I’ve come into the new year swinging at debt, you guys. I have thought of every little way we can save money. I’ve stared at our budget (post coming!), and have done all the math, which you know I hate doing. From an Amazon, Target, H-E-B, shiny object-loving Mom to another, I give you these 5 little tips that will hopefully help you save money like they’ve helped us!
Tip #1 – Plan your dinners monthly.
I know it’s annoying. I know it’s time-consuming. I know it seems unreasonable and kind of gross. But TRUST ME, it can be done! Print out a blank monthly calendar. Write in a dinner per day, or any other meals you want to plan, like breakfasts. Grab another sheet of paper and write down the main ingredients you need from the store, going from one day to the next until you finish the whole month. Write them in store categories if you can. E.g. Spaghetti means I need spaghetti noodles, spaghetti sauce, and hamburger meat. That’s the pasta aisle and the meat aisle, so write those in two separate aisle categories. If you already have spaghetti noodles, don’t write them on the list. It seems primitive, I KNOW, but it’s worth it. It’s January 21st, and the Smith Family has NOT spent $1 on fast food or last-minute dinners. I have had a meal planned and prepared every night this month, and it’s been fun tracking along with what we’ve cooked and what’s left. Budget a certain amount on main groceries ($100/person) and then $100 a month ($25/week) for fresh stuff like salad, fruit, milk, etc. Freeze what you can. I’ll be doing a YouTube video on my detailed process for February so STAY TUNED!
Tip #2 – Unsubscribe from marketing emails.
I am in marketing, you guys. It’s my job to market, and I love to be marketed to. So it seems a little weird for me to be telling you to unsubscribe from marketing emails, but if you’re like me, and you get a Scrapbook.com marketing email, you’re going to head right on over there (through the link conveniently provided to you on the image!) and spend WAY too much money on stuff you don’t need. I haven’t received a marketing email from any scrapbook stores or craft suppliers in months, and I’m embarrassed to say how well “out of sight, out of mind” works. As long as I keep my eyes closed to the distractions, I don’t see them! Try it on a few subscriptions you can live without at first. You’d be surprised how you *don’t* actually miss it. Bonus points for cleaning up your inbox too. If you have a red circle with a number like “3,892” showing on your email app, we’re not friends anyway.
Tip #3 – Create a list of free or cheap events in your area.
In our house, we’ve called our free outings “Nature Walks,” and for the four and almost-two year old in our house, those Nature Walks are the best thing since sliced bread. It’s easy for this mama of littles to say “do something free!” But honestly, even older kids appreciate the time you spend with them. Get your tennies on, and go look for some bugs outside. Go take a walk on a trail, and see how many different leaves you can collect. Bake some cookies and share them with a neighbor. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to go find an adventure. If you really have an itch to get something new, head to the thrift store and see what kind of treasure you can find for under $1. Have a list of backup ideas that vary in location and category in case of bad weather, or if you just don’t feel like digging for bugs.
Tip #4 – Grocery shop online.
I’m going to catch a lot of crap for this one, but I’ll take my chances. I LOVE grocery shopping at the store as much as the next guy, but since we’ve had kids, we are online grocery shoppers ’til the day we die, or at least until our kids don’t scream/throw fits/want everything from the store. You should definitely support local if you can, but if you’re a family like ours, you know EXACTLY what you need from the grocery store (especially if you planned meals!) and you don’t need to get distracted by the Doritos on the end cap. Again, I’ve saved an embarrassing amount of money by just getting what I need. If you have been wanting something that’s not on the list, the next tip will help you figure out what you need to do.
Tip #5 – Wait 10 days.
I’m a millennial, and in classic form, I want things, like, right now. And I want them shipped to me in two days or less or I’m throwing a fit. But set aside your lack of patience, and put the splurge on a 10-day wait list. I was Mrs. Impulse Buy, so I’ve had to teach myself to *really* think about if it’s something I want or if I’m just being a brat. As part of your self-care routine, I definitely think it’s important to get things that actually bring you joy, but the things really worth waiting for will still be there in your heart and mind after 10 days. And those really cool yoga socks? They’re still cool, but you’re probably going to figure out that you already have 3 pairs, and you don’t really need 2 more.
If these tips don’t exactly work for you and your family, adapt them as necessary and figure out how to make small changes that will make a big difference. I bet you’ll come up with other little ways to save money, and DAMN it’s gonna feel good when we pay off some debt, huh? Share your ideas with me too. WE GOT THIS.