One of my goals for this year was to save more money, see this post here for the rest of my goals! I know I'm not the only one with this same goal; so today I've decided to share five ways that I've learned to save more money. I've been doing these for a long while and they seem to work, so this year my goal is to continue these and save even more. I wouldn't call myself an expert in this area, although somehow I was nominated for class treasurer in high school and college. I'm still not sure why or how. Maybe I give off the vibe that I'm a cheap skate. P.S. I'm not. Much to my husband's dismay, I do check our bank account everyday. If you don't do this, well do it, that way you always know where you are. That was tip number six. You're very welcome.
Here's another five ways to save more money this year:
1) Plan your meals for the week- Some of you are probably thinking this is only for type A personalities. Well, I'm here to tell you you're wrong. I can definitely be type A about certain things, but this, this is just another way to make it easier on yourself during the week and save money. Every Sunday I make a grocery list and plan out dinner for every day that week, if plans come up a certain night then I just save that meal for a weekend night or the next week, no biggie. I don't plan each lunch meal for us, but I do include lunch and snack items on the list too such as bread, lunch meat, lettuce, tuna, kale, or whatever it is we want. This is ensures we have food for lunch every day and we aren't running to Chik-fil-a every day, even though I wouldn't be against it. We spend about $100 at the grocery store each week, this includes household/cleaning items/cat food as well as, lunch, breakfast and dinner. If you don't have a plan or food on hand, you'll end up doing what's easiest and eating out, which is a) more expensive and b) not as good for you.Trust me that it's more expensive! The first month we were married all we did was eat out because I didn't know what I was doing and at the end of the month, when I calculated what we had spent on eating out, it made me physically ill! This works for us mostly because we're never stressed about what we're going to eat that night. Once I get hungry and I have nothing to eat and I have no clue what I want to eat, that's when things get ugly. Me + hungry = your worst nightmare.
2) Pay yourself first- This was some of the best advice my parent's gave me concerning money. My mom's a CPA and my dad's a business owner so I'm sure there's a lot more interesting and important things they've told me, but some reason this one stuck and it's been the biggest help. I have a set amount of money transferred from our checking to our savings account each week. This ensures that we're saving some money, no matter what. If you're saying right now, "I don't have enough money to save any." Eh, you're probably wrong. If you have money to eat out or buy a new top then you can definitely save every week. Sorry guys I'm always right, don't you know that? But seriously, paying yourself first will be the best thing you've ever done. Then if you have extra funds that month you can manually transfer more and save even more money. Think about this, if you transfer just $75 each week for a whole year, at the end of the year you would have saved right at $4,000. That's not including anything extra you've saved. A good rule of thumb is to automatically save at least 10% of what you make each week. For us it looks different because our income changes each month, so I keep a set amount and save extra when we can. Paying yourself should be the first bill to be paid!
3) Create a budget and stick to it- This is an obvious one and you knew it was coming. Again, for us, we know what we need to pay all the bills each month, but our budget isn't as concrete because our income changes every month. Now if your income doesn't change that much, then sticking to a budget will be really helpful. This way you know exactly what you need for bills and other necessary things and exactly the amount you can save. The key to a budget is...actually sticking to it. And if unexpected things come up that's what your savings or emergency fund is for. Set yourself up for success people!
4) Only buy it if you love it- Most people would probably say, "shop the sales, shop the sales only!" While sales are great and I love finding something I've been stalking on sale, sometimes more money can be wasted on sales then not. Here's what I mean: Many people tend to buy everything on sale, just because it's on sale, not because they really love it, need it, or even like it. I'm guilty of this before too. What I've learned is that I'd rather spend $75 on a top that I absolutely love and will get a lot of use out of, then pay $20 for a top that's on sale that I kind of think is cute. Get my drift here? You end up spending more on things you'll never use or that you'll get rid of in three months. In my opinion, it's a waste. This rule can apply to furniture, decor, but mostly I think of it in terms of clothing. Now if you find a pair of jeans you can't live without and they're on sale, well...if you have the money in your budget, buy it. Which leads me to another great point-don't buy anything on a credit card that you couldn't pay cash for right then. If you don't have the money then, you don't need it. All this does is add up debt that you'll never be able to pay off. From my personal opinion and experience, besides basic needs and bills, paying off debt is the first priority. Debt will only accumulate interest, plus you'll always be playing catch up. Once you pay it off a burden will be lifted. Trust me, friends.
5) Use coupons, rewards, and resources- This tip is a bit all encompassing. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I used to think that only poor people used coupons. I have no idea where I got this mentality from, but it's what I thought for a long while. Then I realized that coupons really do save money! Now, I'm not an extreme coupon user by no means at all. I don't compare prices and go to different stores to get different things or keep a binder or anything (there's nothing wrong with these things it's just not my personality). I tried it once and I just ended up seeing many coupons for the same item then somehow convincing myself that I needed it, which I didn't. To me, it was more wasteful to buy it (even on sale) and then never use it. Also, I found it more stressful and more time consuming and we know I'm all about easy over here. However, I do use coupons I receive in the mail and before I go to the store I upload coupons digitally onto my grocery store card. I love seeing the total drop $20 and I always see how much I can save. This brings me to a few other points and then I'll promise I'll shut up. Buy generic or off brand items if you can. I'm a diva about this sometimes, and that's okay, but in general if the name brand is cheaper and I could care less, then I'll get it. I always buy name brand ketchup, toothpaste, laundry detergent, cereal, and toilet paper, it's my thing and it's perfectly fine. I don't think my husband will ever buy anything but Cottonelle toilet paper again. He's seen my wrath.
Sign up for rewards programs. It's that simple. We get gas rewards for every dollar we spend in groceries and each month we save 30 cents a gallon. This is huge people. Use the programs offered to you, they're worth it. We also buy milk in glass jugs, for the same price, and for every jug we return to the store we get $2 cash back. For two jugs returned I can get a tall white chocolate mocha from Starbucks, I mean...HELLO.
And lastly, a few more tips for the road. Brew your morning coffee at home, cut your cable off, and save all your change.
With all this said, let me end with this. These are all great and useful ways to save money and they're all very effective. However, don't get so obsessed that you never get to experience life. Some things are worth spending on. I mean, I go to Starbucks and spend $5 on a coffee at least once a week (see above), but it used to be like everyday. I splurge, we all splurge. Just keep things organized and every thing in moderation.
Thanks for letting me share- now, let's get to saving!