Looking through my drafts, this was a blog post I wrote back in 2009 but never published. Funny how in just three short years, things have stayed remarkably the same.
Okay, so the economy looks pretty darned bleak. Providing you haven't lost your job (and even if you have), you're still feeling a bit of a pinch - even if you do have all of your ducks in a row financially. Everyone (no matter how much they have in their bank accounts) have had to make a few adjustments. I think those of us who tend to live paycheck to paycheck have to make the most tweaks.
Do an Internet search for frugal blogs and you will find a lot of good advice. (Be sure to sneak a peek at my blog roll to find a few of my favorites). But here is my tidbit:
STAY OUT OF THE STORE!
I realize this sounds very...strange. But the fact is, if you plan all of your purchases, you will save money. And Rule # 1 of saving money is don't spend any!
A couple of months ago, I started taking my own advice. I would only go grocery shopping once a week (it used to be every two weeks until The Man Beast switched jobs and started getting paid weekly). Once a week. That's it. Lately, I've been grocery shopping on Saturday afternoons. I do a full week's worth of shopping - usually at one store, sometimes at more than one if the deals are really sweet (lately, they really haven't been).
What if you forget something? What if you run out of something?
If I forget something - of course I go back out. But since I've been shopping by a list and keeping to the list, I rarely forget something - unless it didn't make it to the list in the first place. If it's something that's imperative to a meal, I'll see if a substitution can be made. If it can, I'll use it. If it cannot, I'll have to go out and get the missing item.
However, if the missing item is something 'extra' that isn't necessary for any of the meals that are planned for that week, we go without. We also go without if we run out of something.
I'll give you an example. I have a dish washer - two actually, if you count The Boy. The Boy and I share kitchen duty. (Lately, he's been doing all kitchen duty in an effort to raise spending money for his trip to Orlando with his class in May). Since The Boy spends the most time cleaning the kitchen, it's his responsibility to tell me if we run out of something.
Last week, The Boy forgot to tell me we were running low on dish washer detergent; halfway through the week he ran out. He told me, but I didn't do anything about it. I told him that I was only going to the store once a week and I meant it. For the rest of the week, he was 'forced' to do the dishes by hand. He's still alive and even brushed up on his dish washing skills in the process.
I plan my other purchases, too.
We have a local store that gives discounts to members under the age of 49 on Fridays. The kids are going to need a few things for Spring - shorts, t-shirts, and sandals. I could go out and buy them right now. Instead, I'm choosing to wait until Fridays to go and look around. If I stack a sweet sale on top of my 20% discount, I'll save a good chunk of change. However, if I were to go out right now and go to the nearest store to buy these items, I might not save as much as I could have.
Why? Because convenience costs money.
I am convinced the reason we reach for convenience - stores, foods, etc - is because we fail to take that little bit of time to plan.
Believe me, I've had really great weeks when I have some cash left in the checking account after I've taken the time to plan. I've also had weeks where I haven't planned as well as I should have and I end up scraping the bottom of the barrel by the time The Man Beast gets paid again.
I urge you all - plan, plan, plan! I certainly don't claim to have it all together (most of my blog roll peeps have it together. This is why I am soo not perfect).
Tomorrow, I'll share some of the tools I use to plan and manage my money.
Until next time...