12 Easy Ways To Save Money

Everybody wants to save money, right?  Saving money gives you opportunity and financial security.  If you want a few ideas on how to get started, here are a few.

how to save money
Save your money!

Our Tips For Saving Money

Before we get started, let me just point out that these are things we do to save money.  They work for our household, but they may not be for everybody.  In any case, I hope they give you some ideas to get started.

Brew Coffee

I can’t tell you the last time I set foot in a coffee shop.  If we get gift cards for Starbucks, we usually sell them.  We either make our own individual cups or pots of coffee.  This saves us big time.

Read more12 Easy Ways To Save Money

7 Small Money Wins I’ve Had Recently

Saving money doesn’t have to be all about big events.  Sometimes a small money win is all you need to build some momentum.  I wanted to sit down and come up with a few money wins that we’ve had recently.

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A quick e-mail can save money

Small Money Wins Add Up Big

The thing about little bits of savings is that they add up to bigger savings.  Sometimes people will watch you do something to save money, and ask why you bother.  After all, it might only save you a few bucks.  Is it really worth it?

Yes!  Totally worth it.

First, every dollar you save is a dollar in your pocket and not someone else’s.  I don’t care how small the savings, a dollar is a dollar!

Read more7 Small Money Wins I’ve Had Recently

Should Married Couples Use Coupons On A Date Night?

A few years back, my wife and I were in a small group through church.  This was an interesting experience.  Our church is very large.  In order to gain a more personal experience, they encourage small group participation.  We haven’t done small groups in a while, but it was fun to look back.  I remember one discussion that took place revolving around dating.  Particularly, the importance of married couples to continue to go on dates.  Of course, this led to some lively discussion about whether it’s OK to use coupons on a date night.

What Is A Date?

One of the things we found interesting is that the definition of ‘a date’ was a bit elusive.  Most people think of a date as part of courtship.  But, once you’re married, the courting period is, well, past.  So, is going out with your spouse considered an actual date?

I believe it is.  Why?  Because I personally think that married people should never stop courting each other!  If we stop trying to impress our spouses, we risk taking them for granted.  That never works out well.

So, in my mind, a date is a date is a date.  In other words, a date isn’t just for single people.  I’m perfectly happy saying that I’m going on a date with my wife.

Even when we got to this point, we discussed what we each defined as a ‘date night’ and that varied across the board.  Most said that it involved ‘going out’.  Still, one of the men said that he’d even define a date night as spending dedicated time with his wife, even if it was at home.  Always new perspectives!

Can Married Couples Use A Coupon On A Date?

Centered around the ‘going out’ aspect came an interesting side conversation.  This centered around and that was whether it can be considered a ‘date night’ if a coupon is used.  Normally, dinner would be the standard usage, but I suppose it could apply to other things as well, like going to a place or signing up for an experience like rock climbing.

This brought about some lively discussion. There became two schools of thought here:

  1. Going on a date and using a coupon
  2. Using a coupon and calling that a date

I had never really thought about it, but I guess that there can be a fine line.

Our Experience

Personally, my wife and I use coupons where ever we can, even if we consider it a ‘date night’.  Neither of us have a problem with that.  And, while everybody agreed that using coupons is good and saving money is even better, I think that it was brought up just to make sure that the thought behind going out and using a coupon was “We’re going out because we have a coupon.”

If that was the case, I can see where some of the ‘romance’ of ‘date night’ might be rubbed away.

We enjoy going out, but we enjoy stretching our dollar.  While we don’t go exclusively to places that have coupons, it’s great if we do.  See, there are places we want to go that don’t take coupons.  Why shut ourselves out from those places?  We do find that we’ll typically make sure the next date involves a coupon.

coupons on a date night
Should you use coupons on a date night?

It’s all about balance.

I thought that this was an interesting discussion, because it highlights just how different married life can be from dating life.  In dating life, the general perception seems to be that there should be no way that a coupon is used on an early date for fear of coming across as cheap.  I can attest to that, back in my single days, I never would have dared pull out a coupon on a first date (unless of course I didn’t like the girl *laugh*).

Does going out on a ‘date night’ have the same magic if a coupon is used, or does the coupon take some of the sparkle away?

What do you think?

When I Once Helped Somebody To Be Frugal

It’s always nice to help someone, right?  Helping people makes you feel good, and (hopefully) them as well.  Here in the finance world, helping someone to save money is always a goal.  This is a look back when I once helped somebody to be frugal.

A Simple Conversation

Where it started was a simple walk down the hall to a meeting.  On the way, the co-worker I was walking with said something that floored me.  It was simple but humbling when he told me that I inspired him to start bringing in his lunch.

We talked and I found out that he usually went out for lunch.  Making a lunch was something that he had never bothered to do.  So, when he got hungry, he went out. Or he would go to the cafeteria.  Maybe the vending machine.  In any case, he never brought in a lunch.

Watching Me

As it turns out, he was watching me.  We sat nearby so he saw that my lunch was pretty basic.  I normally bring in:

  • Vegetable (carrot sticks)
  • Sandwich
  • Fruit
  • Yogurt

In all honestly, this takes about 5-10 minutes to put together. I do it at night so that the morning is just a grab-and-go.

He watched me and realized:

  • Packing such a lunch was easy
  • It could save him money
  • And, it was healthier!

People Are Watching

I was pretty happy that I inspired someone to make better choices.

Now, honestly, this happened a few years ago.  We no longer work in the same building, so I have no idea if he actually kept up with it or not.  After all, habits are hard to change, and his habit was NOT making lunch.  But, I’m hopeful.

Here’s the thing, though.

Even if he didn’t keep up the habit, maybe someone else did.  I can’t imagine that he’s the only person that’s ever noticed me taking a lunch.  Maybe others have noticed and never said anything, yet tried it out.  Who knows?

But, it just goes to show, you never know who’s watching you.  Hopefully if you’re being noticed, it’s for something positive!

Readers, have you inspired someone to make a better financial choice?  Have you helped someone to be frugal?  Let me know in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!

9 Small Frugal Ideas That Add Up To Big Savings

If you want to be more frugal, join the club!  There are always ways to save money.  But, where to start?  Many people think that frugality involves cutting big costs.  While this can be the case, it’s not always necessary.  You can save money by taking on small actions.  Here are some small frugal ideas that can add up to big savings.

Don’t Wash Clothes If They Don’t Need To Be Washed

Many times people throw everything into the dirty clothes basket.  This doesn’t always have to be automatic.  Many shirts, pants, dresses, and jeans can be worn multiple times.  This will keep the clothes lasting longer.  Plus, you will save in reduced costs for laundry.

Drink Water.  From The Tap!

Are you paying money for drinks?  Coffee? Soda?  Even bottled water?  You can save money by drinking regular old tap water.  Now, you don’t have to cut every purchase out, but even starting with half can make a big difference in your budget.

Use Rags Instead of Paper Towels

When we get new dishrags or towels, we keep the old ones for rags.  These are great to use instead of paper towels.  Every sheet of paper towel you don’t use is one less you have to buy.  Even a few rolls per year can cost a few bucks.  This won’t make you right, but hey, every bit helps, right?

Make Your Own Coffee

If you have a coffee habit, which I do, you can save money by making your own.  I actually spend a little more on extras like real half-and-half, but I still save tons compared to buying it at a coffee shop.

Pack Lunches

If you love going out for lunch, you’re probably spending big bucks to do so.  You can still go out, but mix in some packed lunches.  This can save a few bucks per week, which adds up to a few utility bills if you think about it.

Use Your Library

I love our library.  I rent books, movies, and music.  They have expanded their electronic resource catalog, so I can get books on my Kindle without even leaving the house.  They even have museum passes that you can use.  Check out what your library has to offer.  You can almost certainly save some money.

Look For Free Activities

If you love to get out and go, that’s great.  But, how much is this costing you?  There’s good news.  You can go out and do many different things with no cost at all.  Communities have fairs, festivals, and many different activities.  Look around social media or your community website to find out what’s going on.  There are probably many fun and free things for people of all ages.

Buy Stuff On Sale Whenever You Can

This seems like a no brainer, but hear me out.  Start looking at things you buy and figure if you can get it on sale.  Many people pay full price for things when they need it.  Ask if you can wait until it’s on sale.  Is it even on sale at all?  Can you get it somewhere else?  You don’t have to go too crazy here, but if you can wait to buy that pair of jeans until you know they’ll be on sale at the event a store has every year, consider waiting?

Get Free Entertainment

Are you paying for video games?  Why not play free games that are available for anyone to download?  If you’re paying for music, why not get a free streaming app and listen that way instead?  The downfall with many free things like this is that you either have to watch ads or listen to them, but that can be a small price to pay for some money in your pocket, don’t you think?

Those were just some of my ideas.  What I like about these is that, for the most part, they’re easy.  Most people give up on frugality because it’s too hard.  That can come from taking on too much all at once.  With the tips above, you can get started and start making a difference today.

Readers, what are some of your favorite small frugal ideas?

What Are You Doing With Your 2017 Tax Refund?

We are lucky enough to already have our taxes done and filed.  I anticipated that we would get a refund (which we’re OK with).  Now the idea is how are we going to apply our 2017 tax refund.

Goals

Our goal with our tax refund has always been a mix of things.

  • Boost Savings Goals.  When there is something big we’re saving for, money gives us the chance to help things along.  This has helped us when we needed big projects done around the house.  Examples: A new roof a few years back or exterior painting last year.
  • Offset Spending Needs. If there is spending we know we are going to do regularly, sometimes this can give it a push.
  • Repair.  Getting this fixed or maintained is something I’ve always used when applying refund dollars.
  • Enjoyment.  As you’ll see below, putting our refund to use for vacations is a strategy we use.

Breakdown

Without going into exact figures, here’s how things shape up:

  • Vacations.  We are allocating roughly half of our refund toward vacation funds.  This actually applies to four different areas:
    • Our 2018 Disney Trip.  We’re going on a trip next month and this will help complete the payment.
    • A 2019 Florida Trip. Disney is a treat this year. Normally, we rent a condo down in Florida.  We’ll have to put a deposit down a year in advance. This will fund that deposit.
    • Anniversary Trip. We sometimes go away for a weekend around our anniversary.  This will help set money aside for next time we do this.
    • Camping Trips. This helps fund our summer trips.  What we put aside will fund about 10 days of camping.  That definitely helps!
  • New Camper. We’ve had our current camper for around seven years.  It was used when we bought it.  Eventually we’d like to look at an upgrade.
  • Car Repair. Throwing a little toward eventual car repairs and maintenance?  Why not?
  • Home Repairs. We don’t have any projects planned.  This will help with any just-in-case things, or for future projects.
  • Kids Activities. This is for things like summer camps and such.
  • Repairs. We have two things we’d like to get repaired or in for regular maintenance.
    • Lawn Mower
    • Clock. I have an antique clock wind-up clock that needs repair. It’s likely over 100 years old and is a family heirloom.
image from Morguefile courtesy of jackiebabe

Boring And Proud

This might sound like a pretty boring list.  In fact, it really is. But, I’m kind of proud of that!  I would like to think that this is helping us get a mix of several things.  We are using it to enjoy ourselves.  We are using it to take care of our stuff.  And, finally, we are using it to save for future goals.

If that’s boring, then sign me up!

Readers, what are you doing with your refund money this year?