I've done posts on savings before and I just want to recap as well as add a few new suggestions and ideas. It's the time of year when we're bustling about and shopping for our loved ones. Sometimes there is nothing better on a cold windy day then looking up and seeing a Starbucks. But the important question is, is it in your budget? Did you plan for it that day? It's easy for all these little expenses to add up and then we tend to wonder why we never have money or savings. It's because a budget takes willpower and discipline. Hmmm not always easy to achieve. Invest in a good coffee pot and travel mug and save tons! Same with tea and hot cocoa. A great thermos goes a long way too.
How many of you eat at home regularly? You will save a ton in planned meals. For one month start out with an expense journal, keep it small enough to carry in your purse, wallet or car and record every purchase you make. (Including Starbucks) :-)
You will be surprised at all the budget busters you will encounter.
At the grocery store be sure to plan ahead. Before creating a meal plan look over your pantry and freezers to see what you have on hand before buying more. Use your resources! I came across two great sites recently, both are free. The first is http://www.ziplist.com/ It's a place to organize your grocery lists and find recipes and organize everything as well as merge it with other family members.
The next site is also free called Gojee.com. It will let you add ingredients you have on hand already and it will create recipes for you. On those busy weeknights or weekends this can really come in handy. It will help avoid that eating out sensation.
When going to the grocery store be sure to avoid impulse buying. Sometimes I found the best way to do this is to shop alone if possible. No kids to say "Mom, I want...." or mysteriously an item appears in the cart and no one seems to know how it got there! LOL Well husband's included on that one. :-) Be sure to be well prepared by checking local store adds and using your coupons. Yes it takes work, but it is worth it!
If you are on truly hard times contact your local food banks and nearby churches. Many churches allow you to fill a bag or more of groceries for free. Please do not feel too proud to do this as you and your family need healthy meals until you can get back on your feet.
A neighborhood food swap is another way to help a neighbor in need. Ask your neighbors for donations like non perishable foods to help other neighbors in need. It is even nice to have a neighbor take turns cooking a nice meal for the neighbor in needs family. Even a general swap cooking nights is helpful to all on saving money and time. :-)
( I believe I found this on Google images)
No one should have to go cold and hungry in our society, I feel we need to look out for others for we never know when one day that could be us.
If you are struggling financially, perhaps looking into a consolidation program could help you and your family, or credit counseling. Many banks are providing this as well. Dave Ramsey is another great place to go to learn about money and resources.
Paying bills on time also saves on late fees that will just continue to add up.
When purchasing an item, think is it in my budget? Do I have a place for it in my home? Will it bring me happiness? Is it sustainable? Practical? Necessary???
Ask yourself can I live without a land line phone? Can I eliminate cable and watch T.V. on Hulu.com?
Do I really need a new car? Can I make do with my old car as long as possible?
Ask yourself the big question: AM I LIVING WITHIN MY MEANS? CAN I MANAGE MONEY BETTER?
Ask yourself what does my budget look like??
Am I saving money this month?
Or am I spending without a plan and watching it all fly away?
You don't want the holidays to leave you broke....
So start developing a plan now for the holiday season if you haven't already. To get started try the following:
1) Have a list of who you need to shop for and plan how much to spend on each person.
2) Shop early and avoid last minute temptations
3) It is critical to make and stick to a budget. Use cash only and create an envelope for each person on your list. When that envelope is empty your shopping is done!
3) Avoid shopping with credit. Unless you have cash to immediately pay for it. You'll be paying for that item for many years if not. So even if it's a great sale....if you're putting it on a credit card you will be paying in interest and fees.
4) Track your spending in your expense journal. I like to keep a notebook just for holiday budgeting separately.
5) Compare the deals! By using flyers and even web sites will do this for you! Price match with competitors.
6) Be aware of sales pitches and steer clear!
7) Plan out your day and be sure to pack your own water bottles and snacks. Even lunch or dinner in a cooler will save a ton! ;-)
8) Remember hand made gifts are appreciated, it doesn't have to cost a fortune!
9) Try to shop locally and save on gas. Another great site and also an app for your smart phone or ipod is gasbuddy.com. It will tell you where to get the cheapest gas in your area.
This is just a start, I will be adding gift suggestions and more tips over the next few weeks.
"Money won't create success, the freedom to make it will" -Nelson Mandela
"Never spend your money before you have earned it" - Thomas Jefferson
"Time and money spent in helping men do more for themselves is far better than mere giving" -Henry Ford
Remember not to keep up with the Jones, but to provide for you and your family throughout the years. Security in tough times can go a long way!