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Most people would like to save money for one reason or another. None of us want to be dependent on a job for the rest of our lives so saving is a primary life goal. THIS IS EASIER SAID THAN DONE. Money is gone faster than snacks in my pantry with 4 kids over summer break. Sound relatable? Keep reading to learn how we’ve been able to save money using a monthly budget (which I share with you for free!) and owning my spending habits.
Money is gone faster than snacks in my pantry with 4 kids over summer break.Me, I SAID IT
Because we started our family at such a young age, I have been practicing saving money and getting deals for over a decade. I’m going to share with you 5 ways I stay on budget and keep a nice cushion in the bank.
FYI – I am continuing to use these techniques even now into my thirties. Trust me, they are insanely easy and they work.
1. CREATING A BUDGET
Creating a budget is easily the number one way I ensure our family puts money into savings every month. It may sound intimating but trust me, you can do it. Once you have a clear view of where your money is going every month, you can adjust your lifestyle to reach your goals. I’ve created a freebie download that you can use to get started! CLICK HERE to start taking control. The download has formula’s built in to calculate everything for you. All you need to do is enter your salary, list out your bills and go from there.
2. MEAL PLANNING & ORDERING GROCERIES ONLINE
I feel like most people would be utterly surprised at how much money they spend on food. It’s insane. Really. To avoid over spending, I started creating meal plans and then grocery shopping based off of what we would need. Add in curbside pickup from retailers such as Aldi, Kroger and Walmart and you are in complete control. It’s as easy as creating your meal plan, listing out everything you need to purchase and ordering it all online.
How many of you have gone to check out at the grocery store only to be completely blown away at how much money you’ve spent? I’ve been there a ton of times. Now, I add everything to my cart online and can see my total before bringing anything home. Saving money on groceries is a great way to cut down expenses.
HINT: If you find that you’re still going over budget, try adding meatless days into your meal planning (great for your health and budget) or try switching to store brands. After working for a Midwest grocery chain for 4 years I can tell you that most of the time store brands are made almost identical to national brand food items.
3. RAKUTEN & IBOTTA & FETCH
Okay, these apps are my BFF’s. Seriously. Money back on things I’m purchasing anyways? DONE. Let me break it down for you.
RAKUTEN – Formerly know as Ebates, Rakuten is a website you can join which gives you money back on online shopping. This doesn’t really apply to groceries but does apply to almost everything else. You activate cash back through the website and 4 times a year Rakuten will send you a big fat check. This is extra money you can put towards bills, into savings or just to treat yourself! To learn more about Rakuten check out my post going into detail about how I earned $117 in 2 months from Rakuten. You can also click here to sign up and receive free money in your account as a gift. Right now the sign up gift through referral is $30! This changes often so check it out today!
IBOTTA – This app is hit or miss for me but I still use it after every grocery shopping trip. You can go into Ibotta and clip rewards for items you plan to purchase or have purchased. From there, you take pictures of your receipt and Ibotta will give you cash back on certain items. Once you reach $20 cash back you can have transferred to your bank account! Click here to try Ibotta today. Click here to sign up
I recently discovered you can also use this site for cashback on online purchases as well!
FETCH – Fetch is the latest cashback app I’ve been using. I honestly enjoy this more than Ibotta because there is no clipping required. You upload images of a receipt and receive points for grocery store purchases! I have used this cashback for gift cards that can be used on Amazon. There are a ton more options but I’m always ordering items from Amazon so it’s nice to just use it there. Click here to Sign Up!
4. CHARGE EVERYTHING TO MY CREDIT CARD & PAY OFF AT END OF MONTH
This one is probably an eyebrow raiser. How do I save money monthly by charging everything to my credit card? I’ll tell you!
First of all, this method will only work if you are able to pay your credit card off monthly. I charge everything that I can to my credit card and on the first of every month I completely pay the credit card off. My reason for this is rewards! Our credit card service lets us accumulate points for things we charge which we can redeem for cash, gift cards or items. I ALWAYS redeem these points for cash. I have a separate savings account I put this reward money into which accumulates through the year and I then use the money for Christmas! Not rocket science but it makes a difference. We are halfway through the year and I already have a $350 balance in our Christmas account.
My point here is that you can work credit cards so that they are only beneficial to you. Now, if you are someone who gets carried away easily by charging I do not recommend using this method as you’ll exceed your monthly income and won’t be able to save. If that’s the case, using physical money may be the best bet for you.
5. MANAGING MY INFLUENCES
Digital marketing literally surrounds us today. Whether it’s weekly emails sent to your inbox, pages you follow on Facebook & Instagram or advertisements on websites you visit. It’s everywhere. Not all of these are bad, but some definitely are. I found that eliminating some of these influences helped me reduce my urge to spend.
How can you take control? Fairly easily! Lets start with email. You know the ones you religiously delete weekly (sometimes daily) in your inbox? Set an hour aside to go through your email and unsubscribe to businesses you are done with. While it’s great to know about sales, sometimes its just too much and you end up overspending. Let’s go down that rabbit hole. You open an email from your favorite clothing store, you see a graphic tee you want, you add it to your bag and realize if you only spend $32 more, you get free shipping! Shipping is $5 so you’d much rather spend $32 more on yourself to “save” that $5 🙂
While this is fine time to time, it really adds up if you don’t have the income to match. Unsubscribing leaves that cute shirt out of sight and out of mind and here you are with your $50 in your bank account still.
SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT
Similar situation for social media. Majority of the accounts I see on Instagram are small businesses and influencers. I love seeing this accounts so I can support small businesses and find inspiration but I let it stop there. I have followed multiple businesses and influencers because they were making me feel like I couldn’t keep up with trends. Its the weird unspoken feeling of being less of a mom because I don’t spend $500 to celebrate every holiday (even though I’d love to!). You don’t need that pressure in your life so if you find yourself getting anxiety or feeling guilty that you use candles in your home rather than paying $300 for essential oils, it’s time to unfollow those accounts.
BEFORE YOU GO
I feel it’s important to share this information because tracking our money has given us financial freedom to be in control of our lives. Other than our mortgage, we are a debt free family. We make it a priority to pay off bills (cars, child birth, credit cards, etc.) and keep our debt balances at zero.
We’ve also learned to say no. That sounds crazy but accepting every invitation from your friends to go out adds up quick. We have been making major purchases lately since we’re furnishing our new home which has made budgeting even harder. To help cut our spending, we’ve said no to dinner requests with friends as well as expensive day trips. Don’t get me wrong, you need to live your life while you’re alive but it’s okay to be choosey about where you decide to splurge. Do you want to take your family out charter fishing for great memories or go out and drop $150 on dinner?
I hope this helps you get started towards reaching your goals! Leave a comment below to let me know how your first month turns out!