First of all, I think everyone could stand to save money (I’m talking to you, Beyoncé). After all, why wouldn’t you pay less for something if you have that option? I could afford to buy my work clothes full-priced at Ann Taylor (while possibly sacrificing elsewhere). But I don’t. I know that every few weeks or months, they will run a 40% off everything sale (get on their mailing list and they will let you know when this happens). So, why on earth would I spend $70 on a blouse I can get for $35?
Now, I have never aimed to run a frugality blog, and I don’t want to become a couponing queen. It may make sense for some people, but for our family, the time spent on seeking out every bargain there is isn’t worth it. Between my husband and I, we are committed to work obligations an average of 12 hours a day, 5 (or more) days a week. Sometimes, we choose convenience over the best deal, simply because that is what we have time for.
But some things, to me at least, are no brainers – easy ways to save.
- Shopping at (and returning items to) consignment stores.
I have written before about how much I love consignment stores, but I’ll say it again. Who needs to spend full price on clothes for a two-year-old, that are just going to end up with paint and spaghetti stains on them. And whatever doesn’t get destroyed can go right back to the consignment store when you are done with it. Bonus – You get credits when that stuff resells, so you can buy the next size up. We even have found a few places that take toys.
- Using store coupons and shopping sales when I can.
Now I am not a crazy coupon lady, and I rarely use them at the grocery store (my son has allergies and Daiya doesn’t offer many deals of which I am aware). But when it comes to larger purchases, such as clothes and décor, I choose to wait for times when I have coupons or a sale is running. Pottery Barn may be a bit pricey for you, but we love it and we especially love their Family and Friends sales, when most items are 20% off. We also shop sample sales, where the floor models and store samples are on sale. We got my son’s entire bedroom set at Pottery Barn Kids – it was the floor model and we saved about 40%. And I always wait for a 40% off sale at Loft (they have maternity, by the way!).
- Reusing items I already have.
I save gift bags for reuse. I keep popsicle sticks and scraps of paper for art projects (see my post, Being Less Wasteful, too). To me, it just makes sense, both from a financial perspective and from an environmental perspective. This way, I prevent most of my extra cash from ending up at Michaels (and if it does go there, I use a coupon!). I also find lots of extra craft items at yard sales, by the way.
- Participating in rewards programs.
This is anything from using punch cards to being a member of programs such as Starbucks Rewards. I don’t always have the right card with me (I could be a bit more organized about that), but when I do, it pays off. The place we take my son for haircuts has a punch card and when you buy 10 haircuts, the 11th is 50% off. At $20 a pop, that’s $10 saved. Maybe you think it’s crazy to spend that much on a kid’s haircut, but trust me, a place that has animal crackers and kid’s movies makes the trauma of a haircut just a bit more manageable when a toddler is involved. And why not save a bit after devoting so much time and money there.
- Willingly accepting hand-me-downs.
Seriously, guys, in the past six months, I have received enough hand-me-down clothes to keep my son adequately dressed for the next two years. And this will be especially helpful as we prepare for baby #2 (another way we are unintentionally saving money – we are having another boy!). I also have received maternity hand-me-downs during both pregnancies. Some have been mine to keep and others I simply borrowed. It’s not like maternity clothes really have a chance to get worn out…
- Using the Amazon wish list.
This may not seem like an obvious one, but I love to use the Amazon wish list for birthdays and Christmas. This gives folks an idea of what types of toys my son currently likes, what he needs and what size clothes he is currently in. It prevents us from having three of the same toy and keeps us from going to the store to buy something he doesn’t have. I have even been known to use the list for myself. I have a running list of books I’d like to read and by moving them to a wish list that others can see (make sure it is ‘public’), I ensure that someone else will get it for me come birthday time!
- Shop sales throughout the year for Christmas presents.
We also make use of all those sales to buy gifts throughout the year for the holidays. By the time we hit December, we usually have about 80 percent of our family gifts taken care of. This also prevents a major expense during an already pricey (and busy) month. And who wants to be at the mall a week before Christmas. The key here is to have a designated place where all these presents reside throughout the year. Otherwise, you will spend just as much time hunting for them in your own house as you would have spent trying to find a parking spot at the mall.
Check out next week’s post on ways in which I choose NOT to save. After all, what am I going to do with all that money I just saved above (seriously… I don’t spend it ALL).
For more on how save from an actual frugal living blog, visit http://andthenwesaved.com/fearless.