A few weeks ago, one of my favorite fellow-PF bloggers Jessica over at Homeowner By 30! wrote a great post about how she’s really evolving financially. I feel the same way. When I started blogging I was desperately in debt. I stressed out every month about being able to pay all my bills, and I never felt like I would be able to make progress with my finances. I’m not as much of a financial rock star as Jessica, but I’m in a way better place now. My only remaining debt is manageable. My monthly cash flow is plenty to cover my needs and most of my wants. I’m slowly building savings.
In other words, I’ve made progress.
And as I continue to make progress, my favorite money-saving strategies change. Partially this has to do with beefing up my frugal muscles, partially this has to do with what I’m interested in at the moment. So I thought I’d share my favorite money-saving strategies – for right now at least:
1. Buy used
I’m really into buying used right now. Appliances (Craig’s list), clothing (thrift shops and Plato’s Closet), and furniture (also Craig’s list) offer great deals on gently used products. Aside from the money saved, there are other reasons I like buying used. First, there’s the challenge, the “hunt.” It’s fun to seek out just the right item at just the right price. Second, there’s the environmentalist aspect. It’s much more Earth-friendly to buy used than new – and to sell or donate your old stuff as opposed to throwing those items out. Third, I find that by buying used you end up with really unique items. All in all, I’d say buying used is the ultimate win/win.
2. Stack coupons on top of store sales
Holy moly can you save a lot of money buying stuff this way. This strategy takes a bit of effort – I consider it a PF blogger best practice to check the Internet every so often for both coupons and big box store sales to see what matches up, but every so often you can just stumble into an awesome deal. Last weekend I went into Target to get some face wash and decided to check on Lean Cuisine prices. Turns out, they were seriously on sale and I had coupon in my wallet. I ended up getting eight lunches for about $1 each! Also, don’t overlook online promotional codes.
3. Double every recipe you make
I like to cook, but this school year I found myself eating out quite a bit. I was able to identify the reason: I kept coming home from school tired and hungry with nothing prepared. So I decided to do some trouble-shooting. Recently, I’ve been doubling pretty much every dish I make and either freezing the leftovers or keeping them in the fridge for later in the week. That way, I’m guaranteed to have healthy, cheap food on hand for those 14-hour days. Actually, I sort of can’t believe I haven’t been doing this for ages.
This strategy largely connects back to strategy #1, but one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in my 26 years is that almost everything is negotiable. For example, I got 30% and 40% off of my two most recent furniture purchases simply by negotiating with the sellers via email. It never hurts to ask for a price reduction or a waived fee. Like mama says: the worst they can say is no.
What are your favorite money saving strategies of the moment?