Thursday, November 13, 2008

Nifty and Thrifty!

Since we're saving for a house, Cory and I have been focusing a lot lately on ways to save and spend better. With the economy the way it is, it's best to do all we can. I'm always thinking of ways to be better with our finances, but here's some of the stuff that we do already.

1. We use coupons - I don't care what the item is, or what it costs, if I can save any amount of money on it - I will. We shop at Save On Foods and they send me a booklet almost weekly with coupons. In addition, when you enter the store, there is a little booth where you can scan your points card and it prints up about 10 coupons for you to use. I also visit sites like where I can select all the coupons that we want, and they mail them direct to our house.

2. Mind your meter - we try as much as possible to keep our utility bills managable. So if that means resisting the urge to crank the heater as the weather cools, and instead put on a sweater and wear slippers, we do that. It's always wise to also compare the actaul meter reading with their "Estimate", to ensure they are not over charging you. We also have a programmable, electric thermostat that is set to be cooler when we are sleeping, and when we are not home. It is set to turn on shortly before we get home. The weekends are also set differently than the rest of the week.

3. Be natural - even though it's getting darker and darker, earlier and earlier. We try not to keep ourselves illuminated when we don't need to. We have lots of big, beautiful windows in our home and try to keep the blinds, and natural light going as long as possible. I'm also quite strict on following Cory around to make sure he shuts them off as he leaves a room.

4. Buy what you need - we try not to buy crap we don't need. This works in two ways... the less I buy, the less I spend. The less stuff I have, the less time and money I need to clean it, maintain it, and store it.

5. Research purchases - doesn't it irk you to find out after you bought something, that you could have gotten it for cheaper?? Well, it does for me, so I always take the time to research a purchase. I've even returned stuff after I found the price somewhere else, and it doesn't hurt to see if a store will price match. Plus, a lot of store will do price adjustments, if you ask and keep your receipt. It's your money, use it wisely!

6. Fill 'em in - A big topic of discussion over at our house is how to still be social and maintain friendships, while not spending money. I have tons of answers for this, Cory does not. My answer is simple - let your friends and family know your situation and that you're avoiding unnecessary spending at all costs. For the most part, they'll respect that and be cool with doing things that are within your realm of cost.

7. Recycle - We do a couple things that help us save. Firstly, we are pretty neurotic about returning our bottles and cans, and we have a lot!!! We also try and re-use as much as possible. We also use our re-usable grocery bags as much as possible, and some stores will even give you a couple cents off for each bag you use.

8. Shop off-season - I wish we did this more than we do. Unforunately, the stuff I do think to buy off season (like a shovel or a bathing suit) is never available when we look for it. But it's a good way to save some dough!

9. Buying bulk/stocking up- There are a couple ways that we do this effectively. One, if I find an item that we use all the time, on sale, I always buy more than one. This is great cause it saves me money in the long run, plus since we always have back-ups, it saves the extra money that we would have spent, running to the corner store to when we realize too late, that we are our of something. We also buy more of stuff we use, so we have a Costco membership, which I recently found out, my company provides discounts for. Buying wholseale is however, only a good deal if it's stuff you actually use. Another option is the bulk section of your grocery store, which we use as well.

10. Sign Up!- If a store has a member or discount card, I probably have it. I will take any excuse I can to get a discount or free stuff. I'm cheap, and I'm fine with that. If a store offers an incentive of this nature, it's great to use. My only exception to this, is cards that require you to pay to be a member. Example: a $20.00 20% Discount card that saves me 20% on the initial purchase is only worth the extra expense if it is going to be used habitually, and if the total cost of all the savings I get, by using it will be MORE than it's initial cost. If I pay $20, save 20% on a $30 bra and never use it again, it's a waste of my money!!

11. Reap the benefits - If you are lucky enough, you might work for a company that offers you incentives, rewards, and overall benefits. Take advantage of these!!! For years, my bf has has healthcare benefits, etc. paid for him through his work. However, he does not recal EVER using them!!!! Use them as much as possible, if it is offered to you, some people don't have it so lucky. I, on the other hand, use mine as much as possible, as well, I am listed on both our healthcare benefit plans, and whatever my company does NOT cover, I submit for coverage through his company. If your work offers a discount on items like Costco memberships, gym memberships, Insurance company affliations, car rental and hotel discounts, why would you not use them?

These are just a few tips of things we do to keep the cash ours!! If you have any tips or tricks, please comment!!

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