5 Ways to Save Money in 2012


I’m excited to have Lindsey Bell as our guest blogger this month! Here’s a post from Lindsey explaining how she budgets, saves and spends her family’s money. Enjoy these very useful ideas and visit her blog to find out more!

Kasey

At the end of November, I asked my three-year-old son what he wanted for Christmas. His response: “A candy cane, Mommy. I want a candy cane.” I should have left it at that.  But naïve mother that I am, I pressured him for more. “No, Rylan, what toys do you want? Like, do you want a bicycle? Or some new cars? Or a Thomas the Train? What toys do you want for Christmas?” My suggestions must have sparked his imagination, because from that day forward, his Christmas list grew. It went from candy cane to IPad, golf clubs and scooter. That’s right. My three-year-old asked for an IPad (he didn’t get one, by the way).

Thus began my new job of teaching my preschooler about money—teaching him that we can’t always get everything we want and sometimes we have to sacrifice a desire for the good of the family. A lesson with which many of us still struggle.

For some reason, even though we live in America that’s supposed to be such a rich nation, money is nonetheless a problem for many people. Blame it on rising costs of living, a lack of education for young adults, greed, or various other reasons. Whatever the cause, you and I don’t have to remain in this constant struggle to make ends meet.

I’m a stay-at-home mom, and my family lives on one income (and I should add, that one income is a minister’s salary). To say money is tight for us is an understatement. Even still, we’ve never missed a payment and have no debt outside of our home. I say all this not to brag (believe me, it’s only by the grace of God and the help of a few wonderful teachers that we are where we are), but to let you know it’s possible. Money doesn’t have to own you. As the New Year begins, it’s the perfect time to make some changes in the way we handle our money—changes that I hope will last long past 2012. Let’s start with these five money-saving tips:

Make a budget.

The time invested in the first few months is well worth it. Sure, it’s a pain in the beginning. But once you’ve developed a system, you’ll find that you’re not only aware of where your money is going, but also able to give and save more. Budgets aren’t supposed to make you feel trapped. They’re supposed to provide you the freedom to spend your money only on those things you really want to spend money on.

To get started, track your expenses for a few months. Keep track of every single penny you spend. Then, by looking at your typical spending habits, make a detailed budget. Here are a few categories you might need to include: housing, car payment, insurance, groceries, phones, utilities, cable, spending money, vacation, eating out, birthday presents, Christmas, gasoline, giving money, etc. Based on your typical paycheck, divide your income into categories so that every dime is accounted for before the month begins. One thing to remember as you prepare your budget—your expenses cannot exceed your income.

Plan your meals in advance and then shop with a list.

I cannot emphasize this enough. My husband and I have a family of four and spend less than three hundred dollars a month on groceries and toiletries combined. And I have two kids in diapers! The only way I’m able to do this is by planning my meals and making a list.

Meal planning, though, does more than save money. It also helps get rid of that after-work/end-of-day stress. Instead of pilfering through the fridge at five o-clock every night, scrambling to come up with a decent meal, you already know exactly what you’ll eat every night of the week. I plan my weeks with a couple of easy meals and a couple of more detailed meals. That way, I can switch up my menu based on how I’m feeling each day.

A third benefit to meal planning is that it allows for healthier eating. When I don’t know what I’m going to cook (or worse, don’t even have the ingredients I need), we’ll go out to eat. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with eating out on occasion. But if it’s an every night event, it can easily break your budget and your scale.

Pay with cash, not credit.

For some reason, paying with cash hurts more. When you’re holding a one hundred dollar bill in your hand, it’s a lot harder to let go of than it is to run a piece of plastic through a machine. Paying with cash causes you to think harder about purchases and make sure they are really worth the cost.

I’m not anti-credit card. My husband and I often use our cards—especially for large purchases so that we can take advantage of reward programs. The key to using a credit card is to pay it off every month. If you can’t pay off a purchase, don’t buy it.

Plan now for end-of-year expenses.

December is always a budget-killer in our household. This past Christmas was even worse. (That’s actually an understatement. I asked for a Dyson vacuum cleaner, so our budget didn’t just take a hit. It sank completely.) But…because we had prepared for December in January through November, we were still able to pay all of our bills without having to go into debt.

Here are a few categories you might want to add into your budget every month: Christmas, new tires (we always seem to need new tires right around Christmas time), car tags (again, ours fall in November and December), property taxes, and car insurance. Simply budget a certain amount of money into these categories every month and store the cash in an envelope or special savings account. When December rolls around this year, you’ll be ready.

Give.

I know it doesn’t really make sense. How can giving money away help you save? I don’t really have an answer for that other than this: the Lord promises that when we give to Him, he will give back to us. Granted, it’s not always in money. But sometimes it is.

When my husband and I were first married, we made a commitment to give ten percent of our income (which wasn’t much) to our local church. We were college students with part-time jobs, so making this commitment was difficult for us. One time, when we literally had no money in our bank account and very little gas left in our cars, someone left an anonymous gift in my mailbox at school—just enough to get us through until the next paycheck. One of the primary reasons my husband and I have never had debt and never missed a payment is this: we give to the Lord. And He gives back.

Along with these five tips are many more: create a babysitting swap instead of paying for sitters, buy generic, use coupons only if they actually save you money, eat in rather than out, bring your lunch to work, etc. If you’d like to read more tips from me, I have a free downloadable document at my blog: http://www.lindsey-bell.com. Stop by anytime. I’d love to chat with you more!

3 Responses to “5 Ways to Save Money in 2012”


  1. 1 Lindsey Bell January 5, 2012 at 5:27 PM

    Thanks so much for having me on your blog! I hope my tips were helpful:)


  1. 1 5 Ways to Save Money in 2012 - Lindsey Bell Trackback on June 23, 2015 at 6:51 PM

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