We are a couple of weeks into 2016 and I’m sure you have probably cried a few times adding up exactly how much you spent during the holidays. Right now, you are promising yourself that this won’t happen again and you’ll be ready next time. You vow that you will save money throughout the year. You will be ready come holiday season!! Well, saving money isn’t always easy but it is possible, all it takes it some planning and will to get it done. Following these steps, we were able to save money to pay for holiday gifts and take an end of the year vacation. Want to know how? Just try a couple of these money saving tips for 2016:
- Create a budget. Creating a budget isn’t exactly the funnest thing to do but it is super important in trying to figure out where the savings will come from. Take a weekend afternoon, gather your bills and pay stubs and make a list. List everything you spend money on monthly. Study this list, know where your hard earned money is going. Once you see how much money you are spending, you can start cutting down expenses. For example: instead of eating out every week, how about every other week or once a month?
- Meal planning. Meal planning has helped immensely. We started meal planning at the beginning of 2015 and we were able to feed a family of 5, three meals a day, for about $120 a week. Before this, I would spend anywhere between $150-$250 a week at the grocery store.
- Create a savings plan. What do you want to save money for? Vacation? Home purchase? Remodel? Write it down and then figure out how much you want to save. We save for 2 big family vacations a year so at the beginning of the year, I price my trips, print out a picture of the location, put it up on our fridge and start saving. Motivation people!!
- Start a vacation fund. Grab a container and label it vacation fund. Every week, add $20 to the container. In 52 weeks, you will have saved $1040.00! That might not cover a whole vacation but it does help! If you can add a little more, just slip it in there and forget about it. A little extra never hurts!
- Buy in bulk, if possible. Buying in bulk helps families immensely. The big warehouse stores offer incredible savings on everyday items and most of them accept coupons. For example: my kids love to eat yogurt. I go to the warehouse store and buy yogurt in bulk, saving 18% over purchasing individual cups.
- Pack lunches. I pack a lunch for my husband and me everyday. Once I realized that I was spending about $8 for lunch and he was spending about $10 for lunch everyday, I freaked out. $20 a day for food that we could bring from home? No way! $100 a week for 48 weeks = $4800 that we can save in one year by packing lunches!!
- Lower your electric bills. By turning the thermostat down 15 degrees for 8 hours a day, the average family saves 15% a year according to the Department of Energy. That 15% savings adds up to almost $100 a year! Unplug your electronics when not in use. Ever heard of “vampire” appliances? Vampire appliances are the electronics that are plugged in when not in use. Your kids tablets? toys? toaster? All those are sucking electricity while plugged into the wall. Unplug them and you can save 10% on your electric bill annually!
- Start a penny collection jar. Don’t throw those pennies away. Those suckers are way more valuable than you think! Try the 365 day Penny Challenge. In a jar, add $0.01 on Day 1, $0.02 on Day 2, $1.00 on Day 100 and so on. If you start on January 1st, you will have saved $667.95 by December 31st!! All from pennies!
- Use cash when shopping. For most people it’s harder to spend cash than it is to swipe your card. We have a set amount of cash each week that we use for grocery shopping, eating out and blowing money. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. I know exactly how much we have spent.
- Shop sales. My husband makes fun of me because I always shop with a coupon. If it’s not on sale, I am not buying. I have subscribed to all my favorite stores newsletters and take advantage when they email me coupons and free shipping offers. This has saved my family lots of money on clothes for children that never seem to stop growing!
I follow these 10 savings tips, along with incorporating a no-spend month, every year. I have been able to save money to take 2-3 family vacations a year. I am not an expert, just your average mom on a mission to have fun and save some money along the way!