If you’re like us, Fibro and Chronic Illness significantly altered our financial situation. And as if dealing with being sick wasn’t stressful enough, the last thing I needed was to be up all night worrying about how to pay bills and how to save any money. The last year I worked, I made $136,000. Now, my Disability is less than one week’s worth of work used to be. But I’m incredibly grateful to have that. After a few tremendously scary years, up all nights and almost losing our house, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to save money without upending absolutely everything I’d always done. So now, I want to share my tips with you:
- Bundle errands to save gas (and effort). I now group my errands into geographic plans of attack.
- Take a week off of buying groceries and live off what’s in your cabinets. Trust me, you’ll be amazed how much there is!
- Know your prices! From store to store, prices can significantly shift. Beyond that, though, did you know that frozen organic fruit is significantly cheaper than fresh? It also doesn’t spoil. Know what and where to buy. This is also true for prescription drugs!!
- Examine your bills to determine which and where to cut. Switching from cable to Hulu and Netflix, using Pandora instead of Sirius, bundling insurances and determining the value of cell phone insurance is all helpful. Are you actually going to the gym?
- Call “suppliers” (of anything) and ask for ways to lower your bill. I’ve gotten lower pricing on cell phone, trash pickup and home phone. For any that won’t work with you, consider switching companies.
- Know what you have and what you need before you go shopping, for anything. That includes shoes, clothes, handbags and groceries.
- Plan your meals and make a list that you stick with.
- Know what to spend on. Quality pet food is more expensive upfront, but is cheaper than costly Vet bills from cheap food. Will buying the expensive flavored coffee prevent buying coffee out? If so, it’s a savings! Pick and choose what is important to you, stick with that and eliminate elsewhere.
- Bring lunches/snacks, coffee and water to work, on errands or Doctor’s visits. Buying any or all of these, out, quickly adds up.
- Ignore sales. Is what’s on sale really needed? If not, don’t shop sales just because it’s a good deal.
- Didn’t I just say ignore sales? Yup. But if there’s a big item or something you know you need/want, keep an eye on it and wait for a sale. Often times, leaving things in your online “shopping cart” will prompt online sellers to send you a discount email.
- Do not impulse shop. Sit and ruminate for 24 hours on any extras. Often times, this will result in a decision that the item is unnecessary. When deciding, how many hours of work will it take to pay for the item?
- When online shopping, shop on Tuesday mornings. Tuesday mornings at 8am offer the best deals! If, like me, you have to sleep in, shop over morning coffee!
- Refinance, when applicable, auto loans and mortgages. Call lenders, like credit cards, to see if they will lower your interest rate. If they won’t lower the rates, find a card with a low or no transfer rate and transfer the balance.
- Save, don’t charge. For any non-emergent items, save for them. Don’t charge them. Needing to charge reiterates that you don’t have the money to buy it.
Now that we’ve covered what not to do, here are some tips for what TO do:
- Chart out one entire month of spending. I can promise you it will be eye opening to see where your money actually goes.
- Save. I know this sounds counterintuitive when you’re struggling to even make ends meet, BUT you can always save. If it’s only $3.00 per week, pat yourself on the back. That’s still saving. Every time you resist the urge to buy a Starbucks, immediately put that money into savings. Or you can use it to pay off debt.
- For current debt, use the Snowball Method. Pick one bill and pay that off first. Then, use the money you were using to pay off the first bill and apply it to the 2nd bill, adding that to the amount you were already paying. This gives a sense of accomplishment and pride when each bill (finally) gets paid off. Continue through the list.
- Sell what you don’t need on eBay or other selling platforms.
I hope you find my list helpful. In time, we have found that we actually like saving money and cutting out extraneous spending that could go towards other things like savings, house projects or best of all, vacation!!!
How do you save money?