It’s a lot easier to say we’re going to cut corners than it is to actually do it. But if life takes a temporary downturn, it might be necessary to make a few minor tweaks to the budget.

Although I’m not a proponent for any specific grocery store, product, or service, I am known for being able to shop like a penny-pincher and still eat like a queen. So with that, I’m going to share a few little tips and tricks to help you along the path of “Oh hey, I don’t need to search the couch cushions for change anymore!”

  • Try shopping at places like Aldi or Fresh Thyme during “off” hours (not right after work or on the weekends). Alternative grocery stories are often less expensive than many of the larger grocery stores as well as the big-box stores that have a grocery section.
  • If you’re a meat eater, Aldi has their meat sales on Wednesdays. Get there early because the product tends to fly out of the meat cooler!
  • Plan your meals a few weeks in advance. It’s easier to save money if you have a general plan on what you will eat for meals and snacks. Purchase certain items in bulk to save money overall.
  • Buy your produce each week. Sadly, freshness doesn’t last forever! You will save money by not having to throw out food that has spoiled and you and your family can always have the taste of summer in your fridge!
  • If your fruits, veggies, meats, or cheeses can’t be eaten within a reasonable time, freeze them so they won’t spoil. Then when you have time, make something delicious like smoothies, soups, or chili with the frozen goodies.
  • If it’s winter, turn the thermostat down a degree or two. If it’s summer, turn it up a degree or two. You will save some meaningful “ka-ching!” by simply adding a warmer layer of clothing when it’s chilly outside or dressing lighter in the house when it’s warm outside.
  • Don’t bask in the shower. I know it’s easy to just relax under the stream of warm water in the morning, but set a timer and enjoy your long shower R & R moments (or the “I’m hiding from the kids for a mommy break”) in moderation. Your skin won’t dry out as quickly and you water bill will be lower.
  • Shop at consignment or thrift stores. Shopping the right consignment and thrift shops–for instance, in the more affluent areas of the metro–will help you find the right look at the right price. You’ll even find designer labels at desirable prices. Pro tip: find out when they have their sales and you’ll save even more!
  • Plan your short trips. Save money on gas by grouping your errands together. You will find that not only will you save money on fuel and vehicle wear and tear, but you will also bag yourself a little extra free time, too!
  • Instead of going out to eat once a week, make a family meal together and make it a fun event! Ideas: Eating dessert first, having breakfast for supper, making a living room picnic, having a burgers and movie night, etc.

While saving a few pennies at the grocery store each week may not seem like a lot, it all adds up. And in the long run, wouldn’t you rather have more time and more money than you would from searching between the couch cushions, anyway?