Sunday, February 22, 2009

We need to be more mindful of our spending.

Hubs' cousin, Janeen, wrote a post on this very subject. I know that there are corners that I can cut. What have we been doing to save money? Let me share.

1. We have a programmable thermostat. We have it kick back to 65 F overnight (10 PM - 6 AM), up to 68 F between the hours of 6 AM - 8 AM, kicks back down to 62 F from 8 AM - 5 PM, then back up to 68 F between 5 PM - 10 PM. I am able to override if we are at home, but this saves much money. We have blankets that keep us toasty at night and there is no use in keeping the house fully heated for the critters. Keep in mind that for every 1 degree that you turn your thermostat down, you save 3 percent on your heating bill.
2. We purchase only reasonable items in bulk. What do I mean by that? We don't go hog wild in Sam's. We also share the membership with my in-law's. Items that we purchase are:
Gatorade by the flat*
Garbage bags
Boca Burgers*
Water by the flat*
Surf Laundry detergent
45 roll box of toilet paper
Clorox 2
Nutri-Grain bars
Occasionally cereal
Pam spray
Go-gurt (for "yogurt popsicles")
Goldfish Crackers
Multi cracker packs for K-'s snacktime at school
Cocoa roasted almonds
We find that we can reasonably use these items. The *'d items are for Hubs. Both K- and I drink the water from the tap, so I don't need all those little bottles. I've tried to break Hubs of the bottled water habit and he won't budge. I buy my spices in bulk in Amish Country.
3. Line drying our clothes. I allow myself one dryer load per week, and that would be for towels. For the first time, I tried to line dry the sheets downstairs. We have one set of flannel sheets for our bed, and those are the ones that I washed. It worked out fine. Clothes have been dry within 12 hours of hanging, so it was faster to line dry than I thought.
4. Coupon clipping. Now, I'm not as good as Jamie, but I'm getting much better. The couponing habit had fallen by the wayside, but I'm glad that I'm back on the wagon again. I have to make sure that I buy what we use, is reasonable and we like as opposed to falling into the trap of "I bought it because I could get it cheap."
5. Multiple trips while driving out. When gas hit above $4.00 a gallon last year, I started making the habit of making the most of my trips. Often, K- and I will remain home for the day rather than running around. If we do go out, 98% of the time it involves several trips that I've been piling up over the days.
6. Curbed the fly through fast food. Even a couple of bucks here and there add up. We were more value menu kind of people, but it does all add up. I keep a stash of crackers in the console for K- when she does get the munchies when we are out.
7. I dumped pop. I love soda/pop, whatever you call it. I noticed the prices just flying on it. Even though I only drank a can a day, I dumped my habit. If pop is on sale by the two liter, I'll buy one and enjoy it. I did buy a few 20 oz bottles last week. It wasn't money saving. It was sanity saving. Not a good excuse, though.
8. I pay my bills online. I know that I should support the US Postal Service, yes? Well, it is much easier to pay online, as I can schedule or have automatic payments pop out of the accounts. Add to it the envelopes, checks, time . . . It is a savings all the way around.
9. I am religious about having scheduled maintenance done on my car. It is due for an oil change every 5000 miles. It is done within 100 miles of the turnover. I have my tires rotated regularly (besides blowing them out by hitting curbs, running over screws and the latest of smacking a pothole.) To do scheduled maintenance is to save money in the long run. I do have the oil changed at the dealership, but Hubs has priced it and it is only slightly higher than it would cost him to do it. We have the 72,000 mile extended warranty, so they'll be able to see that we have not only taken care of it, but they will be able to address issues if/when they come up.
10. I've given my husband a monthly allowance for his CD purchasing habit. Now, I admit that the man is willing to shop at the used CD store (The Exchange) and wait until the CD that he wants hits the used rack. Still, there have been months that he has spent well over $100.00 on CDs priced between $1.00 - $8.00. He has an allowance of $20.00. And yes, I bust him if he goes over. I'm an artist and he is a park naturalist. We're not rolling in money, which is fine. We just need to manage that dough that we do have. To his credit, he has found creative ways of financing his habit. He will trade CDs and movies in that he doesn't use/doesn't like. He'll get a trade slip and use that, too.
11. We've switched to CFL's in the fixtures that they fit in. We did this in the fall. Since it was the same time that energy consumption tends to go up, I haven't seen a real drop in cost but probably will here soon.
12. I've changed our accounts over to be paperless and with transaction rewards. Our bank, Charter One, has Green$ense that pays 10 cents per transaction on your debit card or having payments automatically withdrawn from your account. So far, I've earned a little over $13.00 in just three months.
13. I pay my bills that compound interest earlier than their due date. Why? I pay my house payment and the truck payment a few weeks ahead and that saves on interest, thus paying more towards my account than what I would if I paid it directly on the due date. My friend discovered that she pays $10.00 more on principle by paying her amount due 2 weeks ahead. I've discovered hidden savings, too.

What can I do to save more money?
1. Plan meals by the week again. Plan my meals according to what is on sale. Plan meals that stretch more. Utilize the crock pot more.
2. Stay away from the clearance racks. Again, a buck here and a buck there do add up. Hubs calls me a giftaholic. I stay within the $5.00 and under budget! :)
3. Remind Hubs of his allowance.
4. Use more coupons. Watch for more ads. Take more advantage of price matching. Purchase only what is reasonable to use and not just what I have coupons for.
5. Locate another site that advertises available rebates. I used to go to Mommy Saves Big, but she doesn't have the rebate section of her site any longer. Just this fall, on one trip alone, I saved $60.00 rebating and it was on stuff that I actually use! I was able to get Arm and Hammer Detergent (lasted me over a month), Turtle wax (I need to wax the RAV), Hunt's ketchup, Back to Nature cookies, Lysol cleaners and Pepcid for free. I love the rebates from Walgreen's, but haven't found that they've had items lately that I would use. Typically, I do rebate through them, as well.

What are your money saving ideas? I'm sure that there are more corners that I can cut and I certainly welcome any suggestions!


Jamie said...

Funny, I was going to do a post very similar to this today. Great minds think alike.

Your list is pretty good. How much interest do you save by sending the payment ahead? We've been doing that with our car since we bought it but since we're making the payment in the same month it's due, we're not saving anything.

I have noticed a savings since starting to use the CFL- I jumped that bandwagon when they first came out, so has it been 2-3 years now? The bill is about $20/30 a month less, but really depends on the usage. In the summer it dips way down.

Bailey's Leaf said...

I think that it may depend upon how the loan is structured. I've been paying a little more and paying in advance, so my car payment is paid about 6 months in advance. I paid the lump of 900.00 when our stimulus check came in (ignore that the government didn't give us the 1500.00 that we thought) and I've rounded up the 290. and change to 300.00 every month. I just figured out that between the additional payments and paying in advance, I have about $1800.00 paid ahead. That's not so shabby. I can't give you a dollar amount, but it is working for us. Call your loan provider to see what their payment structure is and to see if there is any benefits to your paying a few weeks in advance. Perhaps it's just them hitting a button!