Thursday, December 24, 2009

Learning to Save

At the beginning of November, my husband and I started to work on saving money and getting ourselves out of debt. I am very amazed by how we have done so far. We live on one income and have a 15 month old baby. Our goal is to get our emergency fund established ($1000) and 6 months of income saved in case of a job loss. Here's hoping that job loss won't happen!

What we have done so far:

  • Refinanced our car and paid off all credit card debt. Many financial savvy people don't advise this, but the credit cards we had were increasing interest rates and starting to charge annual fees. The car loan is at 6.75% interest which is much less than the credit card APRs. This is going to be paid off in two years or less.
  • Couponing (of course!) is the next thing we started. I check out the sales ads each week and purchase 2 Sunday papers. I have a coworker who gives any unused coupons to me as well. I match up the sales ads to the coupons with a lot of help from other sites like Hot Coupon World, Deal Seeking Mom, The Krazy Coupon Lady, Common Sense with Money, and Swaggrabber. I've learned that the best deals are usually deals that are buy one item, get one item free. You can use two coupons (one for each item) and that makes many things so very inexpensive, free, or even a money maker. Stacking store coupons and manufacturers coupons can also give you a good bargain on something. Doing this has cut our grocery bill almost $300!!!
  • The third thing that we have done is cut way back on eating at restaurants. Actually, that's what I have done. My husband doesn't eat at restaurants often at all. I usually eat breakfast at a fast food place and go to lunch with my best friend 2-4 times a month. While I haven't completely given it up, I'm working on it. I'm also trying to do better by taking my own lunch and drinks to work. If I can manage to take my lunch and drinks to work each day (instead of eating in the cafeteria) then I would save and additional $75 per month. I do drink soda which some frugal folks avoid, but I try to pay no more than $0.25 per can which is half of what I would pay at work.
By doing the three things above for almost two months, we managed to save around $417 which is almost half of the emergency fund. I never realized how much one could save with coupons and good sales.

Our savings would have been even more, but my husband and I bought ourselves a Flip UltraHD Camcorder. We did take a bit from the savings to purchase it. It was regularly priced at $149, but we paid around $117 after using Amazon gift cards that I received by searching with Swagbucks.

Do you have any frugal tips to offer? I'd love to hear them!