I was asked to teach a class about saving money. I don't know how I feel about it, because although I have a lot of knowledge to share, there are so many ways people choose to spend money. I feel like what I say is ignored. The last class I taught was so full of ladies speaking over me, or making "funny" jokes that I feel like I don't want to share. Then I get frustrated because that sounds selfish.
So thanks to an emotional and creative outlet, which this blog has become, I will share some tips once again on how I save money.
Planning. There. Done. Plan how you are going to spend what you ACTUALLY HAVE and stick to it. Wow. I feel better. Don't buy a book telling you how to save money, or spend money on classes that will magically make you rich. Just DON'T SPEND IT IF YOU DON'T HAVE IT.
Easily said, not so easily done.
Here's some advice --follow it only if you are SERIOUS about saving money.
Look at the ads. If you are local, sign up for MoneyBags Utah through Media One. These are free Sunday ads and coupons, delivered to you for free. Also check your mailboxes. There are likely coupons and ads there too.
Once you've seen the ads, pick one or two stores with the most savings for YOU and then MAKE A LIST. Plan your meals around what's on sale. You can plan one or two weeks at a time, or for a month. I do one big trip a month, and then one much smaller trip for milk and produce.
Now you have a meal plan for at least a week, and saved money. If you want to save more, match your coupons with your ad. I get that coupons are overwhelming and some people don't like to do them. Then just ad match at Wal-Mart or shop the ads and buy what's on sale--saving money without coupons.
Check out the many coupon/discount sites and PLAN around what's available. Date night should be fun and memorable. So find something free, think college/high school budget, and go have fun. Groupon, Living Social, City Deals, Grouppigg, Spreebird and others offer great daily deals. I suggest also, set up a babysitting swap with other family members or friends. That way you can save on sitters too.
A big part of our budget used to be "eaten" by friends birthday parties. They came up unexpectedly and with 5 kids, it seems someone is always going to one. So I came up with a gender neutral gift, bought in bulk and then added personal details to for the birthday girl or boy. For instance I bought a ton of art supplies on clearance a few years ago. Each time one of my kids friends has a party, we make a personalized kit with the birthday person's name on it--we've used everything from craft boxes to paint cans to shoe boxes, and filled it with markers, crayons, papers, scissors, glue, and pencils. For the girls we added hair bows and lip gloss; for the boys we added candy and water guns. They all turned out cute and personalized for the party person, without breaking the bank. Plus my kids got to really help, instead of me just handing them a bag.
Their Dad also made them do an extra chore to two to earn the present they were given. Since we want them to know the value of a dollar.
Remember that it really is the thought that counts. Take time to think about that person--what's their favorite color, treat, movie, past time, meal....and see where your creativity takes you.
Rank your spending priorites and then follow your budget.
I'd like to go on a trip without kids. The reality of that is about 10 years away. So, I am not going to plan or save for that, since I know it's a want, not a need. However, I love my house and don't want to lose it, so paying my mortgage is my first priority. Followed by our savings plan, food, utilities, gas for cars, fun. So if I run out of money before I get to the end of my list, then the end of the list gets cut, or postponed.
There is a difference between living rich and being wealthy. Appearances are merely a veneer, and if I ever stop having kids, and get some money back into my own pockets, we're on our way to living wealthy, credit card free, debt free, and vacationing in Hawaii.