At a time in life when most of us are more conscious of our financial situation than ever before, opportunities to increase our salaries, find higher-paying jobs or move to a new, less expensive city may not be as easy as they may have been in the past.
Taking on additional work projects or a part-time job brings on more stress and often not much additional money for the cost of time and energy. It also draws us away from other priorities. Learning to save money is as good as making money. It's probably easier and more enjoyable too.
Over the past year I been much more conscious of saving money. I've started looking through coupon mailer packs, grocery advertisements and using and sharing them. If we have coupons for restaurants we'll visit those over others. I make the effort to buy discount movie passes from the HR department at work. We take advantage of free activities around town and spots we can enjoy outside for free. We buy season passes to popular family spots where we can go again and again for one small fee
We ride our bikes to church, to the beach and do what we can to save on parking fees that are charged to park in many areas of my city. I am trying to make more organized car trips so that I save on gas and time.
I learned several years ago that if I don't go to stores unnecessarily I don't spend money shopping. I try to plan for what I need and make trips specific to my needs. No longer do I visit all my favorite stores on the weekend as entertainment. Each season I look at my favorite retailers online and chose a couple of items that I know I need to upgrade and update my wardrobe. Then I get a few inexpensive new accessories to spice things up. I will wait to make big purchases for week's when my favorite retailers have 20% sales. I save a lot of money that way. I am more proud of myself for keeping a very simple closet than having tons of clothes.
And I've returned to thrift shopping. It is amazing what you can find when you are patient. I've purchased some darling kids clothes, as well as name brand items for me this year. The mens' section may be the best of all, full of great basics for men: t-shirts, button downs, pants, jackets, suits and shoes. If you need home accessories, frames, lamp shades, baskets, storage or organization items, they can always be found at a thrift store.
Mariah, our Friday guest blogger, has saved thousands of dollars buying groceries with coupons, buying pre-owned furniture and large toys for her children and taking part in kid's consignment sales. This has allowed her to stay at home creating a warm and comfortable home for her family. Stephmodo, on of my favorite blogs, shares a lot of great ideas to save money managing a household.
Finding ways to pay less for things you know you are going to buy anyway, is another great way to save money. Sales tax is outrageously high in the city where I live. But I often visit friends and family in nearby cities. I can purchase big ticket items elsewhere and save money. I did the math on what I would save going to my former hairstylist in the city where I visit my parents four times a year compared to what I pay in the big city I live in. I would save $800 a year! That would pay for my trips there, which I am going to make anyway, plus pay for my hair.
Have you shopped out car insurance, home insurance and other services you purchase each year? Saving big money on these purchases can add up quickly. Taking advantage of your employer's flexible spending plan can save lots of money by taking money from one's paycheck pre-taxed to pay for medical and dental expenses throughout the year. Kill you gym membership and start working out alone or with your kids outside in a park, buy a used baby jogger, get up and workout before the day starts for your household, meet up with friends and make it a group activity.
Buying used appliances from places like craigslist rather than feeling you must have the top of the line, newest appliances can save a family big money. There are always people moving who have fairly new washers, dryers, refrigerators and freezers they need to quickly sell. You can also save big money buying used kid's furniture, bicycles, skis and other sports equipment from families who no longer need them.
Another great way to save money is to create trades for things you need. If you can find someone you can trade services or products with, be it trading babysitting, massages, graphic design work, or piano lessons with, you save dollars and get what you need at the same time. You can definitely find web sites that will match you up with people looking to trade and even people giving things away for free.
With some wise money savings you can have more money to pay off debts, to pay your monthly expenses and even raise your standard of living. Maybe you CAN get new bedding, maybe you CAN afford that vacation you've dreamed about, maybe you CAN afford to be a one-income family. It's amazing how many places you can save money with some extra thought and care. Saving money is a great way to reduce stress and improve your daily life. It requires very little sacrifice and the payoffs are BIG!