I love to save money. I am about as cheap as they come. If you ask my husband, he will tell you he is blessed with a frugal wife. Just yesterday, he bought me a gift certificate to get my nails done and the owner commented on how she hadn’t seen me in a while. His answer, “She will only come if I give her it as a gift, she doesn’t spend money” , hahah, of course the owner made a point to tell him how much money all the other ladies in there spend on themselves. I don’t buy things for myself very often because, I just don’t need things. I would rather treat my kids, give to my church or do something nice for my husband. Now, don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe that we need to treat ourselves occasionally for our hard work. But, my treats are prioritized. I would rather have a date night with my husband than a new purse. I would rather take my daughter to the movies and a cruise around the book store than buy a new pair of shoes. I would rather have family over for a huge bbq on me than buy a new outfit. I am most definitely not judging my friends out there that have incredible wardrobes and shoe collections. Do what makes you happy! I just know what works for me. So, lately, I have been asked quite a bit about the different ways I lower the bottom line on our budget and make feeding and clothing a large family affordable and easy. I hope the following tips can help someone with their bottom line.
1. Dave Ramsey – Financial Peace! Do it!! You don’t realize how much money is wasted until you dedicate a spot in your budget for each and every thing. Live now like no one else so you can live later like no one else. The debt snowball is a great system. I urge you to check out his program. You can find a ton of free help on the web, he has books or you can do the Financial Peace University program through your church or by buying the system. Also, check out the Debt Buster System! It has helped us tremendously!
2. Budgeting – Establish a budget. Take your weekly or monthly income, subtract all set bills and tithe and then come up with a budget or things like food, gas, clothing, entertainment, etc. Take CASH out of your account, put it in envelopes. This is how ours work:
1. Food – $200 per week
2. Gas – $75 per week
3. Gym, Yoga – $20 per week
4. Entertainment, Misc – $55 per week
5. Extra – ?
This means every single week, I withdraw $350 from our account and divide it in to envelopes. I feed our large family on $200 using methods I will list next. We eat well. Many times gas doesn’t total $75 so the overflow goes in to the extra envelope. This money is then saved up for road trips and travel. Also, we don’t eat out often. I buy clothes for the kids, pay for field trips, buy little things for ourselves from that $55 but many weeks, I take nothing from it. That money also goes in the overflow envelope. Obviously, there are times when $55 won’t cut it (back to school, car repairs, etc) so we do dip in savings but it truly doesn’t happen often. Sticking to this budget and knowing when the envelope is empty, YOU BUY NOTHING ELSE, really becomes an accountability partner for you. Also, using cash instead of a debit card makes it “hurt” more when you spend money. I highly recommend it!
3. Couponing – Trust me, I am not one of those crazy coupon ladies, but I firmly believe that coupons are free money. Go to sites like www.coupons.com , www.thekrazycouponlady.com and www.couponsherpa.com and print coupons! So here is a coupon rookie mistake to avoid. JUST BECAUSE THERE IS A COUPON, DOESN’T MEAN YOU NEED IT. You can blow your budget to pieces by using coupons just to get a good deal. Make your list first. Keep a staples list (Things you must always have in the house – milk, eggs, bread etc) And then take an inventory of what you need and make a list and then finally make a list of what you will buy if there is money left in the budget. Only clip coupons for items that are already on your list. If you weren’t buying Pop Tarts to begin with, you don’t need .50 cents off a box!! The only time I buy things not on my list is if they are money makers or nearly free for me. Meaning, if the grocery store has the item on bogo, I have two coupons for .50 cents off each item, the item has a rebate on one of my apps ( I will explain in the next post) and I can stack all three of these, I will buy it. But only if I can do that. One other little tip with couponing is that coupons usually don’t expire for a few months. If it is something you may need in the future but not on your list today, clip it and store it in an organizer. This is great for two reasons – one, you may not find that coupon again when you are ready to buy the item, two, by the time you are ready, another coupon from manufacturer or store may come out so you can stack them. Next, check circulars. All stores have them online now. You can compare prices. You may not have time to go to different stores and that is fine, but pick the store that has the best prices on the most of your items. You can take 10 minutes online researching and save yourself $20-$30. That time is well spent. Consider shopping at stores that offer BOGO deals but be careful that the original price isn’t marked up so that they can offer the BOGO. Meaning, if bacon is bogo but its $8.99 a pack, get the second free, You may be able to go to a different store and buy bacon for $3.99 a pack making two packs still cheaper than the bogo. Also, think about store loyalty cards. Some stores give you gas discounts at the pump, some give you money back, and some offer members deep discounts on the items in the store. You are crazy not to take advantage of this! Also, there are times you should stock up! You may blow your budget by a few dollars,so you need to subtract the amount from the following week. But, if chicken is normally $4.50 a pound and your store has a sale offering $2.50 a pound, buy it up and freeze it. It will help the bottom line for weeks to come. By clipping coupons alone, we save roughly $75-$100 a week. So now that $200 food budget is actually $275-$300 worth of food. By using my store loyalty card, I save roughly $75-125 a week. That now makes my $200 in spending equal $350-$425 in food. Next are savings apps which I will explain in the next paragraph. By using savings apps, I get paid back roughly $15-$20 a week. So now you are starting to see. For $200 spent, I am getting $365-$445 worth of groceries per week. My pantry is overflowing, my freezer is exploding, my fridge can not another carton of Almond milk. We are not going without.
4. Couponing and Savings Apps:
Ibotta – I love this app. You click your local stores and it will show you rebates being offered on products. Just by clicking a fact to read or watching a quick commercial, you can unlock the rebate. You go to the store, buy the items you have selected and when you get home, you scan the bar code and receipt. Ibotta pays you the amount listed. When you get up to $10 or more, you can have it transferred to your bank account through paypal, have it put on several different gift cards, etc. This money goes in to my extra fund! I already watched my budget, used the right amount of food, so this becomes fun money for us. It really couldn’t be easier. Again, only get items you would already have on your list unless you see something new you really want to try or it’s a great deal on a staple item of yours. You can also get the same rebate at multiple stores. So if it’s a product you really love, take the time and visit a few places.
Favado – Takes the all the work out of searching for deals. Favado compares prices at all of your selected stores so that you know exactly where the best deal is. It also lists any available coupons in your area next to the item. You make your list, go to favado, select items on your list, and it makes a shopping plan for you. One click and you will have coupons to match the items. So easy and simplifies the whole shopping experience. If you are a newbie to couponing and the thought of matching and stacking coupons overwhelms you, just start at Favado. Even if you only save $20-$30 a week, that is money in your extra envelope! Think shoes or a new purse!
Checkout 51 – Buy groceries, earn cash back. Same idea as ibotta however, they offer things like Any milk, any yogurt, any eggs etc. Meaning that no matter what store or what brand, you will get a rebate. Awesome right?
Just to add to this, there are several apps that do this….Berry Cart offers more organic and healthier options for foods but they are more obscure so you need to be shopping at places like Whole Foods, Trader Joes, FreshMarket etc. But, shop for apps that meet your needs. Don’t get overwhelmed. Find a good three that you can make money on and stick with them.
Finally, Receipt Hog – This is a fun little app that is incredibly user friendly. You can snap a picture of any grocery receipt or retail receipt. You will receive coins that add up to money in your account, you will also get spins on a slot machine that can reward you coins, prizes and even refund your last shopping trip. It’s super simple to use and its FREE MONEY.
4. Meal plan!! I can’t stress this enough. Plan out your week of meals and shop accordingly. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This will encourage you to eat at home and stick to your budget. Also, meal prep. Make things that can be frozen so that you aren’t tempted to grab fast food instead of going home and reheating something in a skillet. For some meal ideas, check out my recipe page.
5. Take advantage of memberships and discount clubs. Join Sam’s club or Costco. and shop for items in bulk once a month. If you attempt to keep your spending under your budgeted amount, you can take your left over money once a month and have a nice Sam’s or Costco haul. We have a distributor membership for our supplements because we get 40% off that way. I am cheap, I always want a discount if it is available to me.
6. Shop for things when they are in season. If you buy fruit when it isn’t in season, it won’t be nearly as tasty, it will cost up to twice as much and most likely is being shipped from a different part of the world.
I hope these tips helped, If you won’t like to add anything, feel free in the comments! Happy Savings…