As we approach the start of a new year now seems like a good time to make a plan to adjust the things we didn’t feel worked that great this past year, like maybe how we spent our money. I am super guilty of just blowing money for no good reason and it gets me in trouble. I’m tired of that. Don’t get me wrong, there are already quite a few things that Josh and I do that help, but there’s still room for improvement. Here are a few of my suggestions and a few things I’ll be doing different in 2015.
Things you probably should do:
- Take your lunch to work as often as possible. You’ll eat healthier (so they say) and the savings on this really do add up. We also take our beverages to work as well.
- Along those lines, we keep bottled water around (that we buy in bulk at a wholesale club) but we don’t drink it on a real regular basis. There’s a filter on the water tap in the fridge door that we use to fill our cups and reusable bottles. Less expensive and fewer plastic bottles needing to be recycled.
- Speaking of wholesale clubs, if there’s one in your area you might want to consider getting a membership. We have both Sam’s Club and Costco here and we belong to both. You really can get good deals on things there, provided you’re able to store it. Two of the biggest reasons we belong are toilet paper and milk.
- If grocery stores in your area send out ads, check through them before you go shopping. We plan our menu for the week (see yesterday’s post for my swanky and cheaply assembled menu board) based around what we already have in the house, what’s on sale at the stores, and what we have coupons for.
- Coupons are awesome and I use them whenever possible. I also have “shopper savings” cards for a few different stores we go to regularly that take the place of carrying coupons. There are a whole host of sites and apps for smartphones where you can sign up to get access to even more coupons.
- Consider a trip to the specialty coffee shop a treat rather than an every morning necessity. You can get the ingredients at the store to make your own fancy drinks for a fraction of the cost AND you can make them in the biggest cup you’ve got rather than settling for their teeny tiny version of large.
- Don’t buy disposable things if you can avoid it. For our lunches we use the inexpensive, but still reusable, plastic containers. We also use washable plastic cups instead of disposable drink cups, including in the bathrooms.
- Don’t let a lack of planning lead you to eating out. Eating at restaurants, even fast food, is almost always more expensive than eating at home PLUS it’s usually a lot less healthy. Plan ahead, be prepared, save money.
- If you’re prone to impulse buying (oh, yeah, totally me) then just don’t go shopping. Seriously, I send Josh to the store to get things way more often than I go because he’s a hell of a lot better at sticking to the list I’ve made.
- And that brings me to another point. Make a list of what you actually need and then stick to it.
- Take a long hard look at your monthly expenses and figure out where your money really goes. I keep track of our “budget” (HA!) in an Excel spreadsheet that I added formulas to so that it adds shit up for me. I also have our paychecks plugged in and after it adds all of the expenses it figures out the difference between what goes out and what comes in. I need to get better at taking a look more often, but it does help.
- If you have a car loan, shop around and see if your regular bank or credit union can give you a better rate. The interest on the Honda loan dropped significantly when I moved it to my credit union AND they automatically deduct the payment from my account when my paycheck gets deposited.
- If there’s money in your budget to play with, start by paying off the bills that are charging interest and start with the highest interest rates first. The faster you get that stuff paid off, the more money you’ll have for other things.
- Look for ways to make things yourself that you’d otherwise have to spend a small fortune on. Case in point – Salt Scrub. My elbows are hideous and the only thing I had found to help get the dead skin off was an expensive scrub. Not wanting icky elbows but also not wanting to spend that kind of money on a totally unappreciated part of my body, I found a way to make my own very easily and totally cheap. (if anyone is interested I’m happy to share how I do it) Check Pinterest for this kind of stuff, it’s a great resource.
- Cheap is good, free is better. Re-purpose things you already have, swap stuff with a friend, look for the free e-books/music/apps.
Things I know I need to get better at:
- If you don’t need it, don’t buy it. This will include, for me, clothes, shoes, yarn, beads, other craft supplies, and Nanoblocks/Legos. I will be giving myself a $25/month allowance that I can spend on anything, so any of these type purchases will have to come out of that.
- Delayed gratification. I get so impatient when I decide I need something that it’s hard not to just spend money I don’t really have to get it right away. I need to be more patient with this whole process. Honestly, I was alive when we didn’t have Amazon and you actually had to order unusual shit from catalogs and wait for your check to get to them, clear the bank, and then for them to ship it to your house. I really can wait for things.
- I need to find ways of increasing my sales on Redbubble and see if I’ve actually set shit up right on Cafe Press. I would love a little extra income to help offset some of my debt, but I’m not willing to take on a part time job and I really don’t think opening a Etsy shop is the direction I want to go, at least not right now while I’m still in school.
I know there are other things I need to work on, there’s got to be. But my first point there seems to pretty well sum it up for me. What are your suggestions?