Monday, May 30, 2011

Money, Money, Money - Making it and (hopefully) saving it

So I am not so good at saving money - I make too many impulse purchases and buy things even if I don't really have the money for them. Sigh. I am really trying to be better - I would love to be out of debt someday. AND, since I am a California teacher I am looking forward to further pay cuts and loss of income - We already take 10 furlough days in my district and since I'll be moving to the high school next year, I'll be losing my stipends for coaching soccer and TLL (read semi-department chair). Not a huge loss, but big enough. Add to that the increase in my health insurance premium ($100 more per month next year!!) and the increase in gas and grocery prices and you'd think I would be panicking. (No worries, I kind of am - my muscles NEVER relax - gah!) However, there is hope in sight. I am trying to budget - my sister (Mrs Tips) and her husband have paid off a ton of debt by budgeting and living on less - and I am trying to make better use of my money. I am also trying to make wiser decisions about the extra money I make.


How do I make extra money, you ask. I spend time online and on my phone. This past week I have redeemed survey points for a $25 gift certificate for Old Navy and 3 magazine subscriptions. In the past I have used my points for books, gift cards and merchandise (not the best deal!!). Here are my survey sites: zoompanel, hpsurveys, erewards, and emiles. Give me your email address (either through email if you know me, or in the comments if you don't) and I'll send you an invitation to the sites. Some of them you may be able to sign up for without an invitation, but wouldn't you want me to earn points too? Thanks for your support :~)

I also use ShopKick on my smartphone. I have already redeemed points for a $10 Target Gift Card.  If you download this app, enter the promo code: ape321 within 24 hours of downloading it and I'll receive 50 kickbucks - and so will you!!

I also recommend signing up for store reward cards. I purchased a new printer at Office Max a few months ago and earned $46 in reward dollars - these work just like cash at the store!! Recycling toner cartridges is also a money maker. I've also used quite a few reward checks at Staples.

Okay, some of my tips for saving money:
  1. Eat at home and Cook from scratch - check - I prefer eating at home and I almost always cook from scratch!! Yay me!
  2. Watch your utilities - check - I keep the lights off most of the time and I really try not to use my air conditioner too much (but I did grow up in Idaho and now I live in the California desert - can you say 113 degrees Fahrenheit?!)
  3. Shop sales and use coupons - working on this.
I tried the CouponMom method of couponing for a while, and I can see how it would be useful if you lived in the right area, but in SoCal she doesn't include ads for the stores that have the best loss-leaders and other deals. SO, I have switched to KrazyCouponLady and I'm trying their tips and organization method. I purchased a large, cloth-bound zipper binder. If I have to carry a binder around to the stores, I want it to be easy, so I got one with a strap, etc. Mine has a zipper pocket on the front also, but this one is the same model. Then, I spent ALL DAY on Saturday looking for trading card sleeves (I finally found them at Target, but not the one nearest me, argh!) and organizing my coupons. Now I am ready to plan.

This is my living room floor after spending Thursday evening and most of Friday cutting and sorting coupons:

 As you can see, it was quite a mess! This was 3-1/2 months worth of coupons!! At first I was going to use the method I grew up with: envelopes (or a coupon organizer) with the coupons sorted by general categories. I had them already to go and was putting them in an organizer when I realized that it would take me forever to dig through each pile to find the brand, price and expiration date I wanted to use. Gah!! So, I googled "coupon organization" and discovered The Krazy Coupon Lady. I liked the idea of using trading card sleeves and being able to flip through the pages and SEE all my coupons without digging. She/they also use more specific categories and include a printable category PDF to help you get organized. I had heard of the idea before, but didn't really see how it would benefit me until I tried the envelope method again. So, here are the supplies I ended up using:
 And here's how it looks on the inside - note the barely visible pocket on the left:
 Finally, the fruits of my labor (two days of labor!!!):
My suggestion is to NOT cut out all 3+ months worth of coupons at one time. I had a 4-day weekend and so far I've used 2-1/2 days on this project! Now on to the list-making and shopping. Without a large family, I don't have as much to buy, but I plan to donate items and finish getting my year's supply of food (more on that in another post!) I'll let you know about my successes as they occur :~D

I'm sure that you have money-saving - and money-making ideas. Let me know what works for you!!

1 comment:

  1. Seeing the trading card pages in the binder makes what you were telling me on the phone make soooo much more sense! Perhaps I ought to start doing that as well. Maybe after Tips Jr. refines his cutting paper skills I can have him cut coupons for me as his chore. We'll see.... ;)