I am beginning a new venture in my life as an adult…yes, I have finally decided to be a grown-up. I am going to work on my finances!
I have started an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of my monthly expenses. That was step one. The list has all my monthly bills, but I have even broken down the list into smaller categories including: gifts, Amazon purchases (for my Kindle), eating out, make-up, clothes, etc.
I have major debt from college loans that need to get paid off. I already pay over the minimum payment, but at this rate it’ll take me over 15 years to pay it off! I also have some credit card debt. Not as much as some, but around $3,000. I used to be so good to always pay off credit cards at the end of the month, but I got into the habit of putting everything on the credit card, so it went up pretty fast. I also have a problem with paying bills on time. I don’t know why, but instead of paying them when they come in, I put them aside so I can do it all at once. I use online bill pay through my bank and it is really easy, but I still don’t do it immediately. This becomes a real problem when I forget there are bills that haven’t been paid…then I find them 5 days after they are due. Not good. I’ve combated this, somewhat, by setting up auto pays for my credit cards (as well as anything with a fixed amount such as my DirecTV). That way I know they get paid and then I can go in at any time and send an additional payment if I want. I’ve also stopped using my credit card for grocery shopping and gas.
Coupons and local savings ads are my next big thing to tackle. I’ve been reading through the advice my friend Phoebe gives on her blog, Cents to Be Debt Free. I’ve been picking up the Sunday paper for the coupons they have inside. I have also started a coupon binder. You can go here to see Phoebe’s binder. I am organizing mine by the aisles in my local Wal-Mart where I do the bulk of my shopping. This is basically the same as organizing by category, but a little more specific. I’m trying to learn the ins and outs of Walgreen’s. There’s a lot of saving to be had there, and I hope to snatch some of those this month.
After attempting my first foray into the world of Walgreen’s savings, I have found that I waited too long to go shopping for the big buys. I lost out on a few freebies (or near freebies) because I didn’t go shopping until the 12th. Next month I will try to get down there as soon as possible. I think my mom and I plan to go the first Sunday of the month. We’ll go eat after church and work through that day’s coupons, pairing them with Easy Saver Catalog and then go shopping. There is a specific way to work the Walgreen’s system. There are multiple savings sites that give out a Walgreen’s 101, but here’s a link to my friend Phoebe’s post.
I still managed to get some really good deals, including some freebies.
I am also beginning to work on creating a "home store". This is where I am going to store all the products I buy that I don't need yet. One of the keys to coupon shopping is to buy when things are on sale, not when you need them. This means that you end up with stuff that needs a place to be stored. I have a spare room that I use as a storage room (I don't have a garage or basement). Currently, it's a mess. My Christmas tubs are still stacked up in there. They usually go to long term storage in my Mom's basement, but she is re-modeling right now and has her storage room full and blocked off. Also, there are tubs full of old craft stuff that I plan to go through and get rid of most of it. Another problem is all the old Creative Memories products that I still have. I used to sell it and still have a lot of product in stock. Maybe one day I will actually get around to selling it on ebay or something.
Here's my current "home store" products. I will just go in and "shop" in my own home when I need one of these items. I'm really excited about this whole venture. It's like a treasure hunt between sale adds and coupons. This week I saved $17 at Wal-Mart and $42 at Walgreen's (before rebates)...and I'm just getting started.
What are you doing to save money?