As I'm planning the year out for the blog, I really want to focus on more “How To's” this year to help you with your savings and earnings goals.
Last week, I shared with you the ways I made money in 2010 and asked you what methods you'd like to learn more about. On the flip side of earning more is saving–by saving money on regular budget categories you can allocate those savings to pay down debt, save up for big expenses, or save for emergencies, retirement or college.
- I planned ahead. By keeping lists of what clothes my kids need, keeping a gift closet for my birthday list, and meal planning, I was able to shop ahead and stay out of the stores, two habits I employ to save money. Last-minute shopping often leads to overspending.
- I planned my family's meals around the grocery store sales flyers (here's my how-to video). By stocking up on items at their lowest prices, I avoid ever paying full price for foods we buy regularly, and I cook simple, wholesome meals that everyone eats and enjoys.
- I bought gently-used clothes, gear and toys from consignment sales. Most big consignment sales start in late-February, so keep an eye out in your area for notices and read How to Shop Consignment Sales.
- I always (always!) shopped online with coupon codes for discounts and free shipping. I find my discount codes through Ebates and by signing up for store email lists (use a “junk email address”).
- I kept an eye on blogs, weekly ads, and Slickdeals for low prices on items my family uses regularly or on big-ticket items by planning ahead (there's #1 again). When shopping for a “big” birthday or Christmas gift, for example, I know the regular price and watch for deals the two months ahead to help me score a better price.
- I renegotiated contracts (car insurance, satellite TV, internet, etc.) just before the term is up and ask for discounts. I'm doing this at the end of January with Verizon and my car insurance, using these phrases that have worked for me in the past.
- I utilized the many many FREE kids' activities out there from businesses around town, the library, free museums, etc. We also have regular movie nights, board game nights, and other fun family evenings instead of spending a fortune at the movies or elsewhere.
- I used the daily deal sites to enroll my kids in gymnastics and other programs at a fraction of the cost. I hadn't been splurging for these activities before, but now I can by keeping an eye out for good deals in my local area.
- I used coupons–for everything from groceries to toiletries to restaurants, and although I've really toned down the amount of time and work I put into it, I still find it useful.
- I went green on many household products, and by using reusable towels, plates, and lunch items, I've saved a LOT of money from prior years. It's been really nice not having to search for deals on juice boxes and other items.
I want YOU to earn save lots of money in 2011 using these and other strategies. When you regularly use these habits to save, you end up with more money in your family budget to pay down debt or accomplish your other financial goals. I'd love to hear from you about what strategies I can share more in-depth to help you save. What would you like to better understand?