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Here are some general tips on how to be frugal, ways to save money in your household, with your kids, and when feeding your family.  Do you have a tip for frugal living? Please share your ideas here at Kids Activities Blog in the comments or stop by our FB page and tell us how you are saving money this year! Wait for a minimum of 24 hours before purchasing any pricey item.  Oh, and see if you can find something comparable used first! If something breaks try to fix it or do without before going out and purchasing a replacement.  Try not to hire someone to fix things, rather swap services (see Craig’s list).
Use a price sheet so that you can know if a “sale” is really a bargain or if you can find it cheaper elsewhere. Mix ground beef with an egg and several handfuls of quick oats (makes the meat go farther).  Use in meatballs, meat loaf, etc.
Bake your own bread – let the yeast sit in sugar water till it smells fermented and use half the yeast (the most expensive ingredient in bread). Artisan bread is the cheapest to make per loaf.
If you are big milk drinkers, buy whole milk and a box of dry milk and make your own mock-2% milk by mixing half whole, half non-fat dry reconstituted milk.  You have two gallons for a fraction of the cost. Try to stretch as much time between shopping trips.  The fewer times you go shopping, the fewer chances you have to “impulse buy”. Eat something small before you go.  It is harder to resist the temptation to over buy when you have an empty tummy.
Buy generic – many times this is considerably less than the alternative even if you have coupons. Use coupons if you prefer something name brand and only if you buy that item regularly.  Also, ask if your grocery shop has “double days”. Rather than buy a newspaper for the coupons, go to your library, usually they do not mind allowing you to clip the coupons you need… and your kids can attend story time at the same time!  OR you can go to this site for free coupon resources and print the coupons you need online! Wash clothes in warm water and only if you have a full load to do.  Dry your clothes on the line and if you don’t like the “crunchy” feel, stick them in the dryer for 5 min with a wet rag after they’ve hung out. Wash your clothes inside out so they will look nicer longer… and only wash if something is truly dirty. In the winter, use your dryer and stove during the early evening to help heat your home.  In the summer, use them in the very early morning (or not at all) to help keep your home cool.
In a room that has a tendency to be dark, put a mirror near the light to refract the light around the room.  One light bulb has the power of two with this trick! Unplug items (toaster, shaver, cell phone charger, TV) when not in use.  Small amounts of electricity are still being used even if they are off, but plugged in. Use Craig’s List to purchase used items (furniture, etc.) or freecycle or go to garage sales.  We’ve even gotten a number of items from the curb on trash day!
Check your insurance.  We were able to save $600 a year when we switched companies, combined our house and auto onto the same plan, and added $500 to our deductible.
Get a programmable thermostat for your household heat and water heater.  You can turn the temps down an hour or two after you go to bed, or during the warmer times of the day, or the times when you typically don’t use your hot water.  No reason to heat what is not being used! Buy clothes for your kids used – they grow out of them so fast new is not worth it!  And used usually look just as good!
Limit the number of toys your children are able to have in the house.  This will lower the clutter, increase the value of the toys you currently own, increase your children’s creativity as they learn to play with less, and also will decrease spending on toys. Try home remedies before Doctor visits.  Those co-pays can add up and its amazing how a humidifier, Vitamin C & some good ole’ rest will make the bugs go away! Make gifts for holidays and birthdays, often these mean more than ones purchased at the store as they show you put time and effort into the recipient. Make your own personal hygiene products (or do without).  Kimberly has a great blog documenting her withdrawl from her addiction to shampooing. Cloth diaper your kiddos.  If you use this cloth diapering method your whole stash can cost less than a hundred dollars and can potentially be handed down to future kiddos. Cloth diapering also encourages early potty-training! Make your own baby food by pureeing what the rest of the family is eating, or you can use dehydrated and powdered veggies – if you like the convenience of those pricey jars.
Invite people over to your home rather than meeting them at a restaurant.  You’ll have more time to chat and if you plan your meal well, will save a bundle too! Either eliminate or see if you can combine any of the following: Internet, Television, Long-Distance, Cell Phones – We found that a calling card saves us tons on what would have been a long distance phone bill, and we get the TV shows we want through online streaming for free. Set-up a baby-sitting swap with a friend who has children.  You’ll save money and know that someone “experienced” is watching your kids.
Find dates that are more events than just “going out to eat”.  These can sometimes save your budget and are usually more memorable. Yes, you can download tax forms for free from IRS.gov or pick them up at your local library.
Even if you do not qualify for IRS Free File, you still can get a break on the full price for tax software or preparation services. If you do not trust yourself to prepare a return with tax software, you still may be eligible for a discount from a tax preparation service.
The credit is worth $1,000 to $2,000 -- depending on your filing status -- and can increase your refund or lower the amount of tax you owe. Your income in 2015 did not exceed $30,500 if you are single, $45,750 if you file head of household or $61,000 if you are married filing jointly.
March is National Frozen Foods Month, which is a cause for celebration for frugal-minded shoppers, said Josh Elledge, creator of coupon and money-saving site SavingsAngel.
Stocking up on frozen foods helps eliminate waste -- and wasted money -- for those fresh foods that go bad before they can be consumed, said money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. March is the cheapest time of the year for ham, said Teri Gault, author of "Shop Smart, Save More." Grocery store rewards cardholders typically can save 40 percent to 60 percent -- $12 to $18 -- on a bone-in ham, Gault said.

She buys the limit allowed by the store, cuts the hams into pieces and freezes them to eat throughout the year. One of the best ways to save money at the grocery store is to buy the produce that is on sale because it is in season.
In March, kale, asparagus, broccoli, potatoes, oranges and pineapples are in season and on sale, Taylor said.
Supermarkets tend to mark down sparkling juice and water from March through May, Gault said. One way to save money this March while potentially cutting down on calories is to stop snacking after dinner for the entire month, said Holly Johnson of money-saving site Club Thrifty. Avoid washing clothes in warm or hot water, and do not run your dishwasher during these times to save another $5 a month or so.
And if you are headed out of town for spring break, check to see if your heater has a vacation setting to keep costs low while you are gone, Deringer said. Take advantage of daylight saving time -- which starts March 13 -- to save money on electricity.
According to The Energy Collective, leaving an LED light bulb on costs just 1 cent over an eight-hour period. Some devices continue to suck electricity and run up your electric bill even when they are turned off. She was able to check out one of these devices out from her public library so she could identify the energy vampires in her house and unplug them when not in use. With summer approaching, spring is a good time to see if your air conditioner filter needs to be cleaned or replaced, Taylor said.
If you live in an area where it actually feels like spring, consider ditching the dryer and "air dry" clothes instead.
Skip the pricey Easter egg decorating kits and save $10 by using what you already have, Taylor said.
On top of those savings, you will be able to get eggs at their lowest prices of the year, Gault said. For example, Kohl's typically offers a coupon for 15 percent off, an $18 savings based on the average spent for Easter outfits. March is National Craft Month, so it is a good time to stock up on craft supplies at a discount. Now that the weather is getting warmer and the days are longer, you have more opportunity to exercise outdoors before it gets too hot, Woroch said.
You can save money during that annual rite of spring -- spring cleaning -- by skipping pricey store-bought cleaners and making your own. Stephanie Brandt of Debt Free Through Spending recommended spring cleaning your finances by examining your budget and eliminating unnecessary expenses. Also make sure you're not missing out on any money-saving benefits, such as a health savings account.
While you are spring cleaning your finances, check to see whether you are being hit with a monthly maintenance fee on your checking or savings account. To eliminate that unnecessary expense, consider switching to any of these 10 checking accounts and 10 savings accounts that don't charge a monthly fee. Do not even waste your money -- even if it is just a couple of bucks -- to fill out a bracket and bet on March Madness. Watching March Madness at a restaurant or bar can easily cost you $20 or more if you buy drinks and appetizers.
Another way to lower the cost of buying new clothes for spring is to take items you no longer wear and sell them on consignment.
You probably are tired of cold weather by now, so buying winter apparel might be the last thing you want to do.
Instead of spending several dollars per card at the grocery store, head to your local dollar store for Easter and other greeting cards for just 50 cents each, Perez said.
If you want to save on summer travel, March is the best time to start shopping for low-cost flights, Johnson said. If you and your family are staying home for spring break, you don't have to actually stay in the house the entire time just to avoid breaking your budget. Also check daily deal sites such as Groupon or Living Social to find discounts on local activities and entertainment so you can do something fun on a budget. For the price of two glasses of wine at a restaurant, you can buy a decent bottle and have four to six glasses at home, depending on how heavy you pour, Perez said. Even if you didn't make a New Year's resolution to kick a bad habit, it's not too late to start now.
If you like to watch movies in the theater, you can save by going on certain days when tickets and concessions are discounted. For a family of four who enjoys going to the movies just once a month, this can be a savings of up to $20, she said. In 2013, the average household spent $2,482 annually on entertainment, including fees and admission, toys, and other entertainment supplies, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
For example, you can take advantage of free lectures and programs at the public library or a nearby university.
If you are responsible with credit and pay off your balance each month, get a card that offers cash back for purchases. For example, you can buy used equipment at Play It Again Sports stores for 40 percent to 60 percent of the retail price.
Whether you are getting a gift for an upcoming baby shower or wedding, buying spring apparel or looking for a new appliance, always search for a discount gift card online before making a purchase, Woroch said.

Gift Card Granny aggregates discount gift cards from many of the popular resellers such as ABC Gift Cards and Cardpool.
When you want to buy something, other than a true necessity (medicine or food, for example), put it on this list, with the date you added it to the list.
After all, you would have to cut out everything you like, eat only ramen noodles and live like a hermit, right? There are plenty of things you can do to cut costs -- some small, some big -- that can add up to major savings in a matter of weeks. So if you haven't prepared your return yet, you may be able to file for free and avoid paying $13 or more -- sometimes much more -- for tax software.
But the IRS contends that taxpayers who use tax software -- rather than doing the math themselves with paper forms -- are much less likely to make errors. For example, if you are getting your taxes prepared by H&R Block for the first time this year, there is a coupon available to save $20 on its services, said Kendal Perez, a savings expert with Coupon Sherpa. In addition to sales, look for manufacturer coupons at sites such as Coupon Sherpa that will help you score more savings. Depending on how much produce you typically buy, you can save $10 or more on your regular monthly produce budget, Taylor said. You can find out which appliances are using the most juice by using a device that measures electricity usage, such as Kill A Watt, said Christina Brown of Northern Cheapskate. You can cut that cost, though, by signing up to receive emails with coupons from retailers or using a free app such as Coupon Sherpa to get deals while you are in stores, Perez said. But you might not want to cancel your gym membership -- if you do, you may have to pay another initiation fee when you want to return. HSAs help people with high-deductible health insurance policies set aside money to cover out-of-pocket health costs. You can recreate the fun environment of a bar without the high price by inviting friends over to watch the games during the NCAA men's basketball tournament. And at the end of the game, you won't even have to worry about paying for a cab or Uber ride home. But if you need to ready your wardrobe for warmer weather but can't wait for sales, Maria Tiongco Ramos of money-saving blog A Savings Wow! suggests shopping at resale or consignment stores to cut the cost of spring apparel. Woroch said that she recently earned more than $20 selling a few inexpensive dresses and blouses through online apparel reseller thredUP, where you can earn up to 80 percent of the selling price of your items.
But March is the perfect time to find deep discounts on clothes and gear for next winter because retailers are trying to get rid of their cold-weather inventory, said Andrew Schrage of money-saving site Money Crashers.
She said that according to the Greeting Card Association, the average cost of a greeting card is $3. The study found that the average savings by booking on the best day versus the worst was $201 per ticket.
But you could easily save $100 or more a month by opting for low- or no-cost entertainment.
If you have a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card, you can get a free ticket on the first full weekend of every month to 150 participating museums (in 31 states). Taylor recommends looking for a card that offers more than the typical 1 percent cash back. Elledge recommends using the Swagbucks site or app to earn credits for shopping online, watching videos or taking surveys. And make it a rule that you can’t buy anything for at least 30 days after you put it on the list. If your adjusted gross income is $62,000 or less, you can use the IRS Free File tax preparation software. And some of these sales will be made even better with store and manufacturer coupons and supermarket loyalty card discounts, she said. Lowering the temperature from the default 140 degrees to 120 degrees will save you 6 percent to 10 percent on energy costs -- about $5 a month, said Shellie Deringer of Saving With Shellie. If you leave five incandescent lights on for eight hours daily throughout March, you will end up paying more than $9. You can save between 5 percent and 15 percent on cooling costs by making sure your filter is clean, according to the U.S. Then the "bunny" can get inexpensive goodies -- such as bubbles, sidewalk chalk and chocolate eggs -- at the dollar store.
You have just a 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance of getting the NCAA basketball tournament bracket right, according to calculations by DePaul University math professor Jeff Bergen. These vouchers are available for local restaurants and provide savings of $6 to $15, she said. Sign up for Regal's loyalty club, and you will get 50 percent off popcorn on Tuesdays, Woroch said. Some attractions -- such as the Field Museum in Chicago and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta -- also offer free admission days to state or local residents.
The credits can then be redeemed for free gifts cards from retailers such as Amazon, Target or Walmart.
Find the ideas that apply to your spending habits and lifestyle and start putting money back in your wallet. You also can find bags of filler grass and plastic eggs for a buck at the dollar store, too.

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