Ahhh, the great American dream to have a nice home, car, vacations every year, and a peaceful, happy life. And, yes, having all or even some of those things are great but often come with a stiff price. Budgets can be stretched to the max, bills can pile up, and your nerves can unravel with the slightest extra expense. Because of this type of lifestyle many of us live, it’s imperative to be frugal and watch the cash flow, as not to get into a financial bind. Here are some of my best tips for saving money all year long.
Saving Money All Year Long #1: At the Holidays
I say it every year…”Kellie, you’re going to start holiday shopping early, so you don’t have such an expense at once. Bah Humbug!!!! It never happens!!!! That is until I challenged myself to buy at least one gift per month. Oh, yeah, and I get a reward for meeting my goals! So, I buy one gift and I get a little something for myself…yeah, I love the incentive.
So, here’s my plan…
I am a huge thrift store and online bargain shopper. I realized that the things you need and want to buy may not always be on sale or available when you want them. Finding deals and unique gifts is a passion of mine that is rooted in my DNA. I was raised on garage sales. To look for such items, I comb the thrift stores and online shops at least once a month with a person in mind I want to buy for. And, there is always something to buy, whether it’s Sello’s deal of the day or a steal at the local Goodwill. This goes on for the entire year. Oh, yeah, I have to have a designated gift storage area or I would forget where I put my treasures. It’s happened on occasion… This plan has helped save me hundreds of dollars at the holidays, especially on stocking stuffers.
Saving Money All Year Long #2: Have a Friends and Family Goods Exchange
Ok, so this is a really fun way to save some cash and have some bonding time with your friends and family. This exchange of goods is sort of like a garage sale, but you don’t spend your cash. You actually spend your stuff. Yes, a good old-fashioned bartering event! This can take place in the home, so it’s super convenient and inexpensive to set up. I like to rotate the homes of my friends, that way everyone has a chance to host.
Everyone brings there used clothing, accessories, kitchen stuff, and anything else they want to part with. You assign each item points or a color. Of course, this is a system to give some semblance of price to keep things fair. Basically, everyone just shops for what they want and trades what they have for those items. If you want something that another person has, but they don’t want anything of yours, you can always revert to cash. Oh, and don’t forget the wine and snacks!
Saving Money All Year Long #3: Have a Family Meeting about Saving Energy
Do your kids constantly leave lights on and doors open? Well, mine do…even the big ones. Right, no one is perfect, I get it. That said, we all could use a refresher on saving energy costs. Set up a time to go over some of the basics about cutting down on heating/cooling, turning off things that aren’t in use, and even cutting back on TV and electronics usage. You decide what your family needs to do and teach them how to do it. Give incentives for adhering to the plan. Like, if you lower your bills by X amount of dollars a month, take the family out for pizza. Be creative and have fun with it.
Saving Money All Year Long #4: Plan Your Meals
One of the main reasons that the food budget goes south is that there is not a meal plan in place. Going to the grocery without a list or a plan is a shaky bridge to walk on. And, it’s even worse if you have the kids with you, who, inevitably, will want everything in sight. If you have a plan, you can say “no” more easily. Not to mention, you will more likely stick to healthful eating. Not having a meal plan each week can lead to over-spending and eating out way more. I have several three-week plans that I rotate to make things easier. Each week also has a handy grocery list attached that speeds up shopping/