Thursday, October 16, 2008

Blog Action Day Follow-Up: Stretch Those Dollars!

How NAH & I squirrel away a few cents when we can:

We joined Netflix (and with the rate things go to DVD, there really isn’t a time lag of more than two months anymore). If we see a movie in the theaters every couple of months, it’s a big deal. Netflix is approximately $18 for their 3-at-a-time movie subscription. We keep a running list of movies we want to see, and probably watch 5 a month. That’d be 5 x $5 at Blockbuster (with no late fees assumed), which would be $25. A Saturday night movie in the theater is a minimum of $17 and that’s before the popcorn. Insanity! Just say no.

I’ve recently returned to a money-saving technique I employed right after we were married. I use the sale circular for the supermarket to plan my meals ahead of time. I had stopped in the past year, simply purchasing proteins, grains and vegetables and figuring it all out when I got home. I’m now saving $20 a week on average just by sticking to my list.

Use coupons. It doesn’t make you old. It doesn’t make you cheap. It doesn’t mean you’re adhering to any stereotype. It means you’re smart. Case closed.

SEND in your rebates, and when that check comes in, no matter how much it is for, put it straight into your savings account. It was already spent, it was months ago, and it will serve you better earning a small amount of interest.

Make your own damn coffee. Every advice column in every magazine says the first way to save money is to bring your coffee from home. Saving $2 (conservative estimate, I know) a day, 5 days a week, is a monthly savings of $40, and a yearly savings of $480. If more than one member of your household purchases coffee every day, you can double or triple that savings. If you drink one of those Starbucks candy bar concoctions several times a week, you should be ashamed of yourselves for several reasons. 1 – it’s bad for you. 2 – it’s expensive. 3 – THAT’S NOT COFFEE (whip cream, caramel sauce, and flavored syrups are DESSERT) !!!!! Cut these out and save calories and money.

While we’re on the topic of make your own, make your own damn lunch. As a former teacher, I brown bag every day. I always have. NAH does now, too. I’m not saying we never ever go out to lunch, but $5 once or twice a month is FAR better than $5 a day, every day (yes, I know, conservative estimate again). $25 a week, at $100 a month, is $1200 per year! I showed the math on this to a coworker last year. She saved $700 last year by simply bringing her lunch.

Buy generic when you can. NAH has introduced me to this. We both have a list of things we won’t compromise on (admittedly, mine is a bit longer because of my allergies), but I’ve learned that supermarket cotton swabs work just as well as Q-Tips. I can’t taste the difference between supermarket apple juice or pretzels, etc. Suave shampoo works as well as, if not better than, Pantene. It is amazing what you can learn by trial and error.

Make a budget. Stick to it as best you can. Differentiate between needs and wants. Good luck!

Your Allergic Diner

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

NAH here. Another good tip: don't be afraid to buy cheaper booze, even if it smells (and tastes) like gasoline. After all, if you are drinking merely because it tastes good, you don't really need it to begin with!