Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Budgeting for the real world

Nobody make fun of these ideas. I've been openly mocking budgeting ideas I've heard from real people, web sites, and books, so please don't laugh because nothing is more bitter than tasting my own medicine.

Here are some things I do to save money. Most of my lovely readers probably know more than I do about saving, but I thought I'd share some tips just in case. Feel free to comment and add your own tips, 'cause I'm always looking for ideas.

Food. I'm not as zealous about saving money on groceries as some people are. I like to eat. And I admit, I shop hungry and buy unnecessary snacks (except for ice cream, which is vital as one of the major food groups and also gives me fruit and dairy) because I schedule grocery trips around the kids and not my tummy. I'm also not a big coupon clipper. Often the coupons are for prepackaged stuff I won't eat, and often the store brand is cheaper than the name-brand coupon price. I just try to plan meals from whatever's on sale at the stores. I buy the huge bargains in large quantities when I can. That's just common sense, I suppose. I was really excited, though, last week when I got name-brand toothpaste for 50 cents by combining a grocery store sale with a coupon. Also, I make my own syrup and pizza crusts (but not my own pasta like my neighbor).

Cleaning. You don't need to buy all the silly commercial cleaners. They (see? Procter and Gamble really is satanic) tell you that you need one chemical for the toilet, one for the sink, one for the shower, one for the floor, one for the mirror... and that's just the bathroom! If you have some baking soda and some vinegar, you can clean just about anything. Check out http://www.doityourself.com/stry/vinegarbakingsoda, and there are plenty more web sites, too. It's easier on the budget, and it's better for the environment, and it's safer for kids and pets.

Decorating. I've been really surprised by what I find at dollar stores, thrift stores, secondhand stores, and yard sales. I've also learned that if you can't find a color you like, you can paint it (or dye it). Acrylic paint is very cheap. I think I've painted five of the picture frames in our house. One of them came with a scripture mounted on a burgundy and forest green layered picture mat. I threw it away, so there's my confession for the week. I threw a scripture in the garbage. Right size, right price, wrong color.

Saving. Besides paying yourself first (or, if you're more ambitious than me, automatically), one of the easiest ways to save money is to get an online savings account. Our interest rate is now about six times higher than it used to be.

Taxes. If you get a tax refund, you're giving the government an interest-free loan, which means you're losing money after inflation. I know some people like to get a big refund so they can save it, which is better than not saving at all, but there's a price for that. Take the maximum number of exemptions you can.

Silly little tricks. I've read about people who round their account balances down (or round their purchases up) so they have more money in their accounts than they think they do. They then spend less. Every year or so, they save the excess. Mark gets $5 for his travel budget whenever he exercises. $5 here and there doesn't seem like much at all, but it adds up over time.

Laughing yet? This is harder than it seems. I think it takes some skills to find bargains and to know which purchases can be postponed (and which cannot). I hope everyone will comment so I can get new ideas!

1 comment:

The AZ McMillans said...

I think those are great budgeting tips. My favorite is when grocery stores have the "Buy 10 get each for $1" on name brand things. I bought 10 boxes of Raisin Bran last week for $10. And that sticks around for awhile. Today I'm heading out to buy Lucky Charms for the same price. I know, I know...not healthy. But that's my treat. Some people get ice cream, I get sugar cereals. :)

And I use baking soda, vinegar, and borax (for grease cutting) on everything. Healthier and cheaper. My daughter has major skin allergies so we did it out of necessity. But whenever we clean the church or help someone else clean with regular cleansers I almost can't breathe.

So, I'm not laughing here sister. Great tips!