Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mindful Money Matters

Since we've now signed away our paychecks with the mortgage and still have a couple more installments on our "downpayment" for the house, Cory and I are much more mindful of where our money is being spent.

Since we keep separate bank accounts, it's difficult for us to really do up a Budget and see where our money is being spent and where we can cut back. Since I am in charge of our household finances, I've been adopting some changes in our lifestyle to make home-ownership a much easier thing to manage. Here are some of my budget-living tips:

1. Shop with Coupons- I don't care that we live in a very affluent neighbourhood, and the people around us are tossing down their platinum cards for their cart-loads. I don't care that it makes me look like a grandma. Plus I don't care if it takes me a little (like seconds) longer to check-out, or if it makes people mad - Food has gotten expensive!! We noticed this a lot more, when we started eating better. With that said, any money we can save on the stuff we buy, it good. I go to sites like this Canadian one where I can choose the coupons I want off their site, and they send them to me. I also cut the ones in the flyers and direct-mails our grocery store sends to us. Lastly, we scan our points card at the door, and it prints out an arm's-length of coupons for the day! However, don't fall in the trap of buying stuff just cause it's on sale. We ONLY cut and keep the coupons for stuff we use.

2. Old Mother Hubbard System - I found that we were throwing away a lot of stuff, in addition to always having a full-to-the-brim pantry/fridge/freezer. Last month, I implemented a new rule, which I really only enforced this past weekend: we're not buying anything new until we use up what we have. It's now been a little while since we've been to the grocery store, and I must admit, we've been trying new things. Being forced to use what we have, has caused us to be creative and try new things. Monday night yielded a delicious dinner of white rice, a bag of frozen veggies; a box of frozen meatballs; paired with a salad I threw together. It was great and I'm sure we'll have it again!

3. Make it visual - In addition to sometimes shopping for stuff we don't need, we are both habitual card users (debit and credit). To curb my sub-concious spending, I took a post-it note, and wrapped it around each card. For each card, I've written something different. My debit says " Is this a necessity purchase??" One credit card says "Emergencies Only" with a little doodle of a house (our dream and latest purchase), the other one has the remaining balance written on it (it's almost entirely paid off, so it's a little reminder of how hard I worked to pay it off.) This works for us, the same way that a big picture of a goal posted on the fridge works for some.

4. Plan your purchases - This one is a two-fold tip. Firstly, I do mean, research any and all big purchases you make. Shop around, find the best deal, really list out wat features you're looking for, so you don't spend a ton of money for a product that has a long list of features that you don't really need. Plus, waiting to purchase something can really help you evaluate whether you actually need it or not. Sometimes, the inkling to buy, fades with time. In addition, I plan one day a week to do all my errands/chores/shopping. This works in 2 ways for me: first, I've planned out everything I need, and probably done my comparisons ahead of time, plus since I've got the whole day full of stuff, I'm pressed for time, so I'm not stopping and picking up stuff I don't need. In and out!!

5. Share your resources/Reap the benefits - I'm the first one to admit how cheap I can be, so if there is the opportunity to share the cost on something, I'm first in line. Whether it's splitting the cost of our Costco membership with my mom, or splitting the cost of appetizers with our friends at dinner, I'm in. I've also optioned doing a magazine swap with some girlfriends who love to read the same mags as me. Each of us selects 2 mags a month to buy, and then when we're done, we drop them off at our "buddy's" and so on, and so on.

6. Forgo Brand-new. I have no problem giving new life to something someone else no longer has use for. Just this past weekend, I graciously accepted 2 large shopping bags FULL of clothing from a girlfriend. I constantly search online sites for free or low-cost furniture and other items. Anytime my mother comes to town, she brings us a cooler full of food she's cooked for us. I also enjoy re-finishing and re-purposing furniture and other household items!

7. Bring it back in - so yes, we're spending wiser, but we're also saving smarter, which includes bringin money BACK INTO the home! We do the obvious things like recycle our cans and bottles for refund. We also usually have an online listing or two for our unused goods, for sale, for profit. I also sometimes sell some of the crafts I make - such as my greeting cards; they're nothing incredible, not are they expensive, but the money brought in, pays for supplies! Are you handy or do you have a special trade of hobby that could yield you a little bit of extra cash? Try selling your wares somewhere like etsy or post an ad in your local paper offering up your skills!

1 comment:

J said...

Great ideas! I love hearing about how others are saving $.