I read a lot of stories about people who are in the FIRE movement. If you don’t know what the acronym stands for it is Financial Independence Retire Early.
Many of these people are “retiring” early based on their savings. Let me say here that the more money you can save the better. However, are they really retired?
Case in point-I just read a story tonight about a person who has a military pension of $20,000 per year and about half a million in assets. He figured his half million throws off $26,000/year and if he needs the pension money it is there. Some of this is his house, but great-good job saving-people don’t save enough.
So what is my point? I don’t consider people in this situation to be retired. Let me explain-his wife works and gets paid a six figure salary. The article goes on to say that they save most of that. My nit picking (as it were) is that they aren’t saving all of her salary, so clearly they are living off some of it.
I know people have different types of retirement but it if one spouse works and the other stays home isn’t that just a lifestyle choice (i.e. a stay at home parent or spouse)?
Again, I am not knocking it because we could all save more money right? But I see these articles and rush to read how they did it and find they saved some money and one stays home and the other works. Not the inspiration I thought it would be. Good but not inspirational where I am. Call me traditional but retired means not working and living off your savings and investments . I realize the definition of retirement is different for different people, but for me it doesn’t qualify.
Good for them, but really they are heavy savers with one income earner. There is nothing wrong with that decision, just not retirement in my eyes.
If you like reading personal finance articles and blogs as much as I do, chances are you’ve read the same tips I have. Many are valuable, but if you read that much, odds are you have tried many of them already.
One thing is certain. We are all spending a lot of money on groceries and eating out! This is a great area to try to get under control to save some cash.
Here are some tips I have found to be useful. Some I have read before and you may have too; others maybe not, so read to the end. I have found them all to work and save me money. I can’t say that you will save thousands in a month, but you will save a lot of money over time if you implement them and stick with it!
Plan your shopping around sales flyers. This is one we have all heard before, but it works. Not everything in a sales flyer is a deal, however. You can save money this way but you can expand it by reading on.
Plan your meals. I know we have all heard that before, but it cannot be denied. If you don’t plan what you will cook for dinner, not only will your kids and spouse ask “what’s for dinner” every night, you will respond with “what do you want” and they will say “I don’t care” and you will get mad! Then you will get takeout! At the end of the day we are all tired from working. If we don’t plan we either get takeout or eat something that isn’t very healthy. When I plan, nobody asks because it is on the calendar and I have everything available and just start on it when I walk through the door. It makes my life easier when I do it, and more difficult and expensive when I don’t.
Know your pricing. Several years ago I took a day off from work, went to all the local stores and did the literal and proverbial pricing book. I wrote prices down and got asked by store employees what I was doing! This was a lot of work! It helped me figure out in general which store had the best pricing overall for the items I buy, so if there wasn’t a sale, that was where I would go. It also gave me a baseline of how far down prices go and how often at which store.
Use coupons. When I make my list I check online for any coupons that are available for what I am getting. I do clip coupons from the paper but I also do searches online. Most of the time I find an extra I can use for my order.
Use store specific and coupon/cash back apps. I won’t do a list here (post for another day) but use any apps you can to save money. My go to local store has one of their own which gives me 2% back on their store brands. They also give me offers for free items based on other items I have purchased in the past.
Shop at more than one store. I take several flyers and mark them up at home in the kitchen. I make abbreviated lists and plot my route out and go to each to get what I need.
Stick to your list!There is nothing worse than writing that list and getting sidetracked by something in the store and blowing up your budget. Be a “man or woman on a mission” when you go in and stick to the plan!
Spend a little to save a little. I am a busy working mother of two girls and I will admit that sometimes I don’t have time to do all of this. My local grocery store offers to-go shopping for a $5 fee if my order is under a certain amount (free if it is over that amount). When I am time strapped, I place my order online and get everything there (this is my go to store when I am not shopping sales). How does spending $5 on a service fee help me save money? It saves me time and when I shop online I stick to the budget! It is easy to shop online from my kitchen on my laptop. I typically find that I don’t end up buying things I already have (since I can check my pantry and fridge while I shop) and if the total goes over, I remove something from my cart. I have never once gone over my budget ($100/week for a family of four) by shopping this way. When I pull up to pick it up, I can still use coupons and they put them right in my trunk. This also saves me from a night of takeout on my way home from work if I didn’t have time to go to the store over the weekend.
Sometimes things don’t go as planned. My local store has a lot of competition and on one occasion I arrived to pick up my order and I found they have given it away to somebody else! They said they would immediately go pull it again and ended up giving me $15 off my order and a $25 gift card for my trouble waiting. I waited 20 minutes so the $40 reduction was definitely good compensation for the inconvenience. If you have a local store competing heavily and have never been there, give them a try
I can also price shop and do the same from a local Wal-Mart (who only has a minimum $40 order for no fee but doesn’t take coupons yet). If I don’t have coupons Wal-Mart grocery pickup can be a better deal. They also will substitute a better item at no additional cost to me if they are out of what I chose.
Use those leftovers up. This was difficult in our house. Like most people I would pack up the leftovers and put them in the fridge to die. Clear containers, not so clear containers, top shelf, bottom shelf, it didn’t matter. We wouldn’t eat them. We would forget them. We would look right past them. My daughter solved it. She posted a list to the front of the refrigerator (we had to tape it because it is stainless so don’t let a lack of a magnetized front stop you!). The list says “Hey family list the leftovers here”. So we do and they get eaten (or frozen if we aren’t going to eat them). Problem solved. It was amazing such a small detail made such a big difference. I also list items that go bad quickly (fresh fruit) just to remind us all it is there.
Pack a lunch for work and for school for the kids. While school lunches seem to be priced low, you can make a healthy lunch for less and include all the things your kids like. As for work, if I don’t pack lunch I am guaranteed to have to get something from a local deli or restaurant usually between $6 & $9. Typical the portion sizes are too big so I end up eating more than I would otherwise. The leftovers work great for me. I find the most productive time for me to pack my lunch is right before I go to bed the night before. Then I only have the kids to deal with in the morning.
Trade out your freezer bags for sandwich bags when freezing small portions. That’s right-it’s not a typo! How would you avoid freezer burn you ask? Put those bags in a gallon freezer bag. You will save money on freezer bags which are more expensive and easily be able to pull one serving out at a time without the contents freezing together.
Admittedly most of these aren’t anything new. They really do work if you do them, especially if you do all of them. I used to think some of these things didn’t work for me for whatever reason I came up with at that time. I finally looked in the mirror and admitted it didn’t work because of the person I was looking at!
Habits are so hard to change but if you don’t stick with it and do it, nothing will ever change. So change them and keep more of your change!
Now that the Christmas holiday is complete, there is one very important thing you must do. Go through every gift you received and think about whether you love it or not. If you don’t absolutely love it, get rid of it.
I do this every year and it is such a great feeling. In the end I only have gifts I really love (this also means I have fewer of them).
There is nothing worse that adding “stuff” to your life you will never use. Several years ago, I spent some time cleaning out the closets and making piles of things that had to go. Not surprisingly, some of those items were gifts I had received that I didn’t love. What a waste to have it and never use it. Some I hated, some were just “okay” and others were “well someday I may use this”. Take it from me, you won’t. Get rid of them now.
Once that pile was disposed of, I fell lighter, less cluttered – dare I say less stressed. Maybe it is my age, but I have less desire to keep things I don’t really use. It feels like they are stealing my energy and sapping my strength just for them to be there, or to even have to look at them.
How much money is it costing you to let things hang around you will never use? How much in stress does it cause to move it, store it, trip over it and most importantly, feel guilty for not using it?
You can re-gift those items or better yet, return them to the store they were purchased and get something you really love. Nothing there? Get cash, save it or spend it on an experience with family or friends. Maybe a combination of both; save most of it and go to lunch with a good friend.
Most people who give gifts want the recipient to enjoy them. If you don’t, thank them nicely and just move on with finding something you do. They wouldn’t be offended because they want you to be happy (or they wouldn’t buy you a gift in the first place!)
Add to your New Year’s to-do list a day to clean out your closets and come back and post how many gifts you found (I bet you will find at least six!) I also will predict once they are gone you will feel like you simplified your life, made a good decision and are happier for it!
My earliest memory of money revolves around my mother repeatedly telling me to save my money. I did as she asked because, as with most small children, what your mother tells you is just true. You don’t question what she tells you.
During most of my childhood I kept saving. My mother was so proud of me. She called me her little saver. At some point it was time to spend some of the money. I didn’t want to spend it. I refused. After all, mom said to save it so I struggled to let go.
After a couple of these episodes my mother encouraged me to spend the money. She said there was no point in saving it if I never was going to spend it. So I did what I was told. I spent it.
It’s probably obvious to you now that I grew up quite conflicted about money. Save it or spend it? I could see why it was good to spend it but why save it? We never spoke about why I should save.
This back and forth behavior continued until my early twenties. I took a job that kept me traveling with a group of colleagues early in my career. My colleagues were men in their forties while I was a twenty year old female. Conversations were frequent about money, investments and retirement and piqued my interest. I decided at that point that I needed to learn about money. After all I had nothing to contribute to the conversation without learning about it. Those colleagues did me the biggest favor by having those conversations and getting me interested in the topic.
Fast forward to today and I am a CPA working in private industry as a Finance Director. Along the way I have learned the practical aspects of money: budgeting, saving, insurance, planning, investing and most importantly, putting my history in front of me and accepting how it affects who I am and how I do things today.
My goal with this blog is to share what I have learned with those of you who want to make changes to help improve your money knowledge and put that knowledge into action.
No matter how much knowledge you have, each of us is on a journey in life, including a financial journey. Money touches everything in our lives so how can we not want to improve how we manage it?
I started with my beginning since that shaped how I view money. How did you first learn about money? What is your money story?