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How to Save Money

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I thought it would be interesting to get some ideas how others stay on budget. How do you save money on purchases or services?

Please post ideas as you think of them.

Here are a few of ours:

When husband and I were students, we used to graze at different markets on sample nights. We had some pretty good meals, lol.

Now, I plan my menus according to mostly local produce and meats that are in season or on sale.

We just joined Costco, and it's fantastic! I can't believe how fresh and low-cost the produce is. We have been very careful to shop for only what we need and can consume within a reasonable time, we don't have a lot of storage, either. We are saving a lot (groceries are very expensive on the island).

I cut my husband's hair (I'm a licensed barber - in Texas ) and he keeps it short so I cut it every month or so.

I'm sure I'll think of more... what about you?
post #2 of 19
I take out a set amount of cash at the beginning of the month and when it's gone, it's gone. I don't take out anymore.

I no longer have credit cards and live strictly on cash.

I pay my bills online so I don't have to pay for cheques or postage.

I don't carry my debit card with me when I go out. Having it with me is too much like having cash and it's too easy to use.

I plan my meals for the week, and only buy what I need. This avoids food spoilage and waste.

I make a huge pot of soup at the beginning of each month and freeze it into portions so that I can have that for lunches and when I don't feel like cooking dinner.

I changed to a largely vegetarian diet. Not buying meat has shaved about $125.00 per month off of my monthly grocery bill.

I take advantage of "buy 1 get 1 free" only if it's items that I am actually using and only if I need the item at that time IE: dish soap.

I buy cheap shampoo. $4.49 for 1.5 litres!

I don't smoke.

I don't drink.

My entertainment is limited to what is on my cable channels. I don't rent movies or do the video on demand because it all adds up.
post #3 of 19
I buy at SmartNFinal (I have found them to be more competitive pricewise) and freeze what I can't use right away. I prepare more vegan altho in our area, fresh fruits and veggies are right up there with meat (running those waterpumps at the high price of diesel plus shipping does run up the $$$) so have been buying bulk frozen veggies & fruit.
I prepare frozen mixed berries with apple juice in the blender - really cuts down on the soft drink consumption in my family and bought the restaurant sized iced tea bags - I brew 2 gal. once a week and sweeten with the unbleached sugar from Mexico (much cheaper and no bleach ); I put the tea into reused Snapple and Sobe bottles.
post #4 of 19
The easiest way for me to save is to take money out of my checking account and put it in a safe where I don't touch it. Otherwise, I spend it with my debit.. ^_^;
post #5 of 19
We took the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace Univ thru our church. Lots of really helpful stuff in there for anyone

His main thing is using a written budget plan and the envelope system.

Basics are to take your paycheck and set up a budget down to the last penny of your check. Take savings (even if its only $10 or $20) off the top and put it aside (and your tithe if you go to church). Then work down with your house payment/rent, food, car, repairs, etc. Have an envelope for entertainment money - if you don't use it one month, let it roll over to the next.

You also need to pay down your credit card debt - pay off the smallest one first, snowball that payment into the next, till you have it all paid off - cut up the credit cards as they are paid off.

You want to work only with cash for purchases or a debit card where the money is deducted right away - if you have to buy on credit, then you don't need the object right then; but save up till you have the money to offer cash.

DH and I have paid off 2 credit cards and are working on the 3rd one We also make a list of the food we need every 2 weeks and stick to that list. We might buy one or two things extra, but many times when the list is done, we are done. Also do NOT shop on an empty stomach - you will buy more food
post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenKitty45 View Post
You also need to pay down your credit card debt - pay off the smallest one first, snowball that payment into the next, till you have it all paid off - cut up the credit cards as they are paid off.
The only bad thing with this is - what if your A/C breaks or you need major repair on the car? An expense that is so high that you may not have the money, but something that you have to have fixed. How do you pay for it without a credit card?
post #7 of 19
That would be extreme emergency. The idea is to put money away every payday for those things. If you have an envelope for car repair or house repair and dont' touch it, you might have almost enough to pay cash. IF you have to use the credit card, then pay it off as quick as you can.

Dave R advises the goal to have 6 months of expenses saved up for things like this
post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenKitty45 View Post
That would be extreme emergency. The idea is to put money away every payday for those things. If you have an envelope for car repair or house repair and dont' touch it, you might have almost enough to pay cash. IF you have to use the credit card, then pay it off as quick as you can.

Dave R advises the goal to have 6 months of expenses saved up for things like this
That's what I was wondering. Because you know it will happen sooner or later, and it can be hard to have that money saved up.
post #9 of 19
Yeah, most people don't plan ahead - that's the biggest problem. Try to save when you DON'T need it, so that when you do, its there.

We even took our tax refunds and put it on paper where it would be spent. We divided up one check for our son's wedding and all the stuff we needed related to it. Part of it was pure cash for them, then dress/tux for us, hair for me, etc. The money was put in envelopes and labeled for what it was for...3 months later we had all we needed and didn't have to worry "now where are we getting the money?"

Worked out great!
post #10 of 19
**I use coupons--the trick is looking through sales ads and finding what's on sale that coincides with the coupons plus double coupons are honored at most grocers.

**Also, free samples!! I found a store (WM*) that has a free sample section that you can order. I've gotten deodorant, lotions, tampons, etc and they usually come with coupons.

**Fortunately I work in food, so I get my meals for free and can take home a carryout as well, so that saves me tons of money.

**I collect coke rewards (on the caps) and enter those in, eventually I can use them toward free soda, merchandise, coupons, etc.

**My debit card is registered for reward points so I get 1 point for every $2 I spend. With enough points, I get gift cards of my choice to various stores.

**Cancel my cable--books are cheaper; however have to have the internet

**Renegotiate contracts such as cell phones, cable tv, etc.

**When I buy online, I found a website (pm me and I can tell you) that lists online coupons--I have saved soooooooo much money this way! Free shipping, 40% off, freebies with order, etc.

**For a cheap "staycation" go somewhere that does timeshares and sit throught the 1 hour speech and you usually get a free meal, money, or tickets to a show.

**Shop at stores with the Sunday ads for price matching.
post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenKitty45 View Post
Yeah, most people don't plan ahead - that's the biggest problem. Try to save when you DON'T need it, so that when you do, its there.

We even took our tax refunds and put it on paper where it would be spent. We divided up one check for our son's wedding and all the stuff we needed related to it. Part of it was pure cash for them, then dress/tux for us, hair for me, etc. The money was put in envelopes and labeled for what it was for...3 months later we had all we needed and didn't have to worry "now where are we getting the money?"

Worked out great!
I always save so for me it is not an issue. But I may try the envelope thing once I'm on my own. I won't have as much flexible spending.
post #12 of 19
I always pack my lunch.
for entertainment, usually happy hour with free or cheap food. EArly movies.

If you need something go to yard sales.

Buy clothes at thrift stores.
My credit card gives rewards too, but this is only a good idea if you pay off the entire card every month. Otherwise, you pay interest.

Make your own ice tea and lemonade.

Take extra sugar and sweetner from the wawa when you buy a coffee. (shouldn't be buying the coffee, but if you do)

Only buy clothes and items that are on sale. If it is not on sale, I do not buy it. I try to do this with catfood too, but can't always catch the sale.

Save some money every single week, even if only 5 bucks.
post #13 of 19
My answer probably isn't feasible for everyone. I decided a year ago, to visit a financial adviser. I wanted to start getting my ducks in a row (so to speak) and think about the big picture in terms of retirement. I turned 49 this past May, and would like to retire in 10 years....optimistic, I know, lol! He sent me home with a homework assignment. For 3 months, I kept track, down to the penny, of everything I spent my money on. He had a pre-made check list, that included spaces for me to fill in unique things (like Cleo's medicines & vet visits for CRF.) It was a REAL eye-opener at the end of the three months, let me tell you!!!

For me, it was credit card debt, from going back to nursing school (dropping to part time, insurance, tuition, books, travel to area hospitals for clinicals.) Fortunately, I had a lot of equity in my house, and I was paying a little higher interest rate. I re-financed my house for 15 years, at a much lower rate, paid off my credit cards, and now am saving $500/month in a moneymarket....the great thing is that my mortgage payments only went up $125/month (but I had been paying $500+/ month in credit card payments!) I started putting 10% of my gross income into a tax sheltered annuity when I started at the hospital 20 years ago. Last November I was able to bump it up to the max of 20%. My financial adviser also does the investing of the TSA money that comes out of my check. I have no clue about that kind of stuff. I can earn it, and I can spend it....spending is SO much easier than earning it!!!

The little things that I do, are buy store brands for many things. I love Meijer's. Their paper products, and cat litter are very good quality (I especially love their "Kleenex") Many of their canned goods, and baked goods are excellent, too. I use the Charter bundle - phone, cable, internet. The unlimited long distance hooked me, especially with a sister in California. I read my local newspaper online for free. A couple of months ago, I started paying my bills online. I'm saving myself the price of a 42 cent stamp each time I do it. Every little bit helps! I also pack my lunch the majority of the time (instead of buying it in the cafeteria at work.) I was amazed at how much was taken out of my check for meals!!! I have several friends at work, who are avid readers (like myself) and we all take turns buying the latest books by our favorite authors....and lending them back and forth. There's so few that I really want to own, but I do want to read. This works perfectly. When I'm done with mine, I donate them to the book drive at the hospital were I work. I also find some really good bargains at e-Bay and Overstock.com.
post #14 of 19
I also see a financial advisor, but I was going since I do save a lot and wanted to know the best way to earn a profit from what I saved.

Money is taken out of my account and put into my investments every month.

I only buy clothes if they are on sale, if not, I don't get it.

If I can't pay for something I want, I don't buy it. I save up for it.

I don't have debit card so if I have to take money out, I have to go into the bank to get it.

I do have two credit cards, but that is it. I only put on there what I can pay off. I use one more than the other.

I don't buy coffee or donuts, or extra things on the way to work. I try to bring my own lunch.
post #15 of 19
Gail Vaz-Oxlade offers some great advice on how to dig yourself out of debt while still being able to save for rainy day expenses.

http://www.gailvazoxlade.com/articles/article34.htm

She has a TV show called "Til Debt Do Us Part" and it has given me some great advice. She has people work with jars. You take cash out of the bank at the beginning of the week to cover all of your variable expenses. You divy up the money into jars for each expense, and you keep a budget binder beside it. When you go out and buy something you put the receipt in the proper jar and subtract the expense from your budget binder. The idea is to get through the week before you get through the end of the money.

She also encourages being proactive and if you need to make a purchase of say, a new bed or something, go out and earn the income, have a garage sale to raise the money, or squirrel a bit extra away each payday until you have enough. Anything to avoid getting caught in the credit trap of buying on credit.

The site I linked to has a printable budget work sheet and various other types of information on how to trim interest etc.

Even if you think you are on the right track and feel you know all there is about money management, I encourage you to check out that site because I promise, you will still learn a few things.
post #16 of 19
Another way to save is check out the different banks. My bank was taking money every month for one thing or another, I switched to a credit union. They don't take any money, and even credit me up to 4 bucks a month for atm fees.
post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by gailuvscats View Post
Another way to save is check out the different banks. My bank was taking money every month for one thing or another, I switched to a credit union. They don't take any money, and even credit me up to 4 bucks a month for atm fees.

Yeah, I need to look into a different bank account too. I pay a flat fee of $11.50 per month in service charges. However if I do use my debit card at an ATM other than one of my bank's, I am charged $1.50 by the branch of the ATM that I'm using, and an additional $1.50 by my own bank, so that is $3.00 per ATM transaction!

I do all of my banking online or via ATM machines or via debit card (groceries etc). The cash I keep on hand at home is for emergency cab rides, an occasional lunch or coffee out. Everything else is done via debit card transactions or online for bill paying. Until a few months ago I hadn't seen a bank teller at my bank for years.

My bank account is an interest earning chequing account. The $11.50 that I pay covers any cheque fees, free money orders and I think that's basically it. I don't often require money order service, so $11.50 for what I am using seems steep.

I know some accounts waive fees with a minimum balance, and I think my account might be like that too (but I don't have the money to keep a minimum balance in it). However, most minimum balance accounts require $500 or even $1,000.00 sitting in it. I don't want to keep that amount of money in my chequing account.

Refinancing consumer debt into your mortgage is an excellent idea. Gail (the link I posted above) gives that as an idea of cutting down interest and saving money not only in the short term, but also the longterm too due to lower interest.
post #18 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the ideas!

I agree that getting out of debt is the first step in any financial plan. Credit cards are evil; the rule in our family is we can't use the card unless we have the cash for the item, then we send the money in right away so there's never a balance due.

Other ways we save $:

We keep every single receipt and record them and pay bills every Saturday. Having those receipts has come in handy when something needs to be returned, which saves money.

I return products that are sub-par.

We have one car and use it only when we have to. We walk almost everywhere.

We try to replace things only when they break and can't be repaired, or when they are worn out.

We sell things on the Used Victoria site (especially kids' toys and equipment that is so quickly outgrown).

I buy wine glasses, platters, and plates at a second-hand consignment store when I need large numbers of them for entertaining.

I cook all our meals from scratch; it seems I'm always washing, slicing, chopping, and cooking! It's healthier, cheaper, and I know exactly what we are eating (no hidden yucky ingredients).

Keep up the good suggestions! Any more?
post #19 of 19
You people have many really good ideas I am impressed.
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