Saturday, November 11, 2017

Picking Low Hanging Fruit on the Money Tree

2017 will be a memory in just 8 weeks. I had zealous financial savings goals-stretch goals that were as stretchy as silly putty. While I won't get there in full, I know the goal helped me focus better before whipping out the plastic or swinging into the drive up ATM line at the bank. The goal pushed me to think about when spending money was necessary, and if not necessary, would the purchase or use improve the quality of life. Did I always successfully use that lens? Absolutely not.Credit card receipts showing fast food meals, Target sprees with bits of nonsense (because of those darn clearance racks and shelves that lure me in) and some months too much eating out is evidence of that.

Still, like just about anything in life, I succeeded with the 80-20 rule. 80% of the time I made good financial decisions; room to improve is in the 20%. A few changes made this last year have been ingrained now in my habits. None have decreased my quality of life. Some are old habits I did when we first were married and the kids were young out of financial necessity. Left by the wayside when money was more at hand, I've picked up again these good for my wallet habits in order to deploy more funds elsewhere.There is no such thing as a money tree, but, there are some areas of savings that have been low hanging fruit.
  • Checking thrift stores for needed items such as replacement work clothes. Since I have been working on losing weight, it doesn't make sense to spend gads of money on new clothes that hopefully will just be a stop gap. Plus, I've found some really terrific basic pieces that even with my minimal sewing skills, I can take in a bit if I am so fortunate to drop another size and wear even longer.
  • Decreasing my grocery shopping budget on pantry basics, primarily by switching to more regular shopping at Aldi's. Basic long grain rice is rice, the kids at the lake don't devour bags and boxes of $4.00 Dorito's and name brand cereal any slower than store brands. Canned goods such as vegetables, tomatoes, and beans are almost always 30-50% less and no one has pointed out any difference to me.
  • Increased non-meat based meals. Meatless chili, vegetable pasta's and soups, and spicy curries are part of the regular meal rotation and make large quantities for perfect leftover lunches.
  • Using a gas coupon or membership card discount when filling up. In my family, a 5 cents per gallon, which is a low coupon amount, saves $60 a year. Not astronomical, but would a person burn three twenty dollar bills?
  • Delicate wash and hang/line dry clothes labeled as dry clean. With the exception of coats, I don't recall the last item I had dry cleaned. Even hubs suits, worn perhaps twice a year, are cleaned this way and he looked pretty spiffy.
  • Packing snacks and filling our own water bottles for car trips. So basic it is dumb that I got out of this habit.
  • Making do without-particularly anything gadgety. I have several one use Charlie things-sandwich and omelette makers, melon ballers, cheese knifes, mostly given as gifts over the years. Mostly these items go unused, so for sure I am not going to put any money towards something if I already have items that will give me the same or near results.
  • Taking advantage of community events and spaces for low cost or free entertainment such as movies in the park, school plays and concerts, community theater, and state and regional parks. Our favorite Friday night activity this summer was long walks on the river front. Tonight for the princely sum of $8.00, we'll buy two tickets for the high school play, and DD2 is not even in it. 
I'm going to set aggressive goals for 2018 as well in the savings department. We have a trip of a lifetime to plan and pay for. College applications and testing do not come cheap. Mid term, college, and long term, retirement, piggy's need to be fed. In many ways, as we are both probably in our last decade of earning, DH closer than me, it is as important now as when we were just starting out to always pick the low hanging fruit. What recent changes to your spending patterns have you made that have had no impact on your life quality? Who has ideas on where else I can chisel away at our spending without impacting the good things?

 

8 comments:

  1. Two things new this year I started doing was using apps to figure out where the best grocery savings were at stores near me for items on my list (works best with higher ticket items like butter). The app I use is Flipp and I loaded it on my iphone so take it everywhere with me. Most of the time the cheapest store I shop at has the lowest items but once in a while the expensive store where I buy meat on discount (stickered) has great loss leaders. I still look at the fliers but that takes more time.

    The other thing I started doing is when I do online shopping of any kind whether booking a hotel, ordering supplies for our job or shopping for myself I use the ebates app. I dont do very much online shopping at all frankly as mostly buy used clothes at the thrift store but have still managed to get $45 in rebate checks the last few months and have another $10 in there for the next round of checks (quarterly). You should check it out in case you haven't already, no tricks, they really do just issue you a check

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a bit of a troglodyte when it comes to apps particularly on my phone as I have a small bit of memory.I really should look into the e-bates more.

      Delete
  2. Ll of those changes are great and you will really see the cumulative difference over time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ON groceries, I have noticed a lot. I know we were close to 500 regularly and now more around $400 on average, plus, I have been buying more fresh fruit and vegetable so quality of our diet has been better. #1,000 a year savings will be huge if diverted towards savings as it means less to draw down on our retirement account in the future, earning more in those accounts.

      Delete
  3. It seems to me you are hitting all the major savings. I know we could all live austere lives and save much more, but I need a little fun factored into my days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the thing about the low hanging stuff-it doesn't feel like I am being austere with spending. Other than my close friends and some family members, and of course all of you, no one probably is aware of my boot tightening.

      Delete
  4. I am going to do M'turks, and tonight I loaded Walmart price catcher app. I think I already shop the cheapest I can for food. I am freezing and saving money on heat because my heater is covered up and the guy who is going to help me has not. brrrr

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Be careful though that you aren't saving money on heat then getting sick. The savings is not worth your health.

      Delete

Join the conversation. Your respectful comments are welcome. Spam and advertising products or services without permission will be deleted, as will anything deemed hurtful to others. A change, I moderate comments older than three days to be sure I read them all and stay ahead of the spam. If you're a blogger, feel free to include your blog URL.