Saving Money - Gradually
Unsure of How to Get Started?
You want to save money. But how? How do you sift through all the information out there and the millions of tips? How do I apply it to my life? I mean, some of the tips are good, but they aren't realistic or applicable to my life. How will I know that the tip is working? Help!!!!
Do it Gradual and Deliberate
Most people read tips on saving money and trimming their budget and try to act on each and every one of them at once. Then as chaos develops they are not sure which one is being done wrong, which one is the hard one to do, and going cold turkey can be very painful if we are not wired that way.
You might need to go about this very deliberately and gradually. That way you can make sure that you are doing it right, applying it correctly, and can see the true effect of it.
As you read of these tips, pick ONE that you are willing to being. With each one I'll give you tips on how to begin and how to monitor them.
Another thought would be to do with other people (families) and compare notes, maybe start a forum on this topic alone and work out issues together. I've found out that when I am not doing it alone, I am more successful.
Step by Step
Step 1 - Turn off Cable - Yes, I said it. Turn off your cable or sattelite. I admit that it can be a little nervous. We cancelled ours and then signed up for NetFlix. $15 a month for unlimited movies and TV shows compared to $50 a month is a big savings. If you go the NetFlix or a similar program, you are not totally going cold turkey. I'll be honest, I was very hesitant to do this. But we are spending so much more family time and our electric bill took a dip since the TV is off most of the time instead of being on constantly. Be careful! Make sure if you have a contract that says you have to keep your cable a certain length of time or if you have a cancellation penalty. It might not be cheaper so research it. Give it a try! What have you got to loose?
Step 2 - Turn off the lights - Sit back and and take some time to watch the activities of your light switches. You'll begin to notice how many times anyone can walk through a room, have this huge need to turn on the lights, and then exit the room leaving the lights on. Keep them off. If you have to, put tape over the switches to discourage usage. In our house, we have begun to use hurriane lamps and candles in place of electric lights (except when doing homework which can be hard enough on the eyes). Our bill dropped to a fourth of what it was.
Step 3 - Buying in Bulk/Community Grocery Shopping - You walk in and find that flour if bought in the huge 50 pound bag is dirt cheap. The frugal shopper in you is crying out. But the sensible side of you reminds you that you only use it periodically and by the time you get through half of that big bag it will have those blasted flour bugs taking up house. Then you just wasted all that cheap flour. Go in with other families and buy in bulk to save those dollars. There are various ways you can do it, but the concept is that multiple families go into together to buy those bulk items that are so reasonable and therefore, nothing is going to waste including money.
Step 4 - Watch those Brakes - Yes, when driving try not to use the brakes that much. I'm NOT saying not to brake. Use them wisely. Do you really have to wait till you are ten feet from the traffic light before stopping? You could have begun slowing down yards back. Most people don't realize how much wear and tear they put on their brakes by speeding up and braking so much. This can run into money and beyond if you rely a lot on your vehicle. Be careful and think as you brake. Take care of them so that they can take care of you.
Step 5 - Shop Smartly - There are times we are to buy those needed items and those not so needed items. We are going to buy them no matter what so how do you save money doing that? You shop around. You don't just go buy it. Learn where the best places are to get it. A friend of mine loves Lia Sophia jewelry but just does not feel like going bankrupt to acquire the pieces. She shops on eBay and gets the exact piece for half to a quarter of what the retail price is. That is a big savings. I'm known for knowing what I want and begin shopping sometimes months before I really want to buy it. Why? Because then when I walk in and some salesman tries to explain how much of a sale it is, I know the reality of it and don't walk out spending more than I have to. There are some of you that don't like shopping and run from it as fast as you can. See if you can enlist a friend to help that likes to shop. I bet for an ice cream sundae they would do the shopping (not the buying) for you.
Step 6 - Second Hand/Consignment - Do you really need it brand new? I have to admit that there are some things that I absolutely refuse to buy used (underwear is a big one). But most other things can be bought used and no one knows while you are saving sometimes HUGE amounts of money. We have three children who grow out of clothes like there is no tomorrow (ok, only two right now are doing that to me, but...). If I went to even Wal-Mart and purchased ALL their clothes, I couldn't leave without spending a couple of hundred. I would be doing that a few times a year. Instead, we visit the second-hand stores and really shop. I don't buy them clothes that should be burned. We find really good pieces (some still with the tags on them). I can all of my children ready at the beginning of the school year for under $200 and they get so many clothes.
Step 7 - Eat at Home - I love to eat out only because I have variety to choose from and I don't have to do the dishes. Next to a massage every day what more could you ask for, right? But in the spirit of wisdom and poverty, we probably need to look more at home for eating. To break up the boredom and free up time, we end up making meals ahead of time and freezing them. That way the urge to go out to eat because I'm just too tired to cook can be twarted. For $100 a week.... Ok, in today's economy,
Step 8 - Sell Excess - Admit it. Most of us have things around us that we don't want, don't like, and for sure don't need. If we really thought about it, that could be a lot of things. Have a rummage sale. You might not make thousands, but you could rid yourself of clutter and get a few bucks along with it. EBay, Craig's List, and other local venues are also out there to help you get rid of your excess. Take a look into it.
Step 9 - Green Movement - Everyone is going green. The "fad" is something we all should be doing just on ethics alone. But beware of really cool green tools that aren't really needed and cost lots of money. You can go green which benefits you and the world for little or no cost. In the end going green should also be saving you money and help be smart. Don't fight because so many are doing it. Just make sure you are doing it the correct and smart way.
Step 10 - Using Waste - This coud be part of the step above, but you don't have to go "green" to think about the wastefullness we all participate in. Reusing your sandwich bags is one such example. Think before throwing it in the garbage. Think of how it can be used again.
Step 11 -Coupons - Don't laugh. Coupons can save you money. A few cents here and there really add up. A fun way to do it is to have a coupon club with your friends or co-workers. You clip the coupons you want and then pass them on to the others. They do the same. Therefore, the ones that you don't use don't go to waste.
It Is Easy
I can be easy if you don't try to go overboard. It's easier to make life changing steps when done gradually when you can see the results and feel good as you actually make it a part of your everyday life.
Good luck and have fun saving your dimes!!!!