Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Living on Less Part 3: Budget Tips
I've had a part ONE about mind tricks associated with spending less and part TWO that included practical tips to save more money each month and year. This is really an extensive of part two, but after over four hours of consecutive typing, I stopped for the night! There aren't too many in this post, it should be a quick read.
I encourage you to go back and read part one and two, though. They're really the meat and give you a background on my financial and familial history. If you've already read them- holla! Enjoy the last few! And if you know more, please share them- I'm always looking for ways to cut our spending!
(1) Save your change. Want to talk about a great way to save money? When it comes to "extras" (see second post about using an envelope system) always deal in cash. Instead of spending the change, take it home and save it in a jar. Always. Every time. John thought this was silly when we first got married... until I cashed the first jar in a little over 6 months later and it had $400 in it. Oh yeah. Save that change.
(2) Fridge Timer. Every time you open the fridge it's a loss. The fridge has to work hard again to cool back down. When we were moving houses as a little girl- we lived with my grandparents for a while before our next home was available. My grandpa was a nazi... you had *better* know what you were opening that fridge door for and go right after it. There was no stalling. There was no looking around. No. It terrified me as a kid, but I retained that habit and it's very smart. Open the door and shut it as quickly as possible. When baking/cooking, get everything you need out and once and put it all back in at once. The less time the door is open, the better. For everyone. Love you, Grandpa.
(3) Car A/C. Did you know that A/C in your car runs down your gas mileage? So does having the windows down. Consider that when you're blasting the A/C or tearing down the road singing, "LIFE IS A HIIGGHHWAAAY" at the top of your lungs, windows down, for all to hear. I learned that from my brother on a horrific drive home from Mackinac Island. We were almost out of gas with no exit in sight ... soo... no A/C and no windows down. It was a rough, rough 30 minutes. But we lived. Keep it reasonable, people. Gas = arm + leg.
(4) Errand plan. This is another gas related tidbit. Remember to errand plan not just your day but your whole week so that you don't have to make multiple trips out. I live in the middle of no where so getting to an actual city is a considerable gas expense. I try to only go once per week, if that. Also, when running errands- go in an orderly fashion. Darting all over the place wastes gas. Go in a circle. My mom was wild about this. If we had already gone into town once (or she had that day earlier) and I decided I wanted to go to a friend's, the answer was always no. Always. She didn't want to make two trips. Did I mention that was back when gas was .88 cents per gallon? Thanks, mom.
(5) Nothing disposable. Plates, napkins, silverware, plastic bags, diapers, all of it. My BFF uses a new line of awesome diapers that are super adorable and easy to use. Maybe I can get her to guest blog about her experience with them ;) Remember, if it's disposable it will cost you more in the long run than if you purchase items that can be reused, even if the start up is a little more money.
(6) Meal plan. Just like you should errand plan, you should meal plan. Whether it's weekly or monthly, by making a plan you can have less trips to the store as well as re-use foods to save on waste. For example, you may buy one large chicken + one round of ground beef/turkey/meat of choice and then make an entire weeks worth of meals from those two sets of meat.
(7) Consider a part-timer. Listen- I know everyone is busy. And this is much easier for people without children. But if you really need some extra cash, consider working a part time job or two nights per week. It isn't bad, I promise. John and I each have 2 part time jobs in addition to our full timers and we still spend plenty of time together in spite of it. Consider it, especially if you're saving for something big. John's latest part time job is specifically just for our fall trip to Poland (to see a near-family status friend be wed). Don't be embarrassed or think it's silly... who cares? Financial peace is worth it. And if you're worried about the impact it will have on your significant other, consider that money is the number one reason for divorce. Then decide whether or not an extra night working is going to be a bad idea!
(8) Create experiences. Instead of owning things, create experiences. I saw a study a long time ago (I'll try to post it) that showed people who spent their money on experiences rather than things were actually happier. A memory will last a lot longer than "things"... unless that thing is a pool- because I could see a summer of fun memories there... especially with this heat wave!! Honestly though, vacations, adventures, trips to zoos + museums... creating memories and having experiences is more gratifying than spending money on junk you'll throw out in a few months or years.
(9) Online shopping. Whenever you shop online, google for coupon codes, first. Always- because there almost always is one. Also, don't forget things like groupon and ebates. Ebates is a free program that gives you cash back for *every* purchase you make online from almost any site. Including even Amazon.com!
(10) Product cut back. Do you really need 3 kinds of shampoo? Or body lotion? Or hair products? Try to get combo products where you can (such as makeup which does double duty- I have one product that bronzes, can be used as eye shadow AND lip color). No matter how tempting the fragrance, don't buy a new product until you've used the old one. Use this for cleaning items, too. I want to do a post about natural DIY cleaning products this week, and one of them can be used as literal all-purpose (windows, floors AND counter tops!).
That's it! I hope you garnered a few tips from the series. Most everything is just common sense passed down from my parents, so I'm sure you have practiced a lot of these at home. I have a full week lined up, so keep checking back for more! This month we have two more series as well- a series about DIY fashion inspired by Downton Abbey AND the Natural + Organic product review. Have a fantastic day and as always, thanks for reading!