Wednesday, August 14, 2013

{life lab} saving moolah



As an educated, full time mom it is very difficult to not bring in a paycheck for my work. Maybe you feel the same?

I love talking money with people and do not find the subject too taboo. It is interesting all the different ways people can make their money work for them. In my mind, money is only good as an agent to help you lead the life you want to lead.

Now, I would not call us thrifty or frugal. We waste a lot of money (books and cheese come to mind). But, here are some of the things we do to free up money so we can use the rest to create the life we want..

I REALLY want to hear your ideas in the comments. I know you have some great thoughts to share.

1. Drop the cable bill. We watch TV on a combination of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, PBS, and Redbox.

2. Own a rental home. If you are selling your home and moving to another, consider keeping the old one as a rental. You get a break on your taxes, have a little extra monthly income and have someone else building equity for you. It can be stressful (my last year certainly was - death, evictions, police) but if you are up for it a rental home can help build your nest egg.

3. Start a small business. Same as above, a small business can not only make money but help you on your taxes. Plus, if you are a stay at home mom, your small business might help pave the way back in to the workplace if and when you want to return.

4. Swap and trade. If you have a small business, or if not, you can trade with others. When I ran a produce subscription service, I routinely swapped veggies for haircuts, fabric, BBQ and more local goods. With my online business I swap my goods and services for educational e courses, knitted socks, books, jewelry, ad space, and more. It is amazing and I am really jazzed about this "micro economy" that works outside of the system and has huge possibilities.

5. Stay healthy. Well, of course everyone wants to stay healthy! You can save a ton of money by not having constant colds and allergy infections. Doctor bills and over the counter medications add up! The path the wellness is different for everyone. In our family, my husband completely cured his decades long allergy suffering with one simple change. He now has a better quality of life and has saved money.  My doctor had me going to physical therapy for my hand arthritis that cost $50 a pop. By trying to naturally ease the discomfort, I saved money! If you are taking any life long lifestyle related drugs - see if you can work on getting off of them.

6. Shop used. Pretty obvious. We have so much fun buying clothes at the Salvation Army on 1/2 off day. My kids can buy pretty much anything they want. My daughter often finds the most awesome stuff that she combines in really unique ways.

7. Buy experiences not things . Having and remembering experiences and adventures make us happier than buying more things. It is scientifically proven! So, consider giving gifts of dinners, shows or canoe paddles over another mass produced trinket. Experience giving also lends itself to a DIY sensibility. How about inviting someone over to make pasta together, or go on a photo safari with friends. The possibilities are endless.

8. Have one car. If you can. If not, go for relability not status. Is it worth driving a brand new car if you could instead use that money to take a life changing trip with your kids? Figure out how much you pay in car payments a year and plug in all the other things you might do with a big portion of that money. Is it worth the exchange?

9. Homeschool. If you do not love the schools in your area, before you spend thousands of dollars on tuition and uniforms for a private school- think about homeschooling. Homeschoolers get loads of breaks. We get to volunteer at air shows and attend for free, we get to see entire seasons of plays for really reasonable prices, we co op and field trip everything, we make most of our own food and can travel off peak season.

10. Volunteer to get into free shows. You can often volunteer at historic movie houses, community theatres and even big commercial venues in exchange for admittance to the show. Look into it!

11. Make your own deodorant, toothpaste, laundry detergent,  household cleaners. I make all of these and am amazed at the high prices for similar products at the store.

12. Make your own gifts. Even if you are not crafty, you can make things that people will love. What about coupons for skills you have? Or a book of memories and photos? Maybe something of yours the recipient has a hankering for?

13. Get rid of your lawn. Gradually let your flower beds turn into vegetable and herb patches and spread until you have no more lawn to maintain.

14. Skip the gym and organized sports and start living an active life. Do real things that engage your mind and body and save big. Hiking,  gardening, home repairs, biking as a family - all these things can keep you healthy together and save money.

15. Make your own movie night. I am not sure how anyone can afford to go to the movies anymore. For our family of 5, if we get a popcorn and drink, it easily inches up towards $100! We rent new releases from Amazon streaming or Redbox for just a few bucks. And have way better snacks too!

16. Buy bulk vegetables. Check to see if there is a wholesale produce market near you. We live about an hour away from one and see people who drive from all over the state to buy there. In season, we can get 25# boxes of tomatoes for $8, huge bunches of collards for a few bucks and watermelons for $1 each. It is worth the trip!

17. Use the library. Pretty obvious. Not only can you check out book, music and movies, usually you can order books from other libraries for free or very reasonable. Talk to a librarian to find out all the library has to offer. Ours has an American Girl Club, music concerts and wonderful study rooms that I use frequently for writing. Make sure to find out when your library sells its decommissioned books and magazines. This week we were able to buy 15 children's chapter books for one dollar! And you can use the library as a place to relax and have fun. Here is a popular post I wrote about just that topic. 

18. Talk to people. This will not directly save you money, but you would be surprised at what you can find out just by talking to strangers. I am not overly extraverted but have no problem talking to people and have found that most are very nice and want to share any knowledge they have with you. Do not be afraid to ask people questions. I have been given advice about how, when and where to buy things like season tickets

19. Get some chickens or bees. While not exactly cheap in the beginning, the eggs and honey you can produce in your own yard will blow anything available conventionally away. You can use these items to swap and your children will learn a powerful lesson about responsibility and sustainability. I have not met a child who is not fascinated with chickens.

20. Donate all your stuff. Tax write off PLUS less to maintain. Double win!

21. Max out your retirement. Seems counter intuitive. But if your employer offers a retirement program of any type - max it out. You will hardly notice the difference in your paycheck (esp if it is before taxes) and the compounding will help you build a next egg before you know it. Earlier is better on this one, so don't put it off.

22. Make your own coffee .You can save big bucks by making your own coffee, even if you buy premium organic. We bought a really great, sorta expensive machine 14 years ago. Guess what? It still works and has paid for itself many times over. Good investment for the coffee lovers!

23. Shop at the Scratch and Dent. Locate a scratch and dent in your town and check it out. Our is amazing right now. We buy organic, gourmet food for a quarter of the price.

4 comments:

  1. I see you're in Central Florida. I am as well and I'm interested in the scratch and dent you mentioned as well as the place where you get all that produce so cheap. Where are they at?!?!? Dawn :)

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    Replies
    1. The produce place is a wholesale maker in plant city near Paul Buchman and the scratch and dent is the wings of eagles off bartow hwy in lakeland.

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  2. I love these tips - you have some great, original ideas! I also love talking about money and do not find it taboo. And I love the comment about spending money on books and cheese:) I might add:
    Invest in good shoes that go with everything and wear them all the time. I'm on my third summer with a favorite pair of (expensive) sandals and haven't bought any summer shoes since. Don't get sucked in to the trendy $30 shoes you see everywhere.
    Learn to give yourself a simple pedicure/manicure/whatever else you splurge on. Keep it up and you will feel good, look good, and save lots of cash.
    Meal plan/buy a deep freezer/buy meat (and other stuff) in bulk and portion it out. Stop the last minute trips to the store as much as possible!
    Also I would love to know what your husband did to alleviate his allergies - do you have a post about it?

    ReplyDelete

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