10 Easy Ways to Save and Create Money!
From "fired" to "promoted"
Throughout most of life, I have been in business management. At the age of 23, I was given my first "location" where I was responsible for the entire operation of a 3 million dollar a year restaurant. Now...for those of you who just said.."Oh, restaurant managers only know food" .....let me tell you that you are wrong! Every profit making business sells some type of product and for restaurants, that product is food and service. Behind the scenes and on a profit and loss statement- businesses are all the same. After a few months at my new position, my district manager actually called me a "cow" - in a good way. Before you go thinking that I should have called HR, please know that his exact term was "cash cow". I will take that one.
I continued my career for the next ten years making other companies money. I would go in, find the lines of the p&l statement that I could instantly impact, and add money to the bottom line. My career was doing well, I was making money, but unknowingly neglecting my own finances.
Fast forward a few years....
Life took a few spins around and I found myself wanting to be at home more with my 5 children. My husband had always worked from home so why couldn't I? It would mean going to commission and cutting expenses but my family was worth it. I secured a career with a "remote office" and became a work at home mother. At this same time, I realized that my previous career had made me somewhat of a "control freak" and I wasn't getting what I mentally needed from my commission based career. There is NOTHING you can control in commission and since I am sub-contracted to work for someone else - there really isn't a business to run! So-I turned to our home finances to get my fix and put together a home "p&l" statement. Man, if I had hired myself to run these types of numbers...I would have fired myself ASAP.
To put it simply, a profit an loss statement shows every dime that flows through your home or business and mine wasn't a healthy one.
- Your "top line" is your income before expenses - short of getting a raise or starting a side business, you can't impact this number
- Your expenses can be broken down into two categories "non-controllable" and "controllable". "Controllable expenses" would be things like groceries, shopping, most utilities, eating out, etc. and "non-controllable expenses" would be things you can not easily control like rent or house payment, insurance, taxes, car and home maintenance, etc
- BUT the "bottom line" or what is leftover each month..you can impact that one.
In management, it is not how you get yourself into the mess, it is how you get out of it. I now had my "control freak" mission. I was going to clean up this P&L statement and get my family's finances on the right track! It wasn't going to be easy though. My family is an immediate gratification family and used to being on the go. I had to find ways to create money where there would be no "sting" and no " deprivation".
Here are the 10 Easy Ways that I came up with to add money to our "bottom line"!
1. Household Cleaners -Try "Green Cleaning"! You can think of it as being a "hippie" or think of "green" as MONEY! Previously, my cleaning cabinet held glass cleaner, all purpose cleaner, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, abrasive surface scrubber, air freshener, fabric refresher, bleach, bathroom cleaner....you get the idea. Now, I make my own cleaners and make them all with only with 5 items! I have a family of 5 and was spending $10 per week on laundry soap- NOW I spend $15 a MONTH FOR MY ENTIRE CLEANING ARSENAL! It adds up to about $50 a month in total cleaning supplies savings!
2. DIY coffee/20 ounce refreshments! That's right Do It Yourself! 20 years ago we NEVER would have imagined paying $4 for a coffee or $1.50 for a 20 ounce soda OR WATER (its the same as a 2 liter!) but everyday we do it. Invest in a good coffee maker and a travel mug and do it yourself 90% of the time. Remember, its about a lifestyle change NOT deprivation. Still reward yourself with one trip a week to the fancy coffee shop! If you are a plastic bottle junkie...buy a 12 pack of soda or water and keep it at home. Take a can with you instead of stopping at the gas station where you are always tempted to grab extras and it will save you instant money. For me along, this was at least $20 per week!
3. List Shopping - This sounds too easy. MAKE A LIST! We go to the grocery once every two weeks. Let's say I don't buy enough diapers and we need another pack. Sounds so simple...go to the grocery and buy diapers..NOPE! That $9 pack of diapers reproduces like "Be-Be's kids" and I have 5 bags of skittles for the kids, maybe a new pack of pens, 2 cold bottles of water, and whatever else the cashier is peddling. Do that more than once a week and you have spent an extra $30! Think about...how often do you come out of a store with only one item? Save yourself some money and get everything the FIRST TIME.
4. Reduce Pre-packaged items! Oh yes, another "green" hippie statement--or is it "green" like MONEY? Making items yourself instead of buying prepackaged ones at the grocery will save you money. It seems like small amounts 50 cents here or there BUT when you add it up on just one grocery trip..its A LOT of money!
- Look at something as easy as tortillas. I was buying them for maybe $1.50 a pack..if I wanted a specialty flavor it was more. Now, I make my own tortillas and a whole "pack" costs like 30 CENTS. That is about $3 a week in savings just in 1 item!
- Instead of buying pre-made spaghetti or pizza sauce which can cost $2 and up....I buy a can of organic crushed tomatoes with garlic for about $1 a can. It tastes so much better than the cheap pasta sauce and is better for you. If you like it smooth-put it in the blender. I used to buy 3 jars each trip - Add on $3 just in Sauce.
5. Family Activities - As a family, we like to get out and do things together. One of these things used to be going to the mall. We never really bought anything at the mall but we somehow spent too much money! We would eat lunch at the mall, grab a soda or two, maybe spend a few bucks on a clearance item, put gas in the car, and then would be too exhausted to cook when we got home so we would order in! The mall trip where we bought nothing would turn into a $60 outing. INSTEAD of spending...try going to the park, a free museum, take a walk around the neighborhood, PACK your snacks, or you can even have a picnic at the mall! Pack your lunch and enjoy it in the food court or at a mall "greenspace".
6. Don't spend "virtual"money. With the convenience of online banking, direct deposit, pay pal, etc. we don't SEE our money. It is much easier to swipe a card and overspend than it is to hand over real hold-able money. Get your direct deposit and pay your bills online then take WITHDRAW REAL MONEY for your grocery, spending, gas, etc money and put it into glass jars (see the picture above). You will be more inclined to leave at least some jingle in the jar and to not spend it all. At the end of the week, transfer the jingle to a savings jar. You will be shocked how much less you spend when you can SEE it. This also assures that your "savings" from your lifestyle changes stays where it should - in your account!
- See if your bank has a program where each of your purchases are "rounded up" and the difference is put into savings. For instance, if I go to the grocery and spent $125.75 - the purchase is rounded to $126 and the $.75 is immediately put into savings. This happens on each purchase and at the end of the month, you can end up with $20 to $50 bucks in savings. This may only be pennies BUT you never miss pennies and they add up quickly!
7. Online Shopping - This can be a catch 22 so you HAVE to remember to use your list. I shop using ebates and get money BACK for my purchases. On Ebates, you can shop thousands of stores and they each will pay you! GNC is my husband's addiction and now he gets 12% back from each GNC purchase (through drugstore.com). I even buy all of our diapers there now and get 12% back on each purchase. You can always find free shipping and places like Walgreens, Walmart, Kmart, Lowes, etc are on there too! Be organized though because online shopping can be dangerous!Click Here to Find out Ways to get PAID to use coupons at the grocery.
8. Double check all your utilities and services - Remember, this isn't about deprivation so I am not suggesting you get rid of your cable, cell phone, internet, etc. -but you should check out your contract date and plan. Sometimes just by calling in and asking and inferring that you are thinking out changing, you can get a nice rate reduction or bumped to a better package price that is only offered to new customers. If you are at the end of your contract, check out the prices at competitors. I recently changed my cell phone provider and saved $40 per month for the SAME EXACT SERVICE! The satellite company also was able to save me some money just by calling in.
9. Let it all Hang Out! I never would have thought that using a clothes line would save me so much money but it does! My dryer finally called it quits (may it rest in peace) and I was too cheap to buy an immediate replacement. I already had a clothesline in the basement from the past owners so we started using it. One month lead to two, two months to a year! This carried on until I was finally given a dryer when my parents upgraded (they are instant gratification people). I began using my new shiny dryer and guess what happened...My electric bill went up $30!!! That is over $300 a year just to use a dryer! So...now we do half of our clothes in the dryer and half on the line. You can also wash almost everything on the cold cycle and save a bit there too!
10. Be AWARE - Look at your money daily. My husband NEVER used a bank book and I would bet that most people don't. The convenience of online banking allows us to look at a "virtual bankbook" on a screen without the need for us to do troublesome math. You need to keep track along side the computer! There is something about the act of writing is down that makes it harder to spend frivolous money.
Here is what happens on payday in my house:
- Look at the calender and see what bills are due before your next check. Don't wait until the due date--pay them now!
- Write a realistic budget based on what you have left over. Withdraw this money from the bank and put this money into the jars. That is all you have until next payday. Remember to write this down as a withdrawal!
- Move half of the remaining money immediately into savings. leave it!
- At the end of the moth, check your spreadsheet to see truly how much you spent in each area. Adjust what you can for next month!
I hope that these tricks and tips help you to add extra money to your savings account. For me, if it wasn't easy or it involved my family "losing" something that they already had, it wasn't going to happen. So, I put my business brain on- focused on "controllable expenses" and came up with a solution that worked for us. It has allowed us to live on less AND put more into savings than we ever had..even on less income! I must say, If I were my boss I would say that I moved from "fired" to "hired" and would give me a raise...oh, wait - I kinda did!
Please let me know of any other ideas and tips you may have used to get your family's profit and loss statement in line!
*Ps. I plan to breakdown a "Home Profit and Loss Statement" in an article soon to come!