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  • Pam

Pinching Pennies: A Dozen Ways to Save or Make a Buck You May Not Have Thought Of.

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

Are you saving all the money you want to?The art of saving money is not a fad. It will never go out of style. The “how” to save money, now that is always an ongoing process. We are always looking to find new ways to save a buck, get the next best deal, or wait to buy something until it goes on sale. Searching for bargains gets the adrenaline going for many but personally I find it exhausting as well as a time sucker. If you are like me, I would save more if it was easier and less time consuming. I hate searching for coupon codes because most of them are expired or just don’t work! Amazon to the rescue! Now, I must admit there is a bit of convenience there in using that magical place that has everything. If it is a hard to find item, I hear people say “Amazon will have it”. Who am I to knock the almighty Amazon but I have been burned a couple of times purchasing items from the kids wish lists for Christmas.I like to get them what they want so I always ask them to send me a bunch of links of things they may want and send plenty so you won’t know what you might get. Doing my annual Christmas shopping one year, twice I ordered from the Amazon links the kids sent only to find that when the package arrived the items were from stores that I could have saved more money if I purchased direct. Now and then I still succumb to the urge to order something from Amazon and I am a victim of Amazon Prime. We are going to talk about 12 ways to help you save money. One of my favorite books I have read by Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect talks about small seemingly insignificant habits or tasks done over and over again over a period of time becomes a big accomplishment. It’s not hard to do the small things needed to meet you goals but the small things are just as easy not to do. The same is true with saving money. If you look at it from the perspective that you want to save $1000.00 by this time next year that may seem very overwhelming to many. But if you break it down to $84.00 per month and still break it down to $19.00 per week now it doesn’t seem so daunting. Think of all the things you can do to save $20.00 per week.

1. Save your change. I have a mason jar on my dresser where we put all our spare change. Yes, I have been known to take some change from my husband. He prides himself in always having the correct change when he buys something but he hoards those coins like they are gold! I am surprised his pants don’t fall down because his pockets are so heavy! This may seem like an insignificant way to save but we average about $85.00 every 2-3 months using this method. Now back to our 1,000.00. Say 85.00 4x per year is 340.00 now subtract that from your $1000.00 goal and now you have 660.00 left or $12.70 per week! That small seemingly insignificant task of saving your change put a good dent in your savings goal.

2. Choose your grocery store wisely and plan for your shopping. By now you can probably guess I am not one of those shoppers that will go from store to store shopping all the bargains. Not a bad idea for saving some money but for me another way to add time to my grocery shopping. I am not sure what kinds of grocery stores are in your area but one of the reasons I like shopping at our local chain Woodman’s is all the work they put into helping me save money. They tape the coupons right on the shelf so all I have to do is grab one and away I go. They have a bulletin board with their store coupons right where you walk in so you can add those to the manufacturer’s coupons you grabbed off the shelf. Lastly, they have an app for your phone that you can find electronic deals and coupons you can use at the checkout. No extra time for me I save while I shop. Check out your local grocers and see what they do to help you save some money on groceries. For those of you that are experts in couponing, I commend your efforts! It is a great hobby that puts money back into your pocket! I have known people that have been able to share their savings with others with free products or samples a way to bless others with their savings. Kudos to you! I just want to mention here that we are always open to our readers sharing their tips and ideas for saving money. Please leave your suggestions, tips and experiences! The second part of the grocery shopping experience where you can save money is in the planning. I do regularly plan our meals and keep a grocery list. This habit came partly as a necessity. We live in a very rural Amish community and we are 25 minutes from the nearest Walmart. If I don’t plan well and keep an accurate list and I am out of something I need to make supper I just can’t run out and pick something up! This method will save you time and money to plan a week’s worth of meals and a list to go with it! I keep a running grocery list on the fridge and my husband has learned to add something to the list when he uses up an item or it is getting low.

3. Get help from an expert. If you have a large amount of debt or in a spot where you are spending more than you are bringing in, it may take an expert to help you put a plan in place to get your finances back on track. As a single mom of four children there was a time when I was putting groceries on a credit card because I didn’t have enough money left over after the bills were paid. We really struggled. We lived in an apartment made out of an old barn and we had two bedrooms. I have 2 boys and 2 girls and the boys had one bedroom and the girls the other. I slept on a futon in the front room. I am telling you this not because I want your sympathy but to show you that anyone with a desire and willingness to work can change your current financial situation. When something becomes a “must” vs a “want” things start to happen. I didn’t have the money to hire an expert but I found one in Dave Ramsey. I used his methods to get back on track. I still use them today. There may be other great financial mentors out there but this was the one I chose and became successful with. I love his “snow ball” method. Start with the smallest bill and pay as much as you can on that bill while paying the minimum payments on the rest. Once that bill is paid off take the payment amount and add it to the minimum payment you are making on the next lowest bill. Rinse and repeat until you are debt free. I find this method very gratifying each time I was able to right “Paid in Full” next to my bill tracking sheet. Get the monkey of debt off your back! Think about your relationship with money.

4. Budget your money. I know, you have heard you should budget your money forever. I am going to be that ankle biting dog telling you yes, you need to follow a budget. I can’t imagine getting paid on Thursday (my normal pay day was Thursday) and by Sunday night being broke and didn’t know how to pay the rest of the bills. It is a quick way to get behind. Every dollar has a place in the budget. I keep a financial journal, (just a spiral notebook) that I use all the time when planning where the money will go. We plan how we are going to save for larger purchases, vacations, as well as date night and groceries. This takes a little bit of planning but it is well worth it. My biggest win was putting a trip together to get an Alaska trip off my husband’s bucket list. With my past experiences of being so much in debt, going through a bankruptcy and having to start over I was not going to put a dime of this trip on a credit card. We reached our goal in 18 months to save enough to take a 2-week land and cruise trip to Alaska. We had excursions every day and sometimes more than 1 in a day. I wanted this to be a trip of a lifetime and treat my husband to an awesome experience. We did it all and it was a fantastic time, but what I am most proud of is that we paid cash for the trip and didn’t have to think one time about having enough money to enjoy the 2 weeks. (Easter Egg # 4) We budgeted meals, souvenirs, travel, a night at the casino, everything. We paid for our gratuities prior to the trip and all of our excursions. You can do this too!!! I wish this upon all of you!!

5. Examine your money mindset. How can this save me money or get me more? If your relationship with money is unhealthy this may be a reason why you are not able to hang on to any of it. This is an entire post on its own and we will go there another time. Today will be the basics and how it may be affecting your management of money. I know you may be thinking “what is a money mindset and how does it affect me?” What money mindset is not is a magical “out there” concept. It is real and important in you being able to hand on to your money. Have you ever heard about some big lottery winner and I mean BIG, that in 2 years or so they are once again dead broke? It happens all the time. Have you ever been told as a kid, “do you think money grows on trees?” Most of us have. How about this one. I heard many times as a kid, “all rich people are snobs.” Whether or not you want to believe growing up hearing things like this doesn’t make a difference in how you view money you are dead wrong. If you have a bad experience with money or feel having wealth is a bad thing no matter what you do you will repel money and you will find ways to get rid of it even if you don’t want to. I struggled with this a lot. As a single mom of four children we never had enough money. As the years went by and my life began to change, I could still not buy something for myself without feeling guilty. At that time, we were buying groceries often times using my credit card that was maxed out and had just a bit left after I paid my minimum payment in case we ran out of milk or other food staple. I struggled giving to church because I was afraid we would need the money for something else. I felt so bad that my oldest daughter couldn’t get professional high school graduation pictures done like her classmates due to lack of money and had to settle for pictures taken by me in the back yard. Not a proud mom moment. Look at your relationship with money. Does it come easy? Does it come hard? Try and look at the reason why. There are many books and resources out there on “money mindset”. I encourage you to check one of them out and get your mind right in regards to money. We give freely now knowing that the more we give the more we get in return. It is freeing to feel that way and to come from a mindset of abundance vs. a mindset of lack.

6. Take on a new hobby. I was born and raised in Chicago, Il. We lived in the city limits not very far away from O’Hare Airport but had a family that enjoyed the country and fishing along with other outdoor activities. I enjoyed the outdoors and country living but far far away from knowing the country life. When I married James, he came from a farm family and the education began. I learned to “can”. It is awesome to pull out some fresh strawberries in the dead of winter. This saves much on your grocery bill especially if you can have your own garden. I know this sounds impossible for some but no matter where you live you can have a few 5-gallon buckets to grow some tomato plants. Again, this is a whole subject on it own but a great way to save money and provide nutritious food all year round for your family.

7. Home Made Gifts. I am not talking about something made out of popsicle sticks but something nice, simple, and appreciated. In my quest to become self sufficient and save money I learned to crochet. I taught myself and it wasn’t very hard. I don’t make a lot of things but I did master the art of making the crocheted kitchen towels and give them as gifts all the time and it is something people may not want to spend money on but they always appreciate getting them as gifts. I try to find nice towels on sale vs just trying to find the cheapest that may not be as nice. What talents do you have? Can your crafty talents be used to save money on gifts or perhaps sell your wares for some extra money that you can put away to save for an emergency fund or that vacation you would want to take. This was one of the methods I used during my single mom days. Years ago those fabric covered photo albums and frames were popular and that’s what I made. I did some local craft shows and placed my items in some local craft stores. In those days I was looking for anyway I could to get my hands on some extra money.

8. Start a Side Hustle. This is a subject that is getting a lot of attention lately. There are so many ways and opportunities to start a side hustle without a large investment. We have ours in direct sales and it is around saving and making money. Before you look at starting a side hustle you need to look at what you are passionate about or what special training or knowledge you may have around a certain subject. I can tell you I am glad we have our business and able to work from home. If a traditional business is where you feel most comfortable check out the company well before you accept an offer. My oldest daughter works for a major company downtown Chicago and they have amazing perks for their employees. Work from home options, docking stations on treadmills at the office where you can sign up for 30 minutes at a time, and no PTO. What they do is you are not restricted to how many days you can take off but you have to meet your project deadline requirements. If you are the entrepreneur type a side hustle may be the answer for you. It may be a pet sitting or dog walking business, a consulting business of some sort or a turn key business that you might find in Network Marketing. Research the company well before you join if you are looking at Direct Sales or Network Marketing. When I say research, I mean not through Google. I mean the Better Business Bureau, and the Direct Sales Organization. This is the Washington, DC based watch dog company of the industry and any member company must abide by strict codes of ethics and pay practices. There are many companies out there but only about 200 or so member companies that meet the strict guidelines of the DSA. Maybe your start to your research should be there and look at their list of member companies.

9. Save on Travel Expenses. I have a whole blog post on the subject of savings for travel and I encourage you to check it out. I did find an additional way to save on travel if you like helping others. You can volunteer to go on organized trips or other assistance type of travel and get free travel. The organization is

10. Save on eating lunch at work. I know this is not unusual and you probably have heard this before but it does work! Sometimes it is not feasible in the morning to start preparing you lunch to take to work but what I try and do is plan for “lunch food” prep on Sundays. I will make some lunch food ahead of time and prepare for the week and so it makes it very easy the night before when I am preparing for the next day. I set aside the last half hour of my day before I go to bed to get things ready for the next day. I set my clothes out, assemble anything I need to take and put together my lunch. Easy peasy! Even though I am still working as an R.N. part-time I still follow this practice and makes my work mornings enjoyable as I drink my cup of coffee and not have to rush around just to leave the house on time.

11. Saving money on eating out. I could say don’t eat out and you will save money. That is a no brainer however how realistic is it to say you just won’t eat out! With our company we found a resource that I never heard before where can save money at restaurants. We get extra savings and extra perks with this resource by being a member but you don’t have to be a member of our company to get to use this resource. It is called or . You can get coupons and discounts for local restaurants and if you watch and keep track sometimes, they are quite significant. You do have to read the fine print however. The offers may only be good on weekdays or if you spend x amount of dollars and sometimes might not include alcohol. You just have to read the offer closely for each restaurant. Even in our very rural community we can find restaurants within driving distance to be able to take advantage of this resource.

12. Use your credit card to pay your utilities etc for more points This would not be an approved method by Dave Ramsey, and believe me his teaching has helped me tremendously but many people have credit cards. I cut down to just one for home, one for business and my debit card. I got rid of about 10+!! (this included some store credit cards). If you are disciplined, and can pay off your cards every month you can take advantage of the points for travel or cash back. Another way to just take that money and bank it. Check out the details of the credit card before you sign up. I know it is tempting when the offers come in the mail! What are you already spending money on that if you put it on the card and paid it off every month you can take advantage of what they have to offer. Some credit cards will give you more for gas purchases, so if you travel a lot for work or business this may be of benefit to you. Some cards give more if you pay your utilities with your credit card. Remember this is a slippery slope if you are tempted to purchase more than you can pay off monthly don’t do it.

We hope you have learned at least one or two ways you can apply this to your situation. If you would like to learn more about saving money, earning extra money by helping others save or get on our mailing list for our newsletter and blog post sign up below. In the message section please let us know what you are interested in most.

Take care and see you soon. To learn more about what we do or have a question or topic you would like to see addressed click here

Pam Dunwald

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