Welcome to My Life Experiment! In this post I am going to talk a little about some money saving tips my wife and I are relying on to stay above water with our finances. There is a ton of information on this subject. But this is My Life Experiment, and I will show you the ones that are having a nice effect on my life!
With all of my family’s new expenses (new mortgage, student loans, incoming baby), our finances are going to be stretched to the limit.
In my last few posts (Raising Families Means, Earning Diaper Cash Online), I have expressed the amount of energy I am putting into earning more cash. Here I am speaking to the practical ways we are using that same energy to save as much of our hard-earned cash as possible!
At this stage in the life game, I cannot imagine SIMPLY focusing on earning as much as possible. Saving is just as important! If I am bringing an extra $4200 a year home from hustling harder and just go spend it all on unimportant crap, then what good did I do?
My family is hustling hard to create a strong financial base of support! Shoring up any cracks in the foundation, is CRAZY IMPORTANT!
Here are 5 habits that my wife and I have taken on to save some of that cash from falling through the cracks:
1. Joining Store Reward Programs– Basically any store that I go to seems to have a reward program! They were something I overlooked for the last couple of years, but now started realizing that people with those cards were getting some damn good deals. So lately I have just been signing up for these free programs and I am noticing great savings on grocery totals.
2. Using the Target Red Card and Cart Wheel– I don’t know how many times I have shopped at Target and had the sales associate ask me if I want to get the Target Red Card. At first, I was like, hell no I don’t want another credit card! Then I realized they have a Debit version, that simply comes out of my Checking Account. It still took me forever to get one since I kept forgetting to bring a cashier’s check into the store to get signed up. Then it FINALLY dawned on me that they have a Website and so I did it on there! Getting 5% off all purchases comes in very handy. Target also has a great app called Cart Wheel. With Cart Wheel, all you have to do is find the sale items in the app, click the item, and it creates a barcode for the cashier to scan as a coupon. I have found several items I would have been buying anyway, and saved a lot of money just by having that app.
3. Credit Card Rewards– My wife and I hooked up with a Credit Card that offers 4% cash back on fuel purchases and 4% off the Warehouse store she works at, and we regularly shop at. It also gives 3% back on any places we eat out (which isn’t regularly). I also have another card that I use sometimes that only gives 1% back on all purchases, which needs to be replaced immediately!
4. Using Credit Cards and Reward Programs Responsibly– This is the habit that makes list numbers 1-3 worthwhile. The trick to list items 1-3 is that they should only be used to purchase goods and services that we’re already going to be purchasing anyway! Getting 3% back on eating out 5 times per week is still blatantly irresponsible, even though some money is being saved, unless you can afford that of course. If you are thinking “WELL DUH TRAVIS”, then I am hear to say that with all the maxed out credit cards in the world, it is not as COMMON SENSE as you might think it is. Of course, the only way to make a credit card worth it is to pay off the balances before any interest can accrue. There is no point in getting rewards for spending when paying it all back in interest payments anyway!
5. Cooking at Home– Probably the hardest part about making sure to cook at home is that life is busy and eating out is soooo easy. Over my last 5 years I have had ebbs and flows with my eating out habits, sometimes responsible, sometimes very much not! Lately though, the emphasis has been on putting my culinary arts degree skills to work. I have been having fun spending more time preparing meals that have some left overs to munch on for a few days. I used to justify going to Dollar Menu Items at the Fast Food Places as being a good idea to save money. Maybe I save some money with those, but it didn’t save my body any of the stress of trying to digest all that crap.
6. Buying the RIGHT ITEMS in bulk– I read an article recently that touched on how Warehouse Stores (Costco, Sam’s Club) were actually costing people more money and getting people to eat more. Having to buy a bunch of food to buy any, although affordable, can either be a waste or lead to over-eating. If I am just trying to buy some Poptart’s, and some Orange Juice, then maybe the Warehouse Store isn’t the best option for our home (Unless you have a big family or run a Day Care I suppose.) One box of Poptart’s is really all we need, not 6! But there are many items that make complete sense to purchase in bulk and help save a ton of money. Some of the things we buy in bulk is toilet paper, paper towels, Keurig pods. There are many more items that make more sense to purchase at the Warehouse Store, these are just a few.
I have to say that although I have a decent batting average on maintaining these habits, I do slip up from to time. This is to be expected, and I don’t beat myself up over it. This list is also a limited one, there are many other ways to make the most out of our money!
In my next post on money management I will talk about the impulse to spend, when spending doesn’t need to be done. My Life Experiment goes much more smoothly when being responsible with how I spend my money, so getting on top of the emotions that drive impulsive spending is highly important!
If you can think of any more helpful money saving tips, please leave them in the comments section below! And if you think this list could be helpful for someone you know, go ahead and share it with them. Thank you for stopping into My Life Experiment, I hope you have a beautiful day!