We’ve been living on a tight budget ever since we got married, trying to keep our student loans to a minimum. I thought I was living in the proverbial real world while we were in school, but I realize now that the financial real world doesn’t really begin until you’ve been contacted (before you have a real job) by the collectors and informed how much your monthly payments will be and when they’re due. And at this point, nobody wants to give you a loan just because you live in a college town. (Not that I’m thinking, “Debt is so cool. I want some more.”)
So, I’ve been contemplating different ideas to help us stay in our budget. Here’s what I have so far.
1. Eat leftovers, even if it wasn’t a good meal the first time and you want to forget you made it. Just eat it. It won’t kill you. Eat it now before there is mold.
2. Look at grocery store ads before planning weekly meals. Then, check your pantry and fridge and ask yourself questions in the following pattern: Do you already have 8 cans of black beans that you bought for $.49/can? Do you need 8 more? Do you already have carrots in your crisper? Do you need to use them up before they get all bendy and creepy? Should you just make carrots instead of buying the fancy sale vegetable?
3. Work a lot at a job where you get paid. I plan to start doing this eventually. I’ll let you know what it does to the books.
4. Rent movies from the library. Take them back on time. (This applies to books too.)
5. Don’t pay your iWireless bill late, unless you have $7.50 extra. Even if you have $7.50 extra, don’t give it to them. Pay off loans or buy some chocolate.
6. Don’t go to places where things are sold. Particularly, don’t go to places with big “clearance” signs, because you will get sucked in. If you do have to go to one of these selling stations, decide what you need before you go in. Do not look around at the other fare for sell. Get in and get out. You do not need that roasting pan on “after-Thanksgiving” clearance. You don’t eat meat OR host Thanksgiving. You do not need those ugly throw pillows so you can spend more money on fabric to re-cover them, particularly when you already have a sufficient number of throw pillows. (Opinions about sufficiency may vary. I generally think I need more when I find a clearance throw pillow for less than $10.)
7. Don’t buy alcohol.
8. Don’t wait till the end of the month/pay period to see how much money you’ve spent. It’s not a game where you try to match the number goal. It’s money and you will be out of it if you’re not careful, young lady.
9. Balance your check book. (Another option is to talk to your kids sternly about balancing their checkbooks, because they will assume you’re doing this because it’s something you do. You should try to avoid them seeing you catching up on balancing your check book for October when it is May.)
10. Live in a place where you don’t like a lot of restaurants, because then you’re not as sad when you make the “big girl” choice to stay at home. If possible, like to cook and have a dishwasher.
11. Don’t pay $3/week for the newspaper because you want $2 in coupons that you will probably forget to use.
12. Budget a little money for doing fun things. Otherwise, you won’t get to hang out with your friends, and then you might get sad and then shop online.
What are your best money-saving tips?