20 Ways I Try to Save Money!
Hello my Dear and welcome back to our little corner of the Internet!
I am currently sitting in our sunroom listening to the rain sprinkle through the forest brush and the acorns falling in a verbose staccato. My toes are chilly, but my mind is too stubborn to put socks on in August, as that would be an outright admittance that the lunatic who approved the display of candles and candy corn at my local Walmart this morning MIGHT actually be more sane than I am.
But speaking of Walmart, I must tell you that I had the MOST fabulous morning running errands today. I love shopping at Walmart on a quiet Wednesday morning amongst all the elderly couples slowly pushing their carts up and down the aisles. The quiet hum of the store and the overcast morning were just the motivation I needed to finish up my groceries and make an invigorating visit to the TJ Maxx, two towns over.
Yes, I am mostly a thrift and Walmart woman, but I DO make a trek down to the TJ Maxx once a quarter to replenish my little "luxuries." Today I filled my cart with some exfoliating scrubs, Vitamin C serums, soaps, and hand lotions. But all my tales of shopping aside, I must say that when it was time to settle in for our Mid-Week Listicle, I felt that it would be nice to stir up some more thought about saving money.
It's no secret that being a housewife includes a certain level competence regarding a budget, and after much practice, I feel as if I'm at a place where I am comfortable to share my thoughts, tips, AND tricks regarding the age-old practice of saving money.
1. Get a budget app
I have mentioned my budgeting app MANY times on this blog, but I don't think I will ever be done singing its praises. Long gone are the days when we had lined notebooks or checkbooks to keep us accountable for our spending. Sure, we could glance at our draining bank account, but I find that the least anxiety-inducing and MOST encouraging method of tracking my spending has been through a budgeting app on my smartphone.
My budgeting app "Buddy" is a LIFESAVER when it comes to tracking my expenses, and allows me to fill out the various categories that I spend money in. Download it today and get started on your saving journey!
2. Find accountability
Some people need more accountability when it comes to saving money or dealing with credit cards. If you are married, that person should be your husband. No hiding the shopping bags from your man! Instead, decide together how much to spend on various things like household items, groceries, personal care, entertainment, gifts, etc, and write it down. Also, make sure you decide upon a level of money that needs to be discussed before being spent. My husband and I discuss purchases over $50.
If you are not married, consider having a loved one, a parent, or even a financial advisor keep you accountable. Don't feel weak or ashamed if you need extra accountability with spending. Even Bruce Wayne has advisors barking up his tree when he spends too much money on batsuits and weapon tech! It's not a shameful thing to have spending accountability; it's a wise and humble step that will lead to a much larger bank account.
3. Categorize your spending...
Having separate categories in your budget, including a little fun money is the bet way to feel like you're getting the most out of your income and your life experience. I don't believe in saving and burrowing EVERYTHING away. A girl's gotta have some fun right?
Instead of spending willy-nilly on whatever catches your eye, set aside some "fun-money" for yourself. Since I began doing this, I have noticed that I take MUCH better care of my possessions, and I usually enjoy them more because I planned out their purchase and looked forward to their arrival! Spend wisely, but don't be afraid to spend on yourself too.
4. Limit shopping trips
One of the best ways to cut down on spending is to cut down your exposure to all the pretty things we want to buy LOL! Stop your daily Target trips. I repeat, CUT THAT OUT. No one needs to be going into that mind-control vortex of a store every single day.
Limit your trips and plan your purchases in advance. Try to avoid eye-catching displays and pretty packaging designed to seduce you, and stick to your list! Too many trips to your local Target in a month will drain your bank account and quite possibly result in the presence of a suspicious "Target Credit Card" inhabiting a slot within your wallet. Say no and be sensible!
5. Cut out recreational shopping
This tip is similar to the above advice, but cut down or limit the amount of recreational shopping you take part in. Shopping is for gathering resources; not souvenirs. A special shopping trip once a season or once a year for some new dresses or shoes, or home decor is fun, but it should not be every week!
It is ridiculous how much our society tells us to shop, consume, and purchase. It's not normal, and it is completely unnecessary for our survival, fulfillment, OR our success. Shopping is not a hobby, even if you're really good at it. I'm FABULOUS at shopping, but I don't do it all the time... I like save my powers for the right moment LOL.
6. Wait two weeks before an online purchase, and don't buy after 7pm!
Cut down your online purchases by adding TIME between "add to cart" and "purchase." In a store, you can walk around and maybe have time to put something back, but online, you can buy new items with the touch of your finger.
Try to limit your online purchases by NEVER purchasing after 7pm when you're tired and maybe seeking a dose of pleasure. Always try to wait a few weeks before deciding on an online purchase just in case it's actually an impulse-purchase disguised as a made-up "need" within your mind.
7. Buy the store brand
I always try to buy the store or generic brand for non-essential cooking or household items. Of course I wouldn't do this with my skincare, but for things like medications, cleaners, or even spaghetti sauce, the generic brands are usually the same products, just labeled differently. It's true that many companies like Walmart will even have their products MADE in the same factories, using the same ingredients as name-brand products.
It's a great way to save money because you can save around a dollar or more on the product, and those dollars add up!
8. USE everything you buy!
Don't replace things unless they NEED it, and don't buy things you won't use. Don't throw out food items until they are ACTUALLY done all the way, and make sure you're getting the most out of all the clothing you purchase!
Instead of buying things at random or when you feel like it, try to keep an ongoing list of the various things you're need for your home, kitchen, or beauty routine. If you find something you like at a store, try comparing the item to your list and if you truly don't have a need for it, pass it up for now. If you still want the item next week, you can go back.
9. Re-usables whenever possible...
Buying hundreds of ziplock bags or hand soap bottles can get pretty pricy. Instead, try purchasing containers or a refillable bottle of hand soap so that you can cut down on the little purchases. I don't buy napkins or paper towels and instead use cloths and fabric napkins to cut down on the amount of disposable purchases within our household! I also never buy plastic cutlery or cups or paper plates. Try upgrading your routine and saying no to disposable products!
10. Stop redecorating all the time!
This Magnolia-Market fever that has swept our nation is truly ghastly to me. So many people are out here renovating and re-decorating their homes constantly, trying to get more of that Joanna Gaines vibe.
Now, I'm a fan of expressing ourselves through personal style at home, but I DO NOT believe we need to be refreshing our curtains, our artwork, or our furniture to the degree that we are in 2019. Do you remember growing up in the early 2000's with a comfy arm chair and a hallway painted yellow? Do you remember how you thrived and survived even though you didn't have subway tile in your kitchen or shiplap stapled to your walls?
A cozy home does NOT mean a highly-stylized home. It's good to make things nice, but learn to draw the line and see what is ACTUALLY worth investing your time and money in. I think we can function in lower levels of decor than most of us would assume.
11. Sales, coupons, and DISCOUNTS
Now I don't take part in many sales or coupons because I think many of them are just a conspiracy to drive us to the store to buy things we don't really want or need, but if something you genuinely want goes on sale, snap it up!
Better yet, sign up for email lists and do a weekly lurk until the products you're stalking go on sale. I like to use "Honey" on my browsing system to make sure I'm getting the best deals, and will occasionally check out promo codes or ads from various influencers if I want to buy online.
12. Make things from scratch
This doesn't always save money, but more times than not, making our own food from scratch saves a TON of money because we can buy ingredients in bulk and make a wide variety of food. Making bread, crackers, cakes, cookies, and even sauces from scratch has saved me SO much money.
Now, it definitely doesn't save you time, but if you have the spare time, I highly recommend transferring over some of your favorite treats to homemade. Try to remind yourself that everything is created SOMEHOW, and you can most likely recreate it at home. That's how I started making my own pita chips!
13. Eat out infrequently
Cutting out the restaurant and tip bill is one of the fastest ways to save money. Restaurants are notoriously over charging for food, and you can save TONS just by eating from home or bringing your lunch, snacks, or even your coffee to-go. Spend a month tracking your spending on restaurant or cafe food, and you might find yourself looking at enough money to buy another month's worth of groceries.
Notice however that I said "infrequently" not, "never." I think that it's a special treat to go out to eat, so try to savor it as a special treat instead of a daily or weekly occurrence. I promise you that the Chicken Parm from Olive Garden will taste MUCH better if you've waited an entire year between eating it.
14. Keep meals simple
Cutting out dramatic ingredients or intense recipes can help save money. Anything that requires tons of different spices, sauces, wines, or vinaigrettes can start to be pricey. This is especially true if you like to cook up a diverse range of ethnic foods. If you want to make a Pad Thai one night and then enchiladas the next, you're going to be looking at a pretty long list of different ingredients. Instead, try rotating between some tried-and-true meals, and make sure the ingredients are always in stock in your fridge.
Remember, the simpler your meals, the less ingredients you need to buy, and the less expensive your grocery bill will become. See what you can cut out of recipes and try to work with what you have at home.
15. Thrift for kitchenware
Kitchenware is not necessarily something you need to buy brand new. Obviously it's nice to have a fully stocked kitchen, but some of my favorite plates, bowls, and glasswares have all been purchased from a thrift store. Try peeking around for second hand pieces, but remember to make sure they are in good condition before you buy! Don't turn your nose up at second-hand kitchen appliances, and always remember to keep your eyes peeled for cute cookie jars or crystal glassware...
16. Research products WELL in advance
Spend time researching products to find the ones with the "best value." We want to make sure that when we spend money, be it a lot or a little, that we are buying the absolute BEST options out there.
Thankfully, in 2019, it's not hard to find a top ten list of best drugstore foundations or a ranking of every sewing machine option out there. I constantly google products I'm considering and read various articles or watch videos to ensure that I'm getting the right ones. Next time you want a new conditioner, sunscreen, or even a living room rug, take time to research to make sure you are getting the BEST option.
17. Do things yourself
Instead of hiring a painter, a landscaper, or a housekeeper, try doing those projects yourself. You will be surprised at how easy it is to learn these skills, and I'm sure you will enjoy the satisfaction that accompanies the age-old "job well done" feeling. Now, when it comes to plumbing or electrical, make sure you have a licensed professional, but for the most part, doing things yourself can save a ton of money!
I actually cut my own hair and do my own nails and self-tanner at home to save money for the things I can't do on my own like... dentistry work LOL!
18. Go out for coffees instead of drinks or food
This is a great way to save money while still being social or enjoying a public atmosphere. Sometimes it's nice to go out for a treat and a long chat with a friend, so instead of buying a full-on lunch or a bunch of cocktails, splurge on a coffee at your local cafe and enjoy the atmosphere. I made this change in college and boy can it save money!
19. Seek out free entertainment
Riding your bike, walking the dog, reading library books, and watching YouTube videos are all ways to enjoy free entertainment. I like to get creative with my entertainment and make sure I can save dollars and cents everywhere, even if it's just by not renting a movie for a couple dollars. Every little bit counts!
You will be sure to find me reorganizing or cleaning my closet with a YouTube video on in the background on a Friday night. Don't underestimate how much cleaning, tidying, and working can really entertain you during your "off-time."
20. Limit driving
This is an enormous way to save money, especially if you live in the US. Everything is so spread out, and we usually have to get in the car, even if it's just to go to the market! If you live in the country, try making only one trip to the store a week, and consider carpooling to work! Walk to church and avoid driving far distances as much as possible. However, if you live in a city, try taking the bus or the subway instead of a taxi or Uber service.
Alright my loves! That is it for me today. I'm going to go off and do some more housework, so I hope this was helpful! If you have more tips and tricks for saving money, feel free to join the site and leave a comment below.
All the best my savvy spenders!