Some people think in order to save money it has to be some BIG amount. Other people think it’s better to save a little bit here and there. We think it’s BOTH. It’s important to save in a big way like a bonus or a raise and it’s also important to save on the little things—where money just leaks through your fingers.
Here are some ways to keep your money instead of wasting it:
Initiate a fiscal fast. Try not to spend any money for a few days or even a week. Or eliminate certain purchases altogether, such as paper towels and disinfectant wipes.
Avoid bank fees. Look for a bank that offers free accounts. Don’t overdraft your account. If you overdraft once a month, the average fee of $35 adds up to $420 in a year. Stick to your bank’s ATM instead of wasting two or three dollars per transaction at an out of network ATM.
Make a budget and stick to it. Track where you are spending and what you are spending on. Everyone we know who has done this has found areas where they were wasting money. Avoid places where you know you’ll be tempted to buy things you don’t need.
Save on food by packing a lunch. Meals from the drive-thru are bad for your bank account and probably your health.
According to a Harvard Law and National Resources report, Americans throw away 40 percent of the food they buy because of misleading expiration dates that have nothing to do with food safety. Just because the date comes up does not mean the food is immediately unsafe to eat. Try arranging your pantry according to the expiration date to avoid waste.
Instead of buying prepackaged food, do it yourself. You can easily make your own tomato sauce, jam, dessert toppings and spice mixtures. Avoid the fancy coffee by googling a recipe to make your own.
Comparison shop by creating a spreadsheet of items you buy regularly—weekly or at least monthly. Then check out several local stores and write down the prices. Monitor the sales brochures at each store and you’ll know what is considered a ‘good’ price versus a really great sale price. After a few months you will also know the rotation of when various items go on sale.
Forage for dinner once a week. Look in the freezer and pantry to use items that will soon expire. You can also have breakfast for dinner. Eggs are an incredibly cheap source of protein, and there’s no reason to restrict them to breakfast.
Drink more water and less soda or juice. Water is a healthier and cheaper alternative to any other drink. Avoid the bottled water—most of it is from a municipal source, which is probably every bit as safe as the water from your tap. And all those plastic bottles are so harmful to our beautiful planet.
Control your entertainment budget by spending cash. Put the amount you have allocated for entertainment in an envelope and spend the cash for entertainment activities. When the envelope is empty, there’s no more entertainment spending.
Proactively search for ways to reduce the costs for kids’ activities. Split the cost of private swim lessons with a friend. Carpool to soccer games with other families to save on gas. Look for ways to work for organizations in exchange for reduced or free enrollment.
Involve like-minded friends in your money saving efforts. Babysit for your friends and have them return the favor in the future. Learn how to barter. Maybe you sew or can edit resumes in return for some other service for which you’d typically have to shell out money.
Don’t overspend on kid’s clothing. On average, a child only requires three to four nice pairs of pants and five to six shirts. Buy used clothes whenever possible, especially when kids are young and grow out of clothes so quickly. Gratefully accept hand-me-downs or shop at consignment shops or Goodwill.
Buy clothing that is versatile throughout the year. T-shirts can be worn on their own or over long-sleeved shirts. Skirts can be worn on their own or over warm leggings.
Create a clothes swap with your mom’s group at church. Everyone donates professional maternity clothes or baby items when they’re done having kids, and anyone can take from the inventory. It saves a lot of money, and provides a great outreach to new moms in your parish.
Beware of energy vampires. Home electronics in “standby” mode use energy to power features like clock displays even when they’re turned off. Plug electronics into a power strip. Turn off the strip when not in use to save. Many chargers drain power continuously, even when the device is not plugged in, so unplug the chargers when they are not in use.
Keep your thermostat low in winter and high in summer. Adjust it even more when you are away from home for an extended period.
Use vinegar creatively. The cleaning strength vinegar has a multitude of uses. Use a shallow bowl filled with vinegar to absorb cooking smells in the kitchen. If you need to clean your drains, pour about ½ cup baking soda into the drain, the follow with a cut of HOT vinegar. Let is sit for 15 minutes, then flush with hot water. Use vinegar in the yard as a week killer. Mix 1 gallon of vinegar with one cup of salt and spray on weeds to kill them safely. Check out VinegarTips.com for 1,001 uses for vinegar.
I hope that some of these tips will be of use to you and if you think of other money savings tips, send them to us Info@compasscatholic.org
Saving money saving is a good way to live by the verse we find in Proverbs 21:20: “Precious treasure remains in the house of the wise, but the fool consumes it.” Use these money saving ideas to KEEP your precious, hard earned money!
The Manage Your Money God’s Way podcast has more money saving ideas.