As we begin the new year, it is a good time to take a look at financial plans for 2016. If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly looking for ways to streamline your budget and save money. Working for myself has only increased my desire to find ways to buy for less.
So I wondered if there were any new tips I could add to my arsenal. I tapped some of my favorite people and communities and was rewarded with a list of realistic tips that can easily be implemented, along with my own.
Ebates: The Ebates cash back shopping network is currently offering a $10 Gift Card bonus when you open a new account and spend $25 or more at your favorite store. Earn cash back on over 1,800 stores when you shop online thru Ebates.
Paribus: Now there’s a service – Paribus – that automatically gets you a refund on the price difference at 18 different retailers including Amazon, Macy’s, and Target. Paribus is like insurance that you’ll always get the best price, even when retailers like Amazon change their prices many times each day. It’s free to sign-up and Paribus charges only 25% of the refund amount AFTER they’ve secured you a refund. Just connect Paribus with your email account in a few clicks, and shop online as you would normally. Whenever a price drops or you miss a deal, Paribus files a price adjustment, scoops up the difference, and sends it your way.
-Miriam at The Very Best Baby Stuff
Garage Sales & Consignment Shops: As a family of five, we spend around $1000 a year on clothing (including shoes, underwear, socks, coats). Total. If I had to guess, about 90% of our family’s wardrobe comes from garage sales. The other 10% comes from the sales rack and consignment shops. I can’t remember the last time I paid full price for anything! Here are some tips I use when I buy second hand clothing.
-Rachel at Holy Craft
Mobile Apps: Take advantage of money-saving apps and sites for a variety of stores.
- Target Cartwheel
- Find & Save
- Checkout 51
- Retail Me Not
- Walmart Savings Catcher
- Snap by Groupon
Clothing Swap: Host a clothing swap. Everyone brings clothing that their kids have outgrown. If you bring a bag, you take a bag.
Food & Meals
$50 a Week Food Budget: Think a $50 a week food budget for five is not possible? You might just be convinced otherwise! Take a look for some super tips on how to feed your family on $50 a week. For these tips, I am basing it off my family of five.
-Michelle at Thrifty DIY Diva
Freezing Food: If you’re like most people in America, you probably end up throwing away your fair share of food. I know I have the best of intentions for everything I put in my shopping cart, but inevitably end up having to throw items away from time to time because I didn’t get to them in time. With a bit of forethought, you can limit your trips to the trash can. 10 Things to Stop Wasting and Start Freezing.
-Aileen at Aileen Cooks
Meal Planning: Always shop your kitchen first, then the sales. Write a list and stick to it every time.
Don’t Buy Coffee: Don’t like coffee? That actually saves me quite a bit of money. I save all the money that would have been spent on coffee, along with my change.
-AlisonSwitch Cell Phone Carriers: Cut your monthly cell phone bill by 50% or more by switching to a low-cost carrier. Many of these low-cost carriers are owned by the big name carriers, meaning you receive the same service and same towers for a percentage of the cost.
Switch Landline to VoIP Carrier: By switching to a low-cost carrier, I am now paying only $10 a month for TWO land lines (personal and business). This includes add-on services such as voicemail, caller ID, call waiting, etc. as well as free long distance to Canada.
Laundry: As the mother of four, laundry was a huge expense. If I used the cheap soap, the stains wouldn’t come out, so I’d have to toss the clothes and buy new. But the better brands (Tide) were so expensive. My solution was to use Tide on whites and colors, and cheapo on jeans, sheets, towels, and stuff that really didn’t matter.
-Karen at ADHD Inattentive
Declutter Your Home: We made the decision to become debt free and live a simpler, happier life and since then have taken many steps to make this decision/goal a reality… The one I want to focus on today is decluttering our house – and how life-changing it can truly be. How cleaning our house helped us to pay off our debt.
-Cassie at DIY Jahn
Stop Using Paper Towels: I stopped using paper towels and that has saved me a lot of money! I did it gradually, introducing cloth napkins first and then finally washcloths on the kitchen counter instead of paper towels (which now live under the sink!) This is how I did it.
-Brittany at Champagne and Cheerios
Baby Proofing: Basic baby proofing doesn’t take much effort and doesn’t have to be expensive. We used the humble pool noodle, yes, pool noodle, very effectively throughout our home. Just slice down the middle and stick onto wherever you want to create a bumper.
-Maja at Mumma Hack
Reuseable Baby Wipes: Make your own resuseable baby wipes with cotton flannel squares. Then mix up 1/2 cup of baby wash with 1/2 cup of baby oil and 1 1/2 cups of water in a spray bottle. At each diaper change spray the baby’s bottom with the solution and then wipe clean with the cotton flannel squares. Wash the wipes with hot water and dry in the dryer.
Library: We use the library for everything – not just books! Our local library offers free tickets to local museums, so that is how I take my kids places. The library has lots of movies, so I tend to let my kids pick out movies to borrow from the library, versus buying or renting. They also have lots of free entertainment in the evenings that we attend. Plus, they have several meetup style events during the day for small children that we attend regularly (free play, story time, legos, movies).
-Aileen at Aileen Cooks
Library: Use the library! Borrow books, movies, and take part in free library activities. Mine hosted a gingerbread house decorating party, a kids Christmas party, pumpkin decorating, and more. All activities are free.
First Birthday Parties: I approached the moms of my son’s four neighborhood friends and asked if they would be interested in a joint celebration for just our babies and the parents. They all loved the idea.
Did I Need It Yesterday?: When I’m faced with small purchase decisions, I ask myself, “Did I need it yesterday?” It’s easy to remember, simple to use, and 100% effective at keeping me from buying things I don’t need!
-Lena at What Mommy Does
No Spend Challenge: The challenge is fairly simply, yet fairly intense as well: Throughout the entire month of January we will not be allowed to spend a dime. Why did we choose this challenge? Simple: so that we could change our lives and our spending habits by jump starting the new year with no spending at all.
-Cassie at DIY Jahn
Sell Your Stuff/Services: As a Mom, it’s hard to make extra money sometimes, especially if you are a Stay at Home Mommy. It seems like we are always invited to attend fun play dates or activities that cost money. I’m going to share a few ways I have made some extra money that are (mostly) easy.
-Shannon at Daily Momtivity
User Testing: Got 10 minutes on your hands and like checking out new websites? Sign up to become a User Testing tester and earn $10-$15 for every short test you take. I make an additional few hundred dollars each month doing this in my spare time, when I am on the computer already.
Budget: Make a budget and stick to it. THIS is the biggest money saver. Create a zero dollar budget so that every dollar is accounted for. Stick to the budget and see where you can cut things out or down.
Bill Yourself: Treat your own personal savings the same way you treat your bills. Make it a line item on your budget and pay a set amount to it consistently every month. Better yet, set it up so that a specific amount is transferred to a separate savings account each month – just as if you were setting up automatic bill payments. This ensures that you’re “paying yourself first” and becoming accustomed to living on what is left over.
So there you have it – 34 great tips being used by real people. These are a great way to jump start your 2016 budget in the right direction.
What other tips do you have to add to the list?