Savings. Currently our savings account consists of the 60% we saved from wedding monetary gifts and the entirety of my bank account from my single days. Thankfully, it is more than the $1,000 Dave Ramsey suggests in his "Baby Steps" towards financial peace. It's always a good idea to save, and to have money saved up that could cover 3-6 months of expenses in case of emergencies. You never know when something might happen that requires the need for flexible monetary income. Being smart about saving now can help ease the stress and financial pain it might be to scrounge for money last minute. We're just getting started (Ramsey doesn't call it 'baby steps' for no reason), once we get two-incomes into this family, we'll be trucking right along with our earn-one, bank-one mantra!
Gift cards. Love. them. Love the fact that I can go to a store, shop, and then never pull out cash or my debit card to pay for my shopping trip. I also love gift cards because they sometimes allow me to shop at places that I wouldn't usually shop at. Example: Starbucks. I don't really even enjoy coffee, but when I do, I don't wan to pay an arm and a leg for what I call coffee (others call it caramel frappuccinos). The only thing that sometimes frustrates me about gift cards, though, is that I can never use the exact amount. I'm usually a couple dollars short from spending it all, or a couple dollars over. Overspending your gift card can add up in the long run, so I usually make sure I stay under.
"But Jocelyn", you may ask, "what do you do with the $3.16* you have left over on your card?" Thankfully, I am not the only one in the entire world who has a little money here and there left on a gift card. Someone else along the way got
(For those of you who gave us gift cards: please know that I'm the crazy lady that says "Thank You!" and "cha-CHING" to herself whenever she swipes her gift card at the checkout line. That audible 'thank you' is said in your direction, not to the check-out guy who thinks I'm crazy)
*True story: I once did have $3.16 left over on a card, and immediately thought of Tim Tebow #whatishappeningwithmybrain
Groceries. I moved into our house, which was previously inhabited by a 25-year-old male bachelor, my now husband. What does that mean? 3 bags of Pasta Sides, a pitcher of Tang, a bag of frozen wings, and enough Hot Pockets to last a lifetime - that's what it means. When I asked him about what his food budget had been, he gave me a blank stare then laughed and said "what?!?!?!". I decided that the first time I went to the grocery story, I would not worry about a budget. Instead, I would worry about how to stock my pantry with staples that could make multiple meals with simple ingredients. My favorite things to purchase at the grocery store (especially when they are on sale): pasta, pasta sauce (marinara & pesto), chicken broth, and frozen vegetables. I have made many a meal with those ingredients - pizza, fried rice, casseroles.
Buying in bulk. One of the many gift cards we received was a gift card to Sams Club. We set aside some time one Sunday afternoon after church and made a special grocery shopping trip to Sams (complete with a great slice of pizza and a Nathan's hot dog). What did we buy? Toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, body wash, cereal and chicken breasts (among other things). Two of those items have been pre-approved by Dave Ramsey's 'worth the splurge' list, so that was reassuring. As for the chicken, I portioned them out (2 breasts per ziploc bag), dated the bag, and put it in the freezer. Now we have chicken for meals without having to thaw too many over and over again. (Curious about what things you should buy in bulk? Read more here, here and here!)
This is just a start. People say you have to give yourself 2-3 months to get into the swing of living on a budget/within your budget means. We will update you once we feel like we have some sort of footing in our finances!
What about you? What do you do to save some money? What are some smart things you have done with your money that have paid off big-time? Any shopping tips?