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S-t-r-e-t-c-h Your $$$ in 2008

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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): S-t-r-e-t-c-h Your $$$ in 2008

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

S-t-r-e-t-c-h Your $$$ in 2008

There's something about a new year that causes you to be motivated...kind of like starting out on a clean slate. I like to start off the year....every year, with a brainstorm of money saving ideas. I add a few new ones every year. It's kind of become a game for me, and the neat thing about it, is that you're saving oodles of money here!

As you start 2008, see if you can implement any of these strategies:

  • Try to stay away from processed foods. Processed foods and ready-made foods carry a higher price tag. You can easily find recipes on line that replicate some of those cream soups, bread coatings, snacks and cookies...just about anything out there. What is the trade off? Obviously....time. But, with that being said, pick one or two expensive processed foods you eat...and cut them out. You'll find you probably won't miss them.
  • Pick one "luxury item" to try to go without this year. Just try it for a year...you may never miss it. Think about stopping cable TV, movie rentals, top-of-the-line phone service or a lawn service are some things you can try.
  • Take your lunch to work and stop buying those sodas, coffees, newspapers and donuts every morning. Do you know about the latte factor? Just cutting that out and bringing your stuff from home could make you a millionaire by retirement...yes, it can.
  • Eat out less. Cutting out one day a week can save you THOUSANDS a year.
  • Before buying something over a set dollar amount, sleep on it. Decide ahead of time what that amount will be...$100, $200 or more?
  • Look at car insurance rates online. When was the last time you checked what you pay for insurance versus what the going rate is online? Many companies and websites allow you to compare coverage.
  • Look at consolidating your car and home insurance if you haven't already. The more you have through one company, the more potential for savings.
  • Stop buying soda and packaged drinks. This alone can save you thousands a year as well, plus you'll instantly lose weight. Try ordering water instead of a soda when you go out. Use the frozen juice cans to make juice. I like to add an extra can or two of water beyond what the directions say. You'll find the juice actually tastes better this way, plus you are stretching out consumption.
  • Go out to the movies 25% less this year. I think you already have an idea of how much you'll save here. Just try to wait for the next great movie to come out on DVD instead.
  • Add another week or two...or three, between hairdressing appointments, pedicures, manicures, spa appointments or whatever. Last year, I saved over $400 by doing this!
  • Compare the latest cell phone plans. I did this two years ago, with my current company. They had a special, and I ended up getting 200 more minutes for $10 less than I was paying before. Just watch your service obligations when you switch. It will increase your contract length, but if you plan to stay put and like your carrier, there is no need to worry about that. There are also online sites where you can swap plans with other people and not incur penalties.
  • Maximize your library visits. Our local library has an amazing collection of DVDs and new bestsellers. You can even go online and put these things on hold...even if the things aren't physically at your library yet and are still on order. I don't mind waiting a month or two for the latest.
  • Before looking to buy furniture, check here.
  • Ask on freecycle for items you are looking to buy. I have a friend in a big city who recently got a free two year old stove, a nice bookshelf and a painting by a well known painter on freecycle.
  • Vow to put 2 items on Ebay this month....or week. Even with the busiest of schedules, this can be accomplished. We all have things around the house we no longer want or need. Stop looking at it or tripping over it. To cut down on packaging costs, I use the free Priority Mail boxes and dumpster dive behind our local gift store. The manager told me to have at it. I also use my USAA discount on FEDEX to ship the heavy stuff.
  • Network and barter. Let your neighbors and friends know what projects you are working on. I've actually gotten free plumbing and yardwork done this way. In exchange, I made up a nice genealogy chart for someone. Everyone has some kind of talent they can barter.
  • It's okay to have some secondhand clothes. My kids have lucked out with older nephews who like the latest styles. I've also found nice dresses, many with the tags still on them, at my local Goodwill. Just take a look and see what they have. Every store is different.
  • Vow to plan ahead this year. Doing things last minute or not at all costs lots of $$$$. Think ahead in your meal planning, errand running, buying trips, bill paying, family trips. I have a small 3x5 planner I carry in my purse. I don't know where I'd be without it.
  • Buy your household staples in bulk. I make a trip every other month to my Costco and get the staples, such as toilet paper, papertowels, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, liquid soap...whatever I am starting to run low on. You'd also be amazed how much less stressful grocery shopping trips become with less stuff to lug around on a weekly basis.
  • Take a look at your bank fees. If you're paying for checking, you need to get with the program and go to another bank. This is a no brainer. Some checking accounts even earn free interest or have free online billpay. You can compare many of the national banks online, but don't forget your local banks, especially your credit unions, which tend to be more economical. Don't forget to check for overdraft protection on your checking account. Our credit union offers it free and the rates are so low when you do use it, plus it gives you peace of mind that you won't ever accidentally bounce a check.
  • If your credit cards have high interest rates, get rid of them. Go pull out your latest statement now. The credit card company can change your rate AT WILL and AT THEIR DISCRETION. You may not even have noticed. They have to provide NO WARNING when they do this. If you carry a balance, this applies to you! Compare rates online and also vow to come up with a plan to pay those balances. Try the debt snowball that Dave Ramsey talks about. Don't pay $300 for a sweater you originally got on sale for $30 because you paid by credit card and then didn't pay off your bill every month! Are you nuts?! It's not worth it!
  • Start building a $1,000 emergency fund now. Take the money you use every week to buy your latte and bagel and set it aside in a savings account. It'll grow faster than you'll realize, plus you won't be in a pinch next time your car breaks down or you need a new stove. This'll also help with the next tip.
  • Increase your insurance deductibles. This will lower your insurance premiums. Think about it. You know yourself and your tendencies. How many accidents and claims have you had the last few years? If it is relatively low, think about how you could've had raised deductibles and socked away the money you would've paid in higher insurance premiums. You see what I'm getting at? No, this is not gambling...it's being cost effective and weighing risks versus benefits. The insurance companies do it...you can do it too at your level.
And that's how I'm going to save money in 2008. What ideas would you like to share? How do you save that extra little something? Are you saving for a short term goal, such as a vacation or are you socking away stuff for retirement or your kids' college. Please share your tips and stories.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Dimes said...

I would recommend that for every raised deductible you have the amount of the deductible in a savings account dedicated primarily for that purpose. It does no good to raise your deductible from $500 to $5000 when you don't even have $1000 to your name.
My other secret is to "procrastinate on wants, act quickly on needs." If the item you're thinking about purchasing is not a necessity, wait before buying it. If it's a need (bald tires, Tylenol), get it quickly before you either have to pay for other auto repairs or have to buy overpriced tylenol at the convenience store.

January 17, 2008 at 12:21 AM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife**** said...

I totally agree that you have to have the amount in savings first. That's why I say start out with a $1k emergency fund...and then work your way up to 3-6 months of living expenses. You can do that pretty quickly by cutting costs in your daily life...I see people do it all the time with Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover.

Thanks again for the good tips!

January 17, 2008 at 1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a very good idea I never thought about, just picking 1:


Pick one "luxury item" to try to go without this year.

January 21, 2008 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife**** said...

Please be sure to stop by and read some more personal finance articles at:

http://www.thedividendguyblog.com/carnival-of-personal-finance-137-the-passion-edition/

January 28, 2008 at 2:19 PM  

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