It is the new year. A time for resolutions, review, reflection. Most of our resolutions seem to focus on diet/exercise or financial improvement.
Financial improvement can be a tough one. Some of our finances MAY be out of our control. My first paycheck of the year was a tad smaller. Most of finances, however, are very much in our control. Many of us nickle and dime ourselves out of cash. How many times do you purchase a $1.79 soda or bottle of water as we are checking out of grocery store? It is quite easy to nickle and dime ourselves OUT of cash, so why not nickle and dime ourselves out of debt or into bigger savings?
Start small. Think of the nickles and dimes and where you can cut. It would take only a moment to fill a reusable water bottle and put it in the car before running errands. Doesn’t seem like much, but if you purchase a drink out of the case 3 times a week you save about $280 a year. That is $280 NOT on your credit card for Christmas shopping next December.
Dining out. This year I put EVERY SINGLE financial transaction into an excel sheet. I was mortified by the amount of money we spent dining out. Once a week I am usually mortified by the amount of food I throw out from the refridgerator. We didn’t eat it because we hit drive through instead. I know why we dined out. It was “easy” it seemed fast. Ordering a pizza seemed quick. In retrospect I could have popped in a brand name frozen pizza and served my kids faster than the pizza was delivered. A good frozen pizza will cost you $6. It cost $5 for the delivery fee alone.
Find quick meals that do not make too much of a mess, are quick and easy. Stick it in the freezer. My new “go-to” meal is a ham steak and a quick salad. My two kids and I can easily spend $16-18 going to drive through and who knows how much fresh stuff I will toss because we didn’t eat it. A ham steak is around $4.00 a bag of salad, also about $4.00. Those two items will EASILY last 2 meals. $32 hitting the drive through twice a week vs a very easy 10 minute meal for $8. Easy easy way to save.
While your accountant may not like this idea, I “save the change”. If I use cash, all loose change goes into the change jug. I managed to pay an unexpected dental $500 medical bill with my loose change and coupon money. I’ll come back to the coupons in a bit. When I write a check or use my debit card, I round UP to the nearest dollar. I can add about $30 a month to my checking account by rounding up.
Find the small places where you can save and trade the service or really look at what you use and only pay for what you need. I dropped all the movie channels from my cable bill and traded for a movie delivery service. The movie delivery service is less than $14 a month.
Review your cell phone bill. I found I have been paying for 750 minutes of calling and using an average of 200 minutes a month. I managed to cut $20 from my monthly bill by changing my plan. It took some time and a little begging. Cell companies would rather you upgraded than downsized. It only took about an hour to save my family $240 a year.
At one time I was really good at coupons. But I wasn’t seeing the savings from them. The “savings” always disappeared. I never saw it. I started getting cash back at the checkout for the money saved. If I saved $4.70 in coupons, I asked for $5 cash back. The cash back went into the coin jug also. This, combined with my loose change paid for the dental bill I mentioned earlier. And it only took four months to save that much.
Saving can be daunting. Nickle and dimeing seems small, but adds up to savings just as quickly as it can drain your checking account. Rethink saving. Don’t be overwhelmed by the $1000 emergency fund. Nickle and dime your way there. In the first two weeks of our dining out/delivery diet, I have saved my family well over $100. Can we go an entire year without dining out? Probably not. But we can cut down a nickle at a time. I am aware of the close to $3,000 we spent dining out last year. We won’t spend that much again this year. Or ever.