6 Habits For Saving Our Hard Earned Cash!

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!


First Day of “The Gratitude Intention”!

Day one

Good morning everyone! So, if you read my last post you may remember that I set the Intention to cultivate gratitude to see if it helps me stay more alert and connected to my life. I decided that for every day of the experiment, I would also make sure to add a blog post the day after (hopefully first thing in the morning), to update any things I am noticing about the process.
Yesterday I spent my first day writing my morning to-do list and gratitude list, and taking time outs for gratitude meditation. I ended up waking a little earlier than normal to write my daily lists, I was somewhat groggy, but brewed up the coffee, fed the cats, and got down to “brass tax”. Generally, I would like to sleep in for as long as I can in the morning, because it feels great! Maybe the other reason is like my wife says, “because we will be parents soon and we won’t be sleeping much anymore!”
While I was writing the lists, I had a familiar feeling but a very good one. First of all let me show you an example of the first gratitude I wrote. “I am truly grateful that I get to wake up in this beautiful new home of ours every morning! I adore living here. As I walk around to our different rooms and see what Casey and I now own, I feel a ton of gratitude. It is such a gift to live here”. Suffice it to say after writing five of these (note that I set out to do 10), I was feeling comfortable and ready to start my day.
You may have noticed that I didn’t end up writing as many things to be grateful for as I set out to do. I am alright with this because even writing just five of them worked very well for me. I also didn’t find the time to take my ten to fifteen minutes to meditate in the afternoon. Although I did find little moments throughout the afternoon to take a few deep breaths, relax, and think about what there is too appreciate! That worked great, but I will be getting to the routine as planned, tomorrow. Though by going off track from the routine I was reminded how powerful taking a couple of good breaths is for getting myself back to the moment!

At the end of my night I got back into the experiment as planned. I laid down, closed my eyes, did some relaxed breathing, and for roughly 15 minutes I allowed the things I appreciated about the day to flow through my mind. It was a great way to end my night. When something came to my mind that felt like it added more pressure to the moment (such as scheduling issues, money issues, etc..), I reminded myself that I would get back to taking care of that issue tomorrow. I ended my day grateful, then dozed off and slept like a baby!

So day one was a positive experience, I seem to be honing my routine still, which is good. Today I am off on the right track and I will tell you more about it tomorrow! Thanks for checking out “My Life Experiment” once again or for the first time! Now here is a recap of some of the benefits I noticed from this process yesterday!


-I woke up early just to get my lists done.

-I found myself naturally coming to use my breathing to keep me in the moment.

-I found myself thinking of more ways to be grateful for throughout the day.

-I was generally in a pretty good mood.

-I slept great!


Stay Woke with “The Gratitude Intention!”

Hello again folks, thanks for stopping in! So, after completing the last experiment, something has been on my mind. Over the last couple day’s I have been thinking about how the decision and commitment to find more qualities to appreciate, seemed to frame my mind to see more qualities to appreciate. It also gave me a little boost of energy, put me in a better mood, and made life a little more interesting to live. There is something very cool about that!

For me, it seems that I can spend a little too much time not paying close enough attention to what I am doing. It is too damn easy for me to get locked into my daily or even weekly routine and then basically go into autopilot with what is coming up next.  Autopilot works alright for keeping things maintained for a while. But before long I find myself very bored, even stressed out, and probably a little more moody.

Thankfully over the last several months my wife and I have made quite a few decisions that have created more way more challenges to deal with. They are beautiful challenges, but they are challenging nonetheless! I had a job change. We just moved into a new house with a nice new mortgage to pay, and we have our first baby coming in just a couple months!  With these new changes there really isn’t much room for me to be day dreaming and going into autopilot mode.

I am happy to say that I am making the firm decision to use these opportunities to wake myself up to a better, more mindful way of living. The stakes are getting higher now, and there is no way I am slipping back into my comfort zone!

Stay Woke

Now, back to framing my mind with my decisions, or I think I would rather call it “Setting Intention.” Over the next week I am “Setting the Intention” that I will pay better attention to my daily affairs. I will be more awake and aware of the options around me, the gifts they are, and the gifts that will come from them. In order to do this I am going to piggy back on “The Compliment Experiment” and work on staying in a state of gratitude in order to keep myself focused on the goodies that may be coming throughout my day.

For the next week I intend to take at least 3 opportunities throughout my day to cultivate gratitude.

  1. In the morning, before I do anything else (aside from getting myself some coffee, and the cats some food) I will write a short To-do List to help get me focused on what is coming up in my day. Then I will write 5 things I am grateful for and WHY I am grateful for them. This routine is similar to a process I used for roughly 4 years that brought great benefits into my life, I welcome it back with open arms.
  2. In the afternoon I will take a brief break to close my eyes and meditate for 10 minutes to do a little run through about the things there were to appreciate throughout my morning. Then I will say a heart felt thank you for all the good things there are to come.
  3. Before I go to bed I will give another 10 to 15 minutes to give some thought to the things I have appreciated throughout the day. Then I will say a heart felt thank you for all of the good things that will be showing up tomorrow.

Like I said I will be partaking in this experiment for the next week. For the next week I will write short updates on any cool things I am noticing about the process. Also, I may post some articles about  about routines I that currently bring positive results into my life that once started as experiments, but now are just what I do. Thank you for checking out “My Life Experiment”. If you feel like participating in this experiment with me, feel free! If you do participate, I would love to hear about your experience in the comments section. One week from today  I will post the “Gratitude Intention” on Wednesday January 10th!

Getting Results with the “Compliment Experiment”!

the experiment picture

Welcome back to My Life Experiment! If you are returning to read this blog, you may remember that I decided to partake in a “Compliment Experiment.” If you have not been here before and want to know what I am talking about, please check out the last article “Time to Open Myself Up with the Compliment Experiment” to get filled in. I wrote the “Compliment Experiment” article 5 days ago, that gave me 5 days to focus on giving more and better-quality compliments to people around me.

During the 5 days of the experiment I did find it was easier to compliment others at times, and at other times it just wasn’t going to happen. There were times where I simply could not think about anything else other keeping myself from freaking out (let alone compliment someone)! There were other times where the compliments came out easily, with a smile. As well, a couple of times I worked myself through with a struggle and came out feeling great!

Just yesterday I finally found out that the lady that helped me total my car, in fact, does not have car insurance. After getting that news, I found it very difficult to give any compliments. I was pissed off. Offering pleasantries felt against the grain, but I kept the experiment in mind and started looking for some opportunities to give compliments. I complimented a friend of mine, my wife, and then I just started complimenting myself in my thoughts. What started out as a very difficult emotional state, eventually worked into me feeling great.

In the last article I mentioned the process of saying three positive things after saying something critical about somebody. As I paid attention to myself I found that I critique things pretty much constantly, much of the time out loud to people, but far more often inside of my own skull. It is actually pretty overwhelming to think how often my mind goes for the negative (for whatever reason that is). Pointing out too many “flaws” in people (myself included) doesn’t really lead to very happy relationships! That probably isn’t a shocker to many people, but hey I guess I am a slow learner at times.


Compliment picture

I feel that this experiment has helped me see a method for developing more appreciation for any relationship that I am a part of with others, myself, my job or life itself. This experiment did not tell me that I shouldn’t be critiquing any person or thing in my world (since a critique can help see something that needs to be fixed). But it has shown me that if I desire to be a grateful person, with happy relationships, that I better be filling up my relationships with appreciation for the qualities I enjoy.

The experiment also showed me a high-quality method for processing my emotions and keeping myself healthy, growing, and becoming more efficient. As well, it showed me that when I’m alone with myself and talking about myself, that it is just as important to be giving myself enough compliments. Quite often, I am definitely my own worst critic, and that it is much easier to notice the qualities I enjoy in others when I am grounded in the recognition of my own. And last of all, sometimes I am not going to be able to see the good in hardly anything but I don’t have to be too harsh on myself even if I cannot..

Pat on back

Thanks for checking out “My Life Experiment”, I feel that I know myself a little bit better after writing it. And now you probably know me quite a lot better! Now stay tuned because there is always something new to work on, and I look forward to having you read about my next challenge! If you have any questions are insights feel free to leave a comment!

Totaling the Vehicle and Gaining a Lesson.

I was starting this blog to talk about the ways I intentionally make changes to the ways I engage my life. But for this post I feel I need to touch on a situation where the world around me has brought the change to me, whether I want it or not. Now I am left to figure out the best way to handle it, or let it handle me.

While driving to work last night a gal at a stop sign didn’t see that I was coming down the road, so she tried to speed across the intersection. I seen her too late, I slammed on the brakes but the 30 to 50 feet was not enough to slow my car down enough to keep from hitting her. So Bam, and here I have my first experience with air bags going off! Thankfully only vehicles were harmed in this process. I was my usually friendly self when we got out of the vehicles and chatted, I even felt empathy for her. Today I have not felt the same sentiment as I did the other day!

Today I started seeking to file a claim with the ladies insurance company. While chatting with the company she gave the police as her provider, the guy couldn’t match the policy number to the vehicle. I began to get the “oh shit” feeling before he told me much of anything from his end. Now they need to do an investigation into if they have that car insured through them or not. I am left to wonder if I am getting “the short end of the stick.”

The longer the day went on the more I began realizing how much this could suck for my new family and I’s financial standing. This escalated to the point where I was interested in  throwing things out of my wife’s car window (since my car is out of commission) at passing vehicles. I am generally not an angry dude, but the helplessness in a situation like this gets my blood flowing because there is nothing I can really do about it. But I also have quite a lot of energy that likes to flow to solving problems! Now this problem solving energy goes directly to fuel my growing rage.

These wildly emotional times are challenging for me, but also have been great catalysts for growth in the past (as long as I don’t act out in ways I might regret). I don’t know how this situation is going to turn out,  I sure hope she has insurance though! But if she doesn’t, it will just be another one of life’s challenges that helps to build my character. This experiment was brought to me, but I get to make it my own and learn as much as possible.

Thanks for checking me out! Please follow and stayed tuned for more of My Life Experiment!