10 Ways to Get Ahead on Your Monthly Finances

Wanting to save money, but don’t know where to start? Check out these 10 ways to get ahead on your monthly finances!

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Guest Post Written By: Wendi Iacobello

save-now-cover Getting ahead on your monthly finances takes work. Making small changes now can vastly increase your savings each month. It takes discipline to stick to a strict regimen and make saving money a priority. Below are a few strategies to help increase your savings each month in three key areas.

Electricity

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1-Lights-Change your light bulbs to energy efficient bulbs. Then, only use lights in the room in which you are sitting. During the day time, open up your blinds or curtains and let in fresh light instead of using electricity. To learn more about the cost savings of energy efficient bulbs, click here.
2-Appliances-Change the way you do laundry to save money. Washing clothes in cold water is cost saving. Make sure your laundry and dishwasher loads are full. Lastly, run your appliances during the early morning or late evening hours when energy costs are lower.

Food

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3-Lunch-Food is a huge expense. Packing your lunch can save up to fifty dollars a week, plus you can eat healthier.
4-Dinner-Plan your family’s meals for the week utilizing similar ingredients so you are not wasteful. For example: If I know I am cooking a large meal on Sundays, I make sure that Monday night’s meal plan will incorporate leftovers plus adding in one extra vegetable that can be cooked easily on Monday night. This not only saves money, but can also save you time from having to cook every night. This can also include using similar ingredients in your recipes so you are using the entire product you bought before it expires.

5-Going out to eat-Going out to eat is costly and can wreak havoc on your budget. Depending on how much money you want to save will depend on whether you should eliminate going out to eat completely, or limit it to only one time per week.
6-Grocery List-Make a grocery list and stick to it. Often times when you are in the grocery store, you begin throwing in extra items that are usually unnecessary. When you stick to a grocery list, you avoid adding extra expenses to your grocery bill. For an added challenge, you can write down and add each item as you place it in your shopping cart to make sure you stay within your weekly grocery budget. While I may look ridiculous, I bring a small dry erase board with me to the grocery store with my grocery list on it, and I can add everything quite easily as I shop on the board.

7-Off brands-Instead of name brand products, look for the best prices on some of the products you typically buy. Off brands taste very similar to the name brands, so be sure to check prices and see where you can make the adjustment to save money.
8-Coupons-Using coupons never goes out of style. Many stores now offer coupons right on the shelves which makes it easier to save, but also entices you to buy certain products that you may not really need. Keep clipping coupons and pay attention to the deals to make sure it’s truly worth the buy.

Travel

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9-Errands-Plan your errands accordingly. When you plan your trips around town and errands accordingly, you not only save on gas money, but you also save more time in your schedule. Time is worth money, so if you can save time you can also save money.
10-Trips-Limit unnecessary travel until it is affordable in your budget. Traveling can become costly and puts a large dent in your budget. Avoiding trips and traveling can save tremendous amounts each month.

What are some things you do to save money on your budget each month? Please share in the comments.

Want to know more about Wendi? Read below.

wendi
Wendi Iacobello is an Army wife. She has a background in special as well as adult education. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master of Arts in Educational Media. She is a blogger, workshop presenter, and advisor to military spouses seeking career and education assistance. In her free time, you can usually find her in the outdoors somewhere gardening, running, or playing with her Beagle puppy. Wendi is extremely passionate about helping others by sharing her experiences, insight, resources, and inspirational stories on her blog Strength 4 Spouses.

Are You Ready to Shop on Black Friday?

I love shopping during the holiday season.  My favorite day to shop is Black Friday. I know many disagree because the crowds can sometimes be overwhelming. There are ways to avoid the crowds (at certain stores) and get the items you are looking for. Shopping outside of peak Black Friday hours is a great way to avoid large crowds.  As the years have gone by, Black Friday has made its way to Thanksgiving Thursday. This is mainly because most people are not working on Thanksgiving but often return to work the following day (Friday).  Companies believed that the idea of making Black Friday shopping accessible to those people would help boost their profits.

Bestblackfriday.com is a great site to find deals, it has a list of deals to be had on Black Friday.  Also, they have included a list of retailers that will be closed on Black Friday. This site offers ads prior to Black Friday and even some store maps of where specific items can be located.  Store maps can be your best friend, it makes a positive impact on your shopping experience when you don’t have to search for items in a large store. Theblackfriday.com website also posts deals and early ads for Black Friday.

A few tips for you prior to making a big shopping trip.  Make a list.  At our home around Thanksgiving we have an art night. Each person in my family gets a 5×7 index card to list whatever items they may want. Then we decorate the cards with glitter, crayons, marker, etc.  I write down the sizes of shirts, pants, and shoes on each person’s card. When we are ready to shop my husband and I can split up and take the cards and we know exactly what the children want and their sizes (this works for your significant other as well). Another great tip is to set a budget for each person. We do this at the beginning of the year so that we can save the amount of money we need prior to November.

At Walmart, I pair the store ads with the store map so that I can quickly find each item.  Walmart tends to be one of the busiest stores for Black Friday shopping.  They offer a daily shopping guide from Thanksgiving Day until Sunday. There are certain items I like to purchase from Walmart like; pajamas, kids’ toys, and electronics (if we need them). This is one of the best time to buy electronics (Computers, TV’s, etc.) because they are usually deeply disconnected.

Old Navy, I go to for denim jeans.  I love their jeans, especially for my children (their waists are small and Old Navy has the elastic insert in the jeans). On Black Friday, Old Navy usually has the jeans and pajamas half price and they also offer super cash and other incentives, like their opportunity tickets to win free money.

Outlet malls; If you are shopping for someone who likes handbags, designer clothes or other designer items.  On Black Friday, Check out the Michael Kors and Coach Stores.  You can buy a handbag for less than half the price of a traditional department store.   Many of the outlets stores also offer additional percentages off your purchase.

I hope you gained a few good tips to prepare you for your holiday shopping trip. Holiday shopping should be fun and festive! Remember stay positive and patient. Until next time, stay frugal!