Wednesday, July 26, 2017

6 Ways to Stretch Your Money

This post had been residing within my drafts for some time now. As I mentioned in my latest currently post, G and I have been trying to learn how to better manage our finances while paying off some debt that we've acquired. So, right now seems to be the perfect time to share. All the tips that I've compiled below have really helped us in stretching our money over the course of the year! I know I can't be the only one who would benefit from taking a few of these steps. If you have any other tricks to add, feel free to share them in the comments!

Now, this isn't something that I started doing recently. I've always found myself being pulled to the clearance sections, especially when it comes to clothing items. The best stores that I've come across for marked-down clothes are Target and JcPenney. There's always a huge selection of items, both in-store + online, for these retailers. I honestly can't remember the last time I paid full price for clothes. I snagged about 3 pairs of jeans from Target's online clearance for $8-$9 a pop, verses the $28-$30 they would normally cost. And JcPenney? Just last week I was able to score a pair of $45 jeans for a mere $5. You really can't beat shopping clearance!

This may or may not be something you're willing to give up. If having your nails done at a salon is something that makes you extremely happy or you use it as a form of self-care, by all means continue to invest in yourself. For me, on the other hand, this is something that I gave up years ago. I just couldn't stand shelling out $30-$40 a visit for mani-pedis whenever I am more than able to paint my own nails in the comfort of my home. Just give me a few different shades of nail polish + a bottle of Essie's good to go top coat and I'm set.

For all you brave souls out there, I've found an endless supply of YouTube tutorials for trimming your own hair. I've actually been doing this on and off for about two years now. It's honestly not as difficult as you may think. It's as simple as straightening your hair, pulling it all to the front of your head + tying it, then tying another hairband right below the section you're willing to chop off. My only advice would be a) make sure the scissors you're using are sharp and b) cut small sections off at a time until you're pleased with the length. You can always cut off more, but once it's cut it's gone until it grows back! If you want to have your hair styled, I would recommend going to a salon for that as it's much more tricky. When it comes to dying your own hair, just pick out a boxed dye at the store and follow the instructions. My go-to boxed dye is Garnier Nutrisse. It's about $7.

Okay, this one is a must if you're trying to stretch your funds! I never even realized how much we were paying for fast food or restaurant food each month until I sat down and did the math. It was ridiculous to say the least. I understand it may seem more convenient to grab a meal whenever you're on-the-go, but if you could save a bunch of money if you simply plan ahead. Meal planning has helped us tremendously. Not only have we been saving money on groceries each week, but we've actually been using everything that we buy instead of letting some of the items go to waste. Making your meals at home is also a healthier option since you can't always be sure of what restaurants are using in their food. You'd be surprised how many hidden calories are in some of these meals! Believe me, I'm not saying you should cut off eating out altogether. Just limit how many times per week / month you go out to eat (this obviously depends on your personal budget). I will say that since we started eating out less, I've found it to be more special when we do get to go out. It feels like a treat!

Is it just me, or have you guys noticed how much the price of movie tickets continue to go up? I remember when it was $6 to get in, now it's nearly doubled that amount. This is another one that I'm not saying should be cut off completely, rather limit how much you're going to the theater. G and I are avid movie-goers, so this has been a tough one for us! We especially love going to see all of the Marvel / DC movies. The easiest way to overcome this challenge was to prioritize which movies we wanted to view. We had to ask ourselves if it was a movie we'd be willing to wait to watch or did we have to go see it as soon as it made a debut on the big screen? Hello, Wonder Woman. Just like going out to eat, going to the theater less has made it more special.

I'd say I began doing this after I started working at Target a few years back. Once I was introduced to their Cartwheel app, I started looking into other apps that would also help in saving money. A couple of my favorites are Walmart's Savings Catcher app + Groupon. The Savings Catcher app allows you to scan all of your Walmart receipts into their database. Their system then searches the items you bought to see if they were on sale / cheaper at any other store. If they do find that an item was offered at a lower rate, they'll give you back the difference. in reward dollars.You can redeem these reward dollars and transfer them to a Walmart gift card. Genius. So far, we've gotten back roughly $175 through this app in the last couple years. I usually let our rewards stack up to about $20-$30 then use it on meat. And I don't have to say much about Groupon, as I'm sure most of you have heard of it before! I haven't been using it much lately, but they always offer good deals.

I hope that these tips + tricks help you guys as much as they've helped us :)

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