Pinched Pennies

In the less than two years since Jeff and I have been married, due to layoffs and other "fun" life events, we are bringing in less Benjamines than we are use to. Add on top of that buying a much needed car and house and it makes for some pretty inventive budgeting (not to mention, a pretty stressful first couple years of marriage).

I thought in this blog I would share some of our money saving tips, some of which are not entirely new or creative, but this is what works for us. These days, everyone seems to be looking for ways to save an extra buck or two and this is our few tips and tricks on how to do it.

1. Free Stuff: Yes, free is the cheapest we can get, so we look for these opportunites everywhere. Since entertainment is the first thing to get kicked out of a stretched budget we look for free entertainment the most. We have had great luck finding free movies. We belong to lasvegasmovieinsider.com. This site tells where to pick up free passes to pre-release secret premiers. Another great source is the Clark County Libraries. They will show great classics like "The Birds" and even more recent releases like "Running with Siccors" at their theaters in town. It's great because you can see old classics on the big screen.

Another great form of free entertainment is free concerts. Jeff usually scores these from myspace's secret shows (like Glasvegas - great show) and reading the fine print in the Las Vegas Weekly. We have even gotten to see free concerts when we've purchased a ticket for one show and the venue will give away free entrance into other events held in the casino the same day with a ticket stubb.

2. Taking it outside: Outdoor activities are my favorite forms of cheap entertainment. Going for a walk, bike ride, or on a hike are usually free. Summers in Las Vegas cramp this a bit, but with Mt. Charleston just a few bucks of gas away with it's cooler tempatures and hiking trails, we don't have to go far to enjoy the great outdoors. I'm even a fan for camping in the backyard or taking the projection screen and some sheets outside for your own night out without having to leave the house.

3. Coupons: Jeff and I are turning into expert coupon hunters. I usually save an average of $20 on a $100-130 grocery bill. I also only go shoping every other week instead of making weekly shoping trips, going to the grocery store less often usually saves money. Jeff searches our mail for coupons and I belong to a couple websites such as Shortcuts.com to get the best coupons.

Our younger siblings roped us into buying these coupon books from them for some school activity or something as well. We were able to recoup their cost within the first month or so with the coupons we used at grocery stores and the movies. Plus it makes date nights easier- "Where should we go?" Just look in the coupon book and pick what looks fun or tasty. (Yes, we actually do this, we are sad I know).

4. Two for One: When you start looking around it's amazing how many places offer specials with buy one get one free, which is great when your family is made up of only 2. House of Blues lets you sign up to get their Two For Tuesday deals, where you can purchase two tickets for selected upcoming events for the price of one ticket every Tuesday. And when we're feeling like a frozen treat we just hit up Dairy Queen off Eastern on Tuesdays for thier buy one peanut buster parfa get one free.

5. Cutting the Excess: We have been continually working on cutting back. We may take some services off of our cable or phones bills only to come back a few months later to reasses. Once we've lived a few months without such and such a service we see what else can we easily live without. In the last year I bet we've cut our monthly bills by a couple hundred dollars. It is actually nice to just get back to the basics. It is amazing how much extra stuff and services are included with everything. We also are reassing what we bring home. I have to admit, I use to use mindless shoping as a way to blow off steam, but now before every purchase we think - how often are we really going to use this? In a year is this something we still will want? This also helps cut back on the junk and clutter around the house.

These are probably the top five things we do to cut back on expenses. They are really pretty painless too. I haven't noticed too big of a diffence in our quality of life over the last few years. Of course, nothing can replace good budgeting, which we are constantly working on. If any one knows of good websites or tricks for saving please do share. We are always on the look out to save a quick buck or two.