"God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform..." William Cowper

Monday, November 8, 2010

Let's Talk Money

With the holidays fast approaching, I thought it would be beneficial to exchange some money saving tips. While I am far from an authority on this topic, I've definitely learned how to stretch a dollar over the past five years, as my husband and I have juggled a family of four and a generous mortgage payment on a single income. Here's a few strategies I've found helpful.

1) Forget the Joneses. Focus on building character into your family instead of a pile of possessions. While there's nothing wrong with cable television, Wiis, Kindles and new cars, our family chooses to do without in order to pinch the pennies.

2) Cut the dryer sheets in half. And experiment with other household products. You might be surprised to find out you don't need to fill the laundry detergent up to that recommended line to attain clean clothes. See what works and what doesn't. My dishwasher gets angry with me when I don't use enough soap. My furniture stays happy with just a touch of dust polish.

3) Snip coupons. You can even print them out online.

4) Anticipate your medical needs. Medical insurance can be a big expense. A Today Show article featuring Wendy Nice Barns, a consumer health insurance expert from eHealthInsurance.com, suggests watching out-of-pocket costs. “If you visit the doctor frequently, these can add up," Wendy says. "If you don’t visit the doctor but a few times a year, it may save you to look for a plan with a higher co-pay and lower premium." Wendy also recommends considering a high-deductible plan if you expect your medical expenses to be low.

5) Hold that tax refund check! While it might be exciting to get that big check of "extra money" in April, it may prove smarter to pay off credit cards or even pay ahead on bills. Save yourself a hefty chunk of interest on your mortgage by paying extra on your principal balance. Even auto insurance policies charge a small service fee each month that allows you to spread out your payments. Save some cash by paying ahead.

6) While we're on the topic of credit cards... Financial advisor Dave Ramsey (host of The Dave Ramsey Show and author of The Total Money Makeover) suggests staying away from these. I think most of us would agree. Yet if you're good with your money, these little plastic cards might be able to work for you instead of against you via a rewards program. The only credit card my husband and I own is a Home Rebate card from Citi Cards that pays 1% of our purchases directly to the principal on our mortgage. Many clothing stores also have a similar rewards program. WARNING: These cards are only beneficial if you pay off your credit card balance every month!

7) Give yourself a cash allowance. Decide what you and your family will buy with cash (take-out food, movie rentals, Dunkin Donuts coffee, etc.) and what you will not. Stick to this along with a planned budget and you'll never have to answer the question, "Where is my money going?"

8) Slim down the grocery trips. If you're running to the store every couple of days, chances are you're buying more than you need. One woman on KLove radio said she makes a menu plan for an entire month, buys for the month, and then takes short, once a week trips for fruits, veggies, and milk. She claims she cut her grocery bill in half. Anxious to try this one!

As far as food, my family has been known to have eggs for dinner. We skip many brand-names products and buy DiGiorno instead of Pizza Hut.

9) Turn off the lights. Your mother nagged you for a reason. Electricity is expensive!

10) Read Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover. Dave dispels money myths and outlines steps to financial freedom. Most libraries have this book. Read it!

I hope something I've written is helpful to you. Now, if you're willing to help me...do you have any money saving tips you would be willing to share?


3 comments:

  1. Heidi,

    What a helpful post! My husband has really taught me the importance of a budget...it really helps to know where the money is going.

    Another way we save money is by making our own cleaning products.

    Thanks for the great ideas! I need to read Dave Ramsey's book. Hope you are well! I was thinking about you today:)

    Mel

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  2. Good one! I'll have to try it, Melanie!
    Hope you and your beautiful family is doing well!

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  3. Heidi,

    thanks for stopping by my blog this morning. You are so sweet! I'm so glad that it encouraged you, and yes, isn't God's grace amazing?

    Have a great day!
    Mel

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