We've been doing some small things the past few months, that I hope are at least helping our budget a little bit. It always feels like just when I get a savings in one area of our budget another area increases.
Ice cream: Throughout summer and into September DH got into a very bad Dairy Queen Peanut Buster Parfait habit. Like a couple of times a week, in the evening he's say "is it DQ night?" and of course who can say no to soft ice cream? It isn't often that I can! So, off DD and I would go to pick some up. And many times we'd get something for ourselves too....usually a small hot fudge sundae for me and a blizzard for DD...and I'd be about $10-12 poorer (sometimes I'd have a coupon or they'd have a special). Looking back on Mint.com I see that July was $36.52, August was $48.42, and September was $41.51. All just for ice cream! September I didn't even have it very often, as I was also seeing my waistline increasing. DH was having it like 3 times a week by then.
So, a few weeks ago, I bought a cheap carton of vanilla ice cream and some root beer. I have been buying it regularly since and we have not had an expensive soft ice cream from DQ. The 1/2 gallon of ice cream (thought I don't think it's a half gallon size anymore, looks smaller) and 2 liter of root beer costs less than $3. That's less than one peanut buster parfait. And it makes about 9 root beer floats.
Pizza: I don't know the stats for sure, but over the years we probably have pizza at least once a month, probably more like every 3 weeks. It was usually pizza delivered and occasionally we'd go out to eat at the local pizza place, which also added DH and DD getting salad bar. While sitting there eating one night we saw someone at the salad bar with a take out box filling up their box. I asked one of the staff and found out you could come in and get salad bar to go! That was really the only reason we'd go out and eat pizza vs. delivery - DH wanted their good salad bar.
About the same time this happened, I had come across a recipe in a magazine ad for homemade pizza, which I had probably made once in my life years ago, with not much success. This looked so yummy in the picture and so easy, since the dough was made from frozen dinner rolls. The pizza was a smashing hit with everyone in my family. Everyone likes it better than our favorite delivery pizza. So, I invested in a $5 pizza pan from Target, I already had a pizza cutter, and have been making homemade pizza ever since. Usually every 2 weeks, because we like it so much. After I get the pizza made and ready for the oven, DD and I run over to the pizza restaurant and get two salad bars to go. Cost for those $15. Cost for the home made pizza: under $5. Plus we always eat all the leftovers for lunch the next day or two. Sometimes we don't go get salad bars to go and sometimes we just get one for DH only. When we used to all go eat at the pizza place and get 2 salad bars it was usually about $40 for the bill. Delivery pizza usually ended up being $22 with tip. So, instead of spending $40 eating pizza out or $20+ dollars eating take out we eat a delicious $5 pizza, with an occasional $7-15 spent for take out salad. I have tried to duplicate their salads, but DH is so picky. It's mostly their salad dressing he likes, but even when I got some extra to bring home in little cups and put it on a salad I made a few days later, he didn't like it much.
Parakeets: I read somewhere to just use paper towels for the bottom lining of their bird cage. So, instead of the expensive bird cage liner paper, now when I clean their cage out, I just grab 2 sheets off the roll and put that down in their cage. Cheap!