Clothes -- eBay and second hand stores. No my kids do not look like they are wearing goodwill`s dumpster refuse. I find trendy clothes of good quality there for Wal Mart prices that will last a lot longer than Wal Mart. If we get a Steve and Barrys near us soon as we are supposed to I might shop there as everything is $8.98 or $9.98 even shoes and sneakers and coats. I will get multiples of sneakers at that price and if they last the school year I will have saved a bundle.
I don`t expect the coats to be sufficient for our winters but I will get the wool coats for dress up and alternate three season coats anyway plus the warm ski coats from eBay.
And we do go to Wal Mart for $2-4 flip flops for summer etc.
And my kids cut off their pants that were too short by the end of the school year for shorts/capris to wear around the house.
Food -- I am still eventually putting in a garden.
I look at the shopper ads for sales on food. I am starting to do the coupon thing too but neither of my local stores does a double coupon thing so it is hard to radically save in that way.
Ellie Kay wrote a book called 1/2 price living which is for people trying to live on one salary instead of two but would work for anyone really. A lot of her grocery stuff is with double coupons mixed with in store sales and stuff which is kind of complicated for me -- but I am going to start paying more attention to coupons anyway.
Our entertainment is the public library and free concerts and other events. Luckily we live in a resort area so there is a lot going on or we can go to the lake for free. We camp when we travel and have sadly decided we cannot go to the Black Hills (about 400 miles for us) on a camping trip because of gas prices going up. Sad also because we will miss seeing my aunt who is in her 60s and lives alone.
I hate to harp on clothes but almost all of my 5 year old`s clothes were from second hand sources -- our city had a children`s clothing swap (where my 12 year old daughter got a beautiful silk tank/blouse from the Gap that was probably $75 new) and a teacher gave away her own son`s outgrown clothes. We supplemented with some polos from Wal-Mart and that will take him through the hot first days of school.
I got a lot of long sleeve shirts and a Columbia winter coat off eBay for $25. Used and the coat has a small tear but it will be warm for the winter and we can fix the tear.
We are lucky to live on a triple lot with the town park across the street and my kids do have bikes to ride around -- and games on the Internet.
We are also lucky to pay only $350 to live in our home which is a converted factory building we are renovating (and also lucky my husband can do the work.)
My kids` furniture mostly came from auctions and we fixed it up. My younger son has a nice iron double bed and my teenage son has a like new queen set that had been in some old couple`s guest room. My daughter has a fancy wood trundle bed and a dresser with a marble top. We never paid more than $100 each piece for beds and dressers and most of them $30-50.
Our books come from used bookstores or eBay or Amazon or most often the library. We are all avid readers.
We keep our 12 year old minivan in the best possible working order. We have one vehicle and I am a freelance writer working from home (except when I am on Answers all day -- der.)
Our vacation is to a nearby lake for a week of family camp at the bible camp. (I hear you groaning and saying -- Oh you are one of those fundie conservative Christians). No! I am voting for Obama and always have been. I believe in choice for most everything and don`t care about gay marriage. My husband is starting a nonprofit through the fuller center (like Habitat for Humanity) to help people with renovations we cannot afford. We are people of faith but we have liberal sensibilities and are also intellectuals (who cannot figure out how to be wealthy apparently).
The family camp thing -- our family needs it. My husband put in a new ceiling at the camp this winter/spring in his off time in exchange for them waiving some of our fees for a week in a motel room like cabin by a lake. Our family needs it because it is a great way to reconnect with each other and be unplugged from electronics for a whole week.
What else -- we have always saved money because we have never had any. We live in a small town where there aren`t that many wealthy people. I am still a clotheshorse thus I shop for clothes for my daughter especially on eBay that are very fashionable (plus she is 5-7 and a size 3 at age 12 -- wears clothes really well!).
We have rhubarb growing in our yard and use that in yummy desserts whenever we can.
Sometimes we go to a farm my father in law owns to have family bonfires and watch the big sunset over the fields.
We go to cheap second run movies at the $3 a seat theatre.
We don`t eat out much -- I cook.
Any new clothes we get are on sale at Wal-mart or Penneys like shoes socks and underwear and pants for my growing son who wears a 40x36 (he is 6`6). For my son and husband who wear large shoe sizes we shop at Dunhams.
Trying not to obsess on clothes. Honestly we get furnishings second hand and fix or refinish or slipcover them. I do get new slipcovers occasionally on sale from SureFit.
We seem to have no control on our energy bills or gas. Our utility bills are our largest expense sadly in our big barn of a house. But we keep it as moderate as we can -- wear tanks and shorts in the house in the summer and sweatshirts in the winter.
We wear winter coats until they are outgrown or wear out. I have two Lands End ski coats I got at least 12 years ago plus a tan peacoat I got 2 years ago but it was used off eBay for $30 and I plan to keep it forever as well.
My husband even searches the ads for tools for his work or takes the stock of guys getting out of the business. He found a guy selling a router and a lathe and some other big power tools I don`t remember all for $400 when probably one of them new would be $400.
Our sports day camps taught by the high school coaches here are only about $25 and my kids go to a lot of concerts and other events through our church plus go to the cheap movies with their friends.
This is already too long but you got me on a topic I am very passionate about.