The 24/7 rule helps me resist impulse buying and spontaneous decision making. If something catches my eye that is not on my shopping list or not an item I have an immediate need for, I wait at least 24 hours before returning to the store to purchase the item. If it's a high priced item, I wait seven days before returning to get it. Chances are, if I haven't needed that item in those 7 days, I really don't need to purchase it.
As for the smaller items that I put on a 24 hour delay, most often they were strictly impulse items, some of which I forgot about shortly after leaving the store. The 24/7 rule has definitely helped prevent me from impulse buys that could have damaged my budget.
By VeronicaHB from Asheboro, NC
My husband and I have never had a lot of money. Our whole married lives, we have had to watch and constantly be careful. We were married and started our family very young, and neither of us has a college education, so things have always been somewhat difficult for us financially. We found out quickly that, contrary to the old romantic saying, you definitely can NOT just live on love. However, I know our love for each other has carried us through many hard, hard times in the past 27 years. I hope we get AT LEAST 27 more together!
Considering all that, I thought I would share some of the things that I have done and some that I am still doing to help save money, both while we had children at home and now that they are both out on their own in their own homes. One of our daughters is not married yet, but does live on her own, sharing a house with 2 roommates. Our other daughter is married with her first child. I keep hoping that I have passed some things on to them that I have learned over the years.
First of all, when our children were small, we did not use things like baby wipes for diaper changes. My daughter's pediatrician said to use plain, white warm washcloths at diaper changing time. I washed wash cloths and saved some money doing that. If you can, I would recommend cloth diapers to save some money. My daughters did not do well in cloth, so it was necessary for me to use disposable. However, moms have an advantage now that I did not in that there are many different brands of diapers out there and lots of times store brands are just as good as the expensive name brand diapers are. It's definitely worth a try. You can make a lot of your baby food. I don't necessarily suggest that starting out, but as your baby gets used to eating baby food instead of just bottles, you can incorporate some of your food by blending it or using your food processor. Also, if you can, I would recommend breast feeding over formula. My daughter was not able to do that and I was not either, so I know there are exceptions, but if you can, you will save a ton of money. Also, don't spend a fortune on buying brand new baby clothes! I highly recommend watching garage sales, consignment stores, Goodwill, etc., as well as swapping clothes with friends and family. Babies grow too fast to justify spending so much money on their clothing, and frankly, they don't care where their clothes came from. All they want is to be comfortable and loved.
As our girls got older, we wanted to home school them. We are lucky to live in an area where many people are doing this, and we have a Homeschool Assistance Program, run by accredited teachers, that has a lending library that you can avail yourself to. It was so nice, because we could borrow books for the year. They also have a regular reading library that the kids could go into and check out books for themselves to read at their leisure. They offered classes sometimes by accredited teachers and also offered field trips which were very fun and educational for the kids, as well. They offered all these things plus any help or encouragement and supervision that you might need. It was nice to home school for many reasons. For one, I got to spend a lot of time with my girls. We did not have to buy 'school clothes' every year, though we did have to buy supplies, but the cost was always minimal as many of those supplies carried over from year to year. We did not have to buy school lunches, and we did not have to worry about what our kids were learning or not learning. By the way, both of my girls were on the Dean's list in college and my youngest made the President's list which is for GPAs higher than 4.0. I would say they definitely learned well.
Other every day things I did then, and I still do now, are simple things like hanging laundry out to dry instead of using the dryer. I now have clothes drying racks that I use if I can't get outside to hang things. I still occasionally have to dry some towels or bedding in the dryer, but I never put anything else in there, and I only do that when I absolutely have to. I don't always use a whole cap of soap either, the same with fabric softener. If your clothes are not truly dirty, it takes very little soap to actually get them clean.
I don't run lights and a lot of electrical things during the day. I open blinds so the sun can come in and that provides plenty of light. Our central air conditioning is set on 76 degrees in the summer. If I get a little warm, I can use the ceiling fans which we have in every room in our home except the bathroom. If the temperature outside drops to below 85, I open up the house, and if I'm still a little warm, I run fans. In the winter, we set our thermostat at 60-65 degrees. If we get chilly, we put on a sweater or cover up with a blanket to watch TV in the evenings. I find that those temperatures are actually quite comfortable, especially once you are used to them.
Something my girls and I did while they were growing up and still do today is paper routes to generate a little extra income. It was good for my kids to learn responsibility, and it's still a good thing for my husband and I, as we make a little extra money, plus it gets us some exercise. When it comes to grocery buying, I always watch the weekly ads and try to plan our meals from there. Groceries cost more for the two of us today than it did to feed our family of 4 years ago. However, I would rather pay more for good ingredients and good quality, healthy foods than pay for doctor's bills, because I did not take care of myself or my family properly. So many of our health problems in this country are because we do not feed our bodies properly. That was a hard lesson to learn, but it's so true. You will pay either in groceries or doctor bills. I know which I would rather do. If you can, combine as many trips to the store as possible. It will save you so much money on gas as well as wear and tear on your vehicle. If you live close enough to the store and are buying a small enough amount that you can carry the bags, I would recommend that you just walk there and back.
You can save money in so many more areas even than what I have touched on here. Hair cuts can be done cheaply. Our son in-law cuts my grandson's hair himself. A nice set of clippers can be bought very reasonably and save you lots of money on hair cuts. For the ladies, try using a beauty school if there is one close by. If not, call around and check prices before you go.
Grow your own food! I don't have room for a great big garden, but I do container gardening and that provides us with much produce for the summer. We share with others, and others share their bounty with us. It also gets us out in the sunshine, which we enjoy very much. Growing your own food provides a big savings at the grocery store. Whatever you are able to grow on your own, you don't have go buy. Also, check out your local farmer's market for good deals.
We have two dogs. We are careful to keep up with their annual shots, etc., and they have been very healthy. We do not buy super expensive dog food, but we also do not buy super cheap. We have gone with a name brand, middle of the road pricing dog food, and they do well on it. We have chosen a vet that is reasonably priced in our area. He has been kind to us and our dogs, and he has not been pushy about us doing things to our dogs that are not necessary.
I could on and on about different ways to save money. If you talk to people and read sites like Thrifty Fun and other good web sites about saving money, you will find a wealth of ideas out there. I enjoy reading "My Frugal Life", because I have gotten ideas from reading it as well. I hope these things have been of some help to someone. There are many, many ways to save money if you are only willing to look for them. Happy Saving!
Another example, a friend had a surplus of vegetables, and gave me some tomatoes, pumpkin, etc, so I have saved on not having to buy those, and can buy a train fare to go to the Museum to see an exhibition I would like to see.
You can work it any way you like. If something has saved you $10, you can donate it to charity, or buy some flowers for a good neighbor, or buy a little extra thing for yourself. This sort of thing won't happen every week, but it's good when it does.
By Witchwood from Melbourne, Australia
I do not know what she has bought. I just see the bags and feel like a small child again, whose brother or sister seem to have more presents at Christmas. That shopper might have bought tons of useless stuff. She may well return all her purchases tomorrow. But there I am, overwhelmed with envy. There is no doubt that I am very influenced by store packaging.
What is the answer? I force myself, whenever I am tempted to spend money, to imagine taking the purchases home in any old bag. This has stopped me from making many emotional purchases.
By Julia in UK
Make your grocery list simple, remember every minute in the store is more money you are likely to spend. Get in,stick to your list, and get out. Also check for any coupons available for anything you plan on buying. If possible always buy generic brands. The only difference is the price usually.
Always remember the cheaper stuff is not at eye level so look at the bottoms of the shelves there is always a cheaper one. Shop where you can price match to get all the sales in one place. Always keep your pantry organized so you know what you already have. Take advantage of store reward cards, they add up and you can end up saving even more money.
When cooking a meal double or triple the recipe and freeze them. This can help you avoid take out food when you have had a long day and don't feel like preparing a meal, you can just heat it up. Try to cook from scratch if you can this will save you a lot in the long run. Make your coffee at home and invest in a good thermos to take with you.
When going out take your own bottled water. Just refill them from your tap and keep them in the fridge. Same with pop, buy 2 liters and fill smaller bottles up to take with you. Keep snack bags in the fridge or pantry filled with fruit, cut up veggies, cheese, crackers, and dry cereal in baggies and take with you when going out, especially if you have kids. This will keep you from buying junk food.
Before making any new purchases try using things you already have, or can find in recycling boxes. I do not buy magazines anymore, there is always lots in recycling boxes. Also plant pots are plentiful. So are books, and all kinds of things. Share newspaper subscriptions with neighbors and split the cost. Only pay cash for your items, forget the debit card, this will also save bank fees. Use less of what you can like dish soap, shampoo, hydro, etc..
Find ways of using what you have and use less of it. Always spend less then you make and always save no matter how little it is. I started a change jar where all the spare change goes and roll it every 6 months and put into my savings. It adds up quite fast and I didn't even miss it. Always ask how can I get this cheaper? How can I make it last longer? Or how can we do without this certain item?
Remember most things can be negotiated, it's always worth a try. Shop yard sales all year and sometimes you can find new items you can put away as gifts. Also try second hand stores. Avoid new and always try to buy second hand. Do research before buying certain items to get the best price on an item. Buy gifts year round when they're on sale. Take advantage of mail in rebates, they are a great way to get free items. Also grow what you can. We do tomatoes, potatoes, and pumpkins. Also I read a lot, so I make use of the library and sales where books are a quarter. There are so many ways to save money, just be creative.
By coville123 from Brockville, Ontario
Saving Money In The New Year
The key to successful shopping is investigative research. Before buying an item, check the internet for customer reviews. Whether you're buying the item in the store or online, that shouldn't stop you from turning to the internet to find what others are saying about the product.
Two years ago I could have saved $40 (and the broken heart of a four-year-old) if I had researched one of the toys that my son requested for Christmas. Thinking it was made by a reputable manufacturer, I purchased it without question. It was awful; pieces didn't fit together as advertised and none of the triggered motions worked on queue, causing frustration to both adults and children. Then, after turning to Amazon.com reviews we realized that everyone (every single reviewer!) told us about the products' problems. The silver lining? The reviews gave us suggestions for stripping down the playset to get some use from an otherwise useless toy.
Before buying, turn to popular websites such as Amazon.com and large chain store sites to see what others are saying. The middle reviews are probably most helpful; offering pros and cons for the product rather than simply lauding or attacking it.
When reading online reviews, keep in mind that these are not objective reviews. The negative reviews are most likely from consumers who feel "cheated" or in the least disappointed. Positive reviews sometimes have addendums to them with different thoughts after using the product for some time. Skim past reviews that start, "I just purchased this and . . ." Instead, look for those who state that the review has owned the product for some time.
Another thing to keep in mind when reading reviews; read the words, not the stars. Some reviewers give products one or two stars, but while reading the review it's easy to see that one fault earned this harsh star rating. Meanwhile, others give items four stars and then list five problems with the item.
Rely on the reviews that relate to you the most. If a busy mom declares that an electric razor takes too much time to get the job done, ask if this is something that concerns you. If not, it's not necessarily a problem. Likewise, look at the profile for the reviewer (some sites provide good background info to profile the user such as interests and age group). Toys are often reviewed by collectors who haven't really put the toy to the play test. Also, if an adult reviews the toy as a collector, no one really has an idea how easy the toy is to manipulate in small hands. If you want the toy as a collector's item, this type of review is quite helpful.
Many reviewers offer better products as alternatives. Recently, after learning through research that a child's science experiment was a huge disappointment, we found a much better alternative experiment in a customer review. A reviewer who isn't happy with a product may offer suggestions for making it better or even fixing the problem. Suggestions that might help if you're willing to work with the product.
Don't forget that people spent valuable time writing those helpful reviews. Give back and write a few of your own. If a product already has one hundred reviews, leave it alone. However, if you have information that you can share, write a review and help others make wise decisions and save money.
If there's an earthquake, the licorice, soda, and shelves of knickknacks decorating your house will not save you, and will quickly become a burden. It's better to store things that are truly useful to human life. In natural disaster movies, most people act confused; because they ARE confused and haven't prepared. Think about it; do you really want to be pinned down by a giant cabinet during an earthquake with glass shattering everywhere? Reduce the size and number of things and you won't be pinned down and won't have so many things shattering. Here are the tips:
By Eli from Tacoma, WA
Donna from Brisbane
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