Hey wow…it’s August tomorrow! ¬†Where in the world did the year go??? ¬†We are half-way through and I don’t know about you, but I am already starting to think about the holidays and how fast they are going to be here and I have realized that my budget is BUSTED!!!
So how are you going to make these last few months count and not wind up with a bunch of credit card debt to start off the new year? ¬†Let’s take a look at some budget busters and ways to save.
If you like to plan and make lists and comparison shop, this is probably not going to help you much. But if you see something and have a moment of “I want it NOW” (did anyone else sing that in their head ala Veruca¬†Salt in Willy Wonka?) AND you give in to it, we need to have a chat. The best way to know if this particular item is a “need” or a “want” is to wait. ¬†Sit and wait for at least 3 days. ¬†If the urge to purchase is still as strong, you may have something that leans toward the “need” column. But you can’t purchase it yet. ¬†I want you to do a couple of things first.
- Shop around. ¬†I promise you, that one super specialized store is not the only place that sells that item that you think you need. It may be the only store in your city that has one available right now to take home, but that convenience is going to cost you! Shop around online and see if you can find a better deal. ¬†Don’t forget to consider shipping costs into your decision.
- There’s a coupon for that! Or Cashback or points or something. ¬†There are a couple of retail coupon sites out there where users share their coupon/discount codes for different sites (ie: RetailMeNot.com or BradsDeals.com). In addition, there are a TON of sites that will give you cashback (ie: Dubli or eBates) or points (ie: Swagbucks or MyPoints), Sears/KMart have their own rewards program, Kohl’s offers Kohl’s cash. ¬†The point is, there is a way to save money. If you do this on a regular basis, you start to develop favorites (which saves times), you will have a nice-sized account full of cashback or points to use later and you save money.
- Use a Rewards Card! ¬†Whether you find a better price, a coupon or discount code, use a card (debit or credit) that gives you cash back for purchases. ¬†You may find a bank debit card that offers rewards, but you mostly see them on credit cards. ¬†Who wants to deal with another credit card? ¬†Not me! ¬†So I opened a PayPal account, linked my bank and ordered a PayPal Debit Card that pays me back for purchases that actually just comes out of the bank account I have linked. ¬†If I lose it or it gets compromised, I cancel it but still have my regular bank debit card to use. I report the fraud to PayPal who freeze all transactions, yet my bank account is still usable.
Open a Christmas Club or dedicated savings account. A Navy Federal Credit Union Save First savings account gives you the option to save all year long and on the date you specify, your funds are released to you. $5 is all it takes to open and you can setup a direct deposit as well as make deposits anytime. I love this account because you can open it anytime and save for a term as short as 3 months to five years.
Take a trip down Google Lane and search for “cash to open bank account”. ¬†I have found that MoneyCrashers.com gives a great round-up of current offers. If a bank is going to pay me a BONUS to save, I’m all for that. ¬†Just be sure to read ALL of the terms and conditions and ensure you can meet them. Once you have met the terms and have received your bonus, transfer the money to your NFCU Save First account.
Cut it out!
Not only am I saying this to my kids, I say it to you too! ¬†Cut it out….said¬†in the most loving and positive way possible, but seriously friends, cut out that coffee that costs over $5 a cup and brew at home. Cut out the fast-food lunch and bring your own. Cut out the impulse shopping and refer back to the first paragraph on how to save. Cut out the coupons in the Sunday paper and plan your meals and grocery trips.
Best way to start figuring out what to cut out: ¬†keep a journal, something you can quickly write down what you spend your cash on, where you use your debit card. Go online to your bank and if the option is available (USAA), categorize your spending. ¬†If it’s not, write it down in the journal. ¬†1 month is all you should need and you should be able to pinpoint extra, unneeded expenses and stop them.
Don’t like cutting coupons? ¬†The Commissary offers you the option to download coupons to your Commissary Rewards Card and some grocery stores have this option as well. ¬†There are several phone apps that only require you to take a picture of your receipt to earn cashback on your purchase and you can use that same receipt for multiple apps, so go check out Ibotta, Checkout 51, and SavingStar. ¬†Utilize all of these AND store sales and specials to slash your grocery budget.
Bulk shopping sounds like a great way to save, but you have to take in to account the fee to join, spoilage, storage space, etc. Keep an eye out on different saving blogs and sites for deals on new memberships. I was able to get a Sam’s Club membership for $4.95 this year and with 2 small children that believe fresh and frozen fruit are the.best.snacks.ever, we do quite a bit of bulk shopping. We have the space for storage and two
little human-garbage-disposals growing kids that never let it go to waste.
We also utilize Amazon’s Prime and Subscribe & Save. ¬†Again, got my Prime membership on a discount day and we max our Subscribe & Save each month to get the full discount possible, utilize Amazon coupons (did you know Amazon offered coupons???) and turn if off when we don’t need it. I adjust it every month we have items being delivered and there is no charge to start/stop or change and I get free shipping or get a promotional credit¬†by using the No-Rush shipping method.
I am terrible about remembering to stop and get a paper on Sunday. Luckily, you can print coupons at home now!
- Coupon sites: ¬†Coupons.com; RedPlum.com; SmartSource.com; MilitaryShoppers.com; MyMilitarySavings.com
- Rewards sites: Swagbucks; MyPoints; UPromise (get cash back and earn points for printing from their site and redeeming)
- Store coupons: ¬†Commissary (available online or in-store); Sam’sClub; Costco; most local grocery stores have coupons you can download to your¬†rewards/points cards
- Manufacturer sites: ¬†some manufacturers only offer coupons on their own sites, via their Facebook page or in their newsletter. ¬†Sign up!!
- Register coupons: ¬†Catalina coupons print at the register and are typically tied to your rewards card for that store.
Maintenance and upkeep
Maintain your gas mileage by keeping your tires properly inflated. Have the oil and fluids checked and changed or topped off regularly. Slow and smooth starts and cruise control help conserve gas. Download the GasBuddy app and visit the gas station offering the lowest prices along your route. Utilize grocery points or other rewards or use that cashback card to purchase gas. ¬†Use your savings account you set up earlier to save for tires and other larger maintenance items.
Don’t forget to maintain your budget. There are a ton of systems out there designed with YOU in mind. Find the one that works best for you and stick to it to watch your savings grow. Periodically review your budget to ensure you are on-track and that you don’t need to add in or remove line items.
Fund your savings.
Around here, we love a great yard sale. Consider some purging of gently used, good condition household goods and clothing to start your savings fund. ¬†You can list them for FREE on SargesList!!
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