Most impactful, easiest to implement budget saving strategies - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 07-27-2011, 11:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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OK, I just took a giant leap of faith and nervously accepted a new job that gets rid of my commute, allows me 10 more hours PER WEEK! with my family, but cuts my pay by 10 grand a year.  Yeah, gas was costing me $2,500 a year and now it will be negligible.  That leaves a $7,500 a year deficit.  I admit to not being the MOST frugal I could be.  No manicures or facials or anything like that.  I do buy generic store brands most often but I'm sure there are other ways to save. 

 

What are your surefire, impactful, easy to implement budget saving tricks. 

 

Thanks!!!!!!!!


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#2 of 17 Old 07-27-2011, 11:58 AM
 
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Meal planning, not buying things (seriously, you might be amazed at how much STUFF you randomly just buy), fixing things ourselves...

 

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#3 of 17 Old 07-27-2011, 12:23 PM
 
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purchasing clothes from LL bean, and Athletica, which allow you to try on, and return for free.

 

buying kids clothes from ebay and cosignment stores

 

buying pharmicuticals and toilletries from vitacost.com, and drugstore.com

 

This saves time, gas, and in some cases, tax

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#4 of 17 Old 07-27-2011, 12:41 PM
 
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Here's my biggest money savers:

 

Call every single bill company and ask for your bill to be lowered. With Directv we've lowered our bill consistently over the past few years. Credit Card companies often give promo rates if you just ask which can save you money with apr's etc. Call your cell phone company, internet, tv, etc and ask for lower rates. Tell them about a special rate you saw online, or in a newspaper, often they are willing to lower your price to keep you on as a customer.

 

Do budget billing for anyhting you can, this saved us a ton for our electric bill.

 

Meal plan... I always fail if I say a meal for each day, but I am successful when I write out 7 meals that can be made whenever, it gives me flexibility, yet causes me to write a list and stick to it.

 

Experiment on who is better at going to the grocery store. A lot of times if my budget it SUPER tight, I have hubby go grocery shopping because he's MUCH better at staying on list than I am.

 

Sell your kids clothing to buy for the next year, often you can make a decent amount.

 

Set a limit on your 'fun' money. But never go without fun money, because if you feel deprived you are more likely to splurge.

 

Make your own laundry soap, dish soap, body soap, etc.

 

Make things from scratch.

 

 


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#5 of 17 Old 07-27-2011, 12:58 PM
 
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1. Pay for everything in cash. Make a budget and take out the money you have to spend for the week or two in cash. When the cash is gone, you're done.
2. Make a budget.
3. Write down EVERYTHING you spend. Just knowing you need to write it down will often make you stop and think. It will also help you see when and where your money goes.
4. Buy used.
5. Make your own lunch; make your own coffee or tea at work. My $30 electric kettle has saved me a lot in buying hot drinks. joy.gif

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#6 of 17 Old 07-27-2011, 02:24 PM
 
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Congrats on your new job, it sounds like you are much happier!

 

Something that I have started doing the last 6 months or so is basic meal planning and it has really helped me to save money and eat much more healthfully. I haven't committed to a whole month cycle yet, but I do plan out 5 meals per week. And I only let myself buy 1 or 2 things per week that aren't on my shopping list.

 

And I agree about PP's advice on calling your electric/phone/etc companies to ask for a lower bill. My electric company dropped my bill by $8 per month just because I asked!   You can also save on your electric bill if you get some power strips that have an "off" switch. All those cords we have around the house (coffee maker, cell phone charger, printer, etc) eat up lots of power just by being plugged in, even if you aren't using them to power anything at the moment. Switch to compact flourescent bulbs. Wash your clothes with cold water only.

 

Good luck trying to reduce your budget!


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#7 of 17 Old 07-27-2011, 03:11 PM
 
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Be careful with making a huge switch to CFL's... they can cause migraines in some people (like me :()


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#8 of 17 Old 07-27-2011, 03:14 PM
 
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Congratulations on the job change!   May I suggest you also post this in the Frugality & Finances forum?  There is a lot of great information there!

 

http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/list/312/frugality-finances


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#9 of 17 Old 07-27-2011, 05:14 PM
 
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Food is a good place for a lot of people to trim the fat. Use a meal plan so that you are less likely to find yourself at 7:53 PM saying, "I have no plans for dinner... Screw it, let's get fast food!" and so you can buy fresh food with less risk of it going rotten before you eat it. Try to have something non-perishable in the back of the pantry (e.g. box of spaghetti noodles and an unopened jar of sauce) for those nights your meal plan fails. And always take your lunch to work. (Try making enough dinner to have leftovers. Unless you don't like leftovers. Then try a sandwich or a can of soup or something.)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post

1. Pay for everything in cash. Make a budget and take out the money you have to spend for the week or two in cash. When the cash is gone, you're done.


As far as I've ever heard, the only benefits of carrying cash are psychological in nature, e.g. some people don't have enough self-control to resist spending extra money if they are physically capable of doing so, or they don't really feel like they're spending money when they use a card, etc, etc. But some people have the opposite psychological problems so that carrying cash makes them spend MORE! Plus if your wallet is lost or stolen, you can say goodbye to any cash you had in there, whereas you can just get your card canceled before the thief uses it (and if it's a credit card rather than debit, it's usually easy to get any charges reversed if you don't cancel it in time). And depending on your financial institution, obtaining the cash can cost you dang near as much money as you'd save anyway....

 

So, if you're like me, never ever carry any cash. If you're slightly less like me, maybe keep a $20 bill handy for those rare card-doesn't-work emergencies.

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#10 of 17 Old 07-27-2011, 06:48 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyllya View Post

As far as I've ever heard, the only benefits of carrying cash are psychological in nature, e.g. some people don't have enough self-control to resist spending extra money if they are physically capable of doing so, or they don't really feel like they're spending money when they use a card, etc, etc. But some people have the opposite psychological problems so that carrying cash makes them spend MORE! Plus if your wallet is lost or stolen, you can say goodbye to any cash you had in there, whereas you can just get your card canceled before the thief uses it (and if it's a credit card rather than debit, it's usually easy to get any charges reversed if you don't cancel it in time). And depending on your financial institution, obtaining the cash can cost you dang near as much money as you'd save anyway....

 

So, if you're like me, never ever carry any cash. If you're slightly less like me, maybe keep a $20 bill handy for those rare card-doesn't-work emergencies.

 

True -- another way to do this (this is actually what dh and I do) is to only use a debit card and never put anything on the credit card. If you're going to do 'cash only' I wouldn't recommend taking out all  your cash for the month at once, but doing it for your 'spending' money for the week. I'd assume that you're paying your big bills with a check or online. 
 

 


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#11 of 17 Old 07-27-2011, 07:07 PM
 
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Well, heaven knows I'm not as frugal as I should be, but I do some things...

 

-I never buy books. I borrow 'em or use the library. Well, OK, I do buy books, but only from the Red Cross annual book fair, where they're $2 each. And I haven't even done that for a few years, 'cause I ran out of bookshelf space!

 

-I try to buy clothes from op shops or make them myself (partly for ethical reasons, partly for financial). Clothes come up a lot on Freecycle. I also have a network of friends with small children, and we swap baby clothes and stuff. When I sew clothes, I try to get fabric from op shops too. I don't seem to have the knack of finding vintage patterned sheets in pristine condition like some lucky ladies, but one op shop in my town has a few big fabric bins with pretty good stuff - big pieces, not just scraps. I have about 3 metres of red knit fabric I'm about to make a nursing dress out of, and I got it for about $3. I do occasionally splurge on gorgeous quilting cottons, but if I'm using them to make dresses for DD I'll use them for trims and borders, combined with cheaper fabric like solid-coloured homespun. It looks just as good!

 

-I make my own laundry powder, which I think saves me money... I never priced it out.

 

-We go through tons of milk and cream, and it's significantly cheaper at our fruit and veggie store than at the supermarket. Oddly enough, fruit and veggies are usually cheaper at the supermarket.

 

-I meal plan and then shop. I might change this, though. I usually do a supplementary shop during the week anyway; so what I should do is shop for meat and buy whatever's on special, and then construct the feeding plan (er, that's what we call it) based around that, and then get the rest of the stuff required for those meals. Wouldn't have to be just meat, come to think of it; I often bypass veggies and stuff on special because they're not needed for the meals on the feeding plan.

 

-I don't shop for fun. I've gotten used to not looking in clothes shops or cookware shops just for the sake of it. Can't be tempted if you don't know it exists, right? (And if you don't see the big "Sale" signs!)


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#12 of 17 Old 07-27-2011, 10:06 PM
 
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how does not going to your previous job change your lifestyle?

 

what were you doing then, that is different now?

 

where did you spend a lot of money then?

 

these kind of awareness will definitment. ely help you budget. 

 

for me i discovered my biggest money spender was eating out. huge. and like lynn said those darn good coffees. 

 

but for right now, dont worry about budgets. just sit back and enjoy your new 'freedom'. oh i am soooo glad for you. your $7,500 will be a huge investment into your family. just having those 10 hours will put u in a better mood to actually 'live' your budget.

 

right now its celebration time. dont look at your budget so much. just go out and spend and celebrate your new job AND new hours. 

 

i know it must be scary. but really it will be ok. i've lived with huge downsizing and its been a huge freak out moment till i realised ultimately it all works out. 

 

however one key thing i discovered also. to have your treats. that tiny indulgance helped immensely to stay on budget. 


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#13 of 17 Old 07-28-2011, 05:19 AM
 
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Congratulations on the new job! 

 

I agree with a pp that you should start writing it down every time you spend money so that you can track your expenses. There are some software programs or apps that can help. You'll be able to recognize spending patterns then. It will make it easier to budget and find areas to cut costs. 

 

Grocery shopping is a good place to start. In addition to meal planning, take a close look at what you buy and try reducing the most expensive items on your list. Eat more meatless meals, avoid expensive imported fruits and vegetables and other ingredients, and make more things from scratch.

 

Bartering and trading for goods and services can also help you reduce your expenses without having to sacrifice too much. You may be able to enjoy a mani/pedi if you can offer something in exchange instead of cash - babysitting or gardening or something. 

 

Good luck! 

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#14 of 17 Old 07-28-2011, 06:53 AM
 
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Start thinking reduce, reuse, recycle about everything.

 

Not sure if you have to deal with cold weather, but if you do, changing the setting on your thermostat can save you money.  In the winter, we set ours down to 66*F and I wear an extra layer (sweater, slippers over socks, fingerless gloves) or use an afghan to stay warm if I'm feeling chilly.  DH always complains, b/c he likes to be in shorts year round (b/c growing up, his mom blasted the heat in winter), until we get the heating bill every month, and then he's happy I keep the house at a cooler temperature.  Our winter heating costs always outstrip our summer cooling costs (in summer we set our thermostat to 79 and use our ceiling fans), but it's less of a wallet hit than it could be.

 

I agree w/ PPs that writing down your expenses is critical to really knowing exactly where the money is going right now.  That'll make it easier to see where the extras can be trimmed.

 

If you currently have cable TV, consider unsubscribing (not sure if there would be cancellation fees to take into account or not).  Most libraries have a large collection of DVDs you can check out for a few days at a time (although the older discs tend to be scratched).

 

Do you currently buy a lot of bottled water?  Consider investing in a water filter pitcher instead, and a metal water bottle. 

 

 

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#15 of 17 Old 07-28-2011, 10:59 AM
 
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Identifying places you tend to spend the most money and replacing them with slightly cheaper options or planning better are big (for us).

 

We like to eat out, semi-reguarly.  When more pressed for money we have a short list of places we know we'll spend less at doing that.  OR we plan 'we will eat out every month after dh has been working x days in a row' or something like that.  It makes it easier to say 'well, we'll be eating out in 2 days, I can suck it up and eat pbj tonight for dinner, or boring leftovers'.  Sometimes making sure we have enough 'quick meal' food at home for days we're tired and allowing more going out for ice cream helps too (and that costs less).  Whereas the frozen egg rolls cost more, they're way less than buying chinese food for everyone.  

 

Planning outings better rather than just heading out aimlessly helps a lot too.  That's kinda a big problem we have.  shake.gif

 

Making sure you shop around/negotiate things that you use the most helps too.  (I'll add that negotiating otherwise fixed costs can make a big difference.  We have an insurance agent dh has used for years and found way better house insurance just last year that saved us several hundred dollars - it was awesome.  We did that before with our life insurance and car ins. too previously, just had him check up on it.)

 

Stocking up less (if you tend to do that) can help while you're adjusting to a different budget.  You're usually fine without the extra and not spending the extra money you otherwise would does make a difference.  (Stocking up less counts too - just getting one extra instead of 3 or 4).

 

We round up costs for certain bills and put that in savings until we get those bills, I save change from grocery shopping and throw that into savings for a little more cash to handle unexpected expenses or sometimes use for treats.    

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#16 of 17 Old 07-28-2011, 06:32 PM
 
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Cancel the cable and get netflix.  It's like a bandaid, painful for the first week but the result is sooo worth it.

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#17 of 17 Old 07-28-2011, 09:11 PM
 
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Someone else mentioned Freecycle (www.freecycle.org), which I was going to mention. Also the 2nd-hand stores for clothes (and I get the greatest handbags there too! really high-quality leather bags can often be found). And yard sales & the 2nd-hand shops for toys. And the library for books.

 

Also, buying food that isn't processed & packaged, and making your own stuff. Like, a big sack of potatoes can be home fries for breakfast, it can be potato salad, it can be french fries...you get my drift. It's late so I can't really go into detail on the food. But just to stay away from brand name, processed food. Have a spice drawer full of flavor and just buy the most basic foods and flavor it with the wonderful spices.

 

Also, it helped when we became vegetarian/vegan, as we no longer have to make the choice between cheap & probably unhealthy meat vs. expensive "free range" meat. We just don't buy any of it! Or milk or eggs or any of that. And that had been getting expensive, because when we were buying those things, we were buying organic to mitigate bad effects. It could get very costly.

 

And in our family we have a real money-sucking habit, which is buying coffee when we're out & about, though my becoming vegan has helped cut down on that since hardly anyone offers soy creamer for the coffee.  Bringing your own coffee is key. I used to have a coffee maker in my office when I worked in an office! 

 

On top of all this, work to realize how little you really need. There's a book which helped me have a "light bulb" moment as to how little I really need to actually own. It's called Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston. Even if you don't care about feng shui that much, she writes eloquently about clutter and possessions and why we seem to think we need so much. It REALLY helped me let go and be happier with less....an effort I've been trying to make over the years. First out of necessity, but then because that's how we're evolving.  :-)

 

Good luck!

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