In what many consider to be a truly crazy move, I left my paying lawyer job at the age of 40 to go back to school to become a teacher. A giant reason I am able to do this is that my husband remains employed. Still, the lack of income is making me twitchy and so I’ve dialed up my hobby of frugality to a full on habit. And, in the spirit of teaching, I thought I’d share my tips with the greater world, because who doesn’t want to save money?
Tip No. 1 – Go Shopping … in your Closet!
There have been many mornings where I have stood in my closet, dejectedly, thinking that I had nothing to wear. So what do I do in this situation? I go through all of my clothes and 9 times out of 10, I will find something that I forgot I had and really love wearing. Voila! The same holds true for when I finish the laundry and find all my favorites now clean and ready to wear again. This concept also works in other areas of the house. Go through your pantry and figure out what you have and what you need. It is so much easier to not over-shop when you know that you have three bags of rice already at home and you don’t need anymore. I inventoried and organized our garage so well that when my husband insisted that we needed to go out and buy painting supplies, I proudly dragged him over to the drawer that was filled with everything he needed.
Tip No. 2 – Just Say No
Nancy Reagan was on to something. Imagine how much you will save if you don’t spend it in the first place?! Seriously, even if something is on sale, you’re still spending money to buy it. So, how is that savings? I know “#treatyoself” has been popping up in your Twitter and Instagram feeds all. the. time. But think before you treat. I’ve had the perfect pair of jeans capris on my mental shopping list for what seems like several years now, and my default thought is always, I need more. Except, when I look at my closet, I really don’t need more. I have enough. Which leads to Tip No. 3:
Tip No. 3 – It’s Only Savings if You Actually Need the Thing
I love nothing more than finding an item that I actually need that is on sale. Even if it means stock-piling that certain item (hello BOGOs!), I will still buy it if the deal is good enough. If something is on sale and I don’t need it, I don’t get it. The other side of this coin; however, is that even though it is on sale, if it doesn’t meet your needs or isn’t the quality you need, don’t get it. I recently shopped for a home printer and was tempted to go with the cheaper version until some kind, anonymous souls on Amazon.com shouted to the universe that if they could do one good thing, it would be dissuade everyone from buying that particular printer. I ended up spending more on a better printer, and it works like a charm.
Tip No. 4 – Get Paid to Shop
Perhaps the only thing better than saving at the register is getting money back later. Our grocery store of choice offers a rewards program that includes discounts on gas at Shell. For every X amount of dollars spent at the grocery store, you get a certain number of cents off per gallon. You can then get whatever that amount if off per gallon for up to 20 gallons. I filled my SUV’s 17 gallon tank the other day for 73 cents per gallon. I saved $22.44. I also love the shopping app, Ibotta. You get rebates for buying things you would normally buy anyway. I’m up to at least $80 since I started and I get that back via funds in PayPal.
Did you know you can get paid for surveys, too? I have taken surveys before where it was not unheard of to be paid directly in Amazon.com gift cards. These days, I am a member of Ispos I-Say and have earned $20 worth of Amazon.com cards taking surveys. Make your opinion really count (and pay)!
The last bastion of getting paid (albeit for fractions of pennies on the dollar, but still) is having a cash-rewards credit card. We charge a lot of stuff to our card, and one reason is that we are earning cash back each time. Some card companies will even match or increase your money back if you open a savings account with them as well and deposit the money there.
Tip No. 5 – Shop Smart
You’ve decided that there is an item that you do need, and it’s not on sale. What’s a person to do? My next line of defense here is to go the re-sale option. If you don’t mind getting something that’s been gently used and the item you want is available in this condition, there is no shame in spending less for a slightly used version of the thing. I went through an expensive shoe phase a while back but was unable to justify the price tags for the new ones. So, I went to eBay and found the exact same shoes (brand and all) for 50% less than the retail price. Done.
I also love clothes re-sale boutiques. Other than the necessities, I hardly ever buy new clothes anymore. What’s the point when I can spend a fraction on items that still have their tags on them but just had the misfortune of being purchased by someone else first? Clothes re-sale boutiques are not all created equally, but when you find a good one, patronize it often. Even Goodwill and Restore have amazing deals on really good stuff, if you hunt long enough.
Happy saving money!
Elise lives in Mandeville with her Match.com sweetheart Justin and their two littles, Owen (6) and Corinne (3.5). Elise is a native New Orleanian by birth but grew up in the Northeast. She escaped the frozen tundra as soon as she graduated from high school to go to Tulane and then on to Loyola New Orleans School of Law. Elise was a lawyer for 14 years and is now going back to school to become a teacher. Except for a 6+ year hiatus in San Antonio, she’s lived all over the metro area and considers it her home. You can read more about Elise and her family on her personal blog, Krewe du Two.