How I Save Money

Because I'm a teacher and we aren't exactly on the Fortune 500 list, I'm always looking for ways to save and make money. As a high school math teacher, I love numbers and I compete with myself to find new ways to play with money.

  • My parents live one mile away from me and they make their own laundry detergent so I just steal a gallon of it every time I run out. This may or may not be an option for you but you could always make your own with this recipe. You can basically create any cleaning product for much cheaper if you look on Pinterest first.
  • I have started couponing by following the Krazy Coupon Lady (blog and facebook)and Addicted To Saving (blog and facebook) as well as utilizing the iphone apps Ibotta, Checkout 51, Target Cartwheel and Receipt Hog.
  • I have a programmable thermostat that I program to change the temperature while I'm gone at school so my system runs less and I can save money on utilities.
  • Recycle Wal-Mart bags as trash bags for tiny trash cans around the house.
  • Buy reusable Swiffer pads and Swiffer WetJet pads that I wash after each use rather than buying refill packs. 
  • I do not have cable/satellite and I instead use Netflix and Hulu Plus. Until satellite costs less than the $16 I'm currently spending, I'm fine with what I have.
  • Again, I live close to home, unmarried and no kids, and my mom is a great cook so I literally go there for dinner every night. While that is not really an option for most people, I'm leading up to taking leftovers for lunch every day. There is nowhere to eat in my area other than the school cafeteria but it costs $1.50 per day and for food I mostly don't like. I'm super picky. 
  • The Dollar Tree is my favorite store for everything but especially kitchen items. Practically my whole kitchen (and classroom) are stocked from there. I'm talking coasters, placemats, dish rags, dish towels, dish soap, glasses, plates, bowls, measuring cups, measuring spoons, etc.
  • I just bought a house in August and I furnished 80% of it with furniture I found at yard sales and on facebook groups and then repainted it. It was affordable, let me be creative, and helped me match everything.
  • Not really household, but I buy any iphone products like chargers, adapters, and cases from China. I can always get them for $2 or less but expect to wait about four weeks before receiving them.
  • If you have a pool, the chemicals are way cheaper at Menards than Wal-Mart which are both obviously cheaper than the pool stores!

  • I always shop the clearance rack and discount stores  and I try to rarely spend more than $10 for any one item of clothing.
  • I shop yard sales, consignment stores, ebay, and community facebook groups. If you have a few brands that you consistently wear, just search for those on ebay since you already know what size to buy.
  • Anytime I go out of town for vacation or a conference, I look for discount shops in the area that I don't have at home. Including Goodwill and other consignment shops.
  • Now that I've started couponing, I find a lot of deals for free make-up or under a $1. But before that I stuck to cheap brands like E.L.F. Wet n Wild, NYC, and NYC at Wal-mart, Target, and K-mart where prices are all under $5 no matter what. If you see department store brands of make-up you love, just google the name of it and the word 'dupe'. There are tons of bloggers who test out cheaper versions of high end products.
  • When buying jewelry, I try to buy things that come in packs, like how earrings come 3 or 6 or more to a pack. I also look for clearances at Claire's and Icing where you can get things under $2. I don't wear junior sizes anymore but junior stores like Wet Seal, Charlotte Russe, Body Central and Rue 21 almost always have jewelry on clearance.
  • You can buy a lot of jewelry on ebay from China for $1 or less. It will take about a month to receive it, but by then you've forgotten what it was and it's a surprise gift!
  • When I am feeling depressed about not being able to buy things, I just start selling my things on facebook groups. Then I take the money and go shopping, guilt free!

 How I Make Money
  • Have yard sales
  • Sell used items at consignment shop
  • Sell used items on community facebook groups
  • Sell used items on ebay
  • I use Swagbucks which gives you points for online activities like answering a daily poll, radio loyalty, watching videos, surveys, downloading a toolbar, etc. I also get cash back (points) on things I purchase online by going through their site. Once I earn 450 points, I can redeem it for a $5 Amazon card. I'd say I earn one every 3-4 weeks so I let those add up and then I can shop guilt free!
  • I use survey sites Toluna, InBox Dollars, and Pinecone Research to take surveys, earn points and redeem them for PayPal cash or Amazon gift cards.
  • I recently joined Influenster where you take surveys, write reviews, and answer questions and you periodically receive a VoxBox in the mail of completely free, full size products that you engage with through the website to keep earning more points.

 Practically Obvious
  • Borrow books or check out from your school library. Buy used if you have to buy and always check Amazon and eBay first.
  • Rent DVDs at Redbox.
  • Listen to music on youtube rather than buy it.
  • Get rid of your landline phone and just use your cell phone.
  • Combine trips to save gas.
  • I do the Dave Ramsey process where you create a debt snowball: pay minimums on everything and throw extra money at the debt with the smallest total. Then when it's paid off, add the amount you were paying to the minimum of the next smallest debt until it snowballs into paying off all of your debt.
  • Don't get into credit card debt.
  • Don't do habits that waste your money: smoking, gambling, drinking, etc.

What other ways do you save and make money?


  1. Besides shopping in the weeks right around school starting? I'm starting INBs this year, but I don't want to give my students a huge supply list because lots of students wouldn't be able to get everything. So instead, I want to supply a lot of things from organization to staplers/gluesticks/etc. I'm making a "teacher which list" that usually gets an okay response from parents, but I'm still overwhelmed with everything I think I need to get for 150 students!

    1. Oops...that first sentence should say...Besides shopping in the weeks right around school starting, any tips for saving money in your classroom?

    2. Well first I have about half the amount of students you have but I sit them in groups which I have five of. So I buy one thing per group when I can. My school allows us to requisition things at the end of the year so I try to buy most everything then. Plus we have a supply cabinet that stays stocked all year with the basics like pencils, tape, glue sticks, etc. Then I also asked my principal if I could spend around $30 on more school supplies and he agreed to reimburse me. So of course I'm quite thrifty with that and used it at the Dollar Tree and Hobby Lobby with sales and coupons.

      I literally go to the Dollar Tree 2-3 times a week so I just pick a couple things here and there all summer long so it doesn't seem like such a huge chunk of money. And I yard sale every Saturday so I have been able to find copy paper, colored pencils, markers, crayons, carts, etc. I also try to buy things from Hobby Lobby when they are on sale or with the 40% coupon when they aren't. I'll go there multiple times a week or with my mom or a friend and make them use their coupon too so I can save as much as possible.

      Other than that...I don't know!

    3. We only get money from our PTA, but my husband had suggested asking the principal, too. We have lots of project-based grants in the district, and I've been debating if I could turn INBs into some sort of year long project to apply!

      And I never thought of finding supplies at yard sales! I live in a college town, so there are a lot of sales around May and August with move in/move out. Thanks so much of the ideas!

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