Monday, January 16, 2012

How to REALLY Save $5,000 a Year

Often times I find myself scouring money and financial articles online to find those places 'to save $5,000 a year without pain'.  I have done this for years.  Even prior to our current financial dilemma.  I have discovered over the past several years of reading... the people who write these articles, apparently live much more pampered lives than I. 

Purchase Dryelle rather than taking your clothes to your favorite cleaners...  Really?  Because I don't even spend the money on Dryelle.  It goes in the washer and I hope for the best.

Make your coffee at home rather than hitting your local Starbucks in the morning.  Okay, please.... would I ever think to spend $6.00 on a designer coffee?  Hardly.  It's made at home and put in a to-go mug daily.

Limit your spa, manicure, pedicure... whatnot's to one trip a month rather than weekly.  Huh, I thought everyone soaked their feet in the tub with their kids before painting their own piggies... and the piggies of three boys that are hidden from their father as soon as we're finished.

Cut your gym membership or eliminate it all together - instead work out at home.  HA!  Who can afford a gym membership???????  And if you have one, who has time?

There are more items to these lists of nonsense but nothing ever very helpful.  Often when I read these lists I am disgusted that the authors of these lists are never giving helpful advise on where to trim the money from.  The lists they write are not conducive to working, middle class households with children.  Instead I feel they are more geared towards people who are living a much more pampered lifestyle than I do, because even in our financially best years, spa treatments and dry cleaning still seemed to be luxuries to me.

Instead I thought I would share some good tips for saving a few bucks.  $5,000 a year, probably not.  But any savings is helpful.

1.  Review your insurance policies! 

This is a great starting point to look for some savings.  Auto and home insurance are a monthly killer in our household.  Just when our car insurance rates had finally fallen, my husband was in a car accident to the tune of a 50% increase!  And home insurance has doubled for us this past year with the addition of a second house to insure as we had tried to sell our old home.  Search around online.  Almost every large carrier will give you an online quote.  All it takes is a little time and effort.  A $150 a month auto policy can be purchased with another carrier for $101!  Bundle home and auto together for additional savings. 

Who may have had the best rate a year ago, does not necessarily have the best rate now.

Our annual household savings... $700 a year.

2.  Meal Plan!

This may seem like a silly way to find some extra savings but at our house, lack of meal planning is a horrible drain.  After a long day of work, deciding last minute what is for dinner is only a short jump away from taking the family out to eat rather than put the effort into finding and cooking a meal. 

Our annual household savings for a family of 5.... approximately $2,600.  Obviously, we will still eat out on occasion - this is based on our normal one night a week of not knowing 'what's for dinner'.  On average, that is how many nights we were skipping out for dinner.

3.  Stock the freezer!

This also may seem a little silly but it ties in with #2.  If there is a healthy supply of food in the freezer you are less likely to decide to eat out.  Not only are there savings in not eating out, but if you check with your local grocer, there are savings to be had buying a case of chicken or a box of beef. 

I purchase cases of chicken for $.69 a pound vs $1.29 out of the case.  A box of beef or pork that will last us several months is a savings of about $25 - $40 per box that will last us about 3 months each.

Average savings for my family... Approximately $260 a year by buying in bulk and the above mentioned money we were spending eating out by not having the food right in our house.

4.  Look over your un-necessary utilities and all of the statements.  Check for errors and see what you can do without.

Our cell phone bill still carried my dad's phone that I had called and requested be disconnected months ago.

Our Netflix movies have been sitting on top of the DVD player for months.  Actually, I believe we moved them with us 8 months ago.  We stream everything so there is really no need for us to have the DVD plan.

We currently have a bundle for our home phone, internet and cable that prevents any changes to these because of our contract.

Average savings for my family for a year...  $215

5.  Share weekend baby sitting duties with a friend.

My husband and I don't often venture out for nights alone but when we do, a baby sitter for an evening is an added expense.  Rather than pay a sitter for the evening, we try and trade off with some people we know.  Keep in mind... not many people are crazy enough to agree to take your three children and you will have to agree to take their 3 or more at a later date... even when you really don't feel like it.

Average savings for my family for the year.... $300

6.  Stay out of big box stores!

This again seems silly but for my family, if we so much as walk in the door I should have lit a hundred dollar bill on fire with the nonsense that will be brought home.  I instead opt to only buy local.  You might think this is more expensive, but in fact I find this to be the most cost effective way for my family to shop.  Without additional toys that no one needs, yet another pack of socks for my husband or who knows what else ending up in my cart; spending more on some items actually ends up to be a savings in the long run.

Average savings for my family for a year... $1,200 - based on one trip a month with approximately $100 in excess crap (1 toy for each child - $60 and $40 in nonsense between my husband and myself.)

7.  Look at any memberships you might have and see what you can do without.

Okay, we don't have gym memberships.  Instead we have a home gym of items purchased off of Craigslist or Ebay.  But... we did have a membership for Samm's Club like so many others.  It was something my husband got all excited about and had to have when his work put the enrollement out.  While shopping in such bulk might work for some people, spending $300 and coming out with 5 things makes me want to puke.  It doesn't work for me.  I am not a good bulk shopper to this degree.  The upfront expense it too much for me to take, because no matter how many thousands of granola bars there are in that box, I still see one box... that happens to be full of more granola bars than we would ever eat in a year no less.  Not to mention, I have never walked in the door enough to constitute the $40 a year memebership.  (Odd that I agreed to this with my severe distain of Wal-Mart)

One cancelled Samm's Club membership... $40 annual savings and the bonus of realligning of my moral compas.

8.  Find savings in your nessesary monthly utilities.

Okay, when I say nessesary monthly utilities I am referring to electric, gas and water.  The things you really need in your house.  Not the cable bill.

This may not be appealing to everyone because it takes some adjustment and some serious work. 

See if you can lower the thermostat just one more degree.  Because if your like me, it's already only 65 in your home in the winter.  But, 64 vs 65... it's not that much lower right?  Your already freezing your family out on a regular basis so the chance of them noticing one more degree... not high.

Hang out your laundry.  This is teadious and takes a lot of work but for about 8 months out of the year my dryer is only ran once a week for a load of socks.  This is a drastic savings on my electric bill that is noticiable imediately. 

Shut off the lights!  Okay, this is obvious but to a house with many small children... this is a feat.  I try to run upstairs every hour to follow behind my children and shut off every light in the upstairs.  Becuase they seriously turn on every light in the entire upstairs at night... EVERY light.

Average savings for my family on utility bills... $360 per year.

Huh, look at that... I did come up with $5,000 in saving tips. 

1 comment:

  1. You know, as much as I hate the whole Walmart empire... I *do* own a membership to Sams and it is actually beneficial for me based upon the purchase of ONE thing. My daily zyrtec pill I take for my allergies - If I bought name brand it would cost about 24 bucks for 24 pills. If I buy generic at walmart, it costs 10 bucks for 24 pills... if I buy generic at Sams.... Are you ready for this? It costs 19 bucks for 360 pills.
    I save the membership costs with that one purchase alone. My allergist clued me in on that little gem.

    Great list though, and I agree... who has a weekly spa treatment? And can I be friends with one of these people?