Thursday, January 6, 2011

Easy Ways To Save Money

Everyone needs to save money for something at least once in your lifetime.  Whether it is for something big, small or even for your future, saving money sometimes seems like more of a chore. Especially, for those of us that are on a tight budget.  

Right now, I am trying to save some money for a few things.  In February, my family is taking a trip to visit family and friends in Washington and then in May, my husband and I are going to Vegas.  I am also trying to build my savings account back up.  

Here are a few of the ways that I have found to be easy for me to save money.  And a few ways that have worked for others.  

1.  The $5 Project - This by far is my favorite way to save money.  It works a lot faster and better if you use cash more than your bank card.  It is a very easy concept.  Every $5 bill that you receive, you put away.  You will be surprised how many $5 bills you get.  Last year, I did this and in about 4 months, I had a little over $400 saved.  That is $100, a month.  Not too bad.  You can also change the amount to $1, $10, whatever works for you.

2.  Recycle - If you are lucky enough to have a recycling center near you, you can take your plastic bottles, newspaper and cans to the center.  Some places will even have coupons available that give you more money for them.  This is such an easy thing to do and it helps the environment.  Put out some bins, label them and start saving.  Take them to the center and save all the money that you get.  Easy as pie.

3.  Save Your Change - What do you do with your change?  I put mine in a jar and save it.  This is a method that I have used since I was a kid.  Change adds up quickly.  I usually wind up throwing mine in my purse when I get it and once my purse becomes too heavy for me to carry, I clean it out.  Most of the time it is a crap load of change weighing it down.  I empty it out into my jar and I am usually surprised at how much I have in a short amount of time.  You can take it to the bank (if you are lucky enough to have a bank that still accepts change) or to your local Coinstar.  

4.  Pay Yourself First -  Make your savings like a bill.  Every month or paycheck, whichever is easier for you, put a certain amount of money into your savings first.  Before you pay any bills, pay yourself first.  I know, this one is hard.  I have a hard time doing this one myself, but once you are doing it for awhile, it gets easier.  Set an amount that you feel comfortable with putting aside and save that.  

5.  When Shopping, Put The Saved Amount Away - Once again, this one is very hard for me, but such a great way to build up your savings.  If you are shopping and the original total comes out to be $75, and you have $25, in coupons, so your new total is $50, you take the $25, and put that into savings.  Do this with every purchase that you make, you will have saved so much money.  You can also do this with bills that you have payed off.  For instance, if you have a car payment that is $200, and it is now payed off, you continue to pay that $200, but instead you put it into savings.  It is kind of like the concept of "paying yourself first".  You can also do this with bills that you have lowered, like a cable or phone bill.  

6.  Rebates or Refunds - When you get a rebate or refund, put that money into savings.  I see it as money that was already spent, so depositing it into savings is very easy to do.  Oh, and take advantage of rebate offers.  Most stores and companies make these very easy to do online now, and they usually come quickly.

7.  Sell Your Stuff - Get rid of all that old crap you have laying around and put that money into savings.  You know what they say, "One mans trash is another mans treasure."  Once again, that money was spent a long time ago, so the money can be easily saved.  

8.  Give Up Expensive Habits - Do you buy coffee every morning or lunch every afternoon?  Start bringing your own and take that money that you would normally spend and save it.  A quick, easy and painless way to add to your savings.

9.  Make Money Off Of A Hobby Or A Skill - OK, I'm not telling you to go out and start hookin' on the street corner.  If you sew, good at fixing computers, can type up resumes, paint, whatever.  Use those talents and make some extra money.  All the money you make from your special talents can go into savings.

10.  This really isn't a tip, lol.  I just really wanted 10 things, but couldn't for the life of me think of anything else.  I'm sure I will after I post this.  If there are any things that you can think of, let me know.  I would love to hear them.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year Resolutions

I normally don't make new year resolutions.  I find it to be meaningless, since 99% of the time, I don't keep them.  I don't really like the phrase "new year resolution".  Right off the bat, I think to myself, not gonna keep it.  I just defeated the purpose of the resolution before I started.  Not a really good start.  

I decided this year that calling it a "what I want to accomplish this year" sounds so much better.  It just relieves a lot of stress of having to keep it.  "What I want to accomplish" is more of a check list of things that I want to achieve for the new year. If I can cross a majority of those items off my list, I feel I have succeeded. 

So, for the past couple of days, I have been thinking about the things that I want to accomplish this year.  Some of the things seem to be a continuous battle that I have.  It is one of those, I do really well in the beginning of the year, but towards the middle of the year, priorities change and it just becomes least important.  Until the beginning of the next year, of course.  

So my "What I want to accomplish this year" list is as follows (with some explanations, just because) :

1.  Pay off the car~~We bought a new to us car last year and only had it financed for 2 years.  We have paid for a year now and our goal was always to make payments for a year and then pay it off. This will actually give us a few hundred dollars a month, which will be very helpful.

2.  Pay off our debt~~Not that I need to explain this to anyone, because it is personal, but we owe some money and would really like to get that resolved this year.  This would be a huge weight off my shoulders.  

3.  Put money into savings~~OK, this is one of those continuous battles that I seem to have lately.  A few years back this was a very easy thing for us to do. I guess when you are bringing home more money it is so much easier to save. Now we have found ourselves in a living paycheck to paycheck world and it makes it difficult to save.  I do have some good ways to do this and will share in a later blog.  

4.  Cook a new meal every week~~This is what I would love to do, but honestly, it will probably be more like every 2 weeks, but 2 new recipes a month is still pretty good right?  I think so.  There are a lot of people in this house and everyone eats at different times, so it is hard to find something that I can cook and will stay good for the next 6 hours.  I do have some tricks up my sleeve to make this work, so I feel confident.  

5.  Try Once a Month Cooking~~I know I have blogged about this before, but I would really like to try it.  Doing OAMC would really help with cooking a new meal every week (or two). No real reason why I don't, just laziness, I guess, but would like to accomplish this.

6.  Spend more "quality time" with my family~~Now, I put quality time in quotations because, I do spend a lot of time with my family.  I want it to be more memorable.  My son is getting older and I'm sure pretty soon will begin to want to spend more time with friends than with his parents.  I want to do more things together, instead of just being together.  Movie nights, game nights, bowling, even reading with my son.  Those things I would love to do more.

7.  Blog more~~I like blogging.  I find it enjoyable to be able to express myself in word.  I also like being able to communicate and share my ideas, tips and whatever else I have going on in this head of mine.  My goal is to blog at least three times a week.  We'll see how well I do.  

8.  Try to use more "homemade" cleaning products~~This is one thing that I have started doing already and I have noticed that it has saved money and I feel like I am doing my part in helping the environment.  The latter sounds a little corny, but it makes me feel good, so I don't care.

9.  Recycle more~~I have noticed that since we have moved to California, we haven't been recycling as much as we did.  This actually saddens me.  I know, corny, but we recycled everything in Oregon and now nothing.  It is just sad, so I am changing that this year.

10.  Don't sweat the small stuff~~I tend to forget this motto.  I think it is important to make sure that it is remembered. I tend to get upset very easily and fly off the handle.  Then go back and realize that I could have handled the situation better, and it wasn't that big of a deal anyway.  I need to remember that, I have the love and support of my family and friends and there is nothing more important than that.

11.  Really cherish the people in my life~~This shouldn't be on a list.  This should be something that I do everyday, but I think that sometimes I need to be reminded.  I need to step back and be thankful for all the people in my life and every once in awhile show them how important they are to me.  I have remarkable family and friends and I think they should be aware of that.