Yesterday, I announced the winner of the Money Wi$e contest. It was a totally random contest so I didn’t get to play favorites with the answers. I had asked participants to leave a comment on the blog and share their best money saving tips (for our current eh hem, challenging economic situation). There were so many great money saving tips that I had to share a couple of my favorites…
Denette: Budgeting and money management has been a topic on my mind a lot lately and was so excited to see your post about it!! Here are a few tips that have really helped me:
1 – I will echo a few others here and suggest making your own meals including lunch for work. When my husband was in grad school we went 9 months without eating out! This was difficult in the beginning with our “date nights” but once a week I made a special dinner and ate by candlelight. It was really fun to try new cooking techniques and it was quite romantic to boot! Taking the time to develop my skills in cooking/baking not only helped my family during a financial crunch time, I also have these skills that I can teach to my children to help prepare them for the future and help them become more self-sufficient!
2 – Pay yourself first! When pay day rolls around, we take 10% of our net pay and split it into 2 different savings accounts. Two-thirds of that amount goes into one savings account that we don’t dip into unless it is an emergency or until we have enough saved up for our large purchase we are saving up for (right now that would be a down payment on a house!), and one-third of the amount goes into a second savings account that we use for unexpected or less often purchases like car repairs. Most people don’t need to split them up, but this helps us out because we can see the progress we are making on saving up for our home while we still have money set aside that we can use for other purchases.
3 – Save your change! It is a rare occasion that I pay in cash, so I am talking about saving your change from your debit card/checking account. Now, some banks will do this for you, but mine doesn’t so I keep track of it on my own. I have actually been doing this for about 10 years now and it is crazy how fast it all adds up! What I do is I document in my checkbook registry the purchase I made and then in the balance column I put down the amount I spent rounded up to the nearest dollar and then I write down the difference in the deposit column. I write my whole registry in pen and the change in pencil so I can keep it strait. For example: I just paid my cell phone bill which was $56.45, so in the balance column I deduct $57.00 from my balance and I added 55 cents to my running total of change! Over the past month I have saved up almost $17 just in change! Every six months we take the saved up change and make an extra payment towards our debt. If you don’t have any debt you could use that change to treat yourself to something nice like a vacation or extra holiday/birthday money! My parents have been doing this for years and have used this money to build a new deck, take a trip to Europe, and just recently bought two new wave runners!
Financial freedom has really been on my mind a lot lately and I loved reading all the fantastic advice and comments, a few of which I will be implementing into my routine so thanks everyone!
Donna Maria Coles Johnson: Use coupons and cash.
Coupons. Contrary to popular belief, there are coupons out there for healthful food items. You just have to keep an eye out for them. Sometimes, grocers have coupon stickers on items that offer discounts on the spot. For example, yesterday, I purchased two quarts of Organic Valley Farms milk. Each container had a .75¢ coupon stuck to it. The regular price of each was $2.50. Since it was triple coupon weekend at the store, I paid 50¢ for $5.00 worth of organic milk! That’s $4.50 more in my pocket, without even trying — just being on the lookout for the bargain. As you shop, keep an eye out for opportunities to use coupons. If you’re more industrious, clip them in the Sunday paper and in inserts that come in the mail. By clipping coupons, I save hundreds of dollars a year!
Cash. Another tip is to use cash for non-business purchases. Forget using credit cards — we ditched ours years ago and are debt free, except for the mortgage. (No car payments either.)
When I say use cash, I don’t mean a debit card either. I mean green dollar bills. You’ll be amazed at how many more of them you will hold onto if they actually have to slip through your fingers with each purchase. It’s easy to swipe a card, and when we do, it doesn’t feel like we are spending that much, when we really are. But when you have to actually count out the dollar bills, you’ll think twice before putting them in someone else’s hands!
I withdraw a certain amount of money from our checking account each Sunday or Monday. I use it for all of that week’s home-related purchases — food, toiletries, personal items, clothing — everything except home repairs and maintenance. I always take out less than I think I’ll need to really challenge myself. I am rarely out of cash at the end of the week, and I have not even touched the ATM. I hold onto a lot of money this way.
There are only 4 things you can do with money: spend it, save it, invest it or donate it. Because I spend with coupons and cash, I have more left to save, invest and donate!!
Thanks for the opportunity to share, and I hope these tips are helpful. dM