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Topic: My 1 year savings study.

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Subject: My 1 year savings study.
Date Posted: 4/6/2009 10:57 AM ET
Member Since: 3/26/2009
Posts: 131
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I kept close track on our efforts to save money over the past year. There are three of us (Me, My wife, and Daughter) plus two cats.

Using coupons on items that we found that were also on sale or clearance:

Formula= $280 in savings (from coupons and free offers)
Diapers=  $100

Baby food= $40

Food coupons= $385

Misc Coupons=  $576

Freebees= $480

Paperback Swap (My wife used to do all the book swapping)= $720

Cut back on going out to eat and if we did go out to eat we bought it through restaurant.com and got 70% off. Savings= $1000

Grand total= $3825 saved over the course of a year.

My wife got a lot of good deals on mommysavers.com and we did a coupon swap with friends.

 

 

 

 

 

Date Posted: 4/6/2009 4:42 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2005
Posts: 2,354
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Hooray for you!

I'm glad coupons are working out for you.  I rarely find anything for the type of food we eat--and buying more expensive food just b/c I have a coupon is a negative on my budget not a help!

Date Posted: 4/6/2009 5:27 PM ET
Member Since: 3/26/2009
Posts: 131
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Yeah, we never used a coupon unless it was cheaper than buying the generic version. Some things we couldn't bring ourselves to buy generic though: Peanut butter (We like Jiff) and Ketchup (heinz). We are not very picky eaters either so that helps.

Date Posted: 4/6/2009 6:44 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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thanks for posting! I love reading stuff like this..very motivating!

so far I've had cable cancelled for over a year..almost 1 1/2 years and I honestly dont' miss it (never watched much tv to begin with) and am saving over 80 bucks per month. I buy dvds that I like and re-watch those if I want.

last Christmas I asked for a tracfone and cancelled at&t cellular service(saving 50 bucks) and lowered dsl from the top to the basic(saving 20 bucks) and since my phone line is old wehre I live I'm only having slightly slower speed and it doesn't crash nearly as often!

coupons - like you no compromise on jif except maybe peter pan in a pinch..and heinz is a basic staple too...otherwise I weigh the prices of generic vs coupon/sale price. usualy generic wins but I buy Gold Bond lotion since I wash my hands a lot at work.I also like the aveeno shower gel though will give the generic a try if it's on sale when i need more. shampoo..I reallylike the aussie but I also pick up suave for in-between. used coupons and stocked up on dog treats last week and will pick up more only with coupons and fo rsomething 'different' until I getl ow on these. invested 3.50 in a container to store t hem in inside the pantry.

I'm also trying to cut back on eating out and vending machine stuff. by cooking at home tonight I was honestly just as satisfied if not more so than if I'd eaten out and got 3-4 meals from stuff I already had and was using up for under 10 bucks..heck probably under 6 bucks and got to wear the apron my cousin made me for christmas and enjy the cooking process and know what was in the food I cooked!

doing the piggy bank this year! one for  pennies and one for other change. I also kept one credit union(hard to get to so money stays put a bit longer!) the same, ING I joined years ago but now set up an auto transfer once a month, and the lower interest at the credit union where I bank. I've fallen a tad short on t he goal of putting all ovetime to the ING acct.think I was being too rigid and not allowing myself to count a 'justified' expense as agood reason not to! (yes a carpet cleaner when I have 2 big dogs is justified!) as well as a haircut here and there though I'd like to budget that stuff better.

but it's been fun...I finally have just enough on my credit cards to pay off each month and money in savings for emergencies when a year ago I hadmore on the cards than I wanted and felt stressed.

and the BIGGEST thing is my checking account has been balanced ALL YEAR! yes i was one of these who would check the online balance and go on with things..now I write down the autodraft amounts when I get them and go ahead and consdier that money gone from the account even if it's 2 weeks ahead of time. I dont' feel so stressed knowing what's in the account to the penny. what's really weird is that all this fiddling with bills (whch Imostly do at work w hen it's slow) gives me something to do instead of online shopping!

I also was probaby stupid but I signed up for mypoints and some online surveys...most of hte mypoints I can click on at work between samples...some are blocked but I figure I'l see how long it takes to get a gift card or something!

Date Posted: 4/6/2009 6:54 PM ET
Member Since: 3/26/2009
Posts: 131
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Yeah, we save our change to. We're using the change to go into our daughter's savings account, so fare in about a year we have nearly $500 that we've turned in.

Date Posted: 4/6/2009 8:00 PM ET
Member Since: 6/11/2006
Posts: 12,826
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wow these are awesome keep posted it help me.

Subject: Wow!
Date Posted: 4/7/2009 12:29 PM ET
Member Since: 2/20/2009
Posts: 2,375
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Hooray for both of you.   Sounds like you have both put a lot of effort into saving and it has paid off.  I am going to try to learn from your experience.  I regularly use coupons, I am picky, so it does save me money.  I try to never buy anything just b/c I have a coupon though.  I use something similar to Restaurants.com, we have 1/2 price dining here so we try to use those a lot.  We eat out WAY too much and have WAY too much debt on our credit card so I know that stress.  I am going to continue to watch this thread, it helps to see the sacrifices that others are making so that I can perhaps do the same.

Date Posted: 4/7/2009 1:43 PM ET
Member Since: 3/26/2009
Posts: 131
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We are fortunate enough to have zero credit card debt, no loans other than our home loan (we bought the house 8 years ago and pay extra on it each month so we only have 7 years left to pay). Realistically we could do fine without trying to save money, but we want our daughter to go to college and have a good retirement. That's our motivation for saving, but I know that many people are having a hard time making ends meet and this could really help.

Just think , if you are just getting by and you do your best to use coupons,cut back on eating out, spend wisely other wise and as a result you have $300/month more in your pocket.

Date Posted: 4/7/2009 1:53 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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Susie, I can tell I have much  less money the months I eat out. I was doing it for convenience I think but after looking at it I decided the only stuffI haven't learned to make good are nachos like my fave restaurant and chinse buffet stuff though I have some new recipes to try out for that. I thought it was quick but it's not..restaurants have to be driven to then wait to order, wait for the food,t hen the tips...yesterday I made spaghetti taht was much healthier than olive garden(where I wanted to go) and it would'v cost me at least 20 bucks there and made it here from what I already  had on hand.

I don't hate cooking though. dont' like cleaning up but if I can just tell myelf that I just saved over 20 bucks and actually more than that..I would have had some carryout for one more meal if I'd eaten at olive garden; with what I fixed I finished up today after eatiing 3 meals out of it yesterday so it was less than a dollar per meal I think! not exactly sure but I already had the salad and dressing and garlic toast...

anyways, I looked back since I started keeping track of my checkbook and stuff's balances and last month I slipped and ate out a lot and we went to sonic(coworker and I) a lot for drinks and ice cream and sometimes food..this month we haven't and we didin't so much in february...big difference in w hat I had to put into savings and towards books!

anyways, I think if I were eating out with someone because that's our  special time or I'd be resentful doing the cooking or just hated to cook it'd be different but otherwise just halving how often you eat out and figuring out some quick meals if time is the problem..sometimes I do something inthe crockpot when I'm off work and it last for several days or I freeze the  leftovers for later.

anyways, enjoying reading the posts...this forum motivates me. Ialso like erin's blog a lot -s he had the yeear o fbeing frugal t hread that's probably on page 2 or 3 now..she writes nice long posts usually and I find them interesting and a great way to kill time at work!

Date Posted: 4/7/2009 4:54 PM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2006
Posts: 706
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This is a great thread --- very motivating!  I am going to make a better effort to use coupons for the smaller grocery items from now on.   I can see that every little bit of coupon savings add up.

My husband and I are putting most of our effort into paying off debt right now.   When the debt is gone I will be able to retire (he is already retired). We rarely eat out but we got some coupons that my work gives me for our local favorite hamburger place (Whataburger)  and we realized we could both eat for $5.13 just by using the coupon for a buy a meal get a  free Whataburger.   We divide the fries which it is better not to eat too many of those anyway.  We either share the drink or I always carry water with me anyhow.     The other day my sisterinlaw gave me a similar coupon.   That made me pay attention - the idea we could still occasionally eat out if we had a coupon that brought the cost down.

I'm saving change for my postage and delivery confirmation money to trade some here.   

Date Posted: 4/8/2009 12:25 PM ET
Member Since: 2/20/2009
Posts: 2,375
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Good point Susanna about eating in and freezing some ot if.  I need to learn to do that more often.  I also need to take advantage of crock pot meals.  I'll have to go to allrecipes.com and check out some recipes.  Did you make those quilts Susanna, they are beautiful!

 

Michael--zero crecit card balance--WOW!  I've heard if you will live by a cash only system you will live by a budget and be able to save more money.  Hard lesson to learn though.

Chris--great advice about using fast food coupons, I think folks tend to just ignore them, but two eating a fast food meal for $5 is a good deal.  I try to eat at Sonic on Tuesday night as they do 1/2 price burger, we live in a small town so not much else here but a subway.  It's the Olive Garden and Red Lobster, and Steak/shake meals that break me especially when I put them on a credit card, I KNOW a big NO NO. 

Thanks for all the advise

Susie

Date Posted: 4/8/2009 2:42 PM ET
Member Since: 3/26/2009
Posts: 131
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Yeah, living on cash is a big thing. If you can payoff your loans/cards and buy only with what you have, it makes using coupons,hunting for deals, and forrming better purchase making skills a lot easier.

I actually keep a little spending journal, when I buy something I write it down, I look ove my spending log weekly just to see what I have spent money on. It's amazing how much more thought you'll put into your purchases when you have to stare them down in your log at the end of the week.

"Crap, I spent $30 this week on fastfood......that's $120 for the month."

Date Posted: 4/8/2009 3:14 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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I started using credit cards to boost my credit score(might want to buy a differnt house some day or need to if I move) but I'm finding Iose track, mainly because CC charges dont' appear immediately. I found a seller on ebay and ordered more check registers and some mini atm/debit registers I'm going to use for trackiing CC purchases. my coworker had the idea for me to open another savings account linked to my checking(not sure of the limit but she has several tied to her credit union account) and move the money into it after each purchase then move it back when the bill needs to be paid. a lot of what I'm doing and thinking 'bout doing seems a bit nit-picky/maybe obsessively involved with details but I got in the mess I was in from not seeing the details and even missing the big picture from time t time so I don't think it'll hurt me to get move involved, esp since I was jotting down expenses and what I 'think' Ibudget for the more flexible ones like groceries..and I can't account for 500 bucks! did I eat out thatmuch more and make groceries more expensive? too many credits bought here on pbs? too many new books? I did cut way back on that.

hey the 1/2 price burger at sonic is a good idea and sharing the whataburger. I don't ahve anyone to s hare mine though and I'm not crazy about warmed up burgers from fast food (or anywhere!) they do give too m any fries though for someone trying to eat better. I try to get the jr burger and little fries and share the fries with my dogs..and to be 'healthy' I ask for extra tomatoes LOL! also extra pickles too which are heallthy 'cause of the sodium...I've found too that the value menu stuff isn't necessarily a bad deal - wendy's chili is pretty good and under 2 bucks and their side salad is good w hen I know i"m only wanting salad one time and dont' want to invest in all the fixings at the grocery store and risk not using them all. a few things at taco bell are decently priced too but I try tos tay clear 'cause the nachos bell grande are not cheap and not healthy!

one baby step - l ast night i transferred 20 bucks from c hecking to savings 'cause that's about w hat I saved  using coupons - rounded off of course. yet the balance in the checking vs what I need to pay on Discover is less so I don't like htat even though it'll even out with my paycheck next week. I want a tighter ship!

Michael what do you use for a spending journal? a small notebook or somethng online? I'm trying to figure out the best way to keep track...I tried jotting down i the checkbook grocery , 20 cash, books but sometimes that one line isn't b ig enough if I went to walmart and got differnt things..of course sonic and olive garden are pretty obvious :-)

eta: suzie , yes i made the quilts..it's a hobby. I haven't updated the webshots in forever..keep forgetting I have the link there..I put it there once to show the ladies in the love and romance forum the half-naked firemen/construciton worker apron I made for a swap!



Last Edited on: 4/8/09 3:18 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/9/2009 10:06 AM ET
Member Since: 3/26/2009
Posts: 131
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I use a small notebook, the ones big enought put in your pocket. Each line I put the date of purchase,amount, and short description.

You are right about the savings, I have direct deposit at work and we can set it up to go to any number of bank accounts. So, I have 10% of my check go directly into my savings account, now I'm just used to working with 10% less cash on hand and I have some savings to fall back on if I have an emergencey.

Date Posted: 4/12/2009 11:37 PM ET
Member Since: 4/19/2008
Posts: 48
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What is restaurant.com?

Date Posted: 4/13/2009 11:38 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2005
Posts: 2,354
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For keeping track of our expenses I just keep all the receipts than stick them in an Excel spreadsheet.  I picked 7 or 8 categories and sum them every month.

Some receipts require notes on them so I know what it is, but most are pretty clear.  I was good about entering them every week but since my computer went downstairs (temporary, for valid reasons, I put it there, but still..not on my desk) I only get it done once a month.

I used to do similar, but instead of a spreadsheet I wrote them in a notebook, and at the end of the month added up every category.  I like Excel doing it for me now, and I can more easily compare across time.

I do use a Discover card, but I pay it off at the end of every month.  Adamently.  It is easier for me to not spend money if it's not cash, because cash is so easy to buy $2 here or there (and I end up with no receipts and forget to make a note and argh).   On the other hand, a friend finds he can control his spending if he only uses actual cash, and looses track with a credit card.   Different personalities.

Date Posted: 4/13/2009 8:21 PM ET
Member Since: 2/20/2009
Posts: 2,375
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Restaurant.com is a website where youenter  your zip code and search for restaurants that they sell gift certifcates to for usually about 1/2 price.  You can save on your meal that way.

Date Posted: 5/28/2009 7:01 PM ET
Member Since: 6/11/2006
Posts: 12,826
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i want to thank everyone for post all these.

niffir - ,
Date Posted: 5/29/2009 3:16 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2008
Posts: 495
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I really recommend trying out cash envelopes for a few months to anyone who hasn't tried that.  I never knew how much we were overspending on some areas until I tried it out.  I thought $50 a month was plenty for eating out, but we were going through that in a week or so.  I was also able to save up for automobile related expenses by setting aside a set amount in the car envelope each month and rolling it over when it wasn't spent.  It took the pain out of having to buy new tires or get a small repair done.

 

I've been couponing a lot lately with good results.  I have a stockpile of toiletries that I have gotten for free from it that will last me years and have been able to freecycle/donate still more.  My grocery bill has dropped quite a bit and our stockpile of food has gone up.  Just make sure you are really getting a good deal on something-- just having a coupon for something does NOT necessarily make it worth buying.  Look into discount stores in your area, as well.  I've recently started stopping at Aldi's if I'm driving by (happens once every couple of weeks) to pick up fresh fruit (pineapples and strawberries are 99 cents), eggs (79 cents a dozen), milk ($1.59 a gallon), and a few other staples that are WAY cheaper there. 

 

I've also set up a hidden savings account that I can't touch right now.  It is through ING and is an online bank account.  I have $5 a week taken from the account that our extra money goes to.  $5 a week isn't so much that I notice it missing, but it will add up over time and will be drawing interest there.

Date Posted: 5/29/2009 8:58 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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I like ING a lot! I put a set amount each month after the 2nd paycheck and put most of my ovetime there as well. It takes 3-5 days to transfer back and forth so I dont' grab it for impulse purchases but it's there if I need it.

I have to be careful with the coupons. I bought too many granol bars a few months ago! So now I go by if it's something I like and usually buy or something I'm really wanting to try. Sometimes the coupon is a good deal and other times the store brand is cheaper (store brand sugar free drink mix vs crystal light and store brand graham crackers vs the nabisco brand I had coupons for..those wont' be used unless another store has a sale that makes them cheaper with the coupon)

Subject: money-saving tips
Date Posted: 5/30/2009 2:28 PM ET
Member Since: 5/26/2009
Posts: 2
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Love this thread! Very motivating! Luckily I have very minimal debt but I'm terrible at saving my money. There are some great tips here that I'll definitely use! Thanks you guys!

And PBS is a definite help! Now I can feed my book addiction for a lot cheaper! : D