Alright, advice time. Here are 10 things you can do TODAY that can radically change your financial present and future.
1. Get organized. Go through that stack of bills, clean out your filing cabinet, balance your check book. GO…DO IT RIGHT NOW!
2. If you do not have free online bill pay, get it now. At 12 bills per month, times 37 cents per bill, that is more than 50 dollars a year on stamps! Would you pick up a 50 dollar bill if you found it laying around? I would. (I use Wachovia. While I do not like their loan department, I love their online banking and bill pay) Be sure your billpay is FREE. Do not pay for this service, as many banks offer it FREE.
3. Check your cable or satellite bill. Be sure that you watch all of the channels you pay for. We cancelled just 1 part of our package (duplicate local channels) and saved 60 bucks a year.
4. Go to your child’s room, and clean out their closet. If you find any items that are in great condition, but are too small for your child, sell those items on ebay. People pay more money for nice, name-brand children’s clothing than they do for ADULTS. (We made over 700 bucks in 1 month doing this.)
5. Do you listen to CD’s? Well, gather them up, rip them to your hard-drive, and sell the ones you don’t need anymore. COME ON! It is 2005! You don’t need those stacks and stacks of old CD’s. Clear the clutter, and make some cash. (We made 200 bucks a few years ago selling CD’s that we never even listened to.)
Okay, now you are organized, your kid’s closet is clean, and you have some stuff selling on eBay.
The next few items have to do with saving money on practical purchases.
1. Okay, I just like ONE grocery store, our local Kroger. I hate our local Wal—-. It is nasty, dirty, and their service is non-existent. SO, I shop at Kroger. Are their prices a wee bit higher? Yes, BUT, if you buy sale items, and sale items only, and you use coupons, you can come out WAY ahead of Wal—-. So, the first tip in this section is: Get a small notebook you can carry in your pocket, and create a “Grocery Price Book.” Then, when you go shopping, note the regular and/or sale price of items you want to buy.
2. ONLY buy items when they are on special (unless, of course, you are just beginning and you have items that you must have.) Please note, most grocery stores run their sales in a 12-16 week cycle. SO, after some time of keeping a Grocery Price Book, you will learn when your favorite items are on sale. Then, you can stock up.
3. This is a strange one. I am a dude, but I like to grocery shop. Here is the deal. I set aside about 2 hours, and I go to Kroger, and just chill and shop. I take my Grocery Price Book with me, and I go up and down the isles. I know the place better than the manager. I can tell when just about any item has gone up or down in price. (In fact, we just got a new Kroger, and I knew immediately that they had changed the “permanent” price for certain goods.) So, this tip is: Instead of dreading going to the store, make it a mini-vacation. There are no windows, no clocks. I think the best time to grocery shop is like 10 AM on Tuesday morning. Take an early lunch, wife is at work, kids are at school. Shop for 2 hours, have lunch, wind down.
4. Buy brand-names only if you just cannot stand off-brand items. I have found that MOST off-brand items are just as good as name-brand items, BUT, I do have my limits. I am sure you do to. However, be sure that you really don’t like an off-brand BEFORE you reject it. I have found that I like some off-brands BETTER than name-brands.
Off-Brands I Like BETTER? Kroger Butter Beans, Pickles, Paper Towels, and Bathroom Cleaner
Name-Brands I MUST have? Hunt’s Ketchup, Jif Peanut Butter, and Lipton Rice Sides.
(Oh yeah, I HATE off-brand soup. I want me Campbell’s!)
5. Clean out your fridge and your shelves. Knowing what you have and don’t have will go a long ways towards helping you know what you need to buy. How many times have you purchased a gallon of milk, only to get home and find 2/3 of a gallon still in the fridge? Plan, Plan, Plan!
Hope these 10 things help. I know that none of them are all that original, but I think we all get a wee bit hectic, and we allow ourselves to become disorganized. Getting and staying organized will help each of us conquer our particular financial challenges.
Man, what a lame last sentence…