Saving Money by Buying More

To this day I can still remember my first big grocery bill after we were married. It was about $200 and I cried on the way home. I didn’t get anything fancy-just the basics. We were poor newlywed students and food expenses were a necessary evil that I could not get around.

Buying groceries was my responsibility in the marriage and I was determined to live within our meager budget. I dove right into the challenge and years later found myself teaching community classes on “couponing” (“yes”, I had to tell my sisters, “couponing is a word”).

I no longer spend hours finding, printing, cutting and organizing coupons but there are some invaluable shopping principles I learned from those studies that I will never change. My favorite one is buying more to save more.

The simple idea behind the strategy is to buy more of something when it is on sale so you do not have to pay full price for it later when you need it. Applying this principle will look different in everyone’s home. Take some time to consider the following questions to be able to maximize your savings.

*How much room do you have for food storage?
This may seem like an obvious question but this has landed me in jeopardy more than once when it comes to frozen foods. I have become much more organized (and creative!) with my freezer space out of necessity. Although this is obviously not the answer for everyone, we invested in a deep freezer as a result of one of the best sales I have ever seen on cheese and meat. I convinced my husband that after a few additional sales like that one we would pay for the freezer with the amount of money we saved.

*How much of this item will we use?
No matter how good of a sale it is, it’s never a good deal if the food goes to waste. Make sure you do not buy more than you can use. Consider the expiration date and your schedule and meal rotations. I always try to make meals where the bulk of my ingredients are things I already have stored so that nothing is wasted or forgotten, but that’s a whole other principle.

*How good is the sale?
This is something you will get better at knowing over time. The worst feeling is when you stock up on a favorite item because it’s on a great sale, only to find out the next week that the same item is being sold at a significantly better price at a neighboring store. You will become familiar with prices in your area and start to know what is a good price for different items. Also, don’t be afraid to ask people! I have talked to my butcher at my grocery store several times about prices. I don’t know of a grocery store where they pay their employees commissions on sales so they will honestly tell you whether you should wait for a better sale or when an upcoming discount can be expected. Be kind and friendly to employees- they have a wealth of knowledge!

*How often is it on sale?
This question is one of my favorites because it’s such a game changer. Sales go in rotation. Not only can you expect certain items to be discounted around certain times, you can plan your food storage around them! For example, my grocery store has meat sales on a two week rotation. This means that I only need to buy enough chicken to last my family two weeks before I know it will be on sale again. It also gives me a reason to never have to buy chicken at its full price in between those sale prices because I can simply pull it out of my freezer.

Another sale rotation that is extremely helpful to be aware of and watch for are seasonal sales. For example, barbeque sauce is usually marked at its lowest around the Fourth Of July and nutrition and health bars are normally at their lowest in January for everyone’s New Years’ resolutions. Oftentimes these items do not expire for over a year so if you have the space, buy enough to last your family that long.

Once your stock piles reach a successful rotation you will find that you are shopping completely differently. It’s not unusual for me to come home from the store with 25 boxes of cereal, 10 bags of cheese and then only a handful of other basics like bread, milk and bananas. I don’t need to buy every ingredient on my list for meals that week because I have already stocked up on them when they were on sale. As a result, I can make the same tasty meals at a much lower price for my family. Buying more to save money is all about timing your larger purchases with their sale prices and ironically you will soon find that buying more can indeed help you spend less.

Emily Perkes is a Mother to three young children, First Grade Teacher, and enjoys helping her husband run their outdoor business business from home.

Financial Fitness for the Rest of Your Summer

Summer is halfway over and the warm weather, BBQ’s, and vacations have already probably put a dent in your budget. It’s a perfect time to re-evaluate your money goals by tracking your progress so far. It’s important to stay proactive about overspending by executing smart approaches that will keep you financially fit for the duration of the summer.

Review Your Current Summer Budget

After a month into the summer season, is your budget holding steady? It’s always prudent to review your current expenses in an effort to determine where you can cut back. It’s apparent that people spend more in the summer so it’s important to implement those amplified spending areas into your budget. Assess your recurring expenses by analyzing your debit and credit card activity. If you’re paying for items or services you never use then get rid of them. This will leave you more for your end of summer fun!

Assess Your Debt

Be honest, was one of your new year’s resolutions to pay off your debt? Like most of us, did that thought quickly fade? If this is you, then it’s time you do an honest evaluation of your debt. Are you feeling a bit debt fatigued or are you on your way to reaching your debt free goal? If you swept the goal of paying off your debt under the carpet then maybe it’s time to remember why it’s important for you personally to get out of debt. What are your visions for the future? What does your life after debt look like? If that is the life you want then start increasing your payments by only $5, which can have a great overall effect without putting a crimp in your summer plans.

Cut Energy Costs

Try to cut energy costs wherever you can in the summer. First of all, grill outside more often. This will cut the number of dishes used as well as the number of dishwasher cycles. Turn off internal lights and depend on natural sunlight. If it’s to hot outside then close the blinds to keep it cool inside the house. Water plants with a watering can instead of letting the hose run and try drying clothes outside on an old-fashioned clothesline to avoid using the dryer.

Take Advantage of Summer Sales

There are a ton of sales during the summer months that can help you save. Food shopping can be especially hard on your budget. Get the most for your money by utilizing store coupons and checking your local store circulars. We recommend using Flipp, a free application that can help you gather all the store circulars in your local area. This app can help you save 20-70% every week on your grocery bill.

Grasp the Strength in Old and Discounted Gift Cards

When was the last time you cleaned out your wallet and found old gift cards? These can help you supplement your summer dining or shopping while on vacation. You may not know this but you can buy gift cards at a discount. Raise.com can help you save money in two different ways:
– You can sell your old or unwanted gift cards for cash, which can then be used, towards your summer activities.
– You can buy gift cards at a discount from over 4,000 retailers

If You’re Strapped For Cash Hustle Up Some Extra Cash

If your summer plans have busted your budget how about hustling up some extra cash. What if you rent a room out in your home on Airbnb. You can dog sit for dogs by advertising on dogvacay.com, or drive for a ride share service. So, stop complaining that you are short of cash. Be creative and use the options that are out there waiting for you.

Use Cash

It’s very convenient to swipe your card wherever you go. Research shows that using cash as your payment of choice ultimately controls the amount you will spend by 12 – 18%. Elizabeth Jenkins, a hard-money lending expert, suggests you put your cash budgets into weekly envelopes. “Have an envelope for weekly food, entertainment, gas, rent/mortgage. You’ll feel guilty if you take money from the envelopes for unrelated expenses.”

View Spending Differently

Spending money can become addictive. How about spending ‘time’ on things instead of spending money on things. Focus on activities that will expand your well being instead of purchasing and collecting material items. For example, start an exercise program; find a hobby or work on upgrading your home. In other words, put your energy into projects that may cost you some money but will be more beneficial to your home or family.

You can’t be too rigid with your money. It definitely needs to adapt to your life. Summer is half over so start mapping out the rest of the summer so you can avoid overspending and digging yourself deeper into debt.

Make It About Memories, Not Money

Mother Nature has been quite kind to us in Manitoba so far this summer. The sun has been shining and the temperatures are fantastic. And let’s not mention the M word, the lack of our buzzing, biting little buddies.

Now that school is out, it’s time to think about how to entertain ourselves on the weekends and the kids for two whole months. With a younger generation who has access to more technology and games than any generation prior, it’s easy to visualize a summer spent indoors. With the summer shaping up as it has been so far what a better time to break that cycle. Let’s be smart about it and not break the bank while we’re at it.

We live in a beautiful province that offers so many options for activities. These can range from day trips to week long outings for anyone who wants to enjoy it. Here are some cost-effective options for making memories.

Grand Beach. This huge stretch of soft sand beach and sand dunes is only a one-hour drive from Winnipeg. This beautiful beach has been listed world-wide as an experience to be had and so many locals have yet to make the trip. It’s a great getaway for a day and offers camping, motels and cottage rentals for longer stays.
Birds Hill Park. Located a very short drive from the city, this vastly under-utilized year round provincial park offers a slew of activity choices. Paved and natural trails allow for biking, rollerblading and hiking. There are horse stables and quite often Polo games are available for viewing. There is a campground with choices of basic, electrical or full service camping and a beach with food and beverage options.
Little Limestone Lake. A little longer trip, but the closest to the Caribbean you can get when you don’t live near the ocean. It is the biggest and best marl, colour-changing lake in the world.
Whiteshell Provincial Park. Part of the Canadian Shield landscape about 1.5 hours east of Winnipeg, is a treasure trove of natural resources. This park is filled with wildlife as the wilderness is quite undisturbed. If you’re looking to spend time at the lake, there are beaches, waterfalls, rapids, diving, sailing, swimming and waterskiing as just a few choices.
Assiniboine Zoo. An absolute gem located right within the city and one of the most beautiful urban parks the zoo offers a plethora of experiences for young and old. Right now you have the chance to see the incredibly endangered snow leopards. The two little cubs are just settling into their new enclosure and are still awaiting their names. Included in the regular admission this summer, the new attraction Xtreme BUGS is being offered for a limited time. One of the biggest attractions, literally, is the polar bears whom you can see in action without travelling to the North.

Budgeting Like Dieting Doesn’t Work, Here Is an Alternative

Budgeting like dieting doesn’t work because folks don’t embed it in their lifestyles. Usually, it’s a chore a finance person recommends. Is there a better alternative to achieve the goals of budgeting?

Most people spend and try to save what is left, usually, not much if any. Take Warren Buffet’s advice, “Do not save what is left after spending; instead spend what is left after saving.” The question becomes: How do you determine how much to keep?

Budgeting Like Dieting Doesn’t Work Because it is not Part of a Lifestyle

Let’s look at budgeting and why it does not work for many folks. Budgeting is a means to have enough resources to achieve goals orderly and systematically. It needs discipline, persistence, and goals about which you are passionate. Besides, it can generate stress if you view it as a constraining tool. Then again, in today’s consumerism with cheap money, easy credit, and flashy gadgets marketed seductively, many people don’t stick to a budget. Folks aren’t prepared to give up the “deal.” Although, to capture this deal, typically they spend on credit with no financial benefit.

Most people I counsel have difficulty with budgeting. If you are like them, frustrated with budgeting, try something new in 2019. However, first decide why you should do anything. Why not continue behaving as presently and spend as you wish? When I presented this question to someone whom I will call Richard, he replied, “I need to improve my financial situation, I can’t continue as currently.” He explained that he needs to reduce financial stress, and feel a sense of control over his finances.

Spend What’s Left After Savings

Reverting to Warren Buffet’s advice, Richard decided for 2019, monthly he plans to identify amounts to save and then spend what’s left. Contrary to my opinion, he did not wish to specify savings goals: an item, event, or project to save towards. Instead, he decided to set aside $1000 monthly.

“Is this amount realistic?” I asked.

Richard said, “Yes, I developed the figure after reviewing my past six months’ spending and highlighting patterns. I feel sure I will save this amount and juggle what’s left.”

Richard decided to keep this famous Warren Buffet quote on his desk daily to motivate him to save: “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

“Won’t this savings approach cause just as much stress as budgeting?” I asked.

“No, I know my spending pattern, critical areas where I must allocate funds monthly, and I want to build savings,” Richard replied.

The save-first approach excites Richard. He knows budgeting like dieting doesn’t work because it needs to be part of his lifestyle, and he doesn’t plan to incorporate that behavior in his routines. However, he is confident he can embrace the savings approach as a part of his lifestyle because he believes savings are crucial to relieving financial stress. That’s why he plans to set up a monthly transfer of $1000 to a tax-free savings account. He will consider the amount available to spend as an acceptable constraint. Moreover, he knows this approach will provide comfort to handle emergencies when they arise.

“Why not add savings in a budget and work with the traditional budgeting approach?” I asked.

Richard replied, “I don’t want to allocate and monitor funds to individual categories. I want two broad headings only: savings and spending.”

Budgeting Like Dieting Needs Commitment to Change

I suggested to Richard that when he has a critical spending category in a month, he allocates an amount to that category and places it in an envelope. If he doesn’t want to place cash in the envelope, he might put a three by five or different sized card with a note of the upper spending limit and record spending on the card in the month to know when he exhausts the balance.

Richard agreed and decided to record his monthly spending (using an app and internet banking) for one reason alone: To understand his spending pattern and spending drivers more fully. As well, he plans to get an accountability partner to discuss challenges and help him learn and grow from each month’s experience-especially missteps.

Essentially, saving and then spending what’s left means continuously prioritizing spending alternatives and accepting spending limits monthly. He is confident he will succeed because he is intrinsically motivated to save, and he wants to break the cycle of trying to budget, then failing, and not saving.

How is your budgeting approach? Budgeting like dieting doesn’t work because it usually doesn’t become a lifestyle matter, but people see it as a specific, frustrating program. Actually, the issue isn’t budgeting, but people’s attitude to it. Do you think it’s time to do something radical about your finances? Richard plans to, and I intend to work with him. I am excited to journey with him and committed to being his cheerleader.

With Consumer Debt Savings Mean Debt Repayment

Richard has no debt but a mortgage. If he had consumer debts, I would suggest he focuses his “savings” to eliminate them before starting the new procedure.

What if you have no cash to save but must live pay-check-to-pay-check? Your only option is to work with what you have. However, I believe this condition you need to work with a budget. Identify an amount, no matter how small, and start setting that amount aside not only to get the discipline while you work your way out of your present condition, but to create an emergency fund. To create this fund, pretend you earn less and save the difference.

Many people with make a new year resolution to save, better at handling money or some similar approach to taming their finances. It is critical we understand the issue is the finances but our attitude to it.