Learning to Budget: Step 3 - Find Ways to Save Money $$$

It's time for the next step in my Learning to Budget series.

Step 3 is all about finding different ways to save money to help make your budget balance, and make it easier to manage your finances.

I have compiled a list of simple ways that you can use in your life to help cut costs and save some money.

Because we are doing renos on our house, and want to sell it this summer, I am doing some serious penny pinching and so we are surviving on the "bare necessities". Some of these items may seem a little  extreme, but when you are trying to save money and make your budget balance you may need to go to extremes.

20 Different Ways to Save $$$

1. Use cash for variable expenses instead of your debit or credit card. And keep track of where it's going. And when it's gone DON'T pull out the debit or credit card!

2. No fast food/restaurants. 99% of the time you will spend more at a restaurant than if you made a meal at home, so a quick way to save money is to cook!

3. Meal Planning. I am going to do a whole post dedicated directly to meal planning, so stay tuned for that.

4. Make your grocery list, and STICK to the list when you are shopping. And I've been told to never go grocery shopping when you are hungry - you will buy items you don't need.

5. Sell items around the house that you don't need. Go through your basement, your kid's toys, your kitchen, your closet, etc. If there is something collecting dust or an item of clothing you never wear, sell it! You can use free web classifieds, facebook groups, consignment shops - there are lots of different options. And you end up with cash in your pocket!

6. Decrease the amount of clothes you buy for your children. My kids have ALOT of clothes, and ALOT of clothes for each size. I don't buy myself clothes anymore - but I have a serious addiction to adorable children's clothing. I can't seem to go into Costco and NOT come out with a piece of child's clothing. If you do laundry often your kids don't need as many items of clothing in each size as you think.

7. Don't buy something just because it's on sale or a good deal. SALE - such a dangerous word when shopping! Well it's 50% off so I have to get it ... but it's not something I need right now, but I don't know if it will go on sale when I do need it! I have to exercise serious self-control when shopping because I have this conversation in my head often, and unfortunately sometimes I fail and then tend to regret it later when there is no money to pay the bills! :)

8. Buy second-hand. I'm not a big "used" shopper - I like the feeling of "new". But I'm trying to get better because the majority of the time you can get really great items in great condition for a great price.

9. Shop clearance. I'm more of a clearance shopper. Especially at my favourite children's retailers - I always head straight to the clearance racks and stock up for the next season. I got a Mexx snowsuit for my daughter 2 years ago for $35 - regular price of $180!!! Brand new and on clearance.

10. Tithe. This should be point #1. How many times have you heard - "if you give to the Lord, He will give back"? Well it's true. Give your "first fruits" faithfully to the Lord and He will take care of you.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or dink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?" (Matt. 6:25 NIV) 

"Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine." (Prov. 3:9-10 NIV)

11. Don't use your debit or credit cards EVER. If you have trouble with self-control (like me!), then keep the plastic at home - hidden away (not close to the computer either!). If you do need them to buy a specific item, ONLY buy that item!

12. Keep track of your receipts. Know where your money is going. This will help you to budget easier, and you will need these for Step 4 of my series. 

13. Go to the library. I love to read and I love books. I have a problem buying books, when I could just go the the public library and borrow it for FREE! Use your library card, rather than buying a book you are just going to read once and put on the shelf.

14. Make your lunch. Don't go out for lunch every day at work - get up a little earlier, or stay up a little later, and pack a lunch.

15. Don't buy coffee. It's only $1.50, but it adds up every week. Make your coffee at home, or at the office.

16. Don't smoke. It boggles my mind the amount of money people spend on cigarettes - I'm not a smoker and never have been. You could save THOUSANDS of dollars every YEAR by not smoking.

17. Go for a walk/go to the park. Take advantage of the beautiful outdoors and the free "entertainment" it offers.

18. Cut out all entertainment that costs money. This may seem a little extreme, but there are a lot of different ways you can have fun at home or around your neighbourhood for no or very little money. Instead of going to the movie theatre, go to the library and check out a movie, make popcorn and watch it at home.

19. Don't shop at the big box stores when doing your grocery shopping. By this I mean Wal-mart, or the big Superstore/Supercentres that offer so much MORE than groceries. I have a VERY difficult time going into Wal-mart and coming out with ONLY groceries - it seems that some item of clothing or other household item that wasn't on my list enters my cart. I prefer to stick to the No Frills grocery store around the corner and remove myself from unnecessary temptation.

20. Make homemade gifts and cards for birthdays and special occasions. It was just my mom's birthday, and rather than buying her a card I gave Kaylen a piece of cardstock and some crayons and Grandma got a special keepsake card. Kaylen's birthday is coming up and I used some of my fabric collection to create her gifts - I'll post about them later.

And of course FREE, FREE, FREE. 

These are just a few ways you can save money. Hope they can help you out! Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for Step #4 - re-evaluating your budget.

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