It’s President’s Day! In honor of the day that celebrates Washington and Lincoln, I thought I could save you some Benjamins (who wasn’t a President, but whatev). Here are 3 more things we do to save money.
We don’t give it to the government
Seems a little ironic, right? While I’m patriotic to the US of A, the tax code should always be used to one’s advantage! FYI: It’s YOUR money. Since my husband is self-employed, we do our best to keep track of all business write-offs, everything from meals while he is away to our cell phone bill to mileage accrued.
It’s important to know what you’re able to write-off and keep great records. We also get our taxes done by a CPA (Do not hire H& R Block, they will rip you off). Yes, it’s an investment up front, but they know the tax laws and they are able to package everything up for it. Your time is valuable. That said, if you have a small business, make sure you know if you need to be paying quarterly taxes. A huge bill come April is one definite way to get your budget off-track.
Another way we avoid taxes is living in a city that doesn’t have high real estate taxes. If we had the same home in a neighboring suburb, we’d pay 2-3 times a year more because of better schools, which would be appealing, but we aren’t sending our kids to public school. 😉 It’s worth it to do loads of research before you buy. Consider the schools your children will be going to. Look at the income tax that your city requires, plus the school district income tax.
We were unclear about homeschooling before we bought our home (and we still are some days, Ha!), but it’s good to base your decision not only on what you can afford, but the education you desire for your children. That said, don’t overpay in the area of real estate taxes. I cannot imagine paying $200 or $300 more per month to live in a similar home, only to complete a tax payment. No way!
Food is important
We need food to live (thanks, Captain Obvious), but more than that, food can control our budget! For our family, groceries are our highest monthly expense after our mortgage- and I’m sure in a few years as the kids grow a bit more, it will easily PASS our mortgage! So making good choices with our spending on food is absolutely necessary! I’ve blogged before about shopping at Aldi and how we pay cash for groceries, but I wanted to go into a little more detail.
The easiest ways to save money on groceries are to only shop once per week (or once bi-weekly) and plan meals. I’m not organized enough to plan breakfast, lunch, and dinner so we stick to staples for breakfast like cereal or frozen waffles (we love ALDI’s frozen waffles). Lunch is typically pb & j or a cold meat sandwich. I do plan most dinners (and yes, I even plan pizza nights, as I need to know if I have money in my envelopes).
I hate cooking, so planning meals helps not only save money, but sanity. I currently buy half of my groceries at ALDI and the other half at Kroger. Some ideas for quick and inexpensive meals- chicken & noodles, sale-priced meat with baked potato and salad, spaghetti and meatballs.
Some of my favorite recipes:
Chicken and vegetable pot pie from Real Simple (Tip: Use split chicken breasts. You’ll spend an extra 2 minutes pulling out the bones, but you’ll save about $1,50/lb on the chicken).
Pineapple pepper pork– Crockpot meal!
Green enchilada pork chili– It’s usually less expensive to use boneless chicken thighs. It tastes just the same!
What do cribs, cars, and children’s clothes all have in common? We buy/bought them USED. I once bought a rocker on Craigslist for $20 and resold it 2 years later for the same $20! #winning
I once met a lady at Wendy’s to buy a winter coat for C for $5. Ok, yes, so looking for deals will take some time and a little effort. However, instead of needing to find a coat in October when we get our first cold spell- and shelling out $25- I’ll now have one clean and ready to go- and a savings of 80%. My tip is only to buy one size up for planning ahead. You never know if the children will grow more than expected AND you don’t want to be storing things for years.
What have we bought used?
- Every single car
- Homeschooling curriculum
- Side tables
- 90% of our children’s clothing except for shoes and underwear
- Specialty children’s wear- Easter outfits, Christmas dress, snow boots. Most are worn very lightly and you’ll save 50% or more!
- Baby supplies – carrier, exersaucer, high chair
- Post-baby outfits. (i.e. clothes to after childbirth before your original clothes fit again)
Some things you have to avoid when buying used.
- Do not overbuy. Just because something is a great DEAL does not mean you NEED it. I don’t go to Goodwill/Thrift stores unless I’m specifically looking for an item, because I know I can be easily sucked in by a deal.
- Join a local buying/selling wall but ALWAYS meet at a public location. I will never pick-up or drop-off from someone’s home. Let a friend or spouse know what time and where you are meeting someone.
- Bargain. I’ve asked people to go lower on their price at yard sales, on selling walls, and even at Goodwill! If I see a small stain or pilling, I”ll ask for a discount. The best way to do this is at a yard sale. If you are buying 10 items and say they are about $1 each, say, “would you take these 10 items for $8?” As Mom always said, “The worst they can say is NO.”
I don’t think you can save yourself to wealth, you must work on your income as well. However, sometimes we need to start doing things the old-fashioned way, handling money like our grandmothers did.
What’s one way you save money? Have you thought about your tax rates before? Are you a thrift shopper like me? I’d love to hear!