Save Money in 2012: 5 Essential Resources to Save Big in the New Year

2012 Calendar
Photo Credit: danielmoyle

Last year, I wrote a very popular article entitled Money Saving Tips for Families in 2011. Because my money saving advice generally stays the same year to year, I’m going to encourage you to go back and read that article, but sub in 2012 for 2011.

In addition though, I thought it might be beneficial for me to write up an article about what resources I consider to be most essential to save money in 2012.

They aren’t very sexy and in fact, you might already have these covered, but it’s a good refresher for everyone (including myself!).

:: Sinking Funds: This is another terms for savings account. You aren’t really saving money if you aren’t putting the money you save into some kind of savings account! It’s great to pay $50 for $200 worth of groceries, but when you take that $150 saved and plop it down on a pair of boots, you can’t really say you SAVED $150 dollars. More like, you shifted $150. Which is actually FINE. I encourage saving where you can, so you can spend where you want.

However, if you don’t have a cushion to fall back on, every single time you have an emergency, you are going to find yourself back in debt and scrounging for pennies once again!

I encourage long term savings goals, short term savings goals and assigning sinking funds to each goal so you can monitor your progress closely on each individual goal.

We house our sinking funds over at ING Direct. Here’s a little screenshot of what our sinking funds look like over at ING:

At a glance, I can see exactly where we are with all of our short term and long term savings goals. When we complete a goal, I can just go in and change the account name to our new goal.

We also have a checking account through ING Direct which has been SUCH a wonderful and positive experience.

:: Teamwork: The next best resource you can have in your back pocket to save money in 2012 is TEAMWORK! This involves you and your spouse coming together and working on your finances as a team. This doesn’t necessarily mean the workload is split 50/50. I know from my own experience that in some cases, it helps for one person to be more in charge of the bill paying and bookkeeping. It does mean that both parties are in the know though. It means that once a week or once a month, you sit down with your significant other for a meeting about your finances. Total honesty and transparency is necessary and this keeps the whole family on track and knowledgeable about how the finances are shaping up.

2 heads are definitely better than one!

:: Budgets: Some kind of budget plan is absolutely essential to saving money in 2012. You have to put yourself on a budget! There is software available if you aren’t excel spreadsheet savvy, or you can even just do pencil and paper. No matter what, you need to make a budget and work your hardest to stick to it. If this is your first time putting yourself on a budget, you might find you need to tweak your budget to suit your needs and to reach your goals.

Here are some resources for budget planning:

I don’t care how much money you make, unless you are a on budget, you aren’t spending or saving wisely.

:: Knowledge: The next best thing you can do for your money in 2012 is educate yourself! Don’t just assume that you know all there is to know about budgeting, personal finance and money in general. Here are some books I highly recommend:

:: Amazon Prime: This one might seem a bit strange! When I think of how much having Amazon Prime has saved my family this year though, I can’t help but include it! Amazon Prime is a service offered through Amazon.com for $79 a year (start off with a free 30 day trial).

Amazon Prime offers you FREE 2 day shipping on items that have the Prime symbol next to the price on Amazon. I can’t tell you how many times I want to order something online but the shipping fee has made the cost prohibitive. I MORE then make make the $79 spent on Amazon Prime each year.

I buy diapers, groceries, stock my gift closet, books, office supplies, etc etc etc. And I don’t pay a penny for shipping…ever! I post a LOT of Amazon deals here on Family Friendly Frugality, and I’m not going to lie, I pretty much make the assumption you all have Prime because it’s SUCH a smart financial decision!

So those are my money saving tips for 2012. What are some of your tips for 2012?

What are some of your goals?

 

 

Top Five Holiday Budget Busters

Source: Tumblr.com

Avoid these five holiday budget busters and finish out 2011 in the black:

  1. You don’t make a list, and if you do, you definitely don’t check it twice. Santa knows best! He makes his list, he checks it twice and trust me he won’t think twice about throwing coal in your stocking if you’ve been a misfit all year long! Make a list of who you are buying for and stick to it! If you meet the man of your dreams after the list has been finalized, sit down and figure out how to work him/her into the list…don’t just tack him on at the end and hope for the best.
  2. You don’t write down your ideas. Never go grocery shopping while you are hungry. Likewise, never go the mall in November and/or December without at least a general idea of what you hope to accomplish there. Windows are prettier this time of year. Sale signs more prominent. Everything looks like a good deal; no, a great deal! Don’t be swayed by clever marketing and know what you want and what you are willing to pay for it before you ever step foot into a retail establishment to make a purchase!
  3. You drop good strategic shopping habits because life just gets too chaotic. You are generally a coupon fool who bakes everything from scratch. This time of year, life is just too hectic, so you let those good habits slide. You know what? That’s okay! Just be cautious and make sure you aren’t headed down a slippery slope. Just because it’s the most wonderful time of the year doesn’t mean you magically have an extra $500 in your account each month.
  4. You become a party fool and entertaining takes over your life. Everyone loves a good holiday party, just be cautious with your spending! A small intimate cookie party between friends can quickly turn into an expensive cheese and wine fest if you aren’t careful!
  5. You forget the true meaning of the holidays. No matter what your beliefs are, remember WHY we give presents and decorate our homes. Remember WHY this is the most wonderful time of the year. Remember the true meaning of the holidays that you celebrate (for me that would be Christmas. Christ’s birthday.) and focus on the fundamentals. Giving because you love, receiving because you are loved and spending time with the ones you love. You simply can’t put a price on the memories made when you focus on why you are celebrating in the first place!

What’s a holiday budget buster for you? Can you think of a year you went overboard? What did you do to make sure that never happened again? 

Part-time Couponing

Post by Katie:

Do you feel overwhelmed with all the couponing information out there? In this economy, everyone is looking for ways to cut back and save money and couponing is a great way to keep some cash in your pocket. But, we also live in a fast paced, busy world and clipping coupons, organizing, making lists, and shopping can be daunting. I was doing pretty good when I had just one child, then baby #2 came along 14 months ago and I am just now getting back into doing any couponing. But you know what? That is okay! You don’t have to do it all! Don’t feel like just because you can’t spend hours clipping and organizing that you shouldn’t do any couponing. You can still see big savings with part-time couponing!

We don’t have any of the big grocery stores nearby, so that’s not really an option for me when it comes to couponing, but we do have CVS and Walgreens. That means I DO NOT buy a paper each week for coupons, because I would probably end up spending more on the papers than I had coupons that I could use and really save big on. So, what do I do? I am always on the lookout for online coupons, sign up for emails for products that I prefer to use and “like” those product pages on Facebook. We are big on Proctor & Gamble products (Tide, Pampers, Pantene, Crest, etc) at our house, and they put out P&G Brand Saver inserts in the newspapers pretty regularly. I always buy a newspaper then and I’m able to get great deals and stay pretty well stocked on toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, detergent, dryer sheets, etc. just by shopping once or twice a month.

Here’s my small shopping trip from Walgreens today.

I divided these purchases into 2 transactions so I could use some of the Register Rewards (RR) on the 2nd transaction.

Transaction #1:

  • Pantene Shampoo & Conditioner– 2/$7, get $2 RR; $3.00 off 2 coupon; Final price (including RR)=2/$2
  • Crest pro-health toothpaste–2/$7, get $5 RR; two $1.00 coupons; Final price (including RR)= FREE!
  • I paid $9.98 OOP and received $7 in RR to use for transaction #2.

Transaction #2
  • Pampers Baby Dry, Cruisers, Swaddlers, or Easy Ups–2/$20, get $3 RR; $2 off 2 bags coupon; $2 off Walgreens coupon from Baby Care booklet (they applied this to BOTH packs, so it was $4 off both!!); Final Price (including RR)=$5.50/pack
  • Tide–$5.99; $2 off coupon; Final Price=$3.99
  • Hunts tomato sauce–3/$1 with in-ad coupon
  • I paid $13.84 OOP, using previous $7 RR and received $3 RR for a later shopping trip
Grand total OOP=23.82 (with $3 RR left over) and saved $34.91!
Want to learn more about strategic shopping or how to play the drug store game? Check out our “Start Here” section! Also, be on the lookout for our weekly coupon match ups each Sunday.

5 Tips To Help You Add More Money, More Often, To Your Savings Account

Do you have a savings account? Most people do.

Most don’t have much money in there though!

Be sure to check out the tips I share on Momtastic today for how to bump up your savings and get on track towards your goals!

Saving money. We’re all interested in saving money nowadays. We want to save money on our groceries. We want to save money on our electric bill. We want to save money on gas.

Are we saving money though? Having an actual savings account (with money in it!) is so important to financial freedom, but it can be overwhelming figuring out how to get started. Here are 5 tips to help you truly save more money.

Read more5 Tips To Help You Truly Save More Money | Momtastic

Just a quick note: I highly recommend ING Direct for your savings accounts. You can easily set up different sinking funds in addition to your primary savings account, and get a real visual representation of how close you are to your specific savings goals.

( I chat a bit here about why I like ING Direct so much)

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