Unfortunately, we are all feeling the effects of the current economy on our finances, and we have all had to review our expenses and determine if they are really necessary. While some have turned to couponing, others have started to simply carpool. However, I think we can all dig a little deeper in examining our finances.
Of course, you absolutely need to start couponing. I will scream it to the world. Ask around and join coupon forums such as AFullCup.com and TheFrugalGirls.com. Another way to save money is to buy your meats directly from a butcher shop or from a farmers' market. Most butcher shops prices can be well below the retail value if you order larger portions. If you can find someone else or another family to join in with you to split the cost then even better. Farmers' markets' produce can obtain you a savings of 25 percent or more. If you live in an area where farming produce is available locally, stop by your local farm to shop for your produce. Here in Virginia, my children and I make an outing of it and pick strawberries from the local farms. We pay considerably less than we would at the grocery stores. Additionally, it's fresher and way more fun than shopping. Bakery stores are also all in all the best place to buy baked goods. Bakery stores or “bread stores” offer baked goods at a discount of 50 percent or more. Bakery stores offer bread in all varieties, and also sale snacks and drinks.
Having two little girls has certainly been a blessing in allowing me to save on clothing costs. My youngest daughter is able to wear her big sister's clothes the following year. But each year we make a point to give my youngest daughter's clothes to someone we know and love. Utilizing the practice of “hand-me-downs” was a way of life years ago and I plan to keep the tradition going. For any clothing items that I just can't seem to give away, I donate. If you do not have anyone to give old clothes/accessories to, feel free to sell them or even consign them. Selling old clothes seems to be a quick money-maker. Take advantage of consignment shops, as well as donation centers to buy and sell clothes. I recently brought my daughter eight pairs of jeans for under $20. She grows so fast that I can barely keep up with her shoe size. I just ask her if the shoes she is trying to put on fit, if not, off to the store we go.
Remember that some work expenses can be tax write-offs. Keep a bright folder with all your receipts for work expenses, such as clothing and tools. We all would like to start a new job with nice clothes. Have you considered purchasing your items by starting a layaway? A layaway is simply items you purchase in installments and take home after they are paid in full. Stores such as Catos, Marshalls, Burlington Coat Factory, and Sears all have the option of purchasing by layaway. Each store has its own rules regarding the length of the installment plan and amounts to be paid. However, keep in mind that a layaway requires a deposit. For good measure, always try to pay more than the deposit to keep your payments down. The trick with using layaway is to not over purchase, because you are able to buy more because of the installments. Simply pick out outfits that you can mix and match for functionality.
Carpooling with a nearby coworker is an absolute must. However, be cautious in carpooling with people who do not live nearby as this will make your commute longer and also cost you more in gas prices. Before getting gas, check websites that provide gas price forecasts, as well as the cheapest gas prices. GasBuddy.com allows you to enter your zip code and shows the cheapest gas prices in your area. The site also provides gas price averages for the past week, month and year. This allows you to pick the best gas station and to determine if you should fill up now or wait until gas prices drop further. If gas prices have been falling and will continue to for the next few days then I would only purchase about $20 worth of gas. I get so upset when I fill up my tank and a few days later the gas prices drop drastically. Goodness, that is such a tear-jerker.
Constantly examining your finances and finding innovative ways to save will allow you to continue to increase your savings. Think of it this way, the more money you save, the sooner you can retire or the sooner you can vacation, travel the world. The possibilities are endless. The sooner you can enjoy, the better life can be for you and everyone around you.
Deal of the week: Purell hand sanitizer .33 cent coupon $1/3, so it was absolutely free – in fact, the store owed me 1 cent. Yay!