'd like to find an item for 100% off and don't mind used, check out freecycle.org. If you're going to be taking from someone, make sure to keep the freebies flowing by sharing some of your no longer used items too.
Beauty for Less
While new clothes, pedicures and fancy blow outs can be fun, it can also be fun hunting them down for less. Check your mail for Kohl's cash and put that towards a clearance item. For one anniversary I found a dreamy Lauren Conrad dress just my size for over 80% off. Another outing scored me my favorite wallet and a simple pair of black flip flops for a whopping $0.32.
My philosophy on hair is, well that it's just hair. Sure, every once and awhile I'll go the salon route (another thing to look for on deal websites) but I've also gone to a stylist friend for free and the local salon schools. If you don't mind being a guinea pig, check out your local reputable salon academy. The nice part is that instructors are checking in on their students making sure you're not getting scalped, and if it's not perfect, rock it anyway.
Sure, organic can be expensive but so can soda, juice, and deep fried-dipped-in-frosting-goodness. We are surely no healthy eating professionals, just a regular trio making some weekly attempts at consuming better than before. Find out what day your local grocery store marks down their organic boxed items, and try to make a pit stop on those days. It might also be beneficial to purchase fruits and vegetables at a farmer's market type store, and boxed goods elsewhere. Granted you might not be saving too much money with the trade off, and at some points you might find yourself spending a little more, I think the healthy lifestyle and lessening of future medical bills are pay off enough.
Cut the Cable
We realized how unnecessary satellite tv was and decided to be done with the paid channels altogether. Instead, David picked up some bunny ears and while it's an experiment in physics sometimes getting a channel to come in, we enjoy the challenge and not the bill. Not only that, but if there's a favorite show out there on a cable network, chances are the episode will eventually turn up on their website.
I've found few reasons to pay someone to do something we're capable of
doing/learning/experimenting. Landscaping, painting and cleaning are a few expenses we prefer not to pay for. It might not be a perfect result but it'll sure have a home-like quality to it, and if nothing else, doing it yourself provides a great learning experience. Don't want to go at it alone? Find a friend that knows what their doing for some free advice. Some elements to yards and interior work can even be found for a great deal - check Craigslist.org for bricks/patio furniture/fertilizer, or pick up some "oops" paint at your local hardware store.
Keep your eyes open for an item just laying around to see if it can't be used for something else. Over here a couple of clothing items have been used for pillowcases, an old dresser was re-painted for the nursery, some pre-marriage posters were able to liven up the office, and some old doilies got turned into a sweet table runner. Make sure to also be keeping your eyes open for things to donate, places like the Salvation Army/thrift stores/rescue missions could benefit from your old items too.
So, there you have it. A very simple guide to saving for the moderate and occasional bargain hunter.