How’s your week going? I am moving quite slowly over here with this darn cold. It’s had me down for days. I have energy in the morning for about two hours and then I feel like I’ve been hit by a train again. Needless to say I am ready for this cold to take a hike. The good news is that I have been brainstorming lots of fun ideas for the blog. I mentioned that I was going to revisit my “Five Ways” posts on a myriad of topics and today I am kicking it off with
Five Ten Ways to spend less money.
Been chatting with so many friends lately about different ways we save money. I have to admit that saving has always been in my nature. I see that with my own children. We have one spender and one saver. We have a jar that we add spare change to in hopes of saving for a trip. I think it’s nice to have a family goal and work towards it together. Our son is far and away the biggest contributor. He just loves saving and working towards a goal. Whether saving comes naturally or not, it’s nice to exchange ideas because even one new habit could make a huge difference in what is contributed to a savings account. While some of these may seem quite obvious, it’s nice to get the wheels turning. And because I love this topic, I am dishing up ten ideas instead of five. Here we go.
ONE: PARK IN 15 MINUTE PARKING
This may sounds nuts but temporary parking is great for your wallet! Let me explain. The other day I drove up to Ikea with the children for a chair we were buying. I pulled into the 15 minute parking and looked at the kids and said, “Ok! Let’s do this!” It slightly panicked my children (both rule followers) who were afraid our car would get towed. But I knew we could pull it off. The 15 minute parking is directly outside of the warehouse where the furniture is lined up on those shelves. I went in and immediately asked what aisle the chair was on. Within minutes I had the chair and was in line to pay. We were back in the car in ten minutes. The reason I mention this is because I was secretly so pleased with myself. Ordinarily I would have enjoyed wandering through the Ikea maze and would have “needed” at least five other amazing, inexpensive items. Bottom line . . . I would have spent so much more money. 15 minute parking! Give it a try.
TWO: MAKE COFFEE AT HOME
This may seem obvious, but it you do the math on what you can save by drinking coffee at home, you would be shocked. I drink a cup of coffee at home each morning and save that $2-5 each day. When I do meet a girlfriend for breakfast or coffee, it’s a special treat and a fancy coffee like this is that much more special. You can even make fancy designs like this at home (if you figure it out, can you teach me). I’ve also talked extensively about having friends over in the morning. Not only does it save money but it works so well with busy moms’ schedules.
THREE: MEAL PLAN
This is hands down the greatest way to save money if you ask me. I often (too often) fail in this department. However, anytime I meal plan for the week food does not go to waste, we don’t eat out and the family eats much healthier. Also trying to be really good about keeping 2-3 ready to go dinners in the freezer. We have all been there. Empty fridge, tired, no plan, busy day and it results in going out to eat. Half the time everyone is too tired to enjoy the meal out and you’ve wasted a good amount of money. I also have learned to lower my expectations. My family doesn’t need a gourmet meal every night. Some nights they are perfectly content with scrambled eggs for dinner. Each time we decide to skip going out and get creative with very little in the fridge we feel such a sense of accomplishment and I am keenly aware of the money we didn’t spend going to a restaurant. I have shared many of the recipes we love under the “yummy” tab.
FOUR: ORDER ESSENTIALS ONLINE
This is something else I have gotten much better at. Still a work in progress. I was noticing that Target was a hot spot for me. It was so easy to go walk around that store and come home with things I really didn’t need. While I still love a great stroll through Target, I don’t go as often and choose to order my basics online. I have the red card which I highly recommend. Mine is debit card and it gives you 5% off as well as free shipping. It doesn’t make sense not to have it. So I can order my detergent, hand soaps, hair products, cereals and other cleaning products online without stepping foot in the store. Translation: I am spending less money.
FIVE: FORGO THE COCKTAILS
Love a cocktail or glass of wine? Me, too. But they are expensive. Consider waiting until you get home to enjoy a fun drink. Drinks really do add a lot to the tab and skipping that ritual here and there can definitely allow you to spend far less.
SIX: EAT FIRST, SNACK LATER
These are healthy to-go dinner boxes I made for the family not too long ago. We have learned that when we head out to sporting events or special outings it often makes more sense to eat a full meal at home first and then just prepare to have snacks when we are out. It’s remarkable how much those places charge for food so it’s nice to only get a couple of treats.
SEVEN: DIG DEEP FOR DIY SKILLS
DIY has always been in our blood. My parents have mad DIY skills and love to create something from nothing. I also grew up with a dad who had an engineering background and a grandfather who was a general contractor. Building and doing seems natural. My husband spent a couple of summers renovating apartments with his grandfather when he was young and picked up lifelong skills. But even growing up around it, I’ve still had to teach myself along the way. Little things like painting a table can save you so much money. Hanging your own drapes instead of calling a handy man. Money saved. With so many blogs and online videos you really can learn to do anything. So maybe this year it’s getting in touch with your creative side. Many of my tutorials can be found here.
EIGHT: GIRLS NIGHT IN
We girls need our time together! I crave the time spent with girlfriends laughing, chatting, venting and brainstorming. And while it’s fun to get dressed up and go out, we inevitably sit at a table fully engrossed in conversation totally oblivious to what is going on around us. Until the check comes! LOL. Stay in! Each girl can contribute something simple to the evening or maybe the host does it all and you rotate so that you get a break the next few times you get together. Anything works and it’s far less expensive.
NINE: PLEASE, NO GIFTS
I know it’s really fun to exchange birthday gifts with friends, but maybe it’s time to say no more gifts, please. Instead, ditch the gift giving for one fun night out to celebrate each other. It’s the experiences we all treasure versus the gifts, so really it’s better for everyone in the end. Or if you can’t quite quit the gift exchange, maybe consider setting a smaller price limit.
TEN: PARTNER UP
Costco! Anyone shop there? My problem with it is that I don’t need 18 apples or 15 bananas. We can’t eat them fast enough. I end up wasting food. So partner up! Find a friend or a relative and split it all. Makes so much more financial sense and nothing goes to waste. You can shop together and split the cost or have one person go and deliver half to the other person. Who doesn’t love a food delivery. It’s a treat and the next month you can be the one to shop and deliver.
There’s no question my weaknesses are clothes and travel. I love both so much and so I am willing to cut corners in other places. When we were first married and just starting out in our jobs (not yet careers) we saved like crazy to make it to Europe. And while we couldn’t afford anything other than picnics in the park while we were there, it was a trip we will never forget.
My dad always instilled in me the need to save for a rainy day. What if your car breaks down? What if you need new tires or a child gets sick? Or what if you just want to set aside money for weekly date nights? I would love to open the conversation up and hear how you spend less on a daily or weekly basis.
To get caught up on my other “Five Ways” posts just click here.
*Update: Sorry #9 was temporarily deleted! LOL. It’s back on the list.