Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tricks of the Save

Ok so saving money tricks is one of my favorite topics! I talk a lot about it lately with other women and of course with my husband as we have now celebrated the accomplishment of 8 years of HARD and focused work!

8 years ago, my husband & I took financial counseling at Saddleback in Orange County when we were first married. We started our marriage with over a combined $80k in debt from from both college & business loans that we were locked in to but that we wanted to be free of to achieve our goals. 

Our family goals included 
1. Buying a home
2. Traveling
3. When we had kids, that I could be a stay at home mom

In the early years, my husband made about $15 and hour and I made $13. We were living on the pennies left over from car payments, student loan payments, and business credit card debt. In our first apartment, we had all hand-me-down furniture that included a lovely set of christmas colored chairs & an ornate glass dining table. We didn't have a couch or living room furniture aside from a television that didn't even have cable and an ikea coffee table. But in it's own right, it was the magic of starting off.

So, we pursued change!

Between the financial tools that Saddleback gave us together & the classes Christan took with the Dave Ramsey plan, we kicked out all debt about four years ago. That makes it sound easy, but it wasn't. It included
PAYING a car dealership to take back one of our cars, carpooling, doubling up credit card payments, doubling up student loan payments, knocking out debt one debt at a time until 1 year ago we were entirely debt free. It included other sacrifices like not having cable {which we still don't have}.

If we HADN'T done this, two years ago when we BOTH lost our jobs we would have lost our home. As it was, we had no car payments and no pending debt we owed on. We had an emergency savings account we had poured into at Dave Ramsey's teaching and it "paid" for one of the hardest years of our life where we DID have to sell our home and move out of state to find work. However, today, after just celebrating a year of employment we have accomplished remaining DEBT FREE, buying a new home, and owning two new cars. It's HUGE for us. 

How do we do it now?

-We are on a cash only system. With each pay period I pull out our cash for things like Groceries, Gas, Clothes, Dates, Babysitting & Gifts. I have all of our cash organized in a coupon filer. When the cash is gone, we don't spend. 

-We have an amazing budgeting tool we were gifted from Saddleback that we use to help us figure out where the money goes and how much we have for the necessities as well as the fun. 

-We have a spreadsheet that shows which bills fall into which pay period so I know exactly what goes out and when it goes out by week. 

Other Savings Tricks

Every morning I do 3 things:
1. Load coupons to my Freddy's card. The coupons I load to my grocery shopping rewards card are automatically deducted at check out + they let me print my coupon/shopping list to help.

2. Check couponpro 

​3. Check groupon & living social for family activities & restaurant deals  (the reality is we WILL use them at some point and we LOVE adventure so we budget for it and pre-plan for it. My motto is without a plan both time and money are wasted)

I also....
1. Do a lot of online shopping in order to save! I use ebates to shop because they give me quarterly cash back kick backs for just linking my shopping through them & retailmenot to always check from promo codes before I check out.

2. Use my YELP app wherever I go! There are often check in incentives like a free drink, 10% off, etc.

3. Use Target's Cartwheel App + the Shopkick app when I'm at Target because I save a lot

4. I always plan ahead - if something is one sale and I know we use it, I buy it {clothes, gift cards through Freddys, cleaning supplies}. I keep a back stock so nothing is ever an urgent purchase.

5. I recycle. We often have soda cans and water bottles in stock so as we drink I save them and I take them to Costco or the local grocery store to recycle. It's worth the couple dollars I get back from that for me me to put towards my groceries.

6. I Christmas shop & Birthday shop all year long. I keep the gifts in my closet so it spreads out the financial "burden" of gifting {which I love to give gifts}

In the end
Saving is a way of life for me. 
I value it & it IS my job. 
My husband has asked me to track how much I save and when I save so we can truly understand the income I currently make with the hard work that goes into PLANNING, RESEARCH, & SAVING.

I am tremendously GRATEFUL that we have taken the lessons we learned early on seriously. There were times we felt desolate and utterly discouraged as we looked at other people and what they had. What we have experienced in the last year as a result of YEARS working to better our financial situation, however, is irreplaceable. I don't see what we don't have. I see what we DO.
We live on one income, I am home with my kids, we LIVE life & I LOVE that! It's worth all my time learning and saving.

What are some of your tricks??

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