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Friday, June 29, 2007

Savings Tip # 2

Most grocery stores have a small recycling center in their parking lots. I bring a big bag of cans and bottles to recycle right before I do my grocery shopping. The machine gives me a print out of how much I got from the cans. After I'm done grocery shopping I give the receipt to the cashier to go towards my groceries. I probably save at least 2-5% off my grocery bill doing this.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Pay with Cash Only Really Works!

I have heard so many times to use cash only when paying for things throughout the week. There was even a 7 Day Spending Challenge posted on Yahoo! about a month ago that says to try and only spend cash for the week. They say to calculate about how much you will need for the entire week and pull out that amount of cash and that's it.

I never really thought that this plan would actually work for me because whenever I have cash on hand I think, free money I can spend! :) So I always carried my debit card wherever I went. I would run into the store to get one thing like milk and come out with a bunch of stuff that was on sale and believed I needed.

Finally, I realized I was spending too much money here and there. It wasn't really a problem of spending $100 on one purchase. It was the little bit spent here, little bit spent there that added up to be a lot of wasted money. I calculated what I needed for the week and started withdrawing that amount on Sunday night. I would put my debit card away and not touch until the very end of the week.

This time I went into the store to buy milk and began looking around a little out of habit. When I thought about only having cash, I really didn't want to spend it. I wanted to hold on to it as long as I could. I bought only the milk and walked out counting my money happily. By the end of this week I had money left over and my debit card was still in it's safe spot not touched. There were things that I calculated into my weekly spending that I began thinking I didn't even need anymore.

So it really does work. This is such a great way to cut back on spending. I still buy groceries with my debit card because I tend to stay on budget with that but mostly everything else I buy with cash now. Try it just with a few areas that you are having the most trouble staying on budget with. For example, eating out or entertainment. It's so great to look at my bank statement and only see a few transactions compared to before. It's definitely saving me a lot of money!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Extra Paychecks this Month

This month has 5 weeks in it. That means if you get paid every other week or even every week, you will get paid an extra pay check this month! Try to save at least half if not all of that paycheck.

You won't even know you're missing it. You could also use that extra money to take a fun weekend vacation or make an extra payment towards your credit cards, mortage, or other bills.

I'll be using mine to pay off a medical bill and the other half will be put into savings.

Savings Tip # 1

To save on your electric bill make sure to turn your computer completely off every night. You will save an average of $250 a year!
Please share your tips for saving on the electric bill.

Friday, June 22, 2007

America's Cheapest Family Saving Money

These are some great ways to stick to a budget. Check out their book, it's great!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKJTxuzvkXw

Money Saving Games

I found the perfect website on how to save money in fun ways. It's called Money Saving Games Fun Games that help you save money. These are some wonderful ideas on how to save without even realizing it. I especially like the no spending for a day game. I try to do that as much as possible. Check them out and see which one you can play to save money!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Cheap or Free ways to have fun this Summer

Summertime always seems to be expensive because kids are home from school and everyone just wants to get out in the sun and have some fun. I figured out lots of ways to have fun with my family for very little money if not free:

1. Take a trip to the beach, lake, or river. In order to keep this cheap bring everything you need or may think you need before hand. A lot times people get to the beach and decide they want a boogey board and end up spending $20 on one when they probably had one at home. Pack a bigger cooler full of food and drinks. Bring plently of towels, sunscreen, water, and snacks. Try to only bring $10 cash and see how far you can make it strech, maybe an icecream for everyone!

2. Camping, same rules apply to the above.

3. Take a bike ride with the kids on a bike path, bring a water bottle and snack. Maybe ride to the park.

4. The all too famous parks. I know going to the park doesn't sound like that much fun when you probably go to them all the time so here's a little extra excitement to this one. Go to parks outside your neighborhood and bring some food to BBQ. Explore parks that you have never been too. It will be fun for the kids and adults too!

5. Go swimming at the local public pool or a friends pool. Public pools cost about $1-3. Very cheap fun for the hot afternoon.

6. Take the family to the local farmers markers. They have lots of fresh food for cheap. You have fun as well as get some grocery shopping out of the way. :)

7. Ride the public bus or the subway to a far away place. Only costs about $2-3.

8. Take a road trip to your old neighborhoods you use to live in when you were a kid. Show your kids where you use to go to school and ride bikes.

9. Have a garage sale! I know it sounds like a lot of work but you could get the kids really involved. Have them go through their toys. Make some lemonade for them to sale and make some money while having fun.

10. What are your ideas to have fun with little or no money this summer?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Grocery Game

One of the best ways I have found to save money on groceries is using "The Grocery Game." It costs about $5 a month to sign up. They have an updated list posted every week with all the foods that are on sale and the coupons to use that will save you the most money each week.
What you do is clip all your coupons and orgainze them in a coupon book. Each week print the list on Sunday and match up the coupons with the list. You will not use all the coupons that week but keep them for the upcoming weeks. Pick and choose all the items off the list you want to get.
In just a few weeks my kitchen was stocked with everything I needed to last two months at VERY LOW prices. I've never paid more then 50 cents for a can of soup and most of all the toothpaste I have stocked was free!
After you have stocked up pretty good just buy the items that are very cheap and free on the list to re-stock your kitchen each week. You will notice that you will not have to run out to the store for anything anymore. Your kitchen will basically be a store of foods. It's so much fun and saves tons of money. If you want to try it out go to http://www.thegrocerygame.com/ and see if it's in your area. Make sure you let them know I referred you. My email address is misti_johnson@sbcglobal.net
Thanks so much, keep saving!

A little about me!

I used to spends tons of money all the time. I never thought twice about swipping my ATM card everywhere I went. I would withdraw $100 there $300 here plus use my card on all kinds of purchases. I vowed never to use a credit card except for emergencies but I was always coming up short every month. I was in the negative and I didn't even have that many bills. My savings account had about $200 in it. I began thinking, I've been working since I was 16 years old. I am now 27 years old and all I have to show for it is $200?!

So for my new years resolution, 2007 I decided to be completely debt free and cut out all the unnessary purchases I make. I began by going through my entire bank statement line by line and seeing where all my money was going. One of my biggest weaknesses was Target. I banned that store immediately and have not gone there, except when I got a gift card for my birthday.

It's been 6 months! I paid off my credit card and lowered all my monthly bills. I carry only cash and only use it as needed. When it's gone, it's gone. I've decluttered my apartment and sell as much stuff as I can. I no longer buy stuff just because. I've joined the grocery game and cut my food expenses. I no longer go shopping, I go to garage sales. When I'm bored I sell on ebay. So far I've saved $4500 this year and I am always looking for new ways to save more. I will keep you posted every month on how I'm saving.

I have fallen off the frugal track a few times this past couple of months and am looking for motivation and reinforcement in myself by writting this blog. I hope you enjoy it and share your tips and success with me!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Tips to save on Parties

When throwing big parties you always have to look for ways to save so that it doesn't get out of control, but at the same time still have fun with it. Here are some of the things I've done to save:

1. Make your own food instead of buying or catering. Huge sub sandwichs cost about $10 a foot. You can make your own for much less then that. Think about all the food you can save money on by making your own for the party. Or you could even have the guests bring a small dish for a pot-luck type party.

2. Make your own party signs instead of paying for them. If you want a huge sign that says "Congradulations" or "Happy Birthday", why not make your own. Ask around and I'm sure you have a big role of paper somewhere that you can write and decorate as you desire. Get the kids involved.

3. Don't waste money on invitations. Make them on the computer for free. It will cost a little bit to print but you could always email them out too.

4. When choosing a theme for the party think of the colors that go along with it. For instance I threw a Superman party for my son. Instead of buying Superman plates, napkins, etc. I bought red plates and blue napkins. Much cheaper! (Plus any left overs can be used for other parties very easily) Try to do everything in the colors of theme and only choose a few specific items like a big Superman poster to hang up.

5. Think of unique themes for parties that will save you money. For instance I threw a Coors Light party for my mom and Uncle (twins). Most of my decorations were free because I used Coors light boxes and cans. You can do this with sodas or other items you can find lots of that someone really likes. They will have no idea they always wanted a "Cherry Coke Party" :-)

6. For party favors, buy items in bulk that are generic and decorate them yourself. I bought a big pack of lighters on ebay for $6.00 and put Nascar bandaids on them for a party I threw. Very cheap party favor that everyone loved. Everyone thought I bought Nascar lighters. That would have been expensive!

7. One of the easiest and cheapest ways to decorate is with streamers. You can buy a huge roll for about 0.79. You can do practically anything with this stuff and it always looks neat.

8. If you have a swimming pool you could fill it up with balloons. That's a cheap decoration that will probably get the most use. Kids love swimming with balloons!

9. Buy party decorations at garage sales. At almost every garage sale I go to I see party decorations of some sort. Add it to your collection of party stuff at home and see what you can come up with.

10. Share some your ideas!

Thanks, keep saving. :-)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Try to make it Last

Try to make things last as long as possible until you can find a cheap replacement. Most items that you need are probably right under your nose. Just let your friends and family know you need a refrigerator or something like that. If they don't have one they are getting rid of, I'm sure they know someone else that does. This networking for stuff is one of the biggest pay offs you can do. Imagine getting a refrigerator for free just because a friend or neighbor wants to get rid of theirs. You just saved yourself a big chunk of money.


You can also try finding free things you need on www.craigslist.com or www.freecycle.com


I really don't see why anyone would need to pay full price for a lot of stuff these days. Someone, somewhere, is always trying to get rid of something you want!

Money to Save and forget about....

One of the easiest ways I've learned to save for some fun or something I want later on is to put money in books on your bookshelf. (I hope someone who knows me doesn't look in my books Whenever you have money just put a few dollar bills or even a twenty in a book on your shelf and forget about it. Yeah, it's not collecting interest but it's not your emergency savings; it's just some money you can stash for a rainy day when you're bored and broke. I've done this and after months I went through the books and realized I had $200 saved! That's really cool. But please and I mean please make sure you go through all your books before you sell them at a garage sale. My mom bought some books the other day and found two $20's in them the person selling them had left behind. Too bad for her we didn't remember where we got them to return the money. But if you're only saving $1 bills in books then it's not that big of a lost.
What are some fun ways you are saving and forgetting about it until a rainy day?

Save on Bills

A very easy way to save on bills each month without doing much work is to just call them up. Talk to a customer service representative and ask if they have any specials or deals going on. If it's cheaper then what you are paying then let them know you would like to change your account to that deal. They will have no problem doing so. Even if you have to make a one time up front payment for the entire year such as a news paper subscribtion, you are still saving and that's what really counts. :)

Saving and Dreaming Like a Kid Again

Why is that when I was a child a few dollars went a really long way, but today I can’t make A buck stretch a day? I’m not talking about paying for bills or necessities either. I’m talking about all the misc. stuff that I “think” I must have. Like when I was a kid I had $3 and was satisfied for about a week. Now days if I have $3 I’m satisfied for about three minutes. I know that everything has gone up in price but so has my need for materialistic junk. I used to be happy with just a stick of gum, now I’m lucky if I can go a hour with just one magazine.

So I’ve decided to think like I was when I was a kid with money. Give myself an allowance, save some for bigger things that I think I must have and spend a little at a time. When it’s gone, it’s gone. That’s the way it was when I was a kid and I sure didn’t think I needed more all the time back then. Yes, I had dreams and asked my parents for bigger things but we never ran out and got them like I do today. My parents would say, wait until your birthday and that was that. I didn’t say, but Mom I must have it right now! How about I borrow some money from you and pay you back with interest and if I’m late then I’ll pay you more? HA HA that would have been a laugh. But today I do that. I want it now and I pay with my credit card and pay back with the interest and other fees. So let’s challenge ourselves to spend and dream like a kid.