Stop Burning Money On These Items & Start Saving
This was the position I found our finances in a few years ago. We were in a place of spending more each month than we were making. Was it any wonder that our savings were dwindling? We realized that it was time to make a change, but how and where to begin was the challenge.
Our first step was to identify how all of our money was being spent. Little by little our family began to identify ways that we were using our money, that weren’t necessary, and if eliminated could dramatically reduce our bottom line. That became our next mission, once we identified an item that wasn’t necessary, we worked to find solutions that would allow us to stop wasting the money on those items.
The following list is nowhere near comprehensive to the changes that we made to improve our financial bottom line, but they are some of the easiest ways to begin saving money, immediately.
So what can you stop buying to save?
- Brand Names: From cereal to prescription drugs we were a brand name only family. I have even referred to myself as a “Brand Snob”. That has changed. While there are a few items that we still prefer the name brand (Skippy Peanut Butter), the vast majority of items we have found the store brand’s to be significantly cheaper and of the same quality.
- Buying More Food Than You Need: For years I would go to the grocery store, fill my cart, and come home to store it all away hoping that I could figure out how to use it. Using a meal plan helped us throw that old process out the window. Now I make a monthly meal plan, detailing every ingredient that we will need. When I go to the store that is all that I purchase. The savings that this little step has provided for us is staggering.
- Processed Foods: It probably will not come as a shock to you, but processed foods or “convenience foods” are significantly more expensive than purchasing the ingredients to make the same item. Not only can you save money, but the health benefits are also significantly greater.
- Pre-Packaged Foods: In the same vein as processed foods, foods that have already been pre-packaged for you are also a significant money waster. For years, I was buying the pre-packaged snacks for our kids. Once I saw the cost savings that packaging them ourselves provided, we never looked back. From packaging instant oatmeal to single serving snack packs, we have now made packaging them a family affair.
- Multiple Cleaning Products: This is one that we have talked about here at More In 24 before. We counted and found that we were using 13 different cleaning products to clean our home each day/week. We have now cut that down to 2, vinegar and Thieves Household Cleaner. What a difference this change has made in our expenses. You can read more about these two items in the Cleaning section of our site.
- Dryer Sheets, Fabric Softener, and Laundry Detergent: Don’t get scared we do still wash our clothes…with soap. So how is it possible that we have stopped buying all the essentials needed for laundering clothes, but are able to still get our clothes clean and fresh? To replace the dryer sheets and the fabric softener we found great alternatives. Using an aluminum foil ball will take all the static out of your clothes and completely eliminate the need to purchase dryer sheets. Vinegar works fabulously as a fabric softener. Using washing soda, borax, soap, and Thieves Household Cleaner we make a laundry detergent that works better than any that we have bought at the store and it costs a fraction of the price. The recipe is posted in the cleaning section of our site. Try it!
- Books and DVD’s: I am an avid reader. The word voracious comes to mind. There is nothing better than getting lost in an expertly weaved tale. Reading as a hobby can get very expensive, especially if you are purchasing every book individually. For years that was exactly what I did. The book piles grew higher and higher and the money spent quickly. Now, I am a huge advocate for my local library, free books through Amazon Prime, and book exchanges. Our family is able to continue enjoying the love of reading and movies, which are all Free or nearly Freethanks to our local library and book exchanges.
- Shaving and Moisturizing Cream:Our family has extremely sensitive skin. Finding skincare products that don’t have dimethicone in them or ones that will not cause skin irritation was a difficult task. On a whim, I decided to try my hand at making a moisturizing body butter. The family loved it and soon I was playing around to make a shaving cream for my husband and son. Making these products is incredibly easy and saves us a significant amount of money each year. (These recipes will be coming your way soon!)
- Subscriptions and memberships that aren’t being used: Gym memberships, buyers co-op’s, online games, newspapers, and magazines that were never being read; these were just a few of the things that we were paying for monthly/yearly that were barely being used or not being used at all. Check your credit card statement and search for automatic deductions that you may have signed up for once upon a time and forgotten. Determine if you are still utilizing that service, if not call and cancel.
- Impulse Buys: How much fun is it to bring home a shiny new trinket, toy, or a pretty new outfit? However, if that becomes a habit every time you walk through a store, the expenses of those items can truly add up. A few years ago I heard a piece of advice that continues to stick in my head all these years later. The advice went something like this:
Hourly Wage – Cost of the purchase=Is the item worth it?
At the time I heard this advice I was a stay at home mom and was not making an hourly wage. The advice really made sense to me and I wanted to utilize it in my day to day. My trick was to give my time value by assigning myself a “make believe” hourly wage. Then when I was tempted with an impulse buy, I would calculate how many hours I would have to work to afford that purchase and determine if the item was truly worth the time and effort it would cost me. When you have to put your time and effort where your wallet is, it is amazing how fast you will put that item back on the shelf and walk away.
These were just a few of the ways that our family has put out the fires that were happening in our finances. I can honestly say that the biggest help to increasing our financial coffers was pre-planning and a developing a watchful eye.
I would love to hear from you.