Although the day-to-day life of one individual, couple or family can vary drastically from that of another, there are some issues that affect us all.
One big one?
That's right, money. We all need it, want it, work for it... it is the essence of what makes the world go round. Whether you have a bank account filled to the brim or need to consolidate your debts; finances are a topic that we often try to avoid.
I don't consider myself to be the most frugal person out there, but when it comes to cutting costs around the house or tips for saving money, I'm always on the lookout. Here is a short list of a few of my favorites...
1. Free family outings.
As much fun as it is to take your kids to the fancy indoor gyms full of inflatables or open gym at the gymnastics facility, whiling away the hours there can quickly take a hit on your pocketbook. Instead, take advantage of the no-cost options in your area - everything from the library to local playgroups to special free days at the Children's Museum, and more.
And let's not forget about good old Mother Nature! Kids love playing outside in nearly any kind of weather and walking out your front door won't cost you a cent. Throw on rain boots and splash in puddles in the spring, grab a swimsuit and a sprinkler in the summer, collect colored leaves on a nature hike in the fall, bundle up to play in the snow in the winter... the options are endless!
2. Pay cash.
You've heard this one before, haven't you? With the amount of credit card debt that our country has racked up, the concept of only being able to purchase an item when you have the money for it can be extremely difficult. However, it's easy to see how the stress over late fees, bill consolidation, and harassing creditors will disappear if you don't owe anything, right?
3. Sales, coupons, discounts, Daily Deals, free shipping and more.
This one seems like a pretty easy one - buy things on sale and save money! I love browsing the circulars in the Sunday paper to see what might be on sale for the following week and my husband does a great job of clipping and using coupons (yes, I'm spoiled and he does the grocery shopping).
I am continuously impressed with coupon bloggers who are always updating with their latest and greatest finds, so find a few that you like and take advantage of their hard work and ingenuity. From free samples to money-saving coupons to codes for free shipping, it always makes sense to get a good deal.
4. Consider secondhand items.
I had a friend years ago who cringed at the idea of going to garage sales. However, after she started to see the amazing finds that I was picking up for my kids (especially toys and clothes) and how easy it was to throw items in the washing machine or scrub them down and have them end up like new, she started coming along with me. A short while later she was hooked and never looked back.
Although I don't make it to as many garage sales as I used to, the girls and I still love to stop at them when we can and see what treasures we might find. I also keep an eye on Craigslist when we are shopping for something in particular, check out consignment stores for great deals, and check with friends to see if they have something that they aren't using (a good friend came over and "shopped" for her niece in our outgrown kids' clothes just last week. I love knowing that the items will go to good use)!
5. Get organized.
Nothing irks me more than when we end up having to purchase an item when I know that we have one in our house already - my husband just did it this past weekend. That lack of organization meant a waste of money!
I'm also never pleased when I clean out my purse or a drawer in the kitchen and find expired coupons, particularly those that would have made the purchase free. So organization not only saves your time and sanity, it can mean extra dollars in your pocket as well.
6. Do It Yourself.
I'm not saying that you have to take a class and learn how to install your own tiles or flooring (although I do know a couple that did that), but it might be worthwhile for you or someone in your family to learn how to change the oil for your cars or construct a simple shelf out of wood and nails.
Going along with #4, I have seen some of the most amazing decor and results when people find cheap or abandoned furniture, frames, jars, and more and come up with a DIY project that is stunning. You can find plenty of inspiration online or on board after board on Pinterest.com.
These tips are just a drop in the bucket when it comes to personal finances and saving money, but they are easy ways to get started in keeping our wallets a little more full in 2012. Are you frugal? What are your best tips?