Not all of us started on the thrifty path without financial baggage. Luckily, debt can be managed and reduced through a few financial tools and attitude tweaks towards money.
Sometimes what kills your budget is not the amount you owe. Sometimes it’s the death of one thousand payments a month. They land everywhere in the month, can be confused with each other, and that makes them hard to plan for. Instead, see if you can get a loan, and then pay the various companies, hospitals, and cards off with that loan. In the end you still need to pay off the loan, but the bill falls at one time and may even be less of a payment monthly than having numerous small payment plans.
Student Loan Forgiveness
Student loans can be difficult to pay off. Sometimes a payment plan will work for you. Sometimes your loans can be deferred for a while due to hardship (though watch out for interest that can’t be deferred!). Sometimes you need to look into student loan forgiveness. The plan that the members of my family has puts our loans in a state of forgiveness for twenty five years based on income. If after twenty five years we haven’t made enough to start making payments, our loans are forgiven. If we do make enough to start paying off our loans during that time, the payments will be based on our income. The company that buys your student loan may take part of your tax refund if you have one, but it’s a small price to pay rather than dealing with the monthly stress of super tight finances.
Hold Off on Big Expenses
Until you have gotten yourself out of the old debt, don’t create any new debt. Lay off using credit cards. Don’t buy or trade up on your housing. Don’t buy a new car. When you pay off debt it may take a few years. In that time learn what purchases are worth debt, are not worth debt, and what type of debt won’t cause harm to your credit rating.
Kids are not frugal. Toddlers do not sit at the table thinking I shouldn’t waste these green beans. Nor should they. While it is important to teach children to be frugal, it’s also important for them to have a happy childhood. It’s up to us adults to think frugal for them until they can learn for themselves. Here’s a few thoughts we have come up with.
Nothing will reduce the amount of laundry that you will have to do like using a bib. Children are not the cleanest individuals, and that’s exactly how it should be. At the same time that small fact doesn’t mean you can’t save money on water and laundry detergent. Use bibs on infants when they are awake. It will keep them clean during feedings and when the burp everything up after feeding. For toddlers, get the plastic rinse off type of bib. Use it during meal times and times the two of you are doing an art project together.
Dinner is the New Lunch
Toddler’s don’t care about wasting food. If they aren’t hungry they won’t eat. If they don’t want to eat, they won’t eat. If you let them walk around during a meal, they will almost all of dinner time. Often you may find yourself switching plates with them simply because they are more interested in eating your food than their own, and your only interest is for them to eat anything. If it’s just one of those nights where they aren’t going to eat, wrap up their food for tomorrow. One of you can eat it for lunch.
Batteries and LED
Toddlers are like little moths. They are attracted to light. Often you could run up a huge electric bill just by their fascination with flipping the light switch on and off. First, keep furniture away from light switches so that they can’t climb up and play with them. Second, use night lights and candles that are battery operated and/or LED. This won’t just reduce the electric bill. This will reduce the chance of your little one burning themselves.
Do you have any money saving tips for parents of infants and/or toddlers?
Who doesn’t love getting freebies? I am currently on a quest to make my poor mailman stuff my mailbox full of them. Believe it or not, freebies aren’t that hard to find.
Bookmark your favorite freebie finding sites. This can include forums, blogs, and listing sites. Check these sites daily for new freebies. The best time to check is in the evening when the freebies have been listed, but you may want to check in the afternoon as well to reduce the possibility of missing one you will want.
Newsletters and Emails
One thing that I love is when the most recent freebies are sent to my inbox. This saves me the time of looking for them. I just let someone else do the looking.
Read The Offer Carefully
Some offers look free, but aren’t. Avoid trials that will need to be canceled before they expire (unless you’re absolutely certain you’ll remember in time). Avoid shipping and handling charges (unless it’s a really good deal worth that small cost to you). Avoid any freebie that requires your credit card information.
Check Older Offers
Just because the offer is old doesn’t mean that it’s expired. If you like a freebie, but think you missed the offer, check anyway. The offer may not be expired yet. You may still be able to get it.
Some freebies can only be redeemed in a store. Print out the offer and take it with you. It may not be as convenient as them just sending it to you, but it’s still free. Go for it!
Some items you do have to buy, but then you can mail in your receipt and be reimbursed. I rarely do this, but if the value is high enough then it’s worth the postage to send in the receipt.
Earn your points by doing the tasks, or taking the surveys, or watching the videos that are available to you. Don’t buy points. Often when you buy bids or points, in the end, you may as well have bought the item.
Sometimes you have to like something on Facebook to be able to fill out a sample order or enter a giveaway contest. Go for it! Also, use it as a moment to share with your friends.
Sometimes when you are trying to figure out a few more ways to be thrifty, you draw a blank. This day and age, though, it has never been easier to find new ways and ideas for saving money.
Use The Internet
Look up frugal blogs and websites. Search for tips. Have a look at Pintrest to see what ideas other people have had. Some of them are actually quite creative. Search for free samples and gifts. Look up coupons. Find free events in your area. Sign up for deal sites like Amazon Local and Groupon. Don’t forget the fun stuff like free games, ebooks, television shows, and music. You can find plenty of sites that are both legitimate and legal.
The library is one of the best resources next to the internet when it comes to finding frugal ideas. There are books and resources, once again, all free for use. In addition to that, libraries have their hand on the pulse of the actual community they are a part of. They know if the local thrift store is having a sale, what local establishments offer help to those who need it, and the people in the community who are teaching classes like piano or art. They have flyers and bulletin boards. It’s a good way for frugal minded people to connect on a local level.
I will be honest with you. When it comes to finding a way to reuse items I shamelessly rip off my toddler’s ideas. He has got some of the best ideas. That’s because he isn’t a grown up who is stressed out about finances and trying to pinch pennies. He’s just having fun playing and using his imagination. When I relax and enjoy let’s pretend and playtime with him he will use an item in a new way and I realize that is the innovative idea I have been looking for. He still uses his imagination for fun instead of trying to exploit it for self gain. It’s a skill I am re-learning from him and I am better off for it.
The thrifty lifestyle works better when it’s shared in a community. Here are a few ways you could share with your family and friends.
If you are the type of individual that clips coupons, form a group of like minded individuals and trade coupons. The other members of the group may have coupons they won’t be using that you need and the reverse may be true as well. As the group progresses you will know the type of coupons your friends use and will most likely put those aside for them. The favor will most likely be returned.
Split a Membership
If you buy in bulk at Costco or Sam’s Club consider splitting the membership fee with with another person and let them have the second card. Both of you will be able to save money by buying in bulk and both of your families will benefit from the joint purchase.
Use Social Media
When you find a great freebie, helpful blog post, or limited time offer/ coupon, share it in email and social media. The more you are willing to share these posts with others, the more they will respond in kind. I pass my best finds along to my friends and they usually return their thanks along with other ways they have saved money on similar items.
Try to Work in Trade
I trade my baking skills, crafting skills, and childcare for things that I need. Sometimes I see if I can repay a friend for their skills with Walmart gift cards I earn from click sites. Paying for something doesn’t always mean a money exchange. It never hurts to ask if you can pay in trade.
Monthly Trade Group
This works great with those mothers who have babies. Get together and exchange clothes that your children have grown out of. Babies have a high turn over rate when it comes to clothing and this a great way to keep up with their growth and get rid of the clothes they have grown out of. You can trade other items as well such as kitchenware, baked goods, and basically anything you would otherwise take to the second hand store. At least this way you get something in return.
When starting out on the Thrifty Diva Road it’s usually to save money. Often we go overboard and fail before even getting started. My first attempt at being thrifty left me with coupons everywhere on items I didn’t buy and with nothing in the fridge that I wanted to eat. I learned the hard way not to buy dollar store milk products and was thankful I was wiser when I started saving money on meat. In spite of all my blunders I am succeeding at being frugal, and comfortably as well.
If you plan on using coupons, start a coupon filing system. If you plan on earning gift cards on click sites prepare a list of daily tasks. If you are shopping at a thrift store make a list of items you are looking for to make sure you do save money, even at a thrift store. Bookmark your favorite money saving blogs and websites. Make a budget and keep it in view. Saving money will be much easier when you know where all your resources are and what your plan is. Remember, not all tips will work for your family. Use the ones you know will work and give the ones that may work a pay period for a trial time, but be willing to let go of money saving methods that just don’t work for you and your family.
Mind Over Matter
Often what causes people to spend is the feeling that they are being deprived of something. To combat this state of mind is actually pretty easy. Make a list of things that you enjoy that are free. Next to this list put a picture of the worst purchase you ever made. It should be something that you never use and wish you hadn’t bought. Let these two items be a reminder that not all things you love cost money and not all things that cost money are worth buying.
Tweak What You Already Do
As I said before, often we feel deprived when saving money, but most of the time we do it to ourselves. Don’t downsize yourself to a bread and water diet. Instead, look for deals on things you use regularly. Buy store brands instead of going without. At some point you may decide to downsize an item completely, but remember to start out with baby steps, or you may just end up binge spending instead of saving money.
Making sure you stay in budget when it comes to your vehicle is important, because when it comes to extra fuel, the cost can add up. Here are a few ways that may help you save on gas.
Some cities have installed traffic cameras, and you can view how fast or slow traffic is going at the city’s transportation website. This can save both time and money. It can let you know if your regular route to work is prudent to use any given morning or if you will be stuck in traffic. It also can show alternate routes to your destination and how long it will take to get there so you won’t be late for work. I recommend checking an hour and a half before work and every half hour after, because traffic can change fast. If you need to leave early, you’ll know well in advance. If you have a smartphone or access to a computer at work (or someone at home that can check for you before you leave work), this works when you’re on your way home as well.
Explore Alternate Routes
When you have time check out Google Maps to see if there are other ways to get where you go everyday. Are they shorter? Do they avoid traffic lights? Do they save gas and money? You may find a route that helps you save more money than your normal route and keep those road rage feelings at bay.
Keep Your Car in Good Repair
Change your oil regularly. Check your tire pressure. Make sure you have the proper amount of fluids in your car (such as coolant, anti freeze, wiper fluid, etc.) Also make sure that you use the right types of fluids for your car. There are different types of oils for cars sold and what you are using now may not be the best option for your car. Acquire a manual for your car (if you don’t have the original) to find out what the best fluid options are for your vehicle. All these things can affect gas mileage and when kept up can save you money in fuel.
You want to save money, but you are unwilling or unable to give up those little pleasures in life that will help you save money. It may be that you are stubborn or your significant other is stubborn. Either way, there are items in your life that you just refuse to downsize. Relax. There are still little ways to save money when you’re not ready to just give up those little pleasures.
That Soda Addiction
If you have anyone in your household who drinks soda like they breath air, you know there is no point in not buying soda. The main reason for this is because the person in question will go out and buy soda when you aren’t with them. Not only that, the soda will be from a vending machine so it will be more expensive. Instead of trying to cut off your soda expense entirely, try a few of the following tips. Try store brand soda. Many store brands taste as good as the name brands. Also try buying your soda in 2 liter bottles. Keep them cold and well capped when not in use and it’s less likely they will go flat. Perhaps you can gradually reduce your soda intake without anyone having a meltdown.
Fast Food Favorites
Sometimes you don’t go out for fast food because it’s convenient. Sometimes you go out for fast food because you crave a certain dish. Instead, try making it yourself. Often it will taste better and be made from higher quality ingredients. It will save you in gas and in fast food costs and most likely the amount of money you would’ve used to buy fast food will result in more meals. Also, consider keeping similar tasting foods around the house. Sometimes it’s not the taste of the food we crave. Instead it’s an ingredient that your mind equates with that food. Figure out what that ingredient is and find a more cost effective and healthy substitute. It may take some time for your mind to readjust, but it will be well worth it.
Shop around for better priced packages for internet, cable, or phone service. If you find something, check to see if your preferred company will match the price. See if you can get rid of channels that you don’t use. Find games that don’t require a subscription. Some games even have suitable generics that are free. Shop around to make sure you’re getting the best price on your entertainment.