Nothing earth shattering or new here, I'm sure ... but it's like the weight loss stories, we all know how to lose the weight, we just don't apply it:
1. Ditch the plastic. ALL OF IT. I keep my debit and american express card at home, in a place (the whole household knows where they are just in case) and use cash only. It's tough in the beginning, trust me but definitely makes a difference.
2. Pack those lunches/snacks/breakfast/dinner. If you work outside the home or plan on being gone for an extended amount of time, pack it up and bring it along. I figured for me to buy my lunch every stinkin day would be roughly, $8 to $12 and this would NOT be at a sit down restaurant. That's a starting point of $40 a week. Same with water bottles on the road or just plain snacks for the kids. Seriously, the last time Hubby and I were out all day running errands, we stopped to get something to drink at 7-11 and it cost $4 total for 2 drinks (water bottle and gatorade).
3. Keep her full. The gas tank. The price for a regular gallon of gas is $3.59 (last night). Whoa nelly! We all drive gas guzzlers (yes, there, I admit it) with big tanks. Rather than spend $100 (or more) at this point to fill her up, I'm opting to keep her around 3/4 full with a $25 or so addition once a week. Yes, luckily for ME I don't drive all over town and burn a ton of gas, but I think by doing this it wont' be as painful and will allow me to look for cheaper gas on the move.
4. Pay on time. Um, gee, have you seen the late fees on everything lately? Did I really see a $37 late fee on a credit card disclosure? Hopefully that's more than your monthly interest due. Sign up for your online bill pay (hey, if you are on here reading this blog, you have plenty of time to do the billpaying!) with your bank. Then as your bills come in, plug in the payment and date you want it to be paid within the due date time period (I do one to two days before it's due). IF you are following Rule #1 you should have the funds in your account when it comes due. This will also eliminate the no cash to pay when due IF you go ahead and deduct it from your account on paper ...
5. Use it Up. All of it. The end pieces of bread. The cuttings of vegetables. The last bit of sour cream. There are so many things that we just toss out. Invest in a good rubber spatula to scrape stuff out of the jars with. Easily a tablespoon or more can be gleaned this way. Just the right amount for that recipe! The laundry soap bottles? Stab a hole in one corner of the bottom to get the last bit out (that so irritates me that you can't pour it out the top, one more load worth is in there!). If you have anti-heel people in your house, flip the end pieces to the inside of grilled cheese and no one will even notice! Or make bread crumbs!
6. Keep inventory. Yeah, I'm bad at this, I know. But knowing what you have in the pantry and freezers is a HUGE way to save a little extra cash. Especially on a tight week. After 7 weeks or so of a pantry challenge, I still have enough food to feed the neighborhood for a month at least. Ahhh...which leads me to the next one ...
7. Use your coupons. Ok. Some say there aren't any coupons for the things they buy. Um, yes, I bet there are! Laundry soap, bath soap, meat, veggies, bread, there are coupons out there!! Go to A Full Cup and you can search for specific coupons! Just use caution as you will feel the need to buy EVERY good deal out there, which then puts you at odds with #1 and #6.
8. Shop the sales. And if you match it up with #6 you could be golden! Google your favorite store with an "I heart" before it. Such as I heart Publix. Or I heart Walgreens. There are ladies out there who have some terrific websites that match up sales with coupons. You don't need to pay for the "game" to be in the game!
9. Menu Plan. Yeah. Try to stay focused on this and just get a piece of paper (or a calendar you can scratch up) and just list 15 things your family enjoys for dinner that you can make, quick and easy. Don't have 15 things? Then go over to Menu Plan Monday with Organizing Junkie and just take a quick peek at the 300+ other bloggers to see what they are eating. A word of caution: do not print out every single recipe that looks good to you because a) you will kill a forest, and b) you will have a clutter issue with recipes. I do dinners only, because we eat leftovers for lunches and the breakfast are pretty standard day to day stuff.
10. Follow some blogs. Google and find some really cool blogs to follow. My favorites are I Heart Publix, Life as Mom, Beauty and Bedlam, Good Cheap Eats, Ginas Skinny Taste (ww) and Tammys Recipes. Once you start seeing how others are doing it, you will quickly fall in step with it too ...
Linking up to Frugal Friday's with Jessica over at Life As Mom ... if you do nothing else, you should probably check out the links there! So, how do YOU save money?