In case you missed it, you can read this post to see what this series is all about.
I’m sure a big stresser for quite a few of us is to find ways to spend less. Times are tough and money is tight for so many people and it seems like we are continually needing to find more ways to cut-back and to make that same amount of money stretch even further with prices going up far too fast.
Here are a few ways that I’ve brainstormed to spend less money:
AVOID IMPULSE BUYS:
1) Prior to any making any purchase over $20, I will think thoroughly on whether I truly need it. There’s a fine line sometimes between a want and a need and here are a few questions to always ask:
~Do I TRULY need this purchase or is this just something I’m buying on a whim?
~Is this truly a good price or can I find it cheaper elsewhere?
~Will this purchase bring me happiness or will it bring on the reverse effect after the newness wears off?
~Will buying this item take away from another purchase I’d like more or need more?
2) Make a “Wish List” either on paper or via Amazon (as they tend to sell everything!) and make sure I truly want the item before buying it. I’ve added items to my wish list in the past and later been thankful I didn’t buy them!
3) When shopping at the stores, any impulse buys, or anything not on my shopping list, will go in a separate part of the cart. Before checking out I’ll examine the items one last time to decide if I truly need it. Often just walking around the store is enough to convince us a purchase is truly an impulse buy.
BUDGET, PLAN AHEAD and GOALS:
1) Create an overall household budget and after working out all the glitches, stick to that budget for the year. Make sure to plan in unexpected expenses such as medical bills and car/house repairs, etc.
2) Each quarter I’ll make a “Plan Ahead” list and brainstorm all the events I think I might need to spend money on in the next 3 months and try to find the best deals on those that I can. (The exception to this rule: electronics! Often stores only have a 30 days return policy and it can be difficult to return an item that may not work.) This planning ahead will include birthday parties, special events, school parties, etc. I’ll also do a better job of planning my garden ahead of time so we can maximize our harvest.
3) Set goals for the year. By having a goal in mind it helps cut-back on spending as there’s a visual we can use to say, “This purchase will take away from this goal.” When we were saving up to buy a house, I printed off a picture of a nice house I liked and taped it inside my wallet. Each time I went to buy something I’d see that picture of the house and think twice about what I was buying. Visuals work great!
1) Make a list of things that we can do for free, or nearly free, and organize it by season. Create a “bucket list” for each season, such as my “Summer Bucket List” to encourage us to find ways to spend time together as a family without breaking our budget. Continue to take vacations close-by to save money for future vacations further away.
2) Cut out all book purchases and either check out books from the library or find free ebooks online. Should we find a book to add to our collection it will go on our gift list for birthdays/holidays.
3) Continue to follow blogs that focus on freebies to help cut-back on purchases. (See my “Are Freebies Worth It?” post.)
4) Instead of getting a gift for birthday/holidays, ask for gift cards for the family or for myself. It’s fun to later in the year tell the giver of the gift card, “We just went to the movies/dinner with your gift and had a fun time together as a family!”
5) Swap babysitting nights with friends to save money and still be able to have a few hours of free time with the spouse.
6) Continue to eat more meals at home and less carry-out. We do pretty good with this except for the super busy holiday season and when sickness hits our house. I need to make sure I have some freezer cooking meals in the freezer prepared for those times.
1) Keep coupons organized so I can continue to save on our necessities. (You can see my current coupon system that I use.)
2) Waste less and use more. I’ll touch on this one a little more later in the month. Overall, use everything to its fullest capacity, such as not letting leftovers go to waste or letting food expire.
3) Continue to push forward with weekly meal planning. (You can read more on meal planning.)
4) Keep track of birthday/holiday gifts as not to “go overboard” or spend too much. Keep a journal of not only things purchased but $ spent, as well. Keep all gifts bought ahead of time in one place, and organized, so they don’t get lost.
5) Keep track quarterly of clothing items the kids are getting low on so they can be added to birthday/holiday lists or I can easily know what to look for in the clearance racks, garage sales or “gently used” stores.
6) Always know what’s “in-season” so I can work those into meal plans as they tend to be the freshest and least expensive of fruits/vegetables. Also buy more when the price is low so I can freeze them for when they are out-of-season. Keep track of great deals to stockpile as far as other groceries, as well.
7) Continue to brainstorm ideas of cutting-back!
These are just some of the ways that I’m working on spending less. As time goes by, I’ll brainstorm again and find many more ways to make the most of our money but I think this is a very good start! If you are interested in a little more reading, you can check out my Budgeting: Savings on Groceries and Entertainment post that I wrote on Coupon Geek last year. There are some more tips there on cutting back on impulse items and finding more savings. It also includes a long list of free/inexpensive things to do for entertainment.
In what ways have you found to spend less?
Stay tuned for another day of brainstorming tomorrow on another “stresser.”
Note: Photo Credit