What are your smart money saving tips?

posted 2 years ago in Money
Post # 2
5160 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: April 2013

KatiePi:  my biggest tip for savings money is to focus on your “Big Three.”  That means, figure out what your top three spending categories are (ideally, by tracking your spending) and then work to minimize your expense in those areas.  It makes a HUGE differnce and results in so much breathing room in your budget.  HOwever, sicne your big three are usually 1) Housing, 2) Transportation, and 3) Food, it requires some pretty big decisions to get on the right track.

Basically, I’m talking buying or renting a smaller, less expensive home; owning fewer and less expensive cars, driving minimally; avoiding going out to eat and grocery shopping efficiently.

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by  .
Post # 3
3777 posts
Honey bee

Commenting to follow 🙂 Looking forward to hearing some tips!

Post # 4
2064 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

KatiePi:  I’d suggest giving up cable. You can get the basic networks for free and with things like Roku you can stream through Netflix, hulu plus, amazon, etc for a fraction of what your monthly cable bill would be. You can easily save $100+/mo. We haven’t had cable in over 3 years and I find more and more people I talk to who have also given it up. The money isn’t an issue for us per se, but we don’t like to waste it and this was an easy sacrifice that we don’t really even miss anymore. 

Post # 6
2894 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

KatiePi: counterintuitive but I actually put everything I can on my credit card. I pay it off in full each month so no interest payments (same as cash) and I enjoy the consumer protections & points. 

Each year we end up earning $1k + in airfare rewards which is literally free money to see family. 

I also go to lots of networking events (free food and booze), get free clothes from work, free food from work, have work pay for my bus pass and phone & computer. 

I also buy wholesale / on sale / consignment / diffusion lines as much as possible. Take uber instead of cabs. Focus on cost-per-use instead of just price. I’m willing to spend $150 on a bag that will last years instead of $50 on a bag that will last a season. 

Post # 7
1888 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

KatiePi:  Ask yourself if you really need it new and how many times are you going to use it.  Many people turn their nose up at places like Goodwill but they can be gold mines.  One great find are formal dresses, heck you’ll probably only wear it a few times anyway so why spend tons of money on it?  Also when looking for a more major purchase ask yourself how many times are you really going to use it,  things like bread machines make look cool and shiny but if you stop to think about it it may not be worth it if you only use it twice a year.  Also never underestimate the power of coupons, there are coupons for almost everything so it pays to look around.

Post # 8
6073 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

KatiePi:  I love the HSA as well!  Triple tax deferred!  I don’t plan on actually using it until I’m retired though (which will be pre-65).  I’ll just keep saving to the max every year and use regular savings for any medical related until we have to start paying our own health insurance premiums in  early retirement.  Then at age 65, any money in your HSA can be used for medical and NON-medical too!  Non medical is taxed at a regular income rate like a Traditional IRA would be.<br /><br />To maximize your savings, I would recommend looking at your expense trends and know them inside and out.  I like to track every expense in a spreadsheet and put it into cateogries.  I then can graph and project these trends based on history.  This helps me do some planning for the future.  It also can be a mini challenge to try to spend less than you did (let’s say on food) than the trend.

once you know your trends you can subtract that from your income to see where you can save more.  Sometimes you’re doing the best you can too!  Do you usually owe or get money back come tax season?  Maybe withholdings need to be adjusted.

At the same time, you can also look at where expenses can be cut.  ie. car payments, raise some insurance premiums, make sure your housing expenses don’t take up a huge chunk of your income. 

I recently swtiched to Republic Wireless for cell phones.  For $150 you can buy a smartphone and for $25/month you can have unlimited talk and text and 3G data.  I’m actually trying out the $10/monthright now which does not have 3G but free WIFI if you are in range.  Calls and texts still work.  You can swtich 2x per billing cycle.  No contract.

Post # 9
12865 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

bitsybee:  I agree with the credit card usage!

I put everything on the credit card for the points and pay it off every month and easily redeem 1-2k a year in cash.  I treat my credit cards like cash and don’t buy anything I don’t have the money for and wasn’t going to buy anyways.

I think the key is the big things also, housing and transportation.  Be reaslistic with what you can easily afford vs what you want.  We live well below our means and made sure to buy a house that wouldnt make us house poor.  Our cars are paid for in cash (well, one is, and the other one isnt since it was 0% so we figured we’d keep the cash in investments) Our accounts are set up to automatically move money to retirement and savings accounts every payday.

For food….We rarely eat out, I only shop sales at the supermarket, stock up when there are the occasional REALLY good deals on non perishables, try to pack lunches, reuse grocery bags for garbage bags, make coffee at home.

Then all other goods, we don’t really NEED anything, so I never really look for things to buy.  I just look at deal sites like fatwallet or slickdeals and see if we might need anything that is an awesome deal.  Sounds a bit counter intuitive to look for things I didn’t even know I needed, but most things I end up buying are household items – kcups, cleaning wipes, laundry detergent, etc.  Things we will eventually need even if I’m not out of it right now. For things we want but are not in a rush for, I just wait and wait and wait until I see a great deal.

Post # 10
2878 posts
Sugar bee

KatiePi:  Scheduling meals + couponing helped us reduce our groceries bill. We also don’t eat out that often because we scheduled fancier meals on weekends to replicate restaurant menus, but at a very low cost. 

I use my credit card strategically. I put everything on it to get cashback, and pay it off entirely at the end of the month. I never pay interests, and I can use the money to pay for bank fees, student loans, or I can put them into retirement savings. Since I have around 15K worth of student loans, my goal is to use that money for it.

I don’t have a cellphone. I considered cutting off the cable, but realistically, it’s one of our favorite leisure (we watch a lot of series, TV shows and movies). Not an option for us right now. 

I live in the country, so I plan my visits and errands to town so I don’t have to go back 3 times in a week. Makes me save on gas. Living in the country also means we spend a lot less on our rent than we would in town. Yes we spend more on gas and have to commute by car, but still, it doesn’t compare to what it would cost us if we lived closer to our jobs and university (rents are twice as expensive for smaller appartments). We made choices regarding the quality of life we wanted. 

I rarely buy anything full price. I shop thrift stores, classified ads when I need something. My wedding dress was $200 on Kijiji ! I also buy food that are close to their ”best before” date, most of them are still fresh for a while after that, they often are 30% to 50% off on sales racks. Either I eat them right away or I freeze them when it’s meat or dairy products. I buy meat in family packages (25% off) and split it in smaller portions, then freeze it.

I grow my own spices and herbs and freeze them at the end of summer (I have fresh herbs for the whole year).

I buy fruits and veggies when they’re on sale, and freeze them. Again, enough to last a few months so I don’t have to buy them off-season when they’re very expensive.

Post # 11
1303 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2015

KatiePi:  My FI is a super saver, together we tuck away around $2500 each month into savings, not counting retirement. Here are my suggestions based on what we do now.

– Set a target amount to save each month, like $1000 or whatever you can comfortably divert after paying living expenses while having to “reach” a little. Aim for this target!

– Continue to max out your retirement contributions through your employer, this also helps decrease your taxable income, i.e. maybe puts you in a lower bracket.

– Same for the HSA, since it’s pre-tax. My FI set one up for himself, maybe we can get a joine one when we’re married.

– If you don’t need all your savings on hand for a short-term goal, you can increase your retirement savings with a Roth IRA or traditional IRA. I have a traditional IRA that’s tax deductible so I usually get like $3k per yr for my tax refund.

– Don’t spend your tax refund, deposit that check into your savings account.

– We get our books and DVDs for free from the public library. We still like to buy books so every once in awhile we will go for it, but the library helps.

– It seems like you don’t trust yourself with a credit card, but we both use cash back cards with special offers. I always apply the cash back toward my balance that month. Special offers are great too, like right now I’m taking advantage of a $10 off $50 or more offer at any grocery store (redeemable 3x).

– I shop online alot and use eBates.com to get additional cash back, on top of the automatic 1% from my credit cards. I always google for discount codes before going through with an order to usually get up to 25% off too.

– We still go out with friends to drink socially, but we also save money by having drinks on hand at home. Beer, wine, some hard liquor to make cocktails. Every once in awhile, my FI tells me to pick a cocktail from our cocktail recipes book and we will go get the ingrediants to make it and that will be our go-to cocktail for that month.

– During the work week, we drink our coffee from the Keurig machines at our offices instead of buying from outside. During the weekend, we will make coffee at home (we have both regular machine and a Nespresso) but if we go to Starbucks, I use my app to get rewards. It’s pretty easy to reach the level that gives you free refills on regular hot or iced coffee.

– Obvious method but I cook dinner for us most of the week and eat out maybe 2-3x including lunch on the weekend. Also, leftovers are your friend, once every 1-2 weeks, we have a leftovers night with food that I’ve cooked and food from my lunches at the offices. We sit in front of tv, watch Netflix and relax!

– Housing – You can save money by living outside of a major city or in a less desirable area as long as it’s still safe. We opted to live in NJ instead of NYC in order to save money on housing, even though it means more of a hassle to get into the city. Everything is less expensive (but not the cheapest since this is still a high cost of living area) and we avoid paying the NYC tax for residents.

That’s all I can think of for now. 🙂

Post # 13
5160 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: April 2013

KatiePi:  I rent too – it’s not financailly adventageous to own in my area unless you are banking on appreciation (and sicne I move a lot, I don’t want to be in that game!).  

Probably the biggest move that makes it easy for me to save money is renting a place that is well below my means.  My rent is less than 20% of my take home pay, which gives me lots of breathing room.

Post # 14
1843 posts
Buzzing bee

KatiePi:  We use the Apple Tv an Netflix and instead of $100 something a month we spend $8. And also I’d advise to check with your cell phone provider every couple months. I was still under contract. But in a call with ATT checking data usage the customer service rep suggested I switch to a new offer they had. No extension on the contract, $40 saved per month and 10g instead of 6 for the plan! At $40 a pop that’s close to $500 saved in a year.

Also, and this is something that we tend to overlook but eating and drinking when out of the house. We keep a cool box in the car and put ice packs on it. When we go out we throw a couple bottles of water, snacks and a grain salad or tuna/tomato cold salad (no mayo, just vinegar oil and italian dressing). We prepare a big batch of this every couple days so it’s ready to grab n go. If we go shopping and we get hungry and have to eat out, that’s close to $20 per day we have to do that. And probably fpr junk food anyway. Eating out can really add up and end up costing a couple thousand $ every year. That’s some nice saving or a cool vacation right there. Probably a bit of both 🙂

Post # 15
6073 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

KatiePi:  That is awesome!  You’re doing a great job.

I started with my works 401a which is 14.2% of my salary gifted (education sector’s 401k), but it’s not a matching account.  Then I hopened a Roth with only $100/month at first.  That was 10 years ago.  Currently I’m up to maxing a Roth, HSA, 457b and now only $100/month to a 403b, plus the free 14.2% my work still gives me (and now my salary is higher so the % is higher).  Each raise I up my contributions. My H maxes the same accounts as we’re both employees of the same university.

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