I started blogging as the Deals Editor at MileHighMamas. I still love and contribute weekly to that blog. I was a newly single mom looking for ways to get back on track financially and still trying to entertain my kids on little money. I would take them to every free event in town – just because it was free. We went to our fair share of Grand Openings and Summer Concerts. In that time though, we had FUN. (We still have fun but they are less happy about going to all the free places I drag them to – they are teens after all).
It really is a lifestyle to be conscious of your money, to not get caught up in the wants of today. I am sort of constantly surprised at how some people find these tips – as a completely new concept. But here are a few of the tips that I use regularly. I am by NO means a money expert. I am not a millionaire (or even close) but I think I’m working my way toward financial independence.
1. Live below your means. Seriously? Are we still talking about this? Spend less than you make. Keep some in savings.
2. Plan ahead. Plan your purchases. Put the credit cards away. What seems like a great deal now – will tack on all kinds of interest and that item you bought because you thought you needed it will actually cost MORE if you don’t pay it off right away, so just pay cash now. I plan to take my kids on a trip this summer. I know that several places only take credit cards (making a reservation at a hotel). Get a pre-paid re-loadable card that you can continue to add your savings to. By the time you head out for your trip, you will know exactly how much you can spend on souveniers etc.
3. Do It Yourself. I live in an apartment so I’m not talking so much about DIY Home projects – I am talking about little things. Make your own sandwich and bring it for lunch. Clean your own house (don’t pay someone else to do it). Shovel your own sidewalks. Mow your own lawn. Cook dinners (don’t go out).
4. Find Friends On The Same Path. Yes, I have friends of all different financial situations. But I find that if I have this one friend that will indulge me when I say I need to do something that costs NOTHING they won’t put me down for it – but happily spread out a blanket at the free concert with me or go on that hike. It also helps if they know your goals. Why are you doing this?
5. Challenge Yourself. I like to challenge myself (and my kids) just to see if we can do it. I pick a week where we will spend NOTHING. We plan our meals ahead. We plan our entertainment ahead. (So we set ourselves up for success). We go to the store and get everything we will need. Then for one week – we spend nothing. Not a penny. We have to live on what we have only. For my kids, I usually do this just one week a month. We did try it for a full month once (we may do that again some time and I will blog about it when we do).
6. Look For The Sale. Try to shop the sales. Almost every item will go on sale at one point or another. Use coupons. Coupons can be found in a multitude of places from your mailbox to online. Sign up for frequent shopper or loyalty programs. (Safeway has a great one that tracks your purchases and pushes coupons for those items to your website – you can upload them to your loyalty card). I am not however advocating that you purchase things that are out of date. (I am a stickler for the date on my milk jug – if it is that date it is a NO GO in my world).
7. Write Down Everything and Keep A Budget. I wasn’t really sure where all my money was going. For one month we wrote down literally every penny that was spent (I know it sounds ridiculous because we would even write down – threw a penny in the fountain). Then we made a budget the next month based on the month we tracked. Then we stuck to the budget. You also get a chance to see what you are really spending your money on. There are great apps for this too – Mint.com is one of my favorites as you can tie it to your debit card and track where and what category your money is going.
Do you have something you do that is money wise? Something that seems so natural to you – that you don’t really understand that other people don’t do it too?