Are you wondering how to save money? I look back over my life when I first moved out of my parents house and out on my own, and boy have I come a long way. For most of my life I have been a single mother. Budgeting, scraping, and sacrificing was a way of life for me. I’m proud to say, things got better as time went on. I was able to purchase my own home, send my daughter on a international vacation, college educated her, purchased a new car for her college graduation, travel, and built a significant savings account and retirement nest egg. This is not a boast, but a blessing.
You ask how I managed, I say discipline and remembering that every penny counts. Here are a few tips on how I saved:
- Pay yourself first – Bank a portion of your check regularly. Put it into an account and forget about it. I’ve cried broke my entire life, and I act as though the money doesn’t exist. People say they can hear me squeak.
- Shop wisely – I shop at thrift stores, yard sales and second hand stores. You can find brand new items, name brand items and gently used items. Don’t by-pass the Dollar Stores either, they’re great for school supplies, coloring books, crafts and snack items.
- Use coupons and discounts – You can save tons of money by using coupons and taking advantage of discounts.
- Look for free activities – Take advantage of free activities during the summer and holidays for family activities.
- Bank a part of your child support – If you’re single parent bank a portion of your child support. If you can’t bank half, bank what you can. I was able to send my daughter to Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Austria on child support that I saved for her.
- Drive an inexpensive car with low maintenance – My first car didn’t have an air conditioner and it was a straight stick. At this stage in my life I couldn’t handle either of the two, but I sacrificed when I was younger and able to endure.
- Pack your child’s lunch – My daughter was a brown bagger until high school. Packing her lunch relieved me of having to pay another bill.
- Limit credit cards – Cash and carry was my motto for most things. Buying budget furniture and refinishing items cut down on household expenses.
- Start a Thrift Saving Plan (TSP) or 401-K – I invested my money for the past 25 years, and again acted as if it didn’t exist. When I needed a loan, I borrowed from my TSP at a much lower interest rate. When I retire, I will have a monthly check from my employer as well as everything that I have saved and earned for 25 years in my TSP. I plan to use this money to travel the world.
- Purchase clothes off season – I purchase clothes on clearance at the end of each season for the following year. I’m now able to shop where ever I want whenever I want, but I still purchase the majority of my clothes off the clearance rack and the kid’s clothing there as well.
- Start a vacation club – I’m able to vacation several times a year. I treat my daughter, son-in-law, 2 grandchildren and my friend each summer to a week at the beach.
- Prepare meals for the week – This will eliminate stopping at fast food places and spending money unnecessarily.
- Become a DIYer – After I purchased my home, I did my own painting, mowed the lawn, trimmed it and fixed minor things around the house. I saved thousands of dollars by doing my own work and banked it.
- Assess your household expenses – Get rid of unnecessary expenses and bank that money. You were spending it initially, so you shouldn’t miss it.
- Be Creative – When I break a dollar, I throw the money to the bottom of my purse. I empty my purse at the end of the week, and place the money into jars. Once the jars are full I head to the bank and place it into my travel account.