Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.Ecclesiastes 5:10
In the past few weeks I’ve dedicated more time to myself and as a result, I’ve written less. I’ve picked up a few habits that are reshaping my way of thinking. I’ve started coupon clipping- meal planning – syncing calendars -being a little more selfish with me time -and cutting myself slack.
As a result, I am giving myself some much-needed love and have more peace in my daily life.
One of the major things I’m working on is my finances. I’ve struggled financially for quite some time. At first, it was a result of being young and reckless. I used the things money could buy as a filler for what I was missing inside. I had no respect for money. I didn’t want the regular purses one could get on sale for, I wanted the expensive purses that never get marked down- if anything they go up in price. I wanted to eat out every day with friends. I didn’t want to wait for something if I wanted it, I wanted it now. If cash was lacking, then without hesitation I would charge it. My future income was no longer mine. Every month a portion of my future earnings belonged to the credit card debt that resulted from my need for instant gratification. I didn’t slow down on the charging, I adopted the naive mentality of “I’ll pay off the credit cards soon,” yet my daily charges didn’t slow down, as soon as the card was paid off I maxed it out again.
When I became a single mother the reality of my financial situation set in. I wanted a way out of the mess I created, but money left my account as quickly was it was deposited. I was paying for school and providing for my daughter who needed special formula due to colic ($600 a month!!). Regardless of how many ways I looked at it, the money didn’t seem to stretch as far as I needed and more debt resulted.
After graduating from university I obtained a job with a substantial raise. One would think that my past financial mistakes made me wiser about managing money, but that wasn’t the case. I wanted to give myself very expensive treats (cars, trips, clothes, meals) since I had been stuck for a while without giving myself anything. These treats enslaved me once again.
It’s been a long road to get to where I am today; a place where I finally respect money and understand the importance of making good financial decisions. I process each purchase, pause before swiping the card or handing out cash, and do not purchase things blindly without considering my bills or any upcoming financial obligations (back to school season requires for money for uniform and supplies or summer requires more money because of summer camp). I’ve canceled memberships for things I rarely use (gym – I tend to exercise at home or at the park – or amazon unlimited). I’ve reviewed my cell phone plans and saved with better packages and done the same with other services.
As a newlywed who is now responsible for feeding a family of 4/5 (depending on the day), I can no longer afford to go to the grocery store and purchase everything in sight because I don’t have a game plan . I did it once, it was a large bill, and ironically midweek we had to return to the grocery store because essential ingredients needed to make a meal were missing (more $$). Leftovers would go bad and get tossed (I can freeze them for the following week if I don’t want to repeat the meal in the same week).
Meal planning was a no brainier since it eliminates the dreaded guessing game of figuring out what’s for dinner or lunch last minute. I quickly discovered that meal planning helps save money if done right and if my meals are good I won’t want to eat out of the home as much. The coupon clipping intensified when I stumbled across KrazyCouponLady– LivingRichOffCoupons – and the CheckOut 51 + Ibotta apps.
I admit to rolling my eyes when the line at a store has been held up by people using coupons. I didn’t understand what the fuss was, people were only saving $1 or $.75 per coupon. Quickly I realized what the fuss was about. I saved about $25-$30 my first 2 weeks of couponing for items I frequently use and purchase (more like $70 if I count the sale at Kmart where they matched the $50 I spent on household essentials, I used the $50 credit to purchase items I needed with coupons).
It didn’t take much. I based my meal plans and the list of items to buy on the weekly sale items. I printed and clipped a few coupons. The current Kmart sale gave me a start on stockpiling for items I tend to buy on an as-needed basis rather than buying when the price is right. Now I can wait for a good deal before buying for toilet paper and paper towels which always seems to run out.
I’m hyped about coupon clipping, although I admit it’s a bit overwhelming at first. I want to save as much as those extreme coupon clipping stories where people get money back, but that probably will take a year or so until I get the hang of it.
Countless times I’ve purchased groceries or household items regardless of the price. Lack of a meal planning caused me to cave and eat out several times a week. Not only was I flushing money on groceries, I was eating unhealthy and spending money at restaurants. Now I actually get more for about the same price (which is huge because my daughter and stepdaughter snack a lot and we feed their friends as well who visit frequently, so the more we have for less the better).
As of today, I’m tracking the prices from each purchase I make in Excel. I want to spot a good deal for myself and not run to the store when the circular claims it’s a good deal, but it’s really not. I visited Dollar Tree and Family Dollar and found name brand items for less which allowed me to maximize my coupons. I feel great since I started coupon clipping because I can see how I’ve evolved regarding money matters. Friday I went to Walmart and spent close to what I normally spend, but my cart was packed! I purchased more for the same amount of money because I shopped smart, and as a bonus, I don’t forsee me having to visit the grocery store until 2 weeks except for fresh fruits and veggies which I can’t buy far in advance. I visited CVS, purchased toothpaste and hair products that were on sale. I earned their ExtraBucks and used it to buy a few more items I had coupons for that were on sale ($0 out of pocket). Those $20 truly stretched out! Who would’ve thought?
I feel as if I’m planning a game to maximize my savings with each trip to the grocery store. Slow but steady is the way to go so that I don’t get discouraged or overwhelmed with deciding what to buy. After a month or two of Excel tracking, I’ll have a better picture of my family’s eating habits and our needs for household essentials. That will allow me to create a budget and put more money away in our savings account (I never knew how important savings was until I needed it and didn’t have it, the more $ you put away for a rainy day, the better!). I have a plan, I’m sticking to it, and I will be successful!
Let the coupon clipping games begin! 🙂