8.22.2013

Tips On Saving Money

Before the slide happened at Kennecott, we were living comfortably. We took for granted where our money was going and how easily we were spending it. Since the accident up there and Cory lost some of his highest paid hours, we've obviously reevaluated how we've been controlling our money now that we have less of it. Knowing our situation is temporary hasn't changed our thinking. We want to be as smart as we can about this and let me tell you, we have learned A LOT! For instance, I now appreciate more than ever the importance of the dollar. It blows me away how much money people will throw away on superficial things or just to get the best name brand of a product! I've become keenly aware of my spending habits and the importance of saving our money and getting out of debt. I now know the difference between needs and wants and have learned what's really important and value what I purchase. I'm certainly not an expert on this topic, I'm sure we have more learning to do, but I wanted to share what we have learned or have used that has helped make what could have been a nightmare of a situation, into one that will hopefully shape how we budget our money for the rest of our lives. These are in no particular order. 

1. Make a list of all your expenses and cut out what you don't need. This was our first step when the slide happened. We sat down and listed all of our expenses to see where we could make cuts. We don't have consumer debt (unnecessary loans, credit cards, subscriptions) so we didn't have tons to cut back on. But we got rid of things that weren't a huge priority, starting with the most obvious. For example, no one needs cable or satellite. We get by just fine with our antenna and $8-a-month Netflix and Hulu Plus. Or we just don't watch TV altogether. Cut out subscriptions you don't need such as magazines, memberships, and whatnot. Shop around for internet prices or share with a neighbor. Strip it down to the bare minimum. You'll be surprised how much freer and happier you'll feel not having that weighing on you. It's like decluttering your life. 
2. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Cut back on power usage. Increase/decrease your thermostat to a temperature that you can tolerate and not use so much energy. Look into budget billing as well so you will always know what your bill will be. Cut back on driving. Carpool with people. Etc. 
3. Use coupons and pay attention to grocery store sales. I hit up Smith's on a sale one time and saved so much money! Also, store brands, generally speaking, are the exact same thing as the expensive brands. Buy those instead! If you're used to buying $30 shampoo, change it! You can save $25 by getting $5 shampoo instead. Your hair won't fall out and you can afford much more stuff. Apply these principals everywhere.
4. Plan a menu for two weeks and only buy what you need. I plan our meals out for two weeks then hit the grocery store. I always shop when I'm full so I don't buy stuff out of hunger, and I only get what's on my list. I used to just go up and down every isle and just buy what looked good and I wasted so much money. Not anymore. 
5. Avoid advertising as much as possible. That's a bad title for this example but I don't know how else to put it. Let me explain. I used to really try and save our spending money before things got a little tighter but as soon as I would log onto Facebook and see a sale on Sexy Modest Boutique or get an email that Zulily had a particular item on sale, I suddenly needed it! I had to have it right then because it was cheaper! And I wasn't realizing how many times that was happening and how much money I wasting on stuff I just wanted. So I avoid those all together now. I instantly delete all emails, stopped allowing those stores to show up in my news feed to tempt me, stopped "window shopping" at stores, etc. Unless you're out to get something you need, stay away from it. I told Cory the new rule is: if I haven't mentioned we need it at least twice before, then it's not worth buying. And decrease your Pinterest use. 
6. Invest in things that will save you money in the long run. We subscribed to amazon prime in February. It's been a HUGE help to never have to pay for shipping when we have to order something. I also have lots of Norwex products which have saved us lots of money already because I don't ever have to buy cleaning products or face wash/body wash again! That's cut our grocery bill substantially.
7. Use apps to help you stay on track. About a year and a half ago, I purchased a (kind of expensive) app called Visual Budget. I'm sure there's many apps out there just like it, and I don't even know half the stuff this one can do, but it's awesome. I can put in all of our bills and group them in categories (transportation, home, personal, groceries) and the date they will take out of our checking account. So on any given day, I will always knowhow much money we have after all the bills will take out. When you spend money on something, simply put the transaction in and it recalculates it all for you. You can also see how much you've spent each month on each category like fuel, groceries, dining out, etc. which can be an eye opener and help you declare a budget. You can also see how you paid for each transaction if you remember to add that detail when you put in a transaction, whether it was with cash, check, credit card, or a bank transfer like automatic withdrawal. This is useful too, but I'll cover how we spend our money in another bullet point. 
8. Pay your tithing. This is kind of a no brainer. Having trouble? Don't stop paying your tithing. The Lord will always bless you with what you need. 
9. Plan your fun stuff/date nights ahead of time and save for them. We used to just spontaneously go out or order pizza randomly and never really care about how much it would cost. Now that we have to be more careful, we plan ahead. We decide what night we want to go out on a date night or to an event (like the rodeo) and what we want to do and where. Then we set the money aside and we know that's our "fun" budget. We also don't plan to do expensive things unless we know we have some time to save for it. Our date nights are pretty cheap these days. 
10. Budget your money. I guess this is kind of obvious haha but determine a budget and stick to it. Set aside a certain amount for bills, groceries, eating out, personal grooming, clothes, etc. If you stay under budget, save the extra. 
11. Use cash for everything. My mom first told me about this one when I was in high school and since then it's been a huge thing that people mention from Dave Ramsey's plan, which is also awesome and kind of what we are doing. The simple truth is, we can swipe and swipe and swipe our credit/debit cards all day long and never really know or care how much we spent. That's not the case with cash. It's so much harder to hand over $20 in cash to someone than it is to hand them a piece of plastic. We tested this theory out a long time ago with eating out. One month we spent gobs of money on eating out. The next, we used cash and didn't eat out once. We didn't want to waste our cash on food. Plus you always know how much you have left. We love this method. Minus having to go inside and pay for our gas at the gas station ;) 
12. If all else fails, be nice to every widow you meet in hopes they will leave you all their money when they die. Kidding. Obviously. 

Hopefully those tips will help anyone who may be looking for ways to save on some cash. I know we've learned lessons we'll use for a lifetime. 

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