Are worries about money haunting you in the wee hours of the morning? If so, you’re not alone. Worrying about finances is one of the biggest cause of stress in our lives. Developing an action plan to get tighter control over your finances is the first step towards alleviating your worries.
A household budget is an important part of this process (learn more here) but you also need to develop smart spending strategies. Here are some simple yet powerful strategies that can save you thousands of dollars every year.
Track Your Small Purchases
Five dollars a day on coffee adds up to over a thousand dollars a year. All those little impulse items really add up over time. Is it worth the expense. Do you need it? Could the money be better used elsewhere?
The best way to stop yourself from spending on small items is to remind yourself of what that item really costs you personally. Start seeing these “things” as your precious time. Is that item worth the time you spent at work it took to earn the money to have it? I bet for most things the answer is no.
Change your Grocery shopping habits.
You can cut your shopping bills by 25% or more just by planning your families grocery needs before spending. Think of it as you “beating the system”. Who wouldn’t want more food for less money? Take time to make a grocery list and build it on flyers, coupons and promotions. Compare prices for buying in bulk versus the sale price for smaller packages. There’s no need to do your research in person. Pick up the phone and ask stores for they information you need. Look for coupons and rebates on everything you plan to buy.When you consider how much we spend per year on groceries 25% can be a LOT of money.
We write more in depth about money saving food techniques in eating well on a tight budget You can read the full article here and we also have one called Stock Your Pantry Like a pro that you can read here.
Research & Buy The Best Quality That You Can Afford
When spending money on big ticket items like furniture, tools & appliances do your research. Compare models. read reviews and check out the warranties and make sure what you are buying has a reputation for being long lasting. We have often saved up and made do without until we could afford the model that we knew would last us a long time.
Once you’ve picked the best option it’s time to price shop for the best deal. Look for rebates and discounts and if there aren’t any, call the dealer or manufacturer and ask for one. Sometimes they will knock off 5% – 15% just because you asked. We write a bit about this in being a savvy consumer.
Before you go out and buy a shiny new item, try to find a gently used version of it on-line. You can save a bundle for nearly new items that someone else has paid the premium for. That fridge with a tiny scratch on the door, the gently used dining table … it’s all being sold at significantly depreciated values. You save not only on the purchase price but most often the taxes as well.
We’ve furnished our home, bought our vehicles, tractor and a number of tools this way. Out stuff get compliments so don’t shy away from this. You can get premium goods if you are willing to patiently wait for the perfect item to come along.
Buy “Open Box” or Refurbished Products
Some businesses offer open box products at a discount. These are products that someone has bought, tried and then returned because they didn’t like it or found an issue. It gets sent back, cleaned up and fixed and then sold at a deep discount. They usually come with a limited return period or special warranty so just be sure to test it well when you get it. We bought our Vitamix blender six years ago as an open box product and saved $150 on the purchase.
Amazon has a whole department called Amazon Renewed that sells “renewed” items such as electronics, cameras and home appliances that have been tested and certified by qualified suppliers and come with a minimum 90-day supplier warranty.
Hold Manufacturers Accountable
Our Uncle Don lives by old school values. He expects to get exactly what he paid for when he purchases something. If the product fails to provide what was promised. he will contact the manufacturer/dealer and have the issue resolved.
When an item you buy fails due to poor quality or workmanship contact the dealer or manufacturer and push them to remedy the situation. If the item fails to do what was promised, give the manufacturer a call and hold them accountable. You only stand gain by getting a refund, replacement or deep discount on a new model.
Borrow or Rent Speciality Items
Don’t be so quick to hand over your hard earned money when it comes to things you might only use once or twice. Those one time tools that you likely won’t use again consider borrowing or renting them rather than buying. If you decide to sell it later you’ll only get a fraction of what you paid for it – even if it was just used once.
Be Smart With Credit Cards
If you pay off your credit card in full every month and are disciplined in how you use it, you can use the cards incentives to collect points and save money when purchasing flights, gifts and other things.
The key is that you MUST pay off your balance every month! We put everything possible including household bills on our credit card and then pay it off right away. All those bonus points really add up. We are not the ideal credit card customer. They much prefer those that pay interest every month. Even better they want you to pay compound interest which means paying interest on your interest. Credit card debt can cripple you financially so leverage them to your benefit and don’t fall into the credit card trap.
Avoid Interest Free. No Money Down Promotions
Those deals and promotions that seem too good to be true. They usually are.
It can seem like a good deal to sign up for a great offer for furniture, appliances and even vehicles when the payment is deferred for a set period of time, but if you can’t afford to buy it now, what makes you think you’ll be able to afford it when the bills come due? Read the fine print carefully because often times you will discover all kinds of conditions that result in hefty fees and a much more expensive overall purchase price than you would have incurred by saving up for it.
Here are some other ideas for you to try:
- Allocate a weekly spending allowance into your budget and give yourself the cash. Any money that you don’t spend can go into your piggy bank.
- If you are an impulse shopper set a grocery budget and then bring the budgeted amount of cash instead of credit, debit cards or too much cash. It will keep you on track.
- Sleep on it. Before making big purchases walk away and take a few days to think about it. The item will still be there tomorrow if you decide you can’t live without it.
- Before completing an on-line order take some time to look for special coupon codes and rebates.
- Wait until the end of season clearances to purchase seasonal items like, hockey skates, BBQ’s etc.
- Off season is also the best time to purchase used equipment. Snowmobiles are cheaper to buy in the summer and ATV’s and summer machinery are cheaper in the winter.
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