Daily Savings Tip: Email Alerts

Signing up for daily email alerts from your favorite restaurants and retailers will keep you in-the-know about special sales, closeouts and coupons. You’ll often get coupons for freebies on your birthday, anniversary and with your first email delivery. Here are just a few of my favorite offers:

  • Huge list of restaurant freebies with email sign up HERE
  • Huge list of restaurant birthday freebies HERE
  • Kohl’s sign up and get a coupon for $5 off $5+

Daily Savings Tip: Strategies for School Supply Shopping

Between shoes and clothes and school supplies for five kids, we can put a serious dent in our income if we don’t have a solid plan. Here’s how I take advantage of the lowest prices of the year without overbuying or underestimating our needs.

#1 Start With The List
Most schools will provide a list of specific supplies needed for each grade. For some consumable items such as crayons, markers, pencils and paper, you’ll want to consider doubling up so you can have extras on-hand to replenish mid-year.

#2 Consider Household Needs
Estimate your office supply needs for the next 12 months, and maximize your savings by filling those needs this summer while prices are at their lowest.

#3 Gifts and Extras
Will you want to create an art supply box for Christmas? Do you need extras for summer activities? Be sure to add this into your estimate.

In the end, your calculation will look like this:
School Needs + Household Needs + Gifts/Extras = Stock-Up Quantity

Daily Savings Tip: Stock Up on Gifts

Depending on your family size, birthdays and holidays can be a huge annual expense.  But with just a little bit of planning, you can save as much as 75% without cutting back on quality or quantity of gifts. Here’s how:

Make a list of gift recipients for the entire year.

Be sure to include gift ideas and the number of occasions you will be buying for them.  Here’s an example:

Recipient: Dad
Gift Ideas: Tools, Slippers, Fishing Supplies
Occasions: Birthday (October), Father’s Day and Christmas
Annual Budget: $60

Plan your budget accordingly.

Designate a specific monthly dollar amount for buying gifts. If you use the Cash Envelope System, you can create a “Gift” envelope for this purpose.  Simply add your budgeted amount to the “gift” envelope each month and carry it with you when you shop. When you find a bargain that fits your needs, you’ll have the cash available to snag it.  Just remember to record your purchase and update your available budget for the recipient.  Example:

Recipient: Dad
Gift Ideas: Tools, Slippers, Fishing Supplies
Occasions: Birthday (October), Father’s Day and Christmas
Annual Budget: $60 $34
Purchases: Slippers $6 (Christmas gift), Tackle Box $20 (Father’s Day)

Know when things are at their lowest prices.

Yes, Virginia. Sales are cyclical, and when you know what to look for you can shop strategically and save big bucks.  Scroll through HERE for a month-by-month breakdown of the best bargains you can expect to find.  Got an athlete in your family?  August is the best time to buy apparel.   Need a new bike?  Wait until January.  Lawnmower?  August is your huckleberry.

Avoid overspending.

Remember to stick to the budgeted dollar amount when planning your purchases so you don’t overdo it! If some of your gifts are for out-of-state relatives, be sure to factor shipping into your budget so you can stay on track financially.

What about you? Do you have a system for buying gifts in advance?

Daily Savings Tip: Visual Debt Payoff Tracker

Debt is scary.  Which is why most of us don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it, even when we should. When we were struggling financially a few years ago, I had a debt payoff plan tucked away in the back of a binder, and it rarely saw the light of day, except on payday when I had to look at it.  Sometimes, this out-of-sight-out-of-mind setup hindered my progress and caused me to lose traction toward my goals.  Realizing this, I decided to create a visual debt payoff tracker so I could have a real and measurable reminder of what we were working for and how far we had come.  And it worked!

There is no right or wrong way to make one, so long as it is visually appealing and easy for you to understand.  Our payoff tracker was a simple poster board listing our debt, with post-it notes indicating our monthly planned payoff amounts for each – similar to the “Hybrid Method” shown HERE. If you want something a little more visually appealing, have a look at the chalkboard created by Doctor In Debt (shown above). Or if you don’t have that kind of time, you could always do something simple like Eliza from Happy Simple Living (shown below).

The point is, the old saying “What you think about, you bring about” is really true! So if debt payoff is a high priority for you, consider a visual reminder that will help you stay focused. If you prefer an online visual or mobile app, have a look at the Gazelle Budget System & Debt Snowball Tool over at DaveRamsey.com.

Daily Savings Tip: Avoid Brand Loyalty

Not so very long ago, I was the queen of all brand snobs. I had a favorite brand for just about everything you can imagine. But several years ago when the economy took a turn, I had to learn how to live on less. Reluctantly, I let go of my favorites and began to test the waters with new brands that happened to be on sale with a coupon. To my surprise, I actually liked most of them!

If you’re living with a tight budget, try letting go of brand loyalty. You’ll often be rewarded with free (or cheap) deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, razors and more at the drug stores. If you’ve been following along with the MBH $10 Stockpiling Challenge, then you know how much can be accomplished if you are a little flexible.

Today, I have a stockpile filled with personal and household essentials in a variety of brands. I’ll admit, I still have a few brand favorites, but with all the savings I realize on the other stuff, splurging on a few things no longer breaks the bank!