10 Easy Ways to Save Money This Month

I recently moved from Mississippi to Florida. We quickly realized that it costs more in every sense of the word to live in our new state, so I have had to get creative with ways to save money every month while also decreasing our spending. Sometimes finding ways to save is just as important as finding ways to earn! Check out my 10 easy ways to save money this month and start saving today!

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1.) Don’t spend if you can’t pay: This seems like a no brainer, but a surprising amount of folks struggle with this one. In our house, we don’t make big purchases on our credit card unless we can pay them in full when the bill comes due. If we can’t, then we just do without. Sure I would love to buy new furniture for my house, but it’s currently not in the budget, so right now we have no bar stools. The month will come, but this month just isn’t it. So we just stand around in the kitchen when we eat. I kid, we have a table!

2.) Unplug/electricity: Did you know that even when your stuff isn’t on, but it’s still plugged in…it’s using electricity? I have tried to get in the habit of unplugging things like my phone charger and laptop when they aren’t being used. The two main lamps we use in the living room are on an extension cord we just unplug instead of turning on and off the lamps. It’s the little things that add up!

3.) Monthly subscriptions: How many of you get 27,000 magazine subscriptions every month? How many do you actually read? I have cut back and no longer get monthly magazines (I used to get about 4-5!) The magazines would stack up and mock me and I felt guilty for not opening them. A sad situation. Now I save money and don’t feel pressured.

4.) Stop being grocery brand loyal: Confession: I rarely used to check the prices of items against their competitors in the store, I just bought my favorite brands. I know right? Huge mistake. Not only because a lot of times a competitor may be on sale, but quite frankly for a lot (not all) grocery related items, you can’t really tell the difference in the store brand or name brand. I have saved a lot of money by price checking and using coupons before I throw something into my cart and buy.

5.) Buy consignment: People are constantly asking me where I get Emma Kate’s adorable clothes. Truth is, rarely do I buy her clothes new. If I do get something new, it’s from a pre sale Facebook group where I pay for things months in advance in order to get them super cheap. I can buy a second hand church dress for EK for a fraction of the cost at a consignment shop, and no one can tell it isn’t brand new. I started doing the same with furniture as well. I bought an old wooden dresser for $75 on Facebook, put a fresh coat of white paint on it and repurposed it as our new TV stand in our home. For under $100 we have a great piece of furniture that would have cost us hundreds at a store. I have totally gotten over the need to have everything “new”. You can find some great deals on second hand items if you take the time to research and are willing to put in a little elbow grease.

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Would you have ever guessed we bought this dress at a consignment shop? Nope!

6.) Eat out of your freezer and pantry: Before we moved, we ate out of our freezer and pantry for a couple of weeks to clean them both out, and I was amazed at the meals I could come up with. I also felt a little ashamed that we had so much food but yet I bought more and more every week. I have decided to make it a new thing where for one week every couple of months we eat out of what we already have at home. Don’t let that food expire and go to waste!

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7.) Stick to your list: This is a big pitfall for me, especially when it comes to a little store called Target and a little girl named Emma Kate. The dollar spot in particular is a weakness of mine because “it’s just $1.00” or “it’s just $3.00” but if I buy 5 items that is easily and quickly between $10 and $15! I create a list before I shop now and don’t stray from it. My kid really doesn’t need more toys and I don’t need more junky things to clutter up the house. Stop the impulse buying!

8.) Close the curtains: We moved into a bigger house which means a bigger electric bill. Did you know that windows are where most of the cold and heat comes into your house? I have started to close the blinds/curtains for rooms I’m not in during the day to help save on electricity. If I change rooms for an extended period of time, I just open up blinds/curtains in the new room, and close in the old room. No biggie.

9.) Cheaper phone plan: Bobby and I recently were able to save around $40 a month on our cell phone bill by switching our plan. We had an unlimited plan, but after looking at the past few months of data history, we realized we never even came close to reaching what the data limit would be on a plan that would have been way cheaper. If you have unlimited data, call your phone company and have them tell you how much data you are averaging a month. If it’s below one of the cheaper plan limits, switch!

10.) Sell items online: Not only do I buy furniture, clothing, and the like online…but I sell it, too. I am a member of several local Facebook yard sale groups, and have made a good amount of money selling everything from baby clothes and toys to furniture and electronics. It’s great for spring cleaning! Just make sure you take well lit photos and give good descriptions. Remember people like to haggle, so start your item at a price you are ok negotiating with. If you choose to do this, always meet in a public place in the daytime, and ask for cash only.

QOTD: What is your best tip for saving money?

How to Afford Your First Home

I was recently reflecting on the fact that in just a few days, we will have been back in Madison, Mississippi for a YEAR! It has flown by for sure.

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Our current home

We went from owning our home in Biloxi (which was our second house) to moving into a friends boathouse up here in Madison, to finally selling our Biloxi house and being able to buy a home up here.

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Our Biloxi home when it was still being built

Even though this is our third home, the home buying process was still special and the financial part of it is still a huge factor and something we worked hard towards. Even though we were very young when we got married, we were still able to purchase our own home as newlyweds. Make sure when buying a new home you have air testing done to make sure the air in the house doesn’t have any harmful chemicals.

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Our first home after we made an offer!

We rented apartments before then, and saved up our money from our jobs for a down payment. It wasn’t a glamorous house but it was ours (well, the banks!) Since we are now on our third house I feel like I am pretty knowledgeable of the home buying process and what it takes to make your dream of owning a home a reality, so here are my best tips.

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1.) Save save save: This one is kind of a given, but in an age where people want everything RIGHT NOW and they aren’t willing to wait to get what they want, it can be difficult to see the bigger picture. You can start with something as simple as a jar in your kitchen, or you can even set up a separate account at the bank and have a certain percent of your money you make go into that account. Set up a timeline, and work backwards to see how much you will need to save before a select date arrives. You will probably need to make some sacrifices along the way, so decide right now how important this is to you. Lunch out every day and Starbucks seven days a week may need to be cut down in order to make your dream a reality. It really adds up!

2.) Eliminate debt: I know this may seem contradictory to the previous point of saving, but by simply not purchasing things you cannot pay for RIGHT NOW, you will save yourself a lot of heartache when it comes to purchasing your first home. My husband and I have always had a rule with the credit card: If we can’t pay it off IN FULL at the end of the month, we don’t buy it. The exception to this for us has been a mortgage and student loans, and some people lump car payments into this as well. I’m talking about vacations, that cute new handbag, or that new couch you just “HAD to have”. Friends, we used TV trays as nightstands for the first few years of our marriage. Trust me, you do not “have” to have a brand new expensive couch. The less interest you have to pay on things you own, the more money that can to towards your new home. Even if you have already made mistakes in this department, you can start TODAY by not buying more stuff, and paying off the things you owe on. Baby steps, you can do this!

3.) Do research: There are a lot of other costs to think about when buying a home aside from the cost of the actual house. You need to think about closing costs, moving costs, and things you will of course want to buy like blinds or curtains, lawn equipment, etc. Be sure to include these things in your overall price so you don’t get surprised by them later on. Also, be sure to research locations and neighborhoods. Think about the value of a home location for resale purposes, it does matter!

4.) Get prequalified: So let’s say you have been saving, eliminating our debt, doing research, and you think you are ready to start looking at homes. You will need to know how much of a house you can afford, so be sure to get prequalified. Also, just because you are told you can spend up to X number of dollars, doesn’t necessarily mean you SHOULD spend that much.

5.) Be realistic: Everything around us today tells us we need a big fancy house with beautiful décor from the day we get married. TV shows and the like paint a very unrealistic picture of what most young couples can afford in a first home. Most people can’t afford their “dream home” for their first home, and that is NORMAL! You have to start somewhere, and having a smaller house and smaller mortgage to start with can help you save for a nicer and bigger house later on. (Also, ideally, your monthly housing payment shouldn’t be more than 28 percent of your gross household monthly income). For instance, if you don’t plan to have kids for 5-7 years, don’t buy a house with five bedrooms! Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, and think ahead to the future and what your current need is, and match it to your price point. No one wants to be “house poor”. I know you have seen them, people who have a huge fancy house with minimal furniture and they can’t afford anything else because of their mortgage? Don’t be that couple! There is plenty of time for another purchase.

6.) Learn about home loans: CapitalOne is a great place to start! Their goal is to help first-time homebuyers understand how the home loan process works, which is why they have launched a new online learning center that features the know-how you’ll need to become the savviest homeowners on the block. The Capital One Home Loans Online Neighborhood is a free online resource where you can learn all about home buying. Buying a home is an important process, but certainly not a simple one – Capital One’s new online resource lays the groundwork with a glossary of terms you should know, an overview of the loans available and more. You can visit their website for more info.

Happy Buying!

QOTD: What was the hardest part of saving for or buying a home for you and your family?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.