I mentioned I was going to do a series that you can share with your friends on how to save money without overwhelming yourself. Couponing takes a little bit to learn, but you don’t always have to coupon to save money. There are tons of little ways you can cut back and I want to point them out. You never know when a tornado will hit, the house will catch fire or you might lose a job. It’s best to be prepared and have a little saved for a rainy day. Last week we talked about having a price point and a budget! This week I wanted to talk about planning ahead. How many times do you forget to grab something at the store, forget a gift for a birthday party, etc? Then you end up having to pay full price for something when you wait til the last minute. When you plan ahead you can get things on sale, get them on clearance or find a coupon.
Most of the time I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl. Someone recently wanted to set up a play date a week in advance-and I was hesitant to say yes. I have no idea what my life will be like next week. But, even someone like me can plan ahead to save money. Here are few ways I plan ahead:
Planning your meals at least a week in advance will save time and money. How? You only have to go to the grocery store once, not several times because you didn’t know what you were going to get. The less trips to the store, the less you spend on things you don’t need. How many times was your husband supposed to just stop for cheese or one small thing and he came in with Coke, ice cream and a bag of chips? If you know ahead of time what you are having, you can do things like prepare all the chicken in advance, freeze it, and pull it out for individual meals. Instead of spending 20 minutes every meal cooking chicken, you did it all at once. You avoid the stress of “what are we having for dinner” when 4 o’clock rolls around. There are so many benefits to having a meal plan!
If I am at a garage sale and I see a table full of little boys clothing that’s $.25 a piece, I will spend the time and dig through the clothing. I’ve bought Gap, Janie and Jack, Gymboree and Texas Tech clothing for $.25! My son is almost 2 now and I will buy up to a full year ahead. He has 2 boxes of clothing in his closet in sizes 2T and 3T waiting til he fits them. It’s like Christmas when I open a box and see a jacket right as cold weather hits! Score! I just saved myself at least $15 bucks by picking one up at a garage sale last summer! Sometimes it’s hard to guage where he will be in the fall when I see a lot of summer clothes, but at $.25 a piece I am willing to risk it a little. The other thing I do is check the clearance racks. All. The. Time. I bought him a $35 snow jacket last season for $6.88. I also bought him a swim shirt and trunks on clearance at Old Navy for $4 total. Booyah.
November is a killer time to buy Christmas gifts. Stores have GREAT sales (Black Friday). Take some time in October to sit down and really think about what you want to get people for Christmas, and stick to your budget. Sometimes if you buy too early and forget what you have you might end up buying twice. Just keep the receipts and keep that budget! I usually am finished Christmas shopping in October/November and have time to sit around and bake cookies when December rolls around. When I was in college and didn’t have a curious 2 year old I had a box that stayed under my bed. As I found a gift for someone I would put it in the box with my Christmas list. Buying things a here and there saved me time and money and I wasn’t overwhelmed the week of Christmas searching for a perfect gift.
For the rest of the year I pay attention to sales. I found an insane sale in April and bought a ton of toys, more than I normally would have. I held on to the toys until my boys birthday came and then I pulled some out. The other toys I hid til Christmas. Yes, I spent more in April than the budget would normally allow, but when Christmas came my shopping was done and I wasn’t spending money in December :) Toys go on clearance right after Christmas. They go on sale right before Easter. Online stores have blow outs. If you can, set aside a budget for buying gifts and then hang on to them throughout the year when you can just pull them out of the closet as needed. Try to be a step ahead.
There are TONS of resources about when to fill your car up, what gives you the best mileage, etc. What I personally do is try to pay some attention to the price of gas, either by the radio or just a news article. I am usually able to fill my vehicle up the night before it jumps $.15 a gallon. In the end, I only save about $1-$2 per tank, but hey, that’s a Coke!
Do you have anything that you shop ahead for? What else can you add to this list?