Today's topic is Money Saving Tips, and if my husband is reading this, he will ask what authority I have to write on this, haha! Seriously, if I wasn't married to Dave, I wouldn't have any money he is the saver and planner in this family. I'm not a complete idiot though, I know how to be fiscally responsible even if I'm not necessarily leading the way.
First of all, I think it is important to figure out what you enjoy and value and spend your money on that. For me, I like travelling and eating, but I'm less interested in fashion, beauty, home decor, and gift giving. I see that other people always seem to have multiple new outfits for each season, a fully decorated home for each holiday, regular hair esthetician appointments, and buy elaborate gifts for everyone in their family and close friend circle. Meanwhile I want to save for travel, eat out at nice restaurants, and make good meals at home. I spend money on clothes and stuff, but it's certainly less than it could be. So my first tip is not to spend money on things that don't really matter to you, especially if you think you need to do it to keep up with others.
Meal planning is also a good way to save money. Grocery prices are the talk of the country lately. Meal planning allows us to buy just the food we need, reduce food waste, and be prepared for the week, so we would be less likely to order take out if we feel pressed for time. You can also plan for less austere meals like a sandwich or Kraft Dinner on some nights. Since we eat home cooked meals most of the week, then those dinners out are even more special.
Bring lunch. This past month I have been very mindful of eating well so I've been taking my lunch to work every day and right there I'm avoiding a $15 charge per day (I go into the office 3 days a week so that's $45 a week). E is allowed to leave the school grounds at lunch but even then he is still bringing his lunch most days with an "off campus" lunch once a week.
Make your own coffee. I bring a coffee to work and then my second (and third) cups are the free ones I can get in my office kitchen. I do like to get coffee out as a treat, but I do it far less often than I used to. I also used to be in the habit of getting a pastry along with my to-go coffee so avoiding that also saves money.
Buy the best and you only cry once. Have you heard that saying before? For those things that are going to be around for a long time, it is usually worthwhile to buy the good brand name instead of buying the discount brand that you'll end up replacing. An example would be a Dyson vacuum, or a good coffee maker. This could also apply to clothes if you're buying a coat or a good pair of boots.
The other cliche that we abide by is 'pay yourself first'. We have automatic deductions when we get paid for savings - retirement, kids' education, travel, and house costs. It's not something we consciously think about (or at least I don't, Dave always knows what's going on) and then the money is sitting somewhere separately for when we do need it.
This is all coming from someone who has access to two decent incomes, only has two children who attend public school, and has a house that has increased in value since we bought it. I realize I am extremely privileged so "saving money" isn't something that is as crucial to me as it is to others. When politicians suggest "skipping the Starbucks" or "unsubscribing from Disney+" (an actual recommendation from our Finance Minister), it's all pretty trite. I know that people are really suffering and feeling the impacts of housing and food costs. I don't really know what saving money really feels like. I do know that I am in a position to help those left fortunate and although I could do a better job, I do try to support organizations in my own community that can help. I would encourage you to do the same if you are also in that position.