We’re all sick of that “I” word by now, right? I’m talking about *inflation*.
Money isn’t going as far as it used to, and my monthly budget has NOTICED.
I’ve always considered myself very frugal. My drink of choice? Whatever’s on special. What’s for dinner? Whatever was on sale at the grocery store this week. Where that dress came from? Probably the clearance rack. There’s no shame in my money saving game.
I know it can be embarrassing and uncomfortable talking about money.
It’s like by wanting to “pinch pennies” wherever you can, you’re worried people might make assumptions about you or judge you. Like somehow you’re “low class” if you get more excited about saving money than spending it.
Years ago, I read an article that talked about how most self-made millionaires still use coupons and buy what’s on sale. And that’s the day I decided to stop caring so much what another person might think about my financial situation if I wasn’t living large. Yes, I’m that gal in the grocery store who has 13 coupons at checkout. Can’t stop, won’t stop.
Every single dollar adds up. A penny saved IS a penny earned.
As the cost of living continues to increase, I thought it would be timely to try and put together a list of ways I try to save money every day.
1. At the grocery store, don’t be afraid to buy store brands.
This goes for diapers and formula, too. It doesn’t have to be every single item (my husband will never forgive me for that one time I bought off brand ranch dressing).
Check out the ad BEFORE you go into the store. Every Wednesday morning when new grocery ads come out, I look them up online, make my grocery list based off of sale prices, organize my coupons, and meal plan dinners based on what’s on sale. When items like shredded cheese or ground beef go on sale, I buy in bulk and freeze them until I need them. There’s even money left over for seltzers.
2. Pay your car insurance 6 months at a time.
On my policy, I can save money by paying all at once versus monthly. The average cost nationwide to insure a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is between $100-135/month. I pay $270 every 6 months, or $45/month. Easy money!
3. Cancel cable entirely.
I’m guessing many of you have already done this. We “cut the cord” in 2015, and haven’t looked back. Currently we subscribe to Philo (Sling TV during football season), plus Paramount+ and Netflix. We recently axed Disney+, Hulu, and are considering getting rid of Netflix as the price continues to climb. There are certain streaming services we pay for one month a year (like Amazon Prime Player and Apple+), and try to watch all the new content in that monthly time slot. Free streaming channels with decent content: Roku Channel, PBS Kids, Peacock.
4. If you can get a lower interest rate on your mortgage, refinance NOW.
I know this process can be intimidating and uncomfortable for people. If you don’t feel well versed in the financial industry or get easily confused by bank speak like “DTI” and “PMI”, DON’T LET IT KEEP YOU AWAY. I worked in a bank setting for 7 years before I became a stay at home mom, and I can tell you firsthand we never judged people for not understanding all the ins and outs of loans and financing. That is what the banker is there for: rely on them.
You can save HUNDREDS of dollars a month by taking this one step. Interest rates are continuing to climb so there is truly no time like the present. To illustrate my point: on a $200,000 home fully financed, the difference between a 3.25% and 2.75% interest rate over the course of 30 years is nearly $20,000 in interest. That’s a lot of diapers.
5. “Don’t be penny smart and dollar stupid”
Basically, if you’re making good choices day to day on the little things, don’t let all that hard work go to waste by paying way more than you need to for the big ticket items.
When it became clear we needed to switch to a minivan a few years ago, I knew the biggest money saving thing we could do would be to buy used instead of new. I knew going into the negotiating process that I would not accept the first number they gave me. I ended up getting thousands of dollars more for my trade-in vehicle than they initially offered, and was able to negotiate the interest rate down for my loan as well. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground and never be afraid to walk away. Chances are, you’ll have a much better deal waiting for you the next day.
6. Sell your kids’ toys and clothes when they have outgrown them.
If your house is like mine, you might find that it’s constantly overflowing with books, toys, just STUFF. A few years ago, I started selling items around the house we no longer need on Facebook Marketplace (with shipping as there’s a much larger audience that way). I’ve made thousands of dollars and have had so much success that I’ve even started selling items for family members and friends.
7. Do your kids need new clothes or specialized equipment like cleats or a baseball glove, or something even bigger like a bicycle? Don’t buy new!
Hit up area garage sales and you’ll be shocked at how easy it is to save money. I buy items off of Facebook Marketplace as well and have had an overwhelmingly positive experience as a buyer.
8. When it comes to entertainment, look for specials.
If you want to grab a drink with your friends, opt for Happy Hour. There’s nothing wrong with a low key Date Night. Heading to the movies? Check out $5 Tuesdays. Don’t be afraid to keep things simple.
9. Get cash back for purchases you’re going to be making anyway.
Currently our family has 3 credit cards. We have a set monthly budget for each and pay them off in full every month. One gives me 6% back on groceries and 3% back on gas. Another gives me 5% back on fast food and 3% back at restaurants. The last rotates categories every 3 months but occasionally does 5% back at Sam’s Club/Costco, Amazon, and others. Each month, I use the cash back earned as a statement credit.
When I’m placing an order online, I like to go through Rakuten to get additional cash back. Usually, it’s just 1% cash back, but it all adds up!
I hope these tips can help you save enough money each month to have a little more breathing room for the inevitable home repair, unexpected medical bill, or even to build up your savings.
Did I miss anything? Leave your additional money saving tips in the comments below!
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