There has been some talk about money and the spending of it on the blogs I read as of late. Actually, more of the talk has been about how not to spend it. Chloe wrote about it here and here. And then Sherry wrote about it today.
Anyway, let me tell you about my newest recipe success. Just joking! I want to talk about money too!
I enjoy being frugal (or a total tight-wad, as I prefer to call myself). I find a huge amount of satisfaction in saving money and in being a low spender. My mom commented over Christmas break that I seem to have inherited my Grannie's frugal genes (thank you, Grannie!).
Here are a few of the things that work for me:
- I will return anything. If it doesn't fit, if it breaks, tears, or is otherwise damaged, it goes back. If I decide I don't like, it goes back. I toss all my receipts in my dressing table drawer, so it's there if I need to return anything. I just refuse to pay money for something that doesn't perform. Even without a receipt, though, you can usually return things. Even if I lose a bit of money doing that, I 'd rather sacrifice $2 and get the rest of my money back than have an item that will sit in a closet until I take it to Goodwill.
- I shop a lot, but I don't feel like I have to buy something. I've heard that some people feel compelled to have something to show for their shopping hours, but I'm happy to just have some time to myself to admire things I like and get a sense for what is available. Shopping doesn't have to mean spending. For this reason, I prefer to shop alone or with Bart (since he is happy when I don't buy something).
- I read a book recently that mentioned in passing that one of the only places she spent money was on "everyday luxuries" like $8 toothpaste. As for me, I try and spend as little as possible on those things - I buy the store-brand of almost everything or wait for things to go on sale.
- When I do spend money, I look for ways to keep the bill as low as possible by using coupons or watching for sales. When I buy makeup, for instance, I almost never do so without a coupon since Ulta sends me one practically every other week. Also, Kmart often has coupons for cosmetics and other items. If I can get a gift card by switching my prescriptions to another pharmacy, I do it. When I buy a little bit more pricey things (like higher quality shampoo), I use gift cards I got by taking online polls. I always do the surveys they give me at Old Navy or Gap in exchange for a 10% off coupon. If I buy something at full price (which is rare), I'll watch for it to go on sale and then go in and have them adjust my price. We try to only go to the movie theater (the dollar theater) on 50 cent night or during matinée times.
- I take advantage of free things like the library. I do not buy books for myself. We don't have bookshelf room for them anyway, and I read so many books that it would cost a fortune to buy them all. We also canceled Netflicks because our library has a good movie collection, you can get RedBox movies for free if you check for codes, and we have friends who lend us movies. We don't even have TIME for Netflicks.
- I have a budget for groceries and I am absolutely rigid about not going over it - I will readjust my menu at the grocery store if it means I don't have to buy a $6 jar of a spice that I'll use once. This week, I chose to forgo the Spaghetti Squash dish I was going to make since the squash were $4 each. Wrong - I do not buy vegetables that cost more than meat. I try and make at least one vegetarian meal a week, so we don't go through as much meat (and when we do eat meat, I try to stretch it more by having pasta, rice, or salad with it). I buy very little junk and snack foods because they are pricey too. And I try not to make return visits in between my once every eight days trip (this is the hardest part for me since Bart and I like to make desserts or snacks in the evenings or on weekends).
- And my guilty secret, the one that makes me ashamed of myself for being so ridiculous? I watch the checker ring up every item at the grocery store and I'll make her change anything that is wrong. I know it's only thirty or forty cents, but it does add up. I have a good memory for how much everything cost on the shelves, so I know when it's wrong and some items are wrong every. single. time (ground turkey and cream cheese are a dime more when they ring up always).
- We budget quarterly or so, just to check on how we are doing and I try to track things pretty closely in Quicken, but we don't use a monthly budget. We have very few bills (mortgage, electric, gas, water, internet, and phones) and then a $50 "fun" budget each, so our monthly spending doesn't fluctuate very much. We try to use our heat/AC as little as possible and keep our showers short and the lights off. I prefer not to budget meticulously and be meticulous instead about keeping our standard bills as low as I can.
What do you do to keep your spending in control? Any great ideas? Share, share!