Many people have resolutions that involve money – mainly, saving. I am in that boat this year.
The thing that I am doing differently this year though is my number one goal is to not stress about everything as much; therefore, I want to save but I am not going to stress myself out over it.
Given that information, it is important for me to focus on what needs to be done. Here are some ideas for you, and me, to make and save money this year without stressing.
Creative Stress-free Ways to Save Money
1. The Thirty Day Rule
I know that I am naturally a spender. I told a friend of mine the other day that I'm okay with it, I have come to terms with my love of spending.
The problem is not in the spending but in the concept of instant gratification. So, instead of purchasing something right away, I am going to wait thirty days and decide after that date if I really want it.
I am already doing this with big purchases, such as the Blendtec I am purchasing next week, but need to do it with the smaller purchases such as the sticker set for my planner.
2. Eat at Home More
This one should come as no surprise.
But did you know that this is the first time in American history that we spent more money going out to eat than we did purchasing groceries?
And the sixteen dollars we spend on a chicken and two side dish meal at a sit-down chain restaurant cost us about six fifty per person if we were to make it at home, according to cheapism.com.
How do we handle this then? If the hardest thing you are dealing with is time, then pick a day of the week and make a bunch of meals ahead of time or when you make a meal, double up and freeze half of it for later.
3. Don't Snub The Cash Back Apps
I currently only use one app called Receipt Hog. This app gives me about thirty dollars a year for scanning my family's receipts. Yes, that's all I have to do.
There are other good ones as well. My father-in-law has Ibotta and he's earned fifty dollars, though he has to scan receipts, scan product codes, and take quizzes.
It's all a matter of the time you want to spend.
If scanning receipts isn't your thing, check out Viggle- an app where you get paid when watching television. Even stream shows such as Netflix or Hulu!
4. Pay with Bills, Not Card
I have read this in two separate places back to back so I feel it must be worth sharing.
The rule of thumb is you will be less likely to impulse buy if you are paying cash. Taking it a step further- the bigger the bill, the less likely you are to break it.
5. Purchase a Year in Advance when Possible
Yesterday I purchased two new rolls of wrapping paper and three ornaments for Christmas next year. The grand total was under six dollars, while the original price on each of the ornaments and the wrapping paper was between three and five dollars.
Shopping soon after the holiday is over will save you money for the next year.
This includes seasonal shopping for clothes. Unless you are planning to lose a bunch of weight this year, chances are you will still be able to wear the same size in a year so pick it up now while you can do so for a better price.
6. That One Amount
I post this one because I know from experience that this works if you can be dedicated to it.
A customer of mine did the same thing, only he used quarters and filled a big water container. At the end of the time, he had close to six thousand dollars.
If you think about the fact that this was one quarter at a time and he never felt the pinch, that is pretty awesome.
7. Keep the Change
This was something I started doing about seven months ago and did it all online.
The first thing I did was open a savings account, putting only five dollars in it.
Then I found the program on my bank's website that allowed me to drop all my change in from my checking to my savings.
For example, if I go to the gas station and it costs me forty-one dollars and sixteen cents, then I write down forty-two dollars in my budget and the bank takes the extra eighty-four cents and puts it into my savings account.
I currently have about three hundred dollars in my savings just from doing this one thing.
8. Grocery Shop with Lozo
Lozo.com will take your eating discounts a step further- simply put in what groceries you need and they will find coupons that match. You click the ones you want (because milk pulled up twelve coupons) and print them off and you are good to go.
Also, if you have a favorite grocery store be sure to get on their membership plan. Most are free and will give you good rewards if you go at the right time.
For example, my father-in-law is a Kroger guru. He will go in with a one dollar off coupon from the store and find the same item on the discount shelf for ninety-nine cents. And yes, the store will give him the penny!
Also, he is such a regular that when seasonal stuff go on sale (such as Christmas balloons) they will offer them to Stephen for free because they know him so well.
Even better- he typically spends enough in the store that he gets a dollar of a fill up each month, making his gas a dollar twenty-two instead of two twenty-two!
9. Figure Out Trip Costs
We have a pretty big trip planned in June this year. It was a Christmas present to my girls, with each of the grandparent groups paying for one ticket each.
I am already calculating the cost and here are some great websites I have found:
- Be Frugal has a Fly or Drive Calculator that will tell you the amount of time and cost of flying versus driving, including if you have to park at the airport and the cost of the hotel if you plan on stopping. Since there are three of us going, it would cost five hundred and nineteen dollars less to drive. *It did not count in food*
- Gas Buddy is my next best friend, showing me where I will need to stop for gas along the route and where is the best prices. This is a need-to-know kind of thing for saving on this trip and will allow me to prepare for each stop.
10. Get Creative with Gift Giving
My sister has taught me this through the years. One year she gave my husband candy coated pecans that I subsequently ate most of. This past year she started a lavender farm that will be in full swing by the summer. Her intent is to give everyone lavender stuff for Christmas next year.
I jumped on the band wagon this year and gave away a lot of hand made items. For example, I made about twenty bath bombs, and a handful of bubble bars. These items cost me about twenty dollars total, while lush bubble bars cost twelve dollars a piece.
And if you are curious how to make your own, we have a post about it here.
11. Rethink Your Car Situation
I drive a 2001 Dodge Caravan. Before that I drove a 1997 Ford Contour. Both of these vehicles did their job. The Contour was bought summer of 2016 and after our seven hundred dollar purchase we drove it fifteen hundred miles from Sydney, Nebraska to Dallas, Texas before it became my daily driver for seven months.
We continued to pay ourselves the price of a car payment during that time and when the opportunity arose, we picked up the Caravan for fifteen hundred dollars. We sold the Contour for the same that we paid for it seven months before.
Our last brand new car was bought in 2005 when our oldest daughter was six months old. When she was two, my husband decided he didn't like the three hundred dollar a month car payment, so he let it get repossessed (probably not the best decision, but it was his). Two weeks before the company came to get it, we picked up the Talon shown above for three hundred dollars. About three hours later the timing belt was fixed and we drove it for seven months before picking up a Honda Civic that we owned and drove for four years.
So for the last ten years we have not had a car payment. Instead, we set money aside for fixing any issues and purchasing a new to us vehicle when needed or wanted.
I cannot stress to you enough how much financial relief not having that bill has been.
12. Re-purpose Old Things
This is one of my favorite ways to save money. I like to take clothes, especially old T-shirts, and make them into new outfits. We have a great article on how to do this here.
You can take it a step further and use old flip flops, like shown here. I did the same thing with my Mardi Gras beads, turning it into a door hanging.
Get creative, look around your house, I bet there are a bunch of things that could be repurposed in order to save you money on buying the item brand new.
13. Keep Track of Your Finances
This is something I am starting this year in my planner.
Holding yourself accountable means that you will probably spend less, knowing you are going to have to write it down.
You will also know exactly what you are spending your money on. Having that knowledge means that you will know where you can cut back as well.
14. Be Responsible with Your Bills
Pay your bills on time. This avoids any extra fees. When I add a bill to our finances, I make sure to tell them that I get paid once a month and I want the bill to come out on that day.
Trust me- I still remember it's coming out of my account and I know better than to spend it. If you are worried that the money won't be there- put it in the ledger you are using to keep yourself accountable.
If you currently have bills that are behind- call the company and work something out. A friend of mine recently got on the phone with a company that needed a thousand dollars from some money she had borrowed. She talked with them and got her payment down to a manageable amount, explaining her situation.
Getting the money back is better than not getting the money at all and most companies will work with you.
15. Last but not Least- Have Fun Money
A big part of why I am taking charge of my finances is because I get paid monthly. So on the date that I get paid, I spend… I spend a lot. A week later I feel awful because I am “back to being broke” and I have nothing saved for the fun stuff.
I have a short life and a lot I want to do, like purchase a two hundred dollar blender and go on a big trip with my girls in six months. I have to budget for that.
It's important when saving to remember what you are doing it for. Take a picture of it and put it on the outside of the planner you are using to keep track of your bills. Make it the background of your cell phone and your computer. Maybe tape it up in the car. You get the picture.
Remember- life is fun and shouldn't be wasted. Being financially responsible is one way to relieve stress and enjoy life a little more.