On saving money.
Monday, February 9, 2015
I had attempted using coupons a few years ago before I had Liam and quickly got in over my head. I set out to learn the system at Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid all at once, and while I did pay much less for boatloads of shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste, it quickly became time consuming and never stuck.
Recently, though, I've decided to give it another shot. And this time? It's sticking. And it's saving us a whole lot of money, which is especially helpful as I'm not working in these early days with two babies at home. My sister gave me some pointers on learning the CVS system and it's really unbelievable how little I'm spending on toiletries and diapers. I used to just to to Target or Costco and find the cheapest diaper deal, but now, I'm spending pennies in comparison and usually getting more money to use toward my next purchase. (Yes, yes, we could cloth diaper and save more. That just isn't my cup of tea and hasn't worked for us when we've tried.)
Anyway, I can promise you this isn't about to become a couponing blog. Promise! But I know that lots of you who read are in the same boat I'm in, trying to navigate your finances and be good stewards with the money God has entrusted you with. So I thought I'd share a few resources - beyond just coupons - that have really helped us get on track with spending, saving, and giving.
+ Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University - Shawn and I took this class a few years ago and it truly brought a sense of peace, especially for me. I had always hated talking about money, thinking about money, worrying about money - probably because I never really had a grasp on how much I had or where it was going. But knowledge is power. And this course set us on the right track to start getting out of student debt, set up a budget (and actually use it), and move toward financial goals. I wish we'd taken this class long before we actually did.
+ Mint.com - I use this free online budgeting service to track every single dollar that goes in and out of our bank account. The type A side of me thrives when I know how much we're able to spend in each category. If you've never really kept a tight budget, it may take you a few months to figure this out, but it's so worth it. And even though it seems like it would have the opposite effect, living with a budget really brings freedom! Instead of feeling guilty for eating out or buying shoes or seeing a movie, you can see in your budget that you have the money allotted for those things and feel the freedom to spend.
+ Southern Savers blog - Here's where we dive into couponing. This woman is a genius. There are many bloggers like her - and for different regions - but this has probably been my favorite blog to help me understand how to really save money by using coupons and layering them with sales to spend much less money on things you normally buy. Her site is easy to navigate according to which store(s) you use, and I think it's helpful to start learning the policies of one or two stores at a time to really get the hang of it. For example, I've never been a Harris Teeter shopper for groceries, thinking it's overall just too expensive. But then I learned that they double all coupons up to 99 cents. And that they have Buy 2 Get 3 Free deals for different items each week. It's easy to make your grocery list based on what's on a big sale, and then stock up. If you've read my blog for long, you know that we have to eat gluten free and we really strive to eat healthy food. Often, you can't find coupons for fresh, healthy food. So with groceries, I try to do my best to find great sales on items we already use and then stock up.
+ Money Saving Mom - This blog is much more than just couponing and is also very inspiring. Crystal, the author, is quite motivated (as in, she wakes up and starts her day at 3:30am and reads more than 80 books a year. Yeah.). I really like skimming this blog every day or two to find deals on things I never would've heard about.
+ Money saving apps - Did you know there are smartphone apps where you can get money refunded to you for certain grocery items you purchase? I currently have 2 and use them nearly every time I go to the grocery store. My current favorites are Savingstar and Checkout51. At first, this felt really overwhelming to me, but now I make it part of my routine after getting home from the grocery store. Basically, there are items each week that you can submit for a rebate. So if I buy strawberries and strawberries are featured on one of the apps, I just take a picture of my receipt with my phone, submit it, and get the rebate (usually 50 cents or a dollar per item). This adds up slowly, but once you hit a certain amount (different for each app), they'll send money to your Paypal account or a check in the mail. Every little bit helps, and so far, I've made about $20 doing this.
So are we really seeing any difference in our budget since I've been doing this? Yes. Last month, I saved about 10% on our grocery bill which wasn't life changing in itself, but I was also able to stock up our freezer with quite a few extra foods. So while we didn't spend a ton less quite yet, we ended up with a whole lot more food for the future and will save more money in future months.
Labels: saving money