What went before this:
We’ve come to the last installment of the money series. The three installments I elaborated on were the big ones. There are other small things I do to save money that I would love to share with you. Again, you don’t have to do what I suggest and it probably wouldn’t work for everybody, but it’s just another perspective.
Take advantage of offers
If you have a big project where most of your spending can be done at one place – think Home Depot for remodelling or a department store for a wardrobe overhaul – it might be a good idea to apply for credit there and take advantage of any offers they have. When I wasn’t working last year, I desperately needed lady things. I had a department store credit card that I got to save when I bought a mattress. I used and took advantage of the 3 months, no interest, no payments offer they had. I ended up with much more than if I was paying cash on the spot. I only apply for credit at store that I know I’ll be buying potentially big stuff over the years and can benefit from using a no interest, no payment situation. Use your credit wisely. Be careful though because if you want to actually use the credit card itself for buying small stuff, interest can be brutal. Use it for your benefit, not theirs.
I bank any unexpected savings. I bank anything I sell. I bank money from bottle returns. I bank my annual no-claim discount from my car insurance. I bank anything I didn’t work for. I’m not going to lie to you, sometimes I use the unexpected money as mad money. For example, I’ve been wanting to get an e-reader and since I got a surprise refund from Toyota for $28 and the refund from the car insurance for the old car for $55, I might just get it this weekend. Now, I could bank this money, but maybe I’ll use it for my e-reader.
This brings me to the next point.
Reward yourself with a saved splurge
Being smart with money is not about reading books from the library by candlelight with the heat off. It can be very rewarding. I usually take Kidlet on a vacation on the years we don’t go to Trinidad. This year, because I wasn’t working for a large part of it, we kept things pretty low key. Still wanting to go on vacation, I looked up a cheap hotel, packed up food and did research for free or cheap outdoor things to do and took a road trip instead of a plane trip. The entire weekend cost about $250. You don’t always have to miss out on fun because you’re budget conscious. Now, back to my e-reader….hmmmmm….
Don’t get pressured into spending!
You are the only one who knows your financial situation. As the breadwinner (or not) you have a responsibility to yourself to provide. I can’t go out spending money all willy nilly without a thought to my bills and commitments. I have a bit of a reputation of being “thrifty”. I know fully well that the only money I have is what I make, so I’m not going to spend my life in debt for fun and games. If I can’t afford it or don’t know how I’m going to pay for it, it’s a no-go. Sorry. Be careful that you don’t get swept up in friends’ habits since their budget is not yours. They might be getting help that you know nothing about, so following them and not your own path can be detrimental. I have to always say, your real friends won’t care. They’ll be disappointed if you can’t go on vacation or go to the fancy dinner, but they’ll respect your decisions.
Do some things yourself
I’m the last one to be talking about doing things myself. I am notoriously lazy, but I’m finding out more and more that I’m capable of much more than I think. Now that I have more time to myself with my new job’s short commute and the new Kidlet schedule, I find that I’m spending time doing things my way. Instead of paying for a manicure, I have the time to look up videos online to do some snazzy things myself. I know that time is a premium, believe me, I do, but if you do things yourself for free in between paying for the service, you won’t feel like you’re spending a bunch of money nor will you feel like you aren’t spending money on yourself. Think buying fancy coffee on the weekends, but making coffee during the week or vice versa. Think washing your car yourself rather than using the car wash if you think it will rain within a week. Think researching updo hairstyles to stretch out the time in between haircuts.
Alright, that’s it, folks. Now you know what I know. Without seeing my actual bank account, you won’t know how good this advice is, but if nothing, this is really about looking at spending and credit in a different way. All I know is that being able to get a new car has made me rethink the impossible – owning my own home by myself. It’s just a dream for now, but I know if I keep this up, I can make it a reality. What can you make a reality?