If your anything like me, I am always trying to find ways to cut costs and save money. Having kids is expensive, and we all want to be able to enjoy the fun things in life. Most of which cost money – vacations, parties, kids activities etc. With the below money saving tips, you will be able to manage and track your finances, cut costs and save more. These are all things that I have tried throughout the years and have found great success with!
1. SET A BUDGET
I use Mint.com (I am not an affiliate) to track my spending and set a budget. This is a great way to see all of your accounts in one place from your checking/savings account to credit cards, loans and mortgages. Once you have configured all of your accounts to Mint.com they will automatically update every time you log in and you can see everything in one place!! You are also able to set a budget for yourself with the budget tool, and they offer a bunch of different reports to track your spending and income! Additionally, they provide you with your credit score and ways to save money. The best part about it is it’s FREE! I have been using Mint.com for seven years now and I am obsessed. In addition, I haven’t had any major issues, (just a few connectivity issues here and there with a few accounts) nothing they cannot fix. Without a doubt, I highly recommend using Mint.com! You may be wondering, how is this a money saving tip? Well, it will definitely shed light on what you are spending your money on and can help you manage you money better!
Here are a few examples of graphs from Mint.com
2. CREATE A MENU FOR THE WEEK OR MONTH
I am going to be the first to admit, I have tried meal prepping and it’s not for me. I searched and searched for ways to save money on groceries and everyone raves about meal prepping. Let me tell you, I do not enjoy cooking, and having to take a majority of my weekend to shop and prep for the week was NOT for me. So I discovered that if I take 30 minutes Sunday morning to plan the meals on a calendar for the week, I can save $$$. I was constantly throwing away food that we never touched, week after week. I would go to the grocery store without knowing what we were having for dinners, without knowing what was in our fridge or pantry and would buy way too much or not what we needed. We would end up having the same dinners all the time, because I didn’t give it much thought. Ultimately, I have been saving $50-$100 each week by creating a menu. So whether you shop for the week, two weeks or even the whole month, creating a calendar of meals is easy and helps reduce costs!!
3. COSTCO / SAM’S CLUB
I love to shop at Costco and Sam’s Club. Yes, there is a membership fee, but it is worth it. If you shop at Costco enough you will get money back on the purchases you make and sometimes it will cover the cost of your membership. I usually go to Costco or Sam’s Club once a month and stock up on things we use and eat all the time (listed below). undoubtedly, I also find great seasonal products and lot’s of stuff I don’t need there…It’s hard to pass up their prices!
I’ve done the pricing comparisons and you get a lot for your money compared to the grocery store. It works out great!!! By stocking up at Costco you are paying a lot up front to stock up, but you are saving time and money in the long run. In most cases the amount you get at Costco is triple the amount of the size at the grocery store, but the price is only double or less!
Items we buy in bulk
- Ground Beef
- Frozen Chicken
- Ziplock Bags
- Toilet Paper
- Paper Towel
- Individual bags of Skinny Pop
- Individual bags of Chips
- Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars
- Individual Bags of Goldfish Crackers
4. GETTING THE MOST OUT OF HOW YOU PAY
I am always looking to get rewarded when I shop, so why would I just use my debit card all the time if I don’t get any cash back or frequent flier miles?! I am not an extreme coupon-er either, it takes too much time for me, and sometimes if I have a coupon I end up buying items I never needed in the first place!! Here are the ways I make my purchases and get rewarded
- My default is to use my American Express Delta Card (I am not an affiliate). I love to travel and getting miles for every purchase is a win win for me! We have gotten so many miles from our purchases, which equals free flights!!! Now that is worth it! We pay for gas, groceries, child care, kids activities, vacations, and just about everything! They have a great app where they have a pay it now feature for each transaction or you can do payment plans. I try to pay off my purchases each week so it doesn’t get away from me. American Express isn’t accepted everywhere so sometimes I have to use my boring debit card and not get rewarded…
- The other form of payment I use a lot is my Target Red Card™ (I am not an affiliate). You save 5% every time you shop at Target, which for me is all the time. Target will also send you special coupons for being a Red Card holder and a once a year you get an additional 5% off your total purchase when you use your card! I have been a Target Red Card™ holder since 2012, and this year alone I have saved $287.78!
5. Target Circle ®
If you shop at Target and don’t use Target Circle® (formerly known as Cartwheel) (I am not an affiliate), you are throwing your money out the window! It’s a mobile app and you can scan items as you shop and it will let you know if there is a coupon and if there is it will add it to your account. When you check out, you just have the cashier scan your barcode on the app and Voila! your discounts are applied. The app will also show you additional coupons that are available and you can search items beforehand and add them to your account as well. I became a Cartwheel/Target Circle® member (I am not an affiliate) in 2013 and have saved $745.52 to date. This is one of the easiest ways to saving money, especially if you shop at Target as much as I do!
6. I DO MY OWN TAXES
I know this sounds daunting and you may be thinking, “this is not for me”. Here me out…If I can do it, you can do it! I use Turbotax® (I am not an affiliate) They have made it so easy, you just follow the step-by-step instructions. We used to pay someone to do our taxes and we would go back and forth answering questions, and we paid a lot for the service. To me didn’t seem worth it. So I tried doing it myself and have been doing it for the past four years…It’s less costly and super easy and we definitely are saving money on this one!
The beauty of doing them yourself is you can get them done when you want. You don’t have to wait for someone else, because Accountants get real busy during tax season! The best part is you can do a little one day and some more another day, until you finish. Turbotax® offers a Free service, but the most popular plan costs only $59.99! If your taxes are a little more complex they have higher payment options for that. Give it a try, you will see what I am talking about!!
7. KEEP TRACK OF YOUR DONATIONS
By the end of the year when I am ready to do my taxes, I often think, hmmmmmm where did that receipt go? Most of the time I find it crinkled in my glove box, or have to sort through hundreds of emails to find it. I donate a lot during the year, to the kids schools, fundraisers for charities and clothing/household items to Goodwill or Salvation Army. It’s hard to keep track of it all! I found an app called Turbotax ® It’sDeductible (I am not an affiliate) that helps you keep track of your donations, at the time you make the donation. This helps you remember what you donated and when. It keeps the guesswork out of it at the end of the year, and you won’t forget about any donations you make! When donating items it you can itemize them and it tells you right then and there how much those items are worth!! When you are ready to do your taxes you can just import the data, easy as that! Genius!
8. SELL USED ITEMS ON FACEBOOK
This is a big one! My kids, like all kids, go through a lot of clothes since they are always growing. We get tons of clothes, from birthdays and holidays and back to school shopping. I decided one year to try selling through Facebook. WOW! I was surprised at how much I sold, making hundreds of dollars in one weekend. Just by selling kids clothes through Mom 2 Mom groups and through the Facebook Marketplace.
I usually ask for $1-$2 per shirt or pair of pants. $3-$5 on sweatshirts and jackets. Thankfully there are moms (and dads) on there who will buy the whole lot of what you are selling. It’s so easy. If you advertise PPU or (porch pickup) you just put the items on your front porch and the buyer will pick it up and leave the money under the mat or in the mailbox. If there are items I cannot sell, I donate to Goodwill or Salvation Army. Either way I am making money, either in cash or a tax deduction. Win-Win!
I hope you have enjoyed these money saving tips. Please follow me on Pinterest or subscribe to my website to see what I have cookin’ next!