Archive for the ‘Frugal living’ Category:
Let’s face it: some of us just love to spend money. It’s not that we like parting with our hard-earned cash; we just enjoy getting new things! It’s understandable in a consumer culture. We’re constantly being inundated with advertisements encouraging us to spend, spend, spend! A 2016 poll conducted by Credit.com revealed that 5 out of 6 Americans buys on impulse, and 54 percent of those studied have spent $100 or more.
While these numbers are startling, there is hope for hopeless spenders. Even shopping addicts can save money without completely giving up their habit. The key is to be conscious about what you buy and make saving as much as a priority as acquiring new things. With a little self-discipline and a good budgeting system, spenders at heart can learn to save more with the following tips.
Declutter your space. Cleaning out your space forces you to take stock of what you already own, and how much money you’ve spent to acquire all of it! This exercise offers the perspective necessary to curb your unnecessary spending. Start with one room and organize items into things you can donate, things you can sell and things to throw away. Though it takes discipline to let go, you’ll find you appreciate the things you kept much more than you did when they were cluttered up by items you didn’t value.
Create a budget (and stick to it). Getting financially organized starts with a concise budget. Map out your monthly expenses and income so you have a clear picture of where your money goes. Whether you prefer to write it down in a notebook or tend to be more digitally driven, there are several free resources to help get organized. Sticking to your budget requires revisiting and adjusting it throughout the year since spending needs fluctuate over time. What’s more, closely monitoring your budget allows you to track changes and see progress in your savings goals, which is highly motivating!
Pay yourself first. Effortlessly contribute funds to your own savings by automating your deposits. Don’t wait until the end of the month to transfer money into savings; instead, automate a transfer between checking and savings at the beginning of every paycheck. This allows you to siphon money away so you won’t be tempted to spend it. You’ll be surprised how quickly savings add up and how much you don’t miss the extra funds!
Consider the big picture. We all have financial goals we want to achieve, and our spending often sabotages our progress. Consider the big picture before you waste money on more clothes, takeout or whatever your spending vice is. Momentary pleasure is not as satisfying as investing in something bigger, like a vacation or paying off a debt. Concentrating on larger goals will help you to prioritize your spending and make it easier to curb unnecessary purchases.
Identify your triggers. If shoes are your spending weakness, it’s best to not tempt yourself to purchase them! Try not to visit stores where you’re prone to spend. Similarly, avoid opening retail emails advertising sales or discounts. In fact, you’re better off unsubscribing from these emails altogether. Though they provide an opportunity to save money, these messages tempt you to spend when you weren’t planning to. Instead, use a coupon website to find deals when you’re ready to treat yourself. You can use these American Eagle coupons at Coupon Sherpa, for example, or any retail store you prefer.
Steer clear of credit cards. If you tend to be a spender, your credit card is simultaneously your best friend and your worst enemy. Get rid of the temptation by “breaking up” with your credit cards. Whether you literally freeze them or cut them up, removing the ability to accrue debt will help you focus your funds on paying it off. Avoiding credit cards also forces you to use money you actually have, which is a healthy habit to start! Once you get used to this strategy, you can reincorporate credit cards into your spending regimen by charging only those expenses you can pay off immediately. Responsible credit card use will contribute to a higher credit score and can yield rewards like travel miles and cash back.
Shop with good influences. Though shopping is a social occasion, beware of who you shop with; we all have those friends who enable us to spend! You don’t have to always shop solo, however; try challenging your friends to adopt better spending habits too, and keep each other in check when you shop. Set a budget for your trip and encourage yourself and your friends not to exceed it. Peer pressure works both ways!
Adopt a spending rule. Wait 24 hours, one week, one month — whatever works for you personally — before you make an impulse buy. More often than not, you’ll find your desire for a particular item wanes with time. If the urge does not go away, this will also give you time to save up for the particular purchase. Rewarding yourself from time to time isn’t harmful as long as it doesn’t become a habit and you give it a good amount of thought first.
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Our family has two annual passes to area attractions: Conner Prairie and the Indianapolis Zoo. The former was a Christmas gift and the latter I purchased with my birthday money.
We want to get the most out of our memberships, so we’re going to…
- Go often! Hah! We’ve been to the zoo once already and are planning another trip today while the weather is still nice. Later in the week, ugh. Here comes summer. We’ll have free parking and THIS time, I’ll bring snacks and our own water to enjoy in the picnic area instead of paying inflated convenience prices. $3/bottle of water? Really!?
- We’re spreading around the fun stuff so we’ll have new things to see and do on each trip. We haven’t done any of the train rides, carousel, roller coaster, or any of those extras. We haven’t seen all shows or all exhibits yet.
- It would take like 3.5 visits of just me and the kids (Vivie would be free until her birthday in 6 months) or 2.5ish visits of all four of us to equal the price of membership (plus we’d have to pay for parking at $5 or $6 per time). Not bad. I’m hoping to go a few times per month in the summer and then a few more times in the fall when the weather cools off. We should be able to go on reasonable winter days, too, because there are several indoor exhibits and some brisk air might do us some good.
The Indy Zoo doesn’t have a reciprocal membership which is a bummer. But, we can get into the White River Gardens next door for free so that’s something. We can also get a $5 off discount on a new membership to another area museum, so we might do that later.
They do have one discounted day per month if we wanted to go then, without a membership in future years. I’m not sure if it’s crowded then, but I’d expect so.
We went to Conner Prairie for the first time as a family over the weekend. I wasn’t sure how the kids would react, but they had fun walking around and seeing the sights. We’ll go at least once more this summer, but perhaps twice and maybe a time in the fall when the weather cools a little.
Conner Prairie has a reciprocal program with the Smithsonian affiliates and also the Time Travelers which would get us free or discounted admission to other attractions. I’m not sure if local attractions are excluded or if they’re eligible, but I’m looking into it.
I love the idea of memberships because they help support these organizations and the work that they do for the public. Plus, having a membership somewhere does indeed encourage me to go more often than I otherwise would. When I shared a Carnegie Museum membership with my friend in Pittsburgh, we went to all four museums together and again separately with our families. It was an awesome deal and I’m so glad we did that. It only worked because all of our children were under 3 at the time.
There are a LOT of museum attractions here in Indianapolis and over the next decade I hope to go to all of them with my kids. I wish there was some sort of passport program where you can go to a lot of different museums just once each, but there doesn’t seem to be anything like that.
I haven’t looked over Entertainment Book (or similar) offerings to find discounted tickets yet. Locals, know of any way I can save?
How do you save on museums and attractions in your area?