10 Ways to Save Money This Month

There are many ways to save money. We are currently working very hard to pay off our debt. By making a few short-term sacrifices we can make a huge impact quickly. Do you have a credit card or student loan that you want to pay off? Maybe some of these ideas that helped us will help you too.

1.) Cook your way into some extra cash – We had a problem with eating out way too often. We did a lot of the grabbing something on the run without ever thinking about it. I never thought twice about grabbing dinner on a weeknight just because I didn’t plan ahead or I was too lazy to cook. We bought lunch on work days and sometimes breakfast too. It is cheaper to make things from scratch but it won’t save you a dime if you don’t cook it. Be honest about who you are and plan your meals accordingly. Throwing in a couple frozen pizzas on a busy night is cheaper than ordering it.

2.) Shop the PantryWe had many odd things hiding away in the pantry. I went through our pantry, freezer, fridge, and cabinets to come up with as many options for dinners as possible without buying anything. When I could come up with no more meal options than I looked for ways to make meals with the smallest amount of added items. This helped to cut down our grocery bill for a couple of weeks which gave us additional money to pay toward our debt.

3.) Leftovers are Your Friend – Use up your leftovers. Take leftovers for lunch. Use them in another dish or as part of another meal. We use the bottom of the cereal bag to top yogurt. Plan for leftovers sometimes. I will often make extra chicken to throw in a salad the next night. Whole chickens, turkeys, and hams can save you a ton if you use your leftovers appropriately. A whole chicken can easily feed our family of five for a few days. We made a large ham last month because they were so cheap per pound. That ham made us multiple lunches and dinners for two weeks. We had ham with potatoes and vegetables a couple of nights. We made sandwiches, casseroles, and even ham and cheese omelets.

4.) Use it all before buying more – Waiting to buy items until you are out or almost out can help you to save more money in the short-term. Depending on your habits you may save money in the long-term as well. You will not have money wrapped up in things just waiting to be used. If you are the type of person who begins using the new item before finishing the old one you will save quite a bit with this approach. Can you get another week or month out of your mascara? Do you want to buy another lipstick or eyeshadow but you have ten already? Can you squeeze a few more days out of your toothpaste or cleaning products? These little things can really add up.

5.) Delay, Delay, Delay – Anything that you want to buy should be delayed. Did you see an ad online and now you simply have to by a llama or whatever? Put that thought aside. Try to delay everything not necessary to basic living for the month. You may change your mind about the llama. Impulsive buying is not your friend.

6.) Get Back to Basics – Simply pay your bills, pay your transportation costs for work, and don’t starve. What is the bare minimum that you can get by with? Can you go without buying anything that you can live without?

7.) Break the Rules – This is extra fun if you have kids! The only rules about food are the rules that we have learned from society. Breakfast food is cheap and easy to make. Try having breakfast for dinner once a week to give your budget a break. Think pancakes, eggs, toast, and fruit. There are not many meals that are cheaper or easier than an omelet. They are also great for using up leftover meat, cheese, and vegetables. Vegetables and rice is a perfectly acceptable meal and so is PB&J. Do you want to eat only a banana for breakfast? That’s fine. We love peanut butter, banana, and cereal sandwiches. Really get inventive with low-cost options.

8.) Cancel subscriptions Are there any subscriptions that you are paying for that you don’t need? Do you have multiple television options? Do you need cable? Netflix? Hulu? Amazon Prime? Could you just use one of them? Could you give one of them up for 6 months? We tend to cycle between them. Do you have a gym membership or anything that you don’t use? Anything that you have been meaning to cancel and haven’t yet? Even $10 a month helps. That’s $120 a year. If you are paying that on a credit card every month, you are also saving even more on the interest you would have paid.

9.) Tell Your Friends & Family – You will be surprised by how supportive people can be. You don’t want your friends to think that you are avoiding going out with them because you are upset with them instead of just trying to save some money on dinner. They may invite you over instead of out to dinner and be much more understanding when you suggest that they come to your house for a drink instead of going out to a bar. They may also help in unexpected ways. An amazing friend of mine gave us a ton of clothing for our youngest. A complete wardrobe, even for a toddler, is a small fortune.

10.) Be Boring – You can save money by being extremely boring for a month. Stay home. Watch Netflix or work your way through your DVD collection. We signed up for a free month of Netflix and binge watched a few shows. You could also watch YouTube or rent library movies for free. If you want to get together with friends, invite them over for a pot luck or coffee. Play free games on your phone. Read that stack of books you have been meaning to.

Try some or all of these to help make a difference in paying down your debt or building up your savings. By making these little sacrifices, we were able to pay off some of our smaller debts so that we could snowball the payments forward to the next debt. Every little bit counts when you’re on this journey.

February Goals 2018

February Goals

  • Pay off the second credit card on our list
  • Pay part of the third credit card on our list
  • Spend more time with friends and family
  • Read “The Joy of Less”
  • Have a clean laundry room

Our February Plan

The second credit card on our list currently has 0% interest and we want to make sure we pay it off before time runs out and the interest is added. We currently owe $475 on it. We will be focusing everything we have on clearing this debt. We are going to avoid buying anything but groceries. We are going to try to avoid going out to eat this month. We are eating the cheapest dinner options that I can come up with that are still reasonably healthy for our family. I will be taking the kids to the library a couple of times so that we can get out of the house together but not spend anything.

The third credit card on our list has a current balance of $464.89. We didn’t think we would be able to completely pay off both but we wanted to at least start working on it. I would like to pay $100 of it this month. It is actually the credit card with the lowest balance. We will be paying them in order of lowest to highest balance starting with this card. The first two were higher on the list for other reasons.

We have been so busy with work, sick kids, and developing our goals/plans that we did not get to spend much time with anybody outside of our immediate family in January. We wanted to make friends and family a priority in February. We already have four days over the next week planned to visit with people. Two are with family and two are with friends.

I have been attempting to read “The Joy of Less” since I bought it in December. I am making it one of my goals this month to finish it. I want to read through it and then go back through it to implement the teachings in it into our life/home. I plan to dedicate at least ten minutes a day until I finish it. I used to read a lot and I miss it.

Our laundry room has become the bane of my existence. I hate even going in there and I have to walk through it to get to the garage every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I will be working on cleaning it out. We had a ton of extra laundry in January because of the girls being sick multiple times. We are now behind on it. We are going to spend the first weekend of February catching up on laundry and getting it put away. We bought a hanging rack for our broom, mop, and things. We will be putting that up. We are also considering putting a shelf in our laundry room for detergent and stuff. There is a closet in there that we use to store art supplies and games. I am trying to decide if these items make sense in this area and where else we could possibly store them. Maybe we could get rid of some of the stuff in that closet too.

Are you working on anything in February? I’d love to hear about it! I’ll do an update at the end of the month. Wish us luck!

Update on January 2018 Goals

January Goals:

  • Pay off my Capital One card
  • Do not go out for dinner more than 3 times
  • Pack our lunches for work
  • Continue to Simplify/Declutter/Minimize Our Home & Possessions

We have done extremely well on our January goals! We have worked very hard and sacrificed a lot but it has paid off. The first goal on the list was to pay off one of our credit cards. We started the month with $745.01 on my capital one credit card and we have paid it off completely. This was just the first of many but it is a success and we will celebrate every one of them, no matter how small.

The second goal was not to go out to eat more than three times. We can check this one off too. Ivy and I went out for sushi for her birthday. Michael got take-out on the way home from work one night. The little girls were sick and it made life easier. We all went out to a sandwich shop one night. I had to work that weekend and then we ran errands afterward so going out for dinner made sense. We tried to pick inexpensive places for the two nights that we went out unplanned.

We have done better at packing our lunches and having breakfast items available. We were a long way from perfect though. There is room for improvement but at least we tried. We managed to pack lunch about half of the time. We did much better with breakfast. We ate breakfast at home or took easy items with us most days.

We played the minimalism game and will finish with it in a couple of days. I’m proud of us for continuing with it. We are enjoying the small benefits of the items gone already. There is still a long way to go around here. The idea that we want to live out of suitcases or backpacks in a few years time is hilarious when staring at the amount of stuff in our house. We are only buying items that are necessary to our daily life and slowly editing the unnecessary items out of our home. We will save money by not buying excess stuff which will help with our other goals too. We will be continuing to work on this throughout 2018.

I will be posting our February goals and plan tomorrow. I hope that by sharing every step with you that we inspire others to make a plan toward their goals. Are you working on anything big or even just big to you this year? Have you found anything that helps keep you motivated? Drop me a comment. I’d love to hear about it!

Saving/Making Money with Apps & Websites??

I hear of these rumors of people saving and/or making money with apps and websites. I always wonder if there is any truth to these claims and how much effort does it take. I have decided to try out a few for myself and post the results here. I have included a few different types to see how they work.

1.) Shopkick – This is an app that I downloaded for free on my iphone. It was simple to download and easy to set-up. The basic idea here is that you collect kicks to redeem for awards such as gift cards. You earn the kick points by checking in daily, turning on the app right before you walk into certain stores, scanning certain items in stores, and looking through mini catalogs. Also if you are invited you may start with a 50 kick bonus and if you invite people who join you get a bonus for the kicks they earn for a limited time. At this point I have only checked in, invited 1 person, and looked through a few of their look-books (mini catalogs). These were easy enough. I will write a post with updates about checking into stores, scanning items, and especially redeeming kicks for gift cards.

2.) Kroger – This is a store app for Kroger. I have been using this for quite some time. You put in your store reward card number or phone number if you lost your card years ago like I did. You can add ecoupons straight to your card! This is great because you do not have to remember your coupons. I have found this helpful for those quick stops and for when my husband goes shopping. All you have to do at check-out time to redeem your coupons is scan your reward card or enter your phone number. Other features of this app include the weekly ads, rewards, a shopping list, Rx refills, and a store finder. When looking at the weekly ads you can click on wanted items to add them to the shopping list. This is a nice time saving feature and reminder when you are in the store that you wanted to pick up a sale item. I highly suggest this free app to all Kroger shoppers looking to easily save some money.

3.) UPromise.com – This is a website where you can sign up to save money for your kids college fund or pay back your student loans. This was easy to sign up for and completely free. There are a few different options on this site. You can link it to shopper reward cards from Kroger, CVS, and Remke/Biggs. You can also link it to your credit cards to take advantage of the dining option where you earn money for eating at certain restaurants. You can also earn on your online shopping. I chose to only link my store reward cards. This seemed like a safe option to start with.

4.) Checkout 51 – This is a free app that works somewhat like a rebate. After you sign up, you will receive a list of rebate offers for the week. If you buy any of those items than you can get back the listed amount. To get money back on this app you submit a photo of your receipt with a redeemable item on it. This entire process was easy to do. It says that you can cash out when your account balance is over $20 and that you will receive a check in the mail. I will write a post on how the cashing out process works when I get enough in my account to do so. I currently only have $2 in my account.

5.) Bing Rewards – This one is great because I can earn gift cards for doing exactly what I was already doing! I love using Bing to look things up! I’m a little too curious about things, all things, sometimes useless things. I am always Binging something. I honestly cannot believe I didn’t do this one earlier. It was so easy! If you sign up for a rewards account with them you can earn free gift cards while searching. It took about 5 minutes and required minimal information. Their gift cards are only for $5 a piece but free money is free money. I’m saving points for an amazon gift card.

These are the ones I am currently focusing on. I will write updates about the ease or difficulty involved in redeeming rewards as it comes up. Wish me luck 🙂

A Year Without Cable!

It’s officially been a year without cable! Wow, time really flies by! In all honesty we don’t miss it at all. We missed it for about a month and then it was like we never had it to begin with. It’s funny that we thought we would miss it but in reality I’m much happier without it. We spend more time together, reading, and outdoors. It’s amazing how distracted our lives truly were and it’s sad that we never realized it until the distraction was gone. This was also quite a financial gain as well. We used to spend around $80 a month on cable. In the last year we have saved $960! I also know my kids better, have learned a couple of new skills, and surprisingly it lowered the overall family stress level. Now I’m not saying that during finals I was not stressed but overall our home life is calmer.