Let’s talk #Autism and penny pinching

Let’s talk #Autism and penny pinching

In the first of hopefully many reader requested #Autism Discussions,  here is today’s topic.

Let’s be honest,  unless you’re independently wealthy, life as a special needs family is a fine balance between paying the bills and desperately trying to meet the needs of unique needs of our children.

My family is no exception.

Over the years, we have learned ways to pinch pennies and cut corners.  These tips and tricks have become essential parts of my family’s survival.

Imagine if we all pooled our tips and tricks together. Imagine if we all share our money saving tricks or tips on how to balance your family’s finances. It could literally make all the difference in the world. When you can worry about money a little less, you can worry about your kids a little more.  🙂

So,  let’s share our money saving,  penny pinching tips. Let’s set our ideas and experience free and allow them to help others.  🙂



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 @JenniferWhynott Jennifer, I love the fact your daughter makes things with duct tape. I have an idea my aspie will be doing that one day as well. Great minds think alike!


We just found a 99 cent store that sells dry goods like bags of beans, lentils, brown rice, and also has a small refrigerated section with eggs, sausage, milk, and a small produce section. I have started buying some of our staples there (always check the expiration date!). I also get things like toothbrushes there. We are GFCFSF and more due to  food allergies, so I try to make most of our food at home and just buy GFCF bread and milk substitutes for my son, using coupons for them, or buy bulk when they go on sale. We shop at thrift stores like Goodwill and Savers for most of the kids clothes. We also go to a local farmers market that sells cheap produce, and there is a Fresh and Easy Store that I get meat and other things they are trying to clear out and marked way down. I freeze the meat so it lasts longer. So far, so good. I am also working hard to get my kids eating all types of foods so we just cook one item for everybody at meals.


 @rmagliozzi thats really cool.  I wish I had one of those stores.


 @JenniferWhynott Great advice. Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

Brenda Kosky Deskin

One of my older blogs has some tips in it that people may find helpful…
How To Save Money On Autism Therapy Supplies


Also things that I can re-use and get from the Freecycle helps a lot!


Looking through the coupons on things we buy anyways, helps a little. We also have had a Sam’s club membership that helps a lot in the long run!
BTW, our farmer’s market is more expensive than grocery store… This I think has to do with the area and main problem with limited sources of water. 


Our church offers a gift card program for the local grocery store. We charge the card with what we would spend on groceries and the store gives the church 5% for us in an account to use for church related things. We are able to send our 2 kids to summer camp with no money out of pocket. I started making my coffee at home instead of buying it at starbux and dunkin donuts. We sign up for shoe rewards programs at payless so we get 20% off coupons 4 times a yr. Coupons are pointless because I spend more money when I use them. We are fortunate to have 3 girls and then a boy so I shop for jeans and special clothes on half price saturday at the goodwill. I get jeans for like 2 bucks and pretty dresses for 4. We turn our used books into the bookstore and use the credit to buy new to us books. When the kids want new toys I shop ebay first. We started giving them an allowance based on behavior so they get checks for bad behavior and pluses for good behavior and each cost 10 cents. We add it up at the end of the week and that is what they use/save for stuff they want. My husband, God bless him, works overtime on most holidays so we can make some extra money. I was fortunate enough to find a part time job as a respite worker for a family friend. I stock up on school supplies for the whole year when they are super cheap at the begining of the school year. Our aspies gift list includes printer paper, ink, and duct tape because she makes purses and stuff and LOVES to print out her powerpoint stories. These “gifts” make her so happy. The kids do not do activities outside of school so we don’t have to pay for classes. My oldest 2 are old enough to rent instruments and do band at school. We go to the park for family fun. When out of town guests come we use that time to go out to local attractions. When we go out to eat we use kids eat free places or go during special times during the day or week to optimize deals. We partake in our utilitiy company’s special pricing plan where we use less electricity during the summer on peak hours. The house gets a little warm but we manage. We don’t have birthday parties every year for the kids, we just have a special dinner with cake and they can invite a friend over. One gift per kiddo on their birthday and a smaller budget for Christmas. We also give to charities of the kids choosing for Christmas so they can give to others at Christmas time. Finally, I try to do homeade gifts for our family at Christmas. 2 of my kids latch hook, one makes stuff out of duct tape, me and my one daughter can crochet and I hand embroider. This also gives us stuff to do for fun and keeps boredom away.


My wife and I frequently visit the Farmers Market. The fruit and vegetables we buy are all locally grown and significantly cheaper than buying them at the grocery store.

For example, we can typically get a flat of Strawberries for $5 or $6. At the grocery store we couldn’t get two little quarts or however they measure them.


1.  Learn to cook in bulk.  If your kids like chicken nuggets or need to have them specially made, learn where to buy chicken breasts cheaply, cut them into various nugget shapes, and then create whatever coating needed based on diet.  You can cook and then freeze whatever you don’t need, saving for a later date. 
2. Coupons, coupons, coupons!  If you know the managers at any local grocery stores, stop by close to closing time on a Sunday night.  You may be able to get the coupons from that day’s newspaper because they have to toss/recycle the newspapers for the next day.  I would not suggest dumpster diving or waiting until the next day because several chains have policies about removing the coupons prior to tossing.  So if you can get there before they begin that process, you can have multiple coupons to save.
3. Shop at Dollar Stores, because many of the things they carry are just as good as name brand items such as the toys and some of the toiletry items available.
4. Baby Wash vs. Soap.  Many children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder often have sensitivities to dyes, smells, etc.  Dove soap works well, but sometimes it can be expensive.  I recommend buying baby wash because most are scent and dye free, are very gentle, and can give the extra entertainment of having bubbles in the tub.
5. Never buy books unless they are activity books (coloring, puzzles, writing, math, etc.), and those you can get from Dollar Stores.  Otherwise, the library is a better option to obtain books.
6.  Clothesline vs. using a dryer.  Reduces the electric bill.  If you have to set one up indoors, place a box fan nearby to help speed up the process; it’s still cheaper on the electricity.
7. If you have a computer that runs well then you don’t need cable or satellite. Most tv programs can be found online for free or at a cheaper rate than using cable or satellite.  All you truly need is internet connection and you should be good to go.
8. Yard sales, especially for some smaller furniture items.
9. Learn how to repair things is a must!  Most home and item repairs are easy to do with a little research and effort.  It’s much cheaper to replace a washer in a leaking sink or re-caulk a toilet instead of having a repairman do it for you.  The brake line on my lawn mower broke, and I  found that I could buy a $12 cord to fix it instead of spending a lot more money on a new lawnmower.  With a little more effort I could have done it for less than $5 if I had tried. 
10.  Local churches and food banks can help in those situations where money becomes extremely tight.

Rachel Kokosenski

As a family that eats a gfcf diet, including organic produce, I’ve learned ways to save money. First, I coupon all items that I can (especially household items like toothbrushes, etc). Second, I stockpile specialty gfcf items when they go on sale. Third, I use amazon’s program, Subscribe & Save, to order gfcf items (they give u a price break and free shipping!). Fourth, I follow the Dirty Dozen, Clean Fifteen list at http://www.Ewg.org to only buy organic for the items that are considered the “most prone to contaminants.” Lastly, I am tallying up all my food receipts this year because they are tax-deductible as a medical expense since my son has been prescribed the GFCF diet by his doctor.


@Rachel Kokosenski that’s awesome. I never thought of the tax benefits as well. 🙂 Great tip.

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