We all have to spend money to survive and to live. The basics (shelter, food, clothing) cost money. And life wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable without some splurges as well; wine, vacations and dinners out come to mind. We try to lead a balanced life, where we are focused on our long-term goals (paying off our mortgage early, having a fully-funded 401K and zero debt), while still having fun and enjoying life. We do this by budgeting, saving up to purchase items in cash and by saving as much money as we can.
I have gathered up our top savings tips in our quest to be debt free. It's not glamorous and sometimes it's not very fun either, but it is important.
This is going to be a long post, I'm afraid. I have tried my best not to rehash the typical 'money saving strategies' you find over and over and over again, like skip your daily latte and bag your lunch a few times a week.
Here's how we save money:
Never Pay Full Retail Price. For Anything. Ever.
How To Save On:
- Shop with a List
- Meal Plan
- Check Websites for Weekly Sales/Coupon Match-Ups
- Stack Coupons/Discounts with Sales
- Shop Where Has the Best Prices
- Use Caution With Shopping at Warehouse Clubs
- Cut Out Soda
- Clear Out the Pantry and Freezer
- Don't Buy Without a Promo Codes
Ex: I had wanted a Clarisonic for a loooonnnggg time. However, I don't like to spend that much money on myself. They ring up typically around $150-200. I found a great promo code that gave me 50% off at BeautyStoreDepot, plus the site always offers free shipping. I bought my Clarisonic Mia for $70 and have been thrilled with it ever since. *On a side note, I not only got a great deal but the Clarisonic came in 3 days in a box full of beauty samples and a hand written thank you note. Amazing customer service!
- Have an Email Address Dedicated to Saving
- Shop Around
I also shop at the regular J Crew store online, as I typically find great promo codes to use on already marked down stuff. I invest more in classic pieces like blazers, dress pants, pencil skirts, handbags, shoes and watches. I spend less on costume jewelry, t-shirts, jeans (I rarely wear jeans) and on casual non-work items. Ann Taylor often runs flash sales where everything on their site is 50% off for a few hours. Thanks to emails from both Ann Taylor and J Crew, I know when they are running sales and coordinating promo codes.
- Mix It Up With Accessories
For furniture, try building your own. With sites like Ana-White, the plans and step by step instructions and buying list is lined out for you.
When it comes to electrical (other than installing a light fixture, which anyone can do. I have done it by myself a few times.) and plumbing, it is best to hire a professional. These are areas where things could go horribly wrong and end up costing much more.
- Be Patient
- Don't Be Afraid of Discount Retailers for Accessories
- Be Thrifty
- Visit Your Local Library
Right now, we are watching Breaking Bad Season 4...all four seasons we've rented form the library for free. What a crazy show! House of Cards is also another great show, that we have been able to catch thanks to the free DVDs at the library.
- Redbox It Up
- Throw A Party
Being on a budget, does not mean not going on vacation. I firmly believe in the importance of vacation. We work, so that we can afford to do fun things on our time off, to enjoy time with our family and to explore new places. We need to take vacations! With that said, vacations do not need to be expensive or to some far away, tropical island.
- Pay With Cash
- Road Trip!
- Review Your Home, Auto and Life Policies Every Year.
Now on to the not so fun part-
- Learn To Say No
- Realize that Sales Racks= Spending, not Saving
I have been guilty of this very thing in the past. You decide to window shop and aren't planning on actually buying anything, but then you find a great dress at Anthropologie for 50% off. You think about how much you are saving. The dress was originally $250, now just $125. You are saving $125, right? NO. You are SPENDING $125. I realize that sales and deals aren't easy to pass up, but if you are really dedicated to paying off debt/building savings, think about how much you are spending, not 'saving' on purchases.
- Learn to Go Without
- Don't Charge More Than You Can Afford to Pay Off That Month.
If you can use credit cards responsibly, meaning you pay them off in full each month, than take advantage of the perks. We redeem our credit card reward points for gift cards for Home Depot typically, which allows us to upgrade our home on a budget. However, I NEVER carry a balance or pay any interest!
- Get Help With Your Budget
- Go On a Spending Freeze
- Be grateful for what you have.
Do you have any tried and true savings tips? I'd love to hear them!
Also, Justin and I are more than half-way through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University Course. Once our class concludes, I'll be sharing our experience and things learned. It's a great tool and I highly recommend it. More details to come!