I've been thinking about posting something like this for
I've mentioned that I have big plans for myself this year and future years. I've also mentioned that I make lists. Gosh I love my lists. One of my lists included figuring out new ways to manage my money and save money. Some of my big, scary life goals are going to cost me a few pennies. And by "a few" pennies I mean millions of pennies.
This all lead me to declare March as my month to get my life goals the kick in the pants they need. Because when I think of March I think of this..
But that's a little off subject.
Leprechauns and their pot of gold is what I think of during March (rainbows too!). So March seemed like the perfect time to work on my finances! I added that exclamation point at the end of that sentence to make that look way more exciting than it is. It's not. But I just thought I'd let everyone know what I've been doing and the tips I've picked up the last couple weeks. And I just realized it took me 275 words to get to the point of this post. Good Lawd.
As far as where I collected some of these tips, well.. some I've known a long time. My parents aren't extravagant spenders, so I learned a lot from them. My grandpa is frugal too. Leaning towards the side of cheap. But I've learned so much from that. I also was thrust into the "poor college kid" role and learned the hard way how far a paycheck can or can't go.
Some tips I learned from blogs. It is seriously crazy the things you can learn from blogs. People post what they know and some of them know the value of a dollar. I spend a lot of time reading (and taking notes on) things John and Sherry have written about regarding money. They mostly just post about what they do to live frugally and it's all great advice. I'll summarize some of the specific tips I'm using in a minute.
Months and months ago I made my own "Home Management Binder" like the ones you see all over Pinterest. Except I don't have kids or a husband, so mine is much simpler, but I love it and use it. However, I did update the way I manage my finances in my binder. I took tips from 7th House On The Left's finance binder.
AND tips from Jen from iHeart Organizing's finance binder.
Just look at them. They're pretty. They're functional. They're organized. *SWOON*
Jen also sells her printables for her finance binder, plus printables for her home management binder. I created my own printables, but if I hadn't, I'd have bought her's. Love them. Love her.
If you don't like either of their binders then
I picked up other tips from here, here, here, and here. There are TONS of tips out there. FREE TIPS. You know I'm down for anything free..
I've read so many articles the last couple weeks that my eyes went a little cross-eyed. But it's been good for me. So here's what I'm doing specifically right now to manage money and save more in the long run..
- Every. Single. Dollar. that I spend this month is being written down. I started writing it all in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, then realized I work at an accounting/CPA office and so I transferred everything into Quickbooks, which was already installed on my laptop for work reasons. For those that don't have that, an Excel spreadsheet would work just fine. Or even an notebook. The point is to see exactly what you're spending money on. You'll probably be just as surprised as I was by how much "extra" money you're spending without realizing it. I enter every dollar and categorize everything. So on April 1st I can see where my money went in March and adjust for the future.
- I'm limiting myself to eating out once a week. This is also a bonus one because it'll help with my get healthy goals too. It's just so much cheaper to brown bag it and eat at home. If you took a month to track how much money you were spending eating out (that includes quick trips to starbucks in the morning) you'd probably cry when you saw all the money you were spending. So eat at home and brown bag it for lunch.
- MEAL PLAN. I've been doing this for a while and I noticed immediately how much less I was buying and ultimately spending. If you meal plan you don't go to the grocery and pick up things that you "might" cook that week. Lots of those "maybe meals" get left in the pantry or freezer and a couple trips to the store later and you have a full pantry of food that you still haven't eaten. Which brings me to #4..
- Eat what you have. On Sunday when I was meal planning for this week, I went through my cabinets and fridge/freezer and wrote out potential meals that I could make using only what I already had. So I added some of those meals to the plan this week. Because of this on Sunday when I went to the grocery store I bought lettuce, spinach, eggs, milk, apples, and chicken. I had everything else. Ridiculous savings there, kids.
- Have a garage sale. I don't actually plan on doing this until late June, early July, but it's a good idea. You're selling things you already have that you no longer want. So it's purely extra money. Bonus money. Also the organizer in me loves it because you'll be getting rid of things that are just cluttering up your house/apartment. I'm already planning mine and I've asked every single one of my family members if they want to join in. Whatever doesn't get sold goes straight to Goodwill.
- Check for coupons. I'm not saying you need to go coupon crazy, but if you buy something online, anything, open your Google search bar and type in the name of the store and add the word coupon after it. For example.. "Kohl's coupon" or "Joss & Main coupon".. If there isn't one, no big deal. It took you 30 seconds to check. But if there is one (and 9 times out of 10 there is) you'll be saving money. Repeat after me.. a 5% off coupon is better than no coupon at all.
- Ditch the DVR. Almost every single TV show posts the episode online the next day or the next week. Even if you need to invest in Hulu, that is still cheaper than the ridiculous amount most people pay for their DVR service. Sacrifices, people.
- Can you DIY it? Would it be cheaper to DIY it? Ask yourself this before you buy something, every time.
- Shop around. Big purchases need thought out. Period. If you look around you can almost always find the exact same product for a lesser price somewhere else. Not every time, obviously. But it doesn't hurt you to look.
- Become hyper aware of your big goals. For instance if you want to save up money for a Euro-trip, then before you buy something you don't really need, remind yourself of that. Think "this pretty ceramic buffalo is cutting into my Europe fund. Worth it?". Hey I'm all for ceramic animals, but I'd rather buy one from Paris. Ya feel me?
- a DSLR camera.
- a desktop computer
- to go to Europe with my best friend Summer 2014
- to create a cushion for myself so I can concentrate on school and not worry about money 24/7
I hope this was at least a little bit helpful. I know some of them are small, but those small things really add up. I'll post an update after I've finished an entire month of tracking every penny I spend. After that's analyzed I'll be ready for a new plan to save in April and probably work on a second goal.
Also because this post is long and word heavy here's a picture of my current favorite cup, for no reason other than it makes me giggle.