March 6, 2019

Realistic Steps We've Made To Improve Our Finances

I'm coming to you today with some tips...while they aren't ground-breaking and you may have some of them in place already, I always find it beneficial to read about ways to save money. Who doesn't want to do that?!
Photo by Katie Harp - Pinterest Manager on Unsplash
1. Starbucks is a treat. Repeat after me, you do not need Starbucks every day. Coffee at home may not be quite as good, but it gets the job done. Once I started treating Starbucks as a once in a while type of thing I noticed a change in our bank account. I am a little embarrassed to say that some weeks I was spending $40 on coffee. Now that I know Starbucks visits are a special treat and not an everyday habit I think about the whole situation differently and am thinking about what else I can save on. What is it that you're spending extra money on that you can eliminate?

2. Visit Dollar Tree & Aldi's more often. I used to be ashamed of shopping at the dollar store and discount places like Aldi's...I think because I believed you were only supposed to shop there if you were cheap, but there's nothing to be embarrassed about here. The Dollar Tree is an amazing place to get SO many household items- ziploc bags, mailing supplies, gift bags, snacks, toothpaste...the list goes on and on. While there are some things I definitely don't recommend- the garbage bags do NOT hold up, and some of the beauty items do not contain the best ingredients...there is so much you can buy at a huge discount there. Think tape, batteries, nail polish remover, cotton balls...these things add up quickly at Target or Wal-Mart, but at the Dollar Tree it's allllll $1 !!!! This leads me to my next wonderful place- Aldi's. Aldi's has been my go-to lately and here's why- the everyday things you need and use can be found here for a much cheaper price than your local grocery store. Last week I came home with 6 or 7 bags and 3 gallons of milk for under $70. Usually 6 or 7 bags somewhere else will run me well over $100. Things like oats for energy balls, oyster crackers for soup, vanilla extract...more basic items are SO much cheaper. I purchased a bag of oyster crackers for 69 cents. Things that are great to have on hand for nights that we don't feel like cooking we keep a bag of frozen fries around, and can you believe I only paid 89 cents?! Insanely cheap! Also, fresh fruits and veggies are a much better deal here than any other store- I've still yet to find something better elsewhere! It's rare that I can't get everything on my list at Aldi's, but it does happen so it sometimes requires an extra stop- but usually that's right down the road which isn't bad at all for the savings.

3. Planning out time to meal prep. I'm awful about eating breakfast. I either don't eat at all or will grab a breakfast sandwich at our work cafe, and while it doesn't seem like a lot at the adds up. 75 cents here and there for a bag of chips totals too much, and too fast. In addition to prepping these things like breakfasts and snacks, I'm trying to be healthier so egg bites and protein energy bites are a few things that I've found to make that are easy, quick and taste good too. I block out 45 minutes- 1 hour each weekend now to make a few things that will last me through the week instead of spending money at work or not treating my body right with bad snacks.

4. Clean out the closets and make extra money. I went through mine and Bella's closets recently and did a deep dive on what I don't wear anymore. It was easier for the baby who's simply moved up in size and isn't wearing certain things anymore. In the past I've taken some items to a local consignment store to re-sell and have earned some pocket money, but the return on what I've initially spent for clothes still in great condition hasn't paid off. I've tried selling on Poshmark recently and it's been well worth the time. To initially take photos and post items it took about 45 minutes, but I've already made over $60 on a few sales and it's really painless. If you take the time to go through your current items and see what you haven't worn in a few seasons or what you never pick up it will teach you a lot about how to spend your money going forward...which leads me to my next tip. Blogging helps bring in money to maintain my website, but at times it also helps pay for additional expenses- like Bella's first birthday party. Not everyone has a hobby that makes them extra money to put in the bank, but maybe cleaning out the closets or having a Spring garage sale will help.

5. If I'm not 1000% in love with it, I'm not buying it. Getting rid of unused things makes you realize you don't need as much STUFF. We've been on a mission to clean our home of things we simply don't use anymore. At Christmas time when I pulled decor out, there was a handful of things I either donated or tossed simply because we didn't have a home for it anymore. One thing I've noticed is that I have fallen out of love with some of these items rather quickly. This has made me realize that you don't need to fill a home with THINGS, you just need the memories. Not to sound corny, but if you're spending time moving things around trying to find the best fit or don't pull it out every season- it's probably not worth the money you spent on the items.

6. Make smarter purchases with your money. Make staple purchases ahead of time, during off season sales. While going through my closets I wrote down some classic staple pieces that were either worn, or that I'm in need of. For example, I want a long camel colored coat and need to replace my black trench coat. These are things I notated in my phone where I keep lists and can look for sales as the season change. Prices are extremely high most of the time for coats and shoes, and you can score good deals in the off season. For Bella, I take advantage of sales and buy ahead in sizes for next season. Gymboree is closing, so over the weekend I popped in and bought her 4 basic tops for this fall and next winter for only $9! I keep an eye on things she needs and don't just buy because there's a sale...only if it's something she will wear all the time. It's important to not justify buying something because it was simply on's better to take inventory of what is actually needed and only go forward with the purchase if it makes sense financially. I went from working somewhere that I only wore black every day to a business casual office setting with days I occasionally have to dress more business professional. This does not mean that I need a shopping spree, becoming more intentional and smarter with purchases it what helps financially.

I hope these tips help you think about things you can do to improve your budget or help save a few additional dollars here and there. What tips do you have for saving money or cutting back?

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