Monday, February 21, 2011

Moolah Monday - 3 Things I'll do TODAY to save money

Sometimes saving money techniques you hear out there seem unrealistic or involve change that seems like taking too big of a bite out of the elephant.  That is the biggest inhibitor to folks starting a frugal lifestyle - it's just too hard! 

To help you get some quick wins in the frugal department - here are 3 practical thing I'm doing today to save money.

1.  Making My Own Breakfast & Coffee  - I'm actually not a coffee drinker but for the last year I've had an almost daily Starbucks habit - a grande non-fat chai tea latte.  This costs me $3.79 per day if I buy it from Starbucks, which also takes me an additional 20-30 minutes in my morning commute.  Instead, I buy the mix at Costco - a package of 3 boxes lasts me 3-4 weeks and costs $7ish.  Add up the savings - $85 vs $10 (milk included) - $75 per month right there.  I also started making my own parfaits - get a 32 oz tub of vanilla yogurt (mine is Dannon's Light & Fit), fresh blueberries, and a box of Kashi crisp - 4-5 spoon fulls of yogurt & a handful of blueberries & a handfull of Kashi = yummy + full.  It takes me maybe 5 minutes to make all of this in the morning.

2.  Walk to the Park - We are fortunate to have several parks within walking distance.  Now that the days are getting a little bit longer and a bit warmer I can get out the jogging stroller/bike trailer and take a trip to the park with the kiddos after work.  This saves so many ways:
  • Free exercise - no need for a gym membership or babysitter while I work out.
  • Free kids play time - no need for expensive play equipment or toys (not that we don't have that...)
  • Cheap Dinner - the kids love having a picnic of ham sandwiches, oranges, and capri sun roaring waters.  This means we're using our evenings for fun instead of eating out, our otherwise normal M.O.
*Bonus* - the walks to the park provide lots of time (maybe 20 minutes roundtrip) for me to have conversations with my son about the important things in life.  We talk about the nature we see, how good God is, His plan for our life, or whatever else is on our mind.  Total mom/son bonding time. (The little one is still a bit small for that though she does chime in with her voice).

3.  Do My Own Taxes - Unless you have a really tough tax situation, most families can do their own taxes successfully for pretty cheap.  I've always done my own taxes from the time I had my first job when I was 15 - each year they became progressively harder and it gives me a challenge.  I usually just use the tax booklets, but this year our tax situation has become much more complex now that we have the foster children and their expenses and the rental property.  So, I've purchased Intuit's Turbo Tax for Home and Business, which really helps make everything easier to sort out.  I paid about $60 for it at Costco with the coupon, but this is the most expensive version and most families can either get away without it or for the more simple cheaper versions they offer.  Of course, if you are really not good with numbers or the whole tax thing scares you, you may want to get professional services - mistakes or misses can cost you big with taxes.  Nevertheless I think most families can win big if they do this together.

So, there you have it.  Leave me a comment on what you plan to do this week to save a little Moolah.

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