But before I get to swear by ways I save money, let’s start by explaining this Interac 21 Days Credit-Free Challenge I was talking about.
The short explanation/the gist: It takes 21 days to change or create a new habit, so Interac Association is challenging you all to spend 21 days without using your credit card. To instead use only your own hard-earned money and live within your bank accounts means.
If you sign up to the challenge you will get daily emails, with tips, encouragement and prompts — really it’s a great (and free) way to jump-start some new (better) spending habits for fall. And it’s always easier when you do something new and challenging with someone else, why not do it with tons of someone else’s?
This is 21 days to set some new spending habits and try some of my favorite saving money tips out.
[Look at that, saving money and still happy (and wrinkled)]
1. Live Below Your Means – generally the rule is to live within your means and spend only your money, not rented or credited money. After going through a lay off (a few years ago) and two kids later we realized the best way for us to live, is below our means. More specifically, if you have a partner keep your living expenses within one person’s salary. This gives you much more room for saving, paying things off (if that’s your current plan), vacationing, and just being prepared for anything life throws your way because you just never know (trust me).
2. Buy Only What You Need – Yes it’s awesome to get new stuff, and it feels great to have a closet full of trendy new duds. But do you actually NEED most or any of it? My number one shopping rule, is to only ever buy what I NEED and then I make sure it’s something I LOVE. If it doesn’t fit into both of those categorizes, it doesn’t come home with me.
3. Hunt Down Sales – After you figure out what you need, look around at sales for something you love. Now a days you can almost always find that pair of jeans, couch or whatever you need/love on sale somewhere or if not, something similar and just as great for a better price.
Tip: sign up for your favorite stores emails, often they will send out sales to their subscribers that you otherwise wouldn’t know about.
4. “Window” Shop – Okay this might be a bit nerdy. But one of my favorite things to do before I pull the trigger shopping is to fill up my shopping cart (when online shopping) with things I think I need and love and then let it sit there for a day or two, full. Usually when I go back to purchase, I realize there are a few things I didn’t actually need or even really want anymore. When shopping in real life, I often purchase what I think I need/love, bring it home (but keep the tags on) — try things on at home and if I’m not as excited with the things as I was in the store and I know I’m not going to wear it all the time, it goes back.
5. End of Season Sales – Take full advantage of these, especially if you have children. You can probably anticipate at the end of the season, what you will probably need to buy the following year (winter coat is looking a little ratty, boots are fitting a bit snug this year, etc) — do your best to buy something classic and buy ahead…on sale! You will be grateful come next year, especially when you see the same item being sold for full price and you can just go into your closet and finally tear off the tags from your sale item and wear it.
6. Meal Plan – Make a weekly meal plan, then use that to make your shopping list and set a grocery budget. Buy only what falls on that list, avoid all “oh that looks good” purchases. As you grab items to put into your shopping cart, write down the price beside the item on your list — this is a good way to keep your budget in check and also a good way to remember the prices of things, which will help when you shop around.
7. Shop Around – Same sorta thing as shopping for clothing sales. When you are food shopping, don’t just go to one grocery store and call it a day. I know it’s easier to do this, but you will most definitely miss out on deals. If you use your meal planned, shopping list and write down the prices for each item you will start to recognize when things are on sale. And you’ll know that your favorite Greek yogurt is cheaper at Sobey’s than it is at Loblaws, etc. Tip: in the spring and summer take full advantage of farmers markets and street markets – the prices for fruits and veggies are almost always drastically cheaper.
8. Be Loyal – Collect loyalty points, but not the credit card kind. I know it’s a huge marketing thing for the stores, but it’s good for you too. If you already shop at a store and they have a program that allows you to collect points that you can use down the road for purchases, get the card (if it’s totally free). I collect points at a few stores and then I use those points only when I need, like those months with things are tight and I’m near the end of my budget. Or my favorite way to use them, is as a Christmas gift to myself, I’ll keep my points and use them to cut down on our holiday shopping bills.
9. Don’t Eat Out – If you can help it, avoid it. But I know it’s hard, it’s nice to go out sometimes – especially nice to have a night off of cooking. So if you do go out, get out early (like pre-seniors hours) and have pre-dinner snacks. Cheaper and still just as enjoyable, then go home and make a really light dinner. Or eat dinner early, then go out for “snacks” — the act of going out is great, but even better when the bill isn’t super high. Also this is just a good way to eat out with kids, no more buying meals they won’t eat anyways!
Does the Interac 21 Days Credit-Free Challenge sound like something you’d be into? If you check out the site there are 21 videos filled with tips to help get you started. And if you aren’t from Canada, you could still go for a 21 days without using credit and only your own money, as a challenge. Do you have any really great tips for saving money that you can share?
Disclosure: This post was part of a sponsored collaboration between Interac Association and SheKnows
Interac is a registered trade-mark of Interac Inc. Used under license.