Robbing Peter to save Paul. That is a phrase I heard frequently and have even caught myself saying. How many times have you delayed one bill, to pay another? Have you pulled from this savings to pay for that item, or credit bill? How does it happen? How do we rack up more than we can afford or better yet, how can we fix it? Here are some money saving tips to help you get started.
DISCLOSURE: I am a work from home mom of 2, wife of 1. I am not a financial expert. However, my financial adviser did recommend that we have 6 months of bills in our savings for emergency. Unfortunately we had an emergency last year and used the bulk of our savings (thankful it was there). Now we are rebuilding. Do I use some/a lot of these tips? Yes? Will they work for everyone? No. These are helpful ideas. Implement what can work for you.
Need VS Want
Before you can start to really save, you need to prioritize. You NEED to drink and eat but you WANT soda (or wine) and steak. Water is FREE and it is better for you. Our family stopped purchasing the drink mixes and started freshly brewing iced tea. We did this for the health aspect but turns out we saved a couple bucks each week on drinks. Take a step back and figure out what is most important.
Make a Budget
I absolutely HATE this one but I do it. Wait, I don't hate making the budget, I hate following the budget. I am sure there are many of you that are more tech savvy that I and can probably find a great app, or some kind of tracker on the computer, but I must say that my notebook works just fine for my budget. I write down all of my bills, due dates and I highlight them when they are paid. I keep a running total of my debt at the bottom of each month so that I can see it going down. Everything starts with a plan. If you make a plan and stick with it, you can accomplish your goal.
- What is your goal? What are you going to do with the money you save?
- Write out what your monthly output is, your definite bills. Write your minimum payment.
Make Some Phone Calls
Devote one day to making phone calls. Call EVERY biller and see if they have a better rate for you. Sometime all you need to do is ask. Ask your cell phone provider if they have any specials. Ask your credit card company if they can lower your interest rate. Just don't be afraid to ask. This simple action can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
Here's the catch. If you do end up saving money, DON"T SPEND IT! For example, if you save $10.00 a month on your cell phone bill, take that $10.00 and put it in a jar or your saving account. Want to really see what you save, open a new savings account just for your extra savings!
Check with your insurance companies, AAA, really anything that requires a yearly renewal. Many times, it you have your yearly payment broken into months or quarters, they tack on some extra money. If you are fortunate enough to get a tax return, think of paying those yearly bills all at once use some of your return.
Make Your Own Stuff
That's right. If you are able and have the patience, start making things from scratch. I'm talking laundry soap and cleaning supplies. Are you good with a sewing machine? Upcycle old clothes. Check out www.NewDressADay.com. This girl is amazing at making new, cute clothes out of yard sale finds.
I can write a whole post on saving while shopping (and I probably will so stay tuned). There are a ton of ways to save.
- Cut Coupons. You don't have to be a crazy coupon lady (gosh, i so wish I was!) but start looking through your circular. Even if you save $1.00, or $5.00, it's still more that you would have had without the coupons. Again, challenge yourself to pocket that extra coupon money and pop it in the savings!
- Buy in Bulk. Did you know that Amazon has bulk grocery items AND you don't have to pay a warehouse yearly fee? Yep. But here is the problem with bulk. Only buy it IF YOU WILL USE IT AND NEED IT. Sometimes we get caught up with a sale and think we are saving but really we aren't. "Wow! Cat food is on sale 3 for $1.00. I'm going to buy it all! But I don't have a cat." I mean, if you can turn around a resell it for a small profit, do it. But don't do it if it's going to sit in your basement until it expires.
- FREECYCLE. Freecycle is a free website that some smarty pants came up with to keep usable items out of landfills. You create a profile and list the items you are giving away or items that you are looking for. Unlike Craigslist, it's FREE. People are great. I've picked up board games and used books for my classroom. Free. There was a stipulation....Pick it up by 5pm tomorrow, or it goes out with the trash. Did I mention it's free?
- Research Everything. Before you make a purchase, especially a big one, do your research. Yes, it's time consuming but it can save you a LOT of money. Honestly, there are so many blogs and websites out there that do the comparing for you, it probably won't take you as long as you think.
- Plan Your Meals. You will spend less money at the grocery store if you plan out your meals. Set aside one day a month to plan put the entire month and make your grocery list. I challenge you to only shop once a month. Yes, you may need to stop for milk and eggs before that month is over, but don't stray! Only get what you go in for (and use those coupons).
Save Money At Home:
Take care of your house. Yes, you may have to shell out a few bucks to get the weather proofing material, but you will make up for it by what you will save on your utilities.
- Unplug stuff. Those vampire electronics will continue to suck your electricity even if it isn't turned on.
- Turn your heat down in the winter and air down in the summer. It cracks me up when I see my husband with a blanket on during the summer. If it's cold enough on a summer night for you to need a blanket while watching TV, your air is on to high. The same goes for walking around in a tank top and shorts in the middle of winter.
- Line Dry. Instead of turning on the the dryer, hang up your clothes. This is a tough one for us. We have pretty bad allergies so we can't line dry outside (pollen) and our basement is to damp to line dry inside. But hey! It works for some.
- Get rid of cable. We are already paying an arm and leg for internet service, so we try to utilize the internet as much as possible. My brother has completely given up on cable and uses Netflix, HuluPlus and AppleTV. Unfortunately, my husband WILL NOT GIVE UP HIS LOCAL SPORTS. We do save money by only having cable on one TV. The other TV (yes, we only have 2...on purpose) has the AppleTV.
- Solar Panels. I KNOW!, Before you exit out because you think I'm crazy, hear me out. Solar panels are pricey upfront but if you have the money to do it, it takes about 5-10 years to make back your investment. Everything after that will be profit/savings. If you plan on staying in your home for a few decades, it's a great investment (and great for the environment)
- Garden. Self explanatory. Grow your own food and save money. You don't need to feed the neighborhood, just enough that you will use, or freeze or can.
Gift Cards/Reward Cards
Giftcards can help you save a pretty penny on gasoline. If you have to head to Home Depot for a new stove, why not stop at the local grocery store and pick up some gift cards first. Don't throw money in that birthday card, get a gift card. Now you can earn free gas. Want to take it one step further? Pay for those gift cards with a rewards credit card. We use Venture Capital One. It is a free air miles card BUT it's for more than just air miles. You can erase purchases with your miles.
Rent your books and music instead of buying it. Again, self explanatory.
Yep. Try a good ol fashion change jar. This too can be a little tough because so many of us don't use cash. When you do, take the change and toss it in a jar. Make sure your jar makes it REALLY difficult to take money out whenever you feel like it. We have a vacation jar. For one year, we throw lose change or "extra" bills inside. Last year, we emptied it the week before Disney and had over $300.00 inside.
Another way to save is the $5.00 rule. When you have a $5.00 bill in your pocket, pull it out and put it in the jar. With direct sales, I tend to have a lot of cash after a party or an event. I always pull a $5.00 bill if I have one and I also throw in my odd dollar amount. For example. If I come home from an event with $237.00, I toss the $7.00 in the jar.
Workout at home.
Don't pay the gym fees. Use the internet, DVDs, the library, etc, to keep you on the move.
Get a part time job
This is exactly why I started selling Pink Zebra. I was in it to make a few extra hundred a month. We make 25% on sales and an average party is $400.00 ($100.00 in my pocket) This was a HUGE help in paying off credit cards, going on vacation and building our saving. I was lucky enough to see the opportunity and take hold. Now it's my full time job. The point is, if you really want to pay something off, or save, think about a part time gig. Love a certain store? Try getting a part time job there earning money and a discount on product. Cut grass, walk dogs, clean houses. Think of what you are good at and how you could earn some buck by doing it. As always, if you want to information on how to take advantage of the Pink Zebra opportunity, (ground floor, consumable, unique in the industry), let me know.
There are may ways to save money and even more websites to help you do so. Take a few minutes out of your day to do some research. Think of what you would do with an extra $100.00 a month.