How’s your week going? I am moving quite slowly over here with this darn cold. It’s had me down for days. I have energy in the morning for about two hours and then I feel like I’ve been hit by a train again. Needless to say I am ready for this cold to take a hike. The good news is that I have been brainstorming lots of fun ideas for the blog. I mentioned that I was going to revisit my “Five Ways” posts on a myriad of topics and today I am kicking it off with
Five Ten Ways to spend less money.
Been chatting with so many friends lately about different ways we save money. I have to admit that saving has always been in my nature. I see that with my own children. We have one spender and one saver. We have a jar that we add spare change to in hopes of saving for a trip. I think it’s nice to have a family goal and work towards it together. Our son is far and away the biggest contributor. He just loves saving and working towards a goal. Whether saving comes naturally or not, it’s nice to exchange ideas because even one new habit could make a huge difference in what is contributed to a savings account. While some of these may seem quite obvious, it’s nice to get the wheels turning. And because I love this topic, I am dishing up ten ideas instead of five. Here we go.
ONE: PARK IN 15 MINUTE PARKING
This may sounds nuts but temporary parking is great for your wallet! Let me explain. The other day I drove up to Ikea with the children for a chair we were buying. I pulled into the 15 minute parking and looked at the kids and said, “Ok! Let’s do this!” It slightly panicked my children (both rule followers) who were afraid our car would get towed. But I knew we could pull it off. The 15 minute parking is directly outside of the warehouse where the furniture is lined up on those shelves. I went in and immediately asked what aisle the chair was on. Within minutes I had the chair and was in line to pay. We were back in the car in ten minutes. The reason I mention this is because I was secretly so pleased with myself. Ordinarily I would have enjoyed wandering through the Ikea maze and would have “needed” at least five other amazing, inexpensive items. Bottom line . . . I would have spent so much more money. 15 minute parking! Give it a try.
TWO: MAKE COFFEE AT HOME
This may seem obvious, but it you do the math on what you can save by drinking coffee at home, you would be shocked. I drink a cup of coffee at home each morning and save that $2-5 each day. When I do meet a girlfriend for breakfast or coffee, it’s a special treat and a fancy coffee like this is that much more special. You can even make fancy designs like this at home (if you figure it out, can you teach me). I’ve also talked extensively about having friends over in the morning. Not only does it save money but it works so well with busy moms’ schedules.
THREE: MEAL PLAN
This is hands down the greatest way to save money if you ask me. I often (too often) fail in this department. However, anytime I meal plan for the week food does not go to waste, we don’t eat out and the family eats much healthier. Also trying to be really good about keeping 2-3 ready to go dinners in the freezer. We have all been there. Empty fridge, tired, no plan, busy day and it results in going out to eat. Half the time everyone is too tired to enjoy the meal out and you’ve wasted a good amount of money. I also have learned to lower my expectations. My family doesn’t need a gourmet meal every night. Some nights they are perfectly content with scrambled eggs for dinner. Each time we decide to skip going out and get creative with very little in the fridge we feel such a sense of accomplishment and I am keenly aware of the money we didn’t spend going to a restaurant. I have shared many of the recipes we love under the “yummy” tab.
FOUR: ORDER ESSENTIALS ONLINE
This is something else I have gotten much better at. Still a work in progress. I was noticing that Target was a hot spot for me. It was so easy to go walk around that store and come home with things I really didn’t need. While I still love a great stroll through Target, I don’t go as often and choose to order my basics online. I have been ordering from Grove Collaborative and LOVE it. My essentials come to my door and I am not wasting money on things I see while browsing in store. Plus the prices are much better.
FIVE: FORGO THE COCKTAILS
Love a cocktail or glass of wine? Me, too. But they are expensive. Consider waiting until you get home to enjoy a fun drink. Drinks really do add a lot to the tab and skipping that ritual here and there can definitely allow you to spend far less.
SIX: EAT FIRST, SNACK LATER
These are healthy to-go dinner boxes I made for the family not too long ago. We have learned that when we head out to sporting events or special outings it often makes more sense to eat a full meal at home first and then just prepare to have snacks when we are out. It’s remarkable how much those places charge for food so it’s nice to only get a couple of treats.
SEVEN: DIG DEEP FOR DIY SKILLS
DIY has always been in our blood. My parents have mad DIY skills and love to create something from nothing. I also grew up with a dad who had an engineering background and a grandfather who was a general contractor. Building and doing seems natural. My husband spent a couple of summers renovating apartments with his grandfather when he was young and picked up lifelong skills. But even growing up around it, I’ve still had to teach myself along the way. Little things like painting a table can save you so much money. Hanging your own drapes instead of calling a handy man. Money saved. With so many blogs and online videos you really can learn to do anything. So maybe this year it’s getting in touch with your creative side. Many of my tutorials can be found here.
EIGHT: GIRLS NIGHT IN
We girls need our time together! I crave the time spent with girlfriends laughing, chatting, venting and brainstorming. And while it’s fun to get dressed up and go out, we inevitably sit at a table fully engrossed in conversation totally oblivious to what is going on around us. Until the check comes! LOL. Stay in! Each girl can contribute something simple to the evening or maybe the host does it all and you rotate so that you get a break the next few times you get together. Anything works and it’s far less expensive.
NINE: PLEASE, NO GIFTS
I know it’s really fun to exchange birthday gifts with friends, but maybe it’s time to say no more gifts, please. Instead, ditch the gift giving for one fun night out to celebrate each other. It’s the experiences we all treasure versus the gifts, so really it’s better for everyone in the end. Or if you can’t quite quit the gift exchange, maybe consider setting a smaller price limit.
TEN: PARTNER UP
Costco! Anyone shop there? My problem with it is that I don’t need 18 apples or 15 bananas. We can’t eat them fast enough. I end up wasting food. So partner up! Find a friend or a relative and split it all. Makes so much more financial sense and nothing goes to waste. You can shop together and split the cost or have one person go and deliver half to the other person. Who doesn’t love a food delivery. It’s a treat and the next month you can be the one to shop and deliver.
There’s no question my weaknesses are clothes and travel. I love both so much and so I am willing to cut corners in other places. When we were first married and just starting out in our jobs (not yet careers) we saved like crazy to make it to Europe. And while we couldn’t afford anything other than picnics in the park while we were there, it was a trip we will never forget.
My dad always instilled in me the need to save for a rainy day. What if your car breaks down? What if you need new tires or a child gets sick? Or what if you just want to set aside money for weekly date nights? I would love to open the conversation up and hear how you spend less on a daily or weekly basis.
To get caught up on my other “Five Ways” posts just click here.
*Update: Sorry #9 was temporarily deleted! LOL. It’s back on the list.
Great tips Courtney. I think meal planning is a huge time and money saver! We meal plan on Sunday, then shop for the week. We only buy what we need, and there is less waste. It also helps me use up pantry items we have on hand. And, due to our dietary restrictions I purchased a milk frother for Christmas so we can now make our own coffee drinks at home. Those $2-5 drinks really do add up. I love the idea of having a girls night in, or getting together for breakfast. I really need to do more of that this year.
YES!!!! I am such a huge proponent of buying only what is needed for the meals (plus snacks of course). I just can’t stand having things go to waste not to mention the money down the drain. I love how you do it on Sunday. I need to go back to doing that. Or maybe Monday morning for me (once kids are off). All about the girls’ nights in and breakfast. Let me know if you try.
Happy New Year, sweet friend. So thankful for you and your friendship through they years. xo
I would like to share how I manage to get a yearly free trip to visit my family in California. I have an airline issued Visa card that gives me one mile for every dollar spent. I charge absolutely everything including my utilities and get enough miles to fly cross country. There is a very important caveat to this saving scenario though – never carry a balance! And I have the bill automatically deducted from my bank account so there is never a late fee.
Such a great tip. We need to do this. We use our debit card, which I do love, but no rewards for that. I know my sister and parents do this too and it’s just so smart. xo
Some of my tips are – 1. shop sales, especially in clothes because clothing has such a high mark up that it does not make sense to buy them at full price. Do it as much as possible, and the savings will surprise you! 2. Buy local store brands at grocery stores. They are cheaper than brand names, but equally tasty and nutritious. 3. Adopt a minimalist attitude toward everything. Before buying anything, ask yourself if you really need it or just want it.
All of these are so great. When we moved we really paired down and I really like to think twice before something comes in the home. It also helps keep the home clutter free. And as a girl who likes her clothes, sales are key. Thanks for sharing with all of us. The more we get the conversation going the more helpful it is. Happy New Year!
Terri Miller says
Great post…thank you! Such a great reminder for me!
I am going to start ordering household /essentials online too! Great tip for me!
Thanks, Terri. I just am so guilty of adding things to the cart that weren’t on my list when I shop in store. This has been a huge help and keeps my Target runs to a minimum. Even though I love it there! Happy New Year!
Thanks for the tips! My new year goal is to meal plan (ideally healthy and simple!) I’d love to see what your meal plans are like.
I need to be more dedicated to doing it each week. Happy to share in an upcoming post. It’s as simple as knowing which five dinners I will cook so I can shop for those. Plus lunches/snacks/etc. I allow one night to be leftovers and one up in the air for going out or making do with what’s in the fridge. xo
A suggestion – may be make this a part of your Monday morning wrap up post (of course you will need to change the title ;-)). I do my grocery shopping on Friday evening/ saturday morning, but can always use the inspiration from your menu for the following week. 🙂
Thank you, Nicole! Have to say there wasn’t a dry eye when my son immediately got up to hang his ornament on the tree. Really special for us all.
Happy New Year to you!! Hope it’s full of health and happiness. xo
My tip is to follow the Dave Ramsey plan. Pay cash or use debit for everything including your cars. Having no car payments, credit card payments, or student loans is very freeing. You will look for a cheaper car, a less expensive school and just do a better job of budgeting when it comes out of your checking account.
YES! While I have never done the Dave Ramsey plan, we are huge proponents of paying with cash. It’s something my parents did and always stuck with me. Thanks for sharing. I have heard of so many success stories from people who have tried his plan. Life changing for so many. Happy New Year.
Just before the holidays our school, like most others, had a food drive. I have a tendency to stock up on canned foods and decided to donate from my pantry. I loaded up 2 full paper grocery bags (doubled up for strength) and brought them to the school. I was astonished that during this process I tossed more than I donated because it had expired. I will think twice next time that I am shopping before I put those 2 cans of “just in case I plan to bake” sweetened condensed milk or those 4 cans of “I like this on my pizza and fried rice” pineapple chunks. This promoted me to really think about the way that I am shopping and have a plan. I am embarrassed by and feel sick about the waste. This prompted me to clean and purge the entire house over the holiday break. Clothes were boxed up and donated, the garage was organized, and I cleaned out the refrigerator and deep freezer. I reflected a lot on the waste caused by my lack of planning and organization. I have vowed keep things simpler and be more purposeful when I do shop. Thank you for your thoughtful post. I love your ideas to further simplify my life and free up time and money.
Happy New Year, Courtney!
Please excuse my typos, I did not proofread before I submitted 🙂
Barbara M. says
Such good tips, Courtney!
I love to meet friends for coffee at Starbucks and treat it as a social get together. But I can’t see buying Starbucks coffee at the drive-through on the way to work or wherever when it is so easy to make it at home.
You are so right that drinks out are expensive. I have a friend who always picks a “special” wine but I almost always pick the House wine.
I’m not sure I’m brave enough to try the 15 minute parking, but I’ll think about it.
Thanks, Barbara. I agree. Starbucks with friends is great. Sometimes we ride our bikes to a nearby one with the kids and think it’s the greatest. You’re cracking me up with thinking about the 15 minute parking. I only recommend it if you are there to grab one thing and go! LOL! I suddenly have images of everyone racing out to their cars.
Happy New Year!!! xo
Some weekends if I’m craving a date with my husband we opt for lunch out instead of dinner. Cheaper and still don’t have to cook or do the dishes 🙂
I read your blog all the time, and just really appreciate how you write! This blog post made me smile, because this is a huge deal in our household. My husband is a finance controller, and also Dutch…man loves to save a dolla! He has taught me so much about different ways to save money. Basically it always comes down to planning ahead, I had always been a planner but not when it came to money necessarily. We meal plan every week, it’s actually one of my fav things to do now! With the ads on side of me and my list on my lap. We have 6 month old baby, and plan on sending her to Christian education…we have started our tuition giveback program. We buy gift cards and get a percentage back! I absolutely love seeing our account grow!
Target is definitely my weak spot. I go in for one or two things and come out with a bunch of extra stuff that I didn’t really need. Definitely to shop more online. But I am in agreement with you on the coffee, that really adds up. So I make my own coffee at home and when I want to be fancy I grind my own beans and use the French press. So now we only treat ourselves to a coffee when we’re out and about on a Saturday or after church on a Sunday. Shopping I’ve been lady has been on sites like Poshmark where people resale clothes. It’s been a great way to get high and items for a very very low price. As far as the kids go thrift stores are essential. I have two boys and they grow like weeds. As long as I’m periodically buy new jeans and tops I never have to really go into a department store for anything other than shoes. Kids clothes really add up.