Cut Your Spending & Make Your Holidays Brighter

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The time of year where it seems as though money is literally flying out your window is quickly approaching. Regardless of whether you have tons of money saved up in bank account or you’re just living from paycheck to paycheck, watching your money go is never a joyous event. Fortunately, seeing the joy on someones face when they open a gift that you handpicked for them makes it all worth it. I’m sure at some point in your life you have had to come up with some creative ways to provide gifts for your friends and family. I, myself, did a lot of crafting in my college days. Amazingly, those were the gifts that mattered the most. Getting back to the point, there are many simple ways to cut back spending throughout the year to help give you some extra cash for the holidays. Hopefully these easy tips can help you sweat a little less next season. After all, it’s supposed to be a happy and merry season!

  1. Eat out less. This one might be tough for some people, but it is essential. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy a dinner out with your significant other or a lunch date with your friends, but the frequent visits to McDonalds or Starbucks (yes, coffee counts) can do a lot of damage to your bank account. When I taught elementary school, I would frequently go out to lunch because I didn’t have time to make a lunch. In reality, it took longer for me to leave work, order food, and get back to work than it would if I just brought my own lunch! To make things easier, after you finish supper pull out a lunch size container and prep your leftover lunch for the next day. When I make larger meals, like casseroles, I will divide half of it into lunch portions and stick it in the freezer for my hubby to take to work. Many people will find that eating in will save you at least $100-$200 a month.
  2. Cut out cable. I know I wrote about this in a previous blog, but I just want to revisit this topic quickly. Cutting out cable can be a HUGE money saver. It has saved us over $100 a month. Thats $1200 a year. You cant argue with that. There are so many other entertainment options in today’s world, that to me it just doesn’t make sense to have cable. Here are some alternatives: Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, HD Antenna, bunny ears, and buying your TV series at a used entertainment store. The costs of these options are minimal and some are just a one time fee! It’s worth it people!
  3. Buy used. This tip is helpful for everyone, but especially those with kids. I look around my house, my daughters room, and all of her toys and I can happily say that at least 90% of our belongings are used! It doesn’t mean they look worn or trashy, in fact most of our stuff is in great shape. It may take a little more time and effort to find specific items that you or your child are looking for, but why spend the extra money if something just as good is half the price. I also love that when you buy something used, it has a story. Whether it’s your own story about the bargain price you got it for or the previous owner telling you stories about where it came from. To me thats a lot more fun than picking it up for full price at a retail store.
  4. No Spend Week. My husband and I just recently started this routine. For one week out of the month we spend money only on absolute necessities, like gas, vets, doctors, emergencies, and necessary food items. We try to eat whatever we already have in the fridge and pantry, but on occasion you may need a few items to complete your recipes. Going out to eat and leisurely shopping is out of the question. Surprisingly it not only saves money for the week, but it also helps reel our consumerism tendencies back in. The weeks following we find ourselves constantly questioning if we need something or if we just want it. Trust me, it’s not as hard as it seems!

There are many, many more ways to cut back on your spending, you just have to find what works best for you and your family. Make a list of the things you typically spend money on, prioritize them, and decide how you can make adjustments. Spending less shouldn’t make you miserable, it should make you feel good! Making smart financial choices and starting early in the year can definitely make your holidays a little more merry and bright. What are some of your money saving tips? Thanks again for reading!

Malorie

10 Tips for Successful Thrifting and Garage Sailing

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Thrift Store shopping and weekend garage sailing are passions of mine. I love the thrill of the hunt and the reward of coming home with loads of great stuff, and a happy wallet and husband. It is easy to shop around these places and pick up stuff you don’t really need. Which is fine, but today our focus will be how to shop for things that you need or REALLY want.

  1. Make a list of items you want or need in advance, and keep this list running.  For example, I recently decided I NEEDED a food processor, so I did some research and looked at prices. Wowzas! The one I wanted was about $100. Instead of running out and buying it, I put it on my Christmas list as well as my Garage Sale list. Within a couple of weeks, I happened across one at an Estate Sale for $10! It still gives me goosebumps 🙂
  2. Be patient. If you decide you want a used table saw, don’t expect to find it on your first trip. Check craigslist, go to a few garage sale each week, try different thrift stores. It takes a little more effort to find what you want, but when you do, it’s much more worth it.
  3. Frequent the same thrift stores. I have found that when you visit the same thrift stores on a weekly basis (for shopping and donating), they are more inclined to keep an eye out and put things aside for you. I am specifically referring to the smaller, non-profit thrift stores. Places like Goodwill may not be able to hold items for customers due to store policy.
  4. Have a price in mind. When you DO happen across that very thing you have been searching for, have a FAIR price in mind. By now, you most likely have done your research on the cost of the item at full price, as well as the used price. If not, do a quick google search on your phone.  Don’t be afraid to ask them to knock the price down to what you had in mind. The worst they can say is no.
  5. Know when to walk away. Once you have made your offer, if they choose not to budge and you KNOW they are way overpriced, it’s time to walk away. It can pull on your heart strings to watch it go, but you will sleep better knowing you didn’t get ripped off. I struggle with this part the most. My husband is a great mediator, hehe.
  6. Map out your garage sales. Instead of wasting time searching for sales and taking 15 wrong turns, map out your garage sales a day or 2 ahead of time to really maximize your efforts and time.
  7. Location, location, location. When mapping out your garage sales, look for sales in affluent neighborhoods. A lot of times they will have really good stuff! Make sure you check the prices though! Also, try to keep all of your bargain hunting on the same side of town. After all, you have to make it to Grandma and Grandpa’s in time for Brunch at 11.
  8. ESTATE SALES! These two words together make my heart flutter. I have gotten some of the best deals and items from estate sales. One time we snagged an upright deep freezer for $35! It was in great condition and one of the items on my list! Estate sales generally have everything half price on the final day, so make sure you get there early if you can.
  9. Don’t be afraid to dig. Sometimes you have to dig to get to the good stuff! I usually do a few walk throughs before I move on. You would be surprised how easy it is to miss the jewels amongst the junk.
  10. Respect the owners. Keep in mind that these used items were once precious to someone. If someone doesn’t make a good deal with you, don’t get all bent out of shape. They may still have some emotional ties with what they are selling. Places like Goodwill, often times can’t change their prices for each person. I once witnessed a customer yelling at the cashier because she couldn’t get something for 50 cents less (rude). Many thrift stores are non-profit, so the money you bring in is needed for a better cause.

I hope you will find these tips useful when you’re out on the hunt! Don’t forget to subscribe and stay tuned for what’s next. Happy thrifting and garage sailing!

Malorie