Recently, I wrote several blog posts to share my personal financial and minimalist experiences. I said a lot and offered only a glimpse into how I have changed as a result of both. At some point, I am guessing you thought, how does this impact my life? How do I benefit from reading about Carolyn’s life? Well, it is time that I offer some insight on how you can read about my experiences and get something out of it. Read on to answer the question, What’s in it for me?
Cash, Cash, Cash. If you are one of those who is “great at saving money and using credit helps you stay organized”, I say, even to the best saver, wouldn’t it be nice to save even more? Having cash in hand to make purchases makes you think about every single item that you purchase. Try it for a week and let me know how many items you put back before you checkout.
Save Cash. I take cash out of the bank every two weeks and I spend it on the things I need. Purchases usually results in me getting change. A few times each week, I take all the dollar bills out of my wallet and stash them at home. At the end of every week, I take half of the coins out of my wallet and dump them in a jar. I use the dollars when the girls want to buy random things at the mall or Dollar Tree. Trust me, the dollars build up fast and I never miss them as part of my spending cash.
Review Bills. As life changes so does how much/little we feel we need certain items. My car is 12 years old and recently, my mindset changed from, “I need full coverage auto insurance.” to “I am throwing away $50/month on insurance that I will NEVER recoup if I get in a wreck”. It took me over an hour but I finally “submitted” my request for reduced coverage. It took a few days but I am now very comfortable with my decision. I suggest you review your bills and make sure that you are paying for what you really need. Make decisions based on reality and logic, not emotion. Do you really watch/need 200+ TV channels?
Write it Down. For years, one of the “money gurus” talked about accounting for every penny in your paycheck. I finally understand the statement. When I just pay bills and let “extra” money rattle around in my checking account, I spend too much. Now, few days before payday, I sit down and figure out what I plan to do with each penny in my paycheck. Then, I setup automatic payments and transfers to cover my plan. There is NEVER any extra money in my account. I do leave a few dollars in case my math was a little off but that is it. Notice, that I am not calling it a budget but you know what I am talking about.
Think it Over. I used to purchase everything that I thought I wanted without any consideration for how it would fit into my life. Now, I think about how each purchase will impact my total spending budget and life plans. I ponder whether I really need the item. I try to figure out workarounds so that I don’t spend any money. I frequently, unsubscribe from email lists from online merchants to eliminate temptation.
Toss the Junk Mail. Fortunately, I do not get a lot of junk mail but when I do, I leave it outside. I don’t even open it. I have a planter that serves as a great holding bin until trash day. Not bringing the junk in the house helps to eliminate clutter and it stops me from “considering” the offer. If you worry about someone stealing your garbage, put a collection box inside the front door and schedule a day each week for shredding.
Make Space. After cooking at my boyfriend’s house, I realized why I did not cook at my house – my counters were so cluttered that it was impossible. I owned a lot of small appliances and they were ALL on the counters, leaving no space to cook. One day, I took almost everything off the counters. Some items I tossed and some I stored. I even went through the utensils and got rid of duplicates and those tools that never really worked but I never wanted to admit it. Now, I have more than enough space to prep meals, make coffee, etc. Did I mention I did the same in the bathroom – why do we save styling products that don’t work???
Change Your Mindset. Honestly, you won’t have to change your mindset, it will change on its own. If you start taking the dollars out of your wallet every day, you will start to get excited about how many dollars you have. You will want to save more. If you clean out one drawer, you will likely want to do one more. Small changes can lead to bigger realizations.
Write it Down for Display. When I sit around thinking about saving money or cleaning a room, I simply drive myself crazy and rarely take any action. When I wrote down, on a 12×12 paper – how much I would save from each paycheck, I accomplished the mission. I had to look at that paper every day and it was inspiring to see the balance in my savings account start to grow.
Emergency Fund. For years, I never had any money in savings. I made lots of money but refused to create a plan to save. So, I paid the utility company and others for warranties to cover repairs. When I finally saved and had an emergency fund of $1000, guess what, I canceled all those warranties. Why? Because the fund gave me piece of mind. $1000 in the bank put me in control. I stopped worrying about things breaking (well, I worry but that is just my flawed genetics).
Live a Little. When I first started saving, I cut off everything. Eventually, I realized that not spending on anything was stressing me out. It took me some time to realize this way of saving was not an area that was comfortable for me. There are things that I enjoy and I should. So, I eased some enjoyment back into the routine. For instance, no distance is too far to see a friend or go take pictures. The girls and I enjoy some fun times out too. However, I plan for them and they are not a weekly occurrence. I love to cook so I still spend a little bit of money on a good meal each week. However, I have started deciding what I am buying before I go to the store. I also shop at stores that do not have BOGOs or “special buys”, which eliminates most temptation. ALDI for the win.
Coupons Not Required. I am not a coupon clipper for several reasons. 1. I would have to buy the Sunday paper and you know how I feel about clutter. 2. They are not always easy to access on-the-fly. 3. Aldi does not accept coupons. 4. I would never keep up with them. However, there are ways to save without needing physical coupons.
Walgreens Balance Rewards. Sign up for their rewards program and keep the app on your phone. You can check the weekly ad and they post the upcoming Sunday ad on Wednesdays. You get points for every dollar that you spend. Now, we can all agree that Walgreens can be more expensive than big stores on many items but sometimes, they run fantastic sales. A few weeks ago, they had eggs (which have recently doubled in price) for $1/doz and turkey bacon for the same. To not be a jerk, I went to several stores and bought 12 dozen eggs and 8 packs of the turkey bacon. I got a great deal and points for shopping. Those points convert to dollars.
Walgreens Fitness Rewards. Did you know that Walgreens rewards you for being healthy? Well, they do but I don’t see it advertised. Within their app, you can sign up for Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices and link your fitness app to it. I linked Google Fit. So, when I go out walking or whatever I am doing, I get 20 points for every mile that I complete. This program gives a maximum of 1000 points/month, which equals a dollar. Once you link your fitness program, you don’t have to do anything else. For both programs, 1000 points = $1. I have earned over 16,0000 points for fitness. Lots of options that you can select to earn additional points.
Checkout 51. Shopping at Aldi does not allow me to participate in many of the rebate apps because they require the purchase of name brand items, which Aldi rarely carries. Recently, I discovered Checkout 5, The app gives rebates for generic purchases like produce, beans, etc. The first time I used it, I saved $1.25 for purchasing oranges and bananas. If you shop at other stores, your rewards will build faster and at $20 your reward is paid to you.
Rinse and Repeat. The tips I have provided apply to money as well as decluttering. Neither ever ends. Each becomes a game to see how much better you can do. With money, I will shift from removing the dollars from my wallet to removing $5 bills. I will let you know how it goes.
How do you maximize your money and clear the clutter from your life?