10 October 2011

5 Commandments of Saving

Seeing as this is my first post, I’d like to begin at the beginning. We will eventually get to more specifics about saving, creating, and fun, but there are a few basics to get out of the way.

When you are first starting to cut the fat, it can be a little painful.  I know we all want, well everything we want. Working these 5 rules in to your daily grind should help make saving less like a chore and more like a game, or at least not as boring and stressful.

Shop around.

You may be tempted to just shoot to your favorite store and grab whatever you need. However, if you can anticipate what you’ll need next week, you can use the miracle of the internet to find out who has it for less. This especially goes for big ticket items. You really don’t need those right this second, so you can look around, maybe even dig up a sale. Even without the sale, you’ll really be surprised who has it for less.

Hint: It’s usually not the “value” stores.

Think outside the box

This applies mostly to decorating. Why do you need that expensive crystal vase when an old watering can or tin pitcher (found at a garage sale) is more interesting and 1/20th the price?

Now, what to put on the walls? Get personal. Maybe put those trinkets you’ve been snatching up on vacation together in a shadow box. Or frame up your kids artwork. If you’re starting from scratch, grab your camera and take the family out for a day. Snap some candids and soon you’ll find some great shots that look great blown up. When everyday framed artwork is $30 for tiny and $300 for not too big, you’ll not only save mega bucks but you’ll also break away from the cookie-cutter look.

Thou shalt not pay Retail!  

Whether you shop online or in the store, there is so very much you can get for less than the number on the price tag. Think about groceries and everyday essentials: We all know about couponing and sales, but try putting them together and stocking up. (More about how later.)

If you’re going slightly larger (TVs, sofas, dressers, etc.) there will always be a sale soon. Big stores usually follow the same pattern for school holidays: good enough for a day out of school, it’s good enough for a sale.

Actually our dresser: $45
But if you really want to cut the bucks back and super-pretty-straight-from-the-box isn't a priority, try Habi ReStores. The items you find here may need half a day of love and care, maybe a few knobs, but you can get something made of real wood and in near-perfect condition for pennies on the dollar, just add elbow grease. Like our buffet: $75.  Downside: They don’t deliver.

Finally, when it comes to big ticket (cars, boats, homes, etc) always take at least 10% off what they ask for. It’s not rude; it’s expected from those who are not suckers.

DIY: Do It Yourself

We all know that girl with the beautiful flower arrangements all over her house or that fantastic décor at that gorgeous wedding. Truth is someone, just like you, with your same taste, made it. So why not you? When you pay for not just the supplies but also the labor, inventory fees, shipping, and a million other things, you can save more than half the price.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone can do any project they want on just a whim. It takes a little research, a little patience, and an open mind. My suggestion is to start with something smaller and work up. Go from a small flower arrangement or abstract artwork to something of clay or paper Mache; then try simple wood works or cake decorating with fondant. Eventually, remodeling on your bathroom or making a dress from fabric will seem like no sweat. But seriously, Research. Seriously.

Don’t do credit.

So you want that new TV. It seems like a good idea to put it on your card and pay it off over the next few months, but life never really works out that way. The car needs new tires, or you think it would be totally ok to put one or two more things on it too. Before you know it, you have a huge bill and no money to pay it off.

Consider taking the money you would be paying the credit card company and put it in a savings account instead, until you have enough to buy it outright. Not only will you save big on the 15-30% interest that most cards rake in, but you can actually MAKE money on interest. If seeing that balance on your bank statement causes too much temptation to spend it, throw it in a box, and don’t count it until you think you may have enough to buy. You’ll be amazed how fast it adds up. My husband saved $400 over 5 months (for an awesome gift for me), without me even noticing!

Side note: I do not in any way condone hiding anything from your significant other. Unless it’s a sweet surprise for them, it can really only cause problems. Even then, you may end up sketching them out.


Should you have any good tips on saving, please share! I don't want to pretend to be an expert, so I'm very willing to learn.

Happy Hunting!

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