Friday, January 1, 2010

Some Resolutions for Living Within Your Means

HAPPY 2010!
This year has brought so much change for my family... from downsizing our lifestyle (and we did it in a major way!), to remodeling our new house, to becoming a stay-at-home mom, to the trials and tribulations of raising a 2-year old and an infant (now almost preschooler and almost toddler!). Thought I'd post a list of things we've done to go Back To Basics with our finances and to try to live within our means. It is hard to go cold turkey, but sometimes you have to just stop what you are doing, look at your life and your bank account, and weigh out what makes sense for you and your family.

1 - Never pay retail
- the difference you save can be spent in other areas! This was one of the main reasons for starting my blog. I have always been a coupon clipper and I always bought my shoes from Nordstrom Rack... but now, I am a SERIOUS coupon clipper, and I still get shoes at Nordstrom Rack! I also scour online sales to be sure I'm getting the best deal before I go to the store. My trips to Rite Aid (see my Right On, Right Aid section from my subject list on the left) provide me with TONS of freebies and moneymakers... I even get "paid" to shop at Safeway for purchasing certain items by combo'ing coupons! For our family, the difference I save, I am able to spend on replacing some of our older toys with non-toxic, wood and made in the USA toys and other such organic and non-toxic home items. It also allows us extra money to put into savings or a vacation fund.

2 - Buy what you need, not what you want
- cutting consumerism without cutting the economy. I come from a family retail business. I know that when people stop buying, it directly hurts the local and national economy and puts jobs in jeopardy. I have not stopped buying - I am just more selective in the things I buy. Learn how to really look an item and weigh out it's necessity for you, and never purchase a non-emergency item with your credit card - REAL emergencies here, people - not the last-purse-on-the-rack type emergency!

3 - Forget the Jonses and change your view of what success and wealth means.
This will help with the above. Don't buy what you don't need, and don't buy something for status. This will cut down on so many "big ticket" items that you may be tempted to use your credit card on. This doesn't mean to block your talent - if you are successful, GO FOR IT! Just do it for the right reasons to support your family, not to be the biggest and best on the block. I've found that the things that make me the most wealthy are the simpler things like family (and my chickens!) - like the Beatles' song, "The best things in life are free"!

4 - Buy using "cash" so that you will only spend what you actually have
- use your credit card for emergencies only, such as for medical bills (not a wardrobe emergency!)... not even to fund your vacation. Save up for the next vacation instead. The exception is if you actually have the cash to pay off the card with every bill and you get some sort of reward (such as cash back incentives) for using the card.

5 - Be Prepared
- see my subjects on the left about both Emergency Preparedness and being Self Sufficient. In addition to those types of preparations, be sure to have a savings cushion in case the unexpected were to occur. Have at least 3 months expenses saved in a high yield, interest-bearing savings account. Shop around for the bank that will give you the biggest bang for your buck - some offer higher interest rates and shopping incentives/cash back on purchases too. Plus, you never know when you or your husband may loose their job.

6 - Find ways to give for FREE or nearly nothing
- I feel like even in our most poor days, we still have more than someone else out there. I like to be able to give to charity or to friends and family. Many of my shopping trips to RiteAid come out to cost me only pennies on the dollar, and I score free items all the time. I usually get in on these deals even though they are not items my family uses, and then I donate them to local shelters and non-profits! I like being able to continue to give, even though we've cut back our finances a great deal. Check out my blog posts HERE for some of my RiteAid deals!

7 - Coupons are not a waste of time
- I literally save hundreds of dollars a week that I would not have normally saved, just by clipping coupons and loading digital e-coupons onto my store card like my Safeway card! Would you spend an extra half hour to do something if you knew you'd save $100?!!! TOTALLY worth it. Also, make a shopping list before you go, to be sure you are not tempted to buy other things you happen across in the candy aisle!

8 - Be more self-sufficient - what you don't have to buy saves you money! Being self-sufficient could have many levels and degrees for you. Click on my subject "Self Sufficient Living" in the column on the left for some of the things we're doing and some other ideas! We also got backyard chickens! Our new house is on it's own well and septic system, and our only utility bill is the electric bill because we produce little garbage, repurpose and recycle items, and compost, so we don't even need garbage pickup! Recycling drop-off/pick up is free at the dump. The garbage we do produce, my mom actually lets us put into her trash bin because she usually only has her can 1/4 full and she wants to continue the weekly garbage pickup, so she offered to let us help her fill up the rest of the can so she doesn't feel like the service is going to waste! Score for us! Thanks, MOM!

9 - Have any more suggestions for the list? Leave a comment and add yours!

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