June 16, 2017

Simple Ways to Save on Stuff Your Family Needs

There really is a day for everything. Of course, I'm the person who likes to celebrate things like "National Donut Day" or "Bubba Day" so I guess I don't really have room to talk.

It always tickles me when certain days overlap.

Like June 26th, which is both National Forgiveness Day AND Beautician's Day. As a child with extremely thick, curly, often frizzy hair, I often left the beauty shop feeling like my beautician should have been asking for my forgiveness. I had those bangs in the 80s that looked like a clump of broccoli on my forehead. And nobody knew just what to do with my mane.

There's another dual holiday in June...June 18th. Not only is is National Splurge Day, but it's also International Panic Day. I've definitely been there. First I splurge, then I panic.

Money is a tricky thing, or at least it can be if you aren't careful. It's one of those complicated subjects. We just can't get through life without it. From the gas you put in your car to your clothes or toiletries, or even groceries, money greases the wheels of life.

I've always been frugal. And thankfully, I think it's easier to be frugal these days, to make our money go further on the necessities so there's a little bit extra for the fun stuff.

Get Creative to Spend Less on the Things You Need Most

As humans we're creatures of habit. We have certain products or brands that we like and we keep buying them over and over. I'm not sure why this is, but it's the truth. This is why I keep my eyes peeled for discounts on those items while I'm shopping. This applies both to my usual shopping haunts as well as other stores I might not visit as often.

Some stores offer customer loyalty programs by tracking things you buy. I always enroll in these at a variety of local grocery stores. That way, if I have to duck in for something on the fly, I still have the option for some type of discount. It might not apply to what I'm buying but often there are deals I can take advantage of.

Who doesn't love getting to the checkout to pay and finding out you have coupons or deals because of your loyalty program?

There are other ways you can try things for free or at a discount, particularly at restaurants and grocery stores. One of the best ways stores can get me to buy something is by offering a free sample.

They're smart this way.

Plus, a lot of the time the person giving out the samples also has coupons...which I love! I mean, why wouldn't I buy the item? Taste testing and a reduced price...yes please!

These are all ways you can buy things you need most without spending as much money. And sometimes I do deviate from my usual products, to take advantage of a great deal. I might have a favorite kind of coffee, but lots of times I'll grab another brand just because it's on sale. If the quality is good, I don't mind something different to save a few bucks.

Think Ahead and Make a Plan

When it comes to money, I am learning how important it is to plan for the future. As my husband and I have been trying to slowly renovate our house, we've had to prioritize which things should be tackled first. We know we can't do every project at once, but that's okay.

And then, even when you plan, there are always things that happen with no warning. A few weeks ago, my car needed some work done to the tune of several hundred dollars. It's no fun, but you gotta do it.

Being self-employed, we are also thinking about retirement. When I used to work for a university, I never gave retirement a second thought. I knew that a certain amount of money was taken out of my check each pay period and my employer matched it with a contribution to my retirement account. This happened like clockwork and I never had to do anything.

Working for myself is a whole different ballgame. And you definitely can't afford to wait until retirement time to start thinking about it. To learn more about when to start saving for retirement, read more here. Generally, experts say the best time to start building retirement savings is when you’re between 35 and 50 years old, but it’s never too late to start.

Resist the Urge to Buy Things Impulsively

Oh the impulse purchase. How we love it. You've probably experienced this just like I have. Walking along the aisles at your favorite store and you spot something that looks so adorable/fun/whatever and think you just have to have it. 

This is why all that fun stuff is strategically placed near the cash register at every store. Yes your shopping cart is filled with only the things you need, but that flavored lip gloss is calling your name.

You might think it's just a small thing, but these little purchases add up over time. I'd be afraid to know just how much money I've spent over the years on little extras that I didn't really need and ended up giving away (or throwing away) later on. This is why it's a good idea to actively work to cut down on impulse spending even if it feels justifiable.

One way to do this is to enforce the $20 rule. If something costs more than $20 and you hadn't planned to buy it before going into the store, try to make yourself sleep on the purchase for a day or so. Most of the time, for me anyway, once the initial urge to splurge has passed, I don't really want the item anymore.

Another tip is to only carry cash and don’t buy sale-priced stuff unless you genuinely need it and have done your research to learn that the price is the best deal out there. Target end cap displays with those orangey-red clearance stickers, I'm looking at you.

These three tips may take a little work to put into practice. But money is an important subject and you should definitely approach it thoughtfully. With a little planning and a little effort, you can start making new habits and as you practice them, I bet you'll start to save money without having to sacrifice on things you need and buy the most.

* Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Even so, I am very picky about doing this sort of thing and will only link to products or services I  believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”