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Savings are a family affair Add to ...

2. Pass by trendy pet stores. The adorable displays of toys and gourmet foods come with a hefty price tag. Shop for food, toys and accessories at big-box stores or discount stores to save big. If you love the look of glamorous accessories, make them yourself. You’d be amazed what you can create with a few rhinestones and fabric paint. Try your hand at sewing your own pet bed.

3. Baking soda means no odor. For years, I’ve sprinkled some in my cats’ litter box every time I change their litter, and it helps greatly. It naturally helps to overcome odor issues, without a fake flowery scent trying to mask it. Also use baking soda to sprinkle on the carpets if you have a little eau de pet scent going on in your home. Sprinkle it on, let it sit for fifteen minutes and then vacuum the baking soda and smells away.) Baking soda is way cheaper than any specialty pet odor control product.

4. Vinegar for flea control. Even though it sounds unlikely, pouring a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in your dog’s water dish will help to naturally repel fleas. You can also combine one part apple cider vinegar to one part water and use as a natural flea repellent spray on your dog’s fur.

5. Dog and cat shampoo - baking soda! Again, the good old box of white stuff comes in incredibly handy. Take a handful and scrub it through your pet’s fur (which has already been wet with water). Give them a scrub, and then rinse thoroughly. After they’ve dried, give them a good brushing for a gorgeous coat worthy of many medals. The baking soda will also help remove any lingering “wet dog” odors.

6. Selecting a vet. Obviously, you want a veterinarian who is compassionate and kind, but you’ll also want to compare fees and costs because these can vary greatly. Ask your friends who they take their pets to for a good referral. If there’s a veterinary university near your home, check into taking your pet there for excellent treatment.

7. Prevent accidents before they happen. Especially if you have kittens or puppies in the house, you’ll want to look at the house as if a baby were crawling around. Common household products, cleaners or even innocent plants can cause your pet harm. Do your research and prevent an unnecessary vet visit and pain and suffering for your pet. Keep your cats indoors and keep your dogs on a leash or fenced in so they can’t run into traffic.

8. Get pet’s meds online. Routine medications like flea treatments and heartworm pills cost far less if you order them online. Remember that generic medications are the same as their costlier brand-name counterparts, so don’t feel guilty about purchasing them.

9. Groom at home. Simple grooming tasks such as baths, brushing and clipping claws are easily performed at home. But be careful when you clip your pets’ claws. If you mistakenly cut into the quick of the nails, it will cause them a lot of pain.

10. That’s a lotta litter. Buy bulk boxes of low-dust cat litter for less at big-box stores. Instead of purchasing scented varieties (which can aggravate and irritate your cats’ lungs), sprinkle in some baking soda every time you change the litter.

Each member contributes a vital part to your family’s dynamics and energy. Their assistance and enthusiasm for your new frugal lifestyle, will give you the encouragement you need to keep on track, too.

Spending challenge

1. The family that spends (time) together saves together. Make a list of fun activities that everyone in the family will enjoy that are either free or very low cost. Whoever comes up with the most imaginative ideas should win a no-cost prize such as getting to decide which movie the family will watch or receiving a “freedom pass” from chores for a day.

2. Feed another family. Saving allows you the freedom to help others. When there are good sales at the supermarket (especially when matched with a coupon), get a few items to take to the local food bank. It’s an invaluable real-life lesson for children and adults alike. Your careful spending will give you a little extra cash that you can use to benefit other people beyond your family.

3. One month of reduced pet spending. For one month, cut back on non-essential pets’ expenses. (Nothing vital like vet visits, please; we want our furry friends kept healthy.) Some ways you can chop spending include grooming your pet yourself or making homemade treats instead of the gourmet ones you usually buy. Keep track of how much you saved.

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