The New Year is a great time to refresh and reflect on some of your frugal practices to save yourself some money. Every year I try to think back over what small tactics worked. Then I come up a new list of little things I can do to save myself extra dough in the coming year. Here is my short list of tactics to save myself a little more money this year, based on some of my own personal vices.
Limit My Coffee Stops with a Gift Card
I admit it - I have a bit of a coffee problem. Even with a perfectly functioning Keurig at home that brews coffee at the push of a button, the allure of a coffee shop can sometimes be too great. Those regular stops at Tim’s, Starbucks, McDonalds or any other shop selling me coffee are not doing my wallet or my waistline any favours. On average, I spend about $3 when I swing through for a cup of coffee. Let us say I go 3 times per week all year. That is $468 out of my yearly budget just on coffee. For this example, imagine I also pick up a sandwich twice a month at $6 to avoid making lunch at home. That adds another $144 to that budget or $612 now spent on coffee shops
One tactic I have used successfully and will use again is to limit my purchases with a gift card. At the beginning of each month I reload my gift card with a set amount. For this example we will say $30. Once the $30 is used up for the month, then you are finished until the next month. If I were to spend only the money on the gift cards instead of spending $612, I have now spent only $360 for the year on coffee runs.
Where this tactic is helpful is those times you feel like grabbing a sandwich. It does not matter what you choose to buy throughout the month on each trip. Once you finish the gift card in a month it is gone. I find myself planning my trips more carefully. I am less likely to pick up an extra item on a whim. I know if I buy that sandwich now, I sacrifice a coffee trip later in the month. I also do not feel like I am sacrificing, as I still can have my regular coffee fix. I found when I used a gift card regularly sometimes at the end of the month I would even have money left over.
Sometimes you can find gift cards on sale that adds to your savings. Additionally some stores like Starbucks or David’s Tea allow you to earn extra rewards such as free drinks for registering a gift card or points card. Keep your eyes out for coupons like these ones for McDonalds that can help keep your small splurges in check in the coming year.
Repair Something In My Home Or Chuck It
Everyone has something that is sitting there collecting dust that should be repaired. Maybe your sweater has a snag and needs a needle and thread. Maybe that new light fixture you meant to hang is still sitting in the package. Perhaps that toy needs just a little bit of glue.
Broken items cost us more then we realize. They clutter up our home and take up valuable living space. They can sometimes be a safety issue if they contain batteries that might leak or other chemicals that leak into our home. Some of these items are well-intentioned projects we have already spent money to fix. This money is sitting wasted in the bag and is slowly depreciating with each passing day as you run the risk of the item breaking or simply not working anymore.
Here is my plan. One of my favourite sweaters, my husband’s winter hat and the slightly ripped fabric on our couch all need to be patched with only a little effort from me. Both the hat and sweater’s lifespan should be able to extend at least until the end of the winter season, saving a little cash. By repairing the couch now and perhaps buying an inexpensive slipcover I can extend the life of the furniture much longer and keep my cat from making it worse.
Shop The Dollar Store With a List
Does anyone else have this problem with the Dollar Store, where you go in well intentioned for just a few items and end up with a whole basket full? You start browsing the seasonal aisle, the cleaning supplies, the party goods and before you know it, the bill is $30-$50 for your $2 item. If you have this habit twice a month, all year, it could cost $720 and up extra to your budget for the year.
My strategy for the dollar store is to keep a running list on my phone of things I need. If I suddenly realize I must have something at the dollar store I add it to my list. Every two to three weeks I shop only using my list. This then takes care of purchasing those items that really are a good deal at the dollar store such as hand sanitizer, party supplies and overstock shampoo.
This may sound a little like the Grinch but I also only try to go down the holiday aisle once per holiday. It is easy to get lost in the cute and cheap holiday decor. Before long I have thrown into my cart themed window clings, some decorative Valentine’s tinsel, 5 well-intentioned craft kits and more holiday stickers then my kid could ever stick. Once per holiday add the seasonal aisle to your list, then steer clear.
Your savings in this one should help to keep you to your budget. You will still take advantage of the cheap holiday decor and overstock shampoo without filling your house with extra items you never intended to buy. Save yourself that $720 a year.
These are my new year’s resolutions for trimming a little off my budget this year. If I take a closer look, I have saved myself almost $1400 by following these tips.
Bargainmoosers, what resolutions do you have this year to save yourself a chunk of change?
Photo credit: Marwa Morgan