Happy New Year! If you’re thinking about goal-setting this week, take a look at the 2012 Financial Goals I shared this week. My husband and I make a date at the end of the year to review our finances and put a plan in place for the year ahead–and it works. You can do this, too! I thought I’d recap some ways that you can save money in 2012. Here are my top 12:
- I shopped for used clothing, toys, and gear at my multiples club’s consignment sale. Many of you have access to such sales; they’re an incredible resource! Here are my tips on how to shop a consignment sale. Many sales start in late-February, so check your local papers and online for sales in your area.
- When I have to buy new, I shop online with coupon codes and free shipping. I also like to use cash-back sites like Ebates for extra money back. I like to order clothes for my kids to try on at home (avoid taking them to the mall!); then I can just return what I need to afterwards. Lands End and Children’s Place are great online stores to buy new clothes for very little money!
- I cook simple meals to keep us eating at home, so we avoid expensive takeout and restaurant meals. While this was difficult when my twins were toddlers, I learned to use a slow cooker and cook ahead for the freezer to make it work for me. Keeping food simple comes right off of feeding toddlers whole foods, and it’s healthier for all of us.
- I plan my family’s meals around the grocery store sales flyer, taking advantage of meats at their lowest prices. I buy enough to last us until the next sales cycle, and it saves hundreds of dollars a year. Get started with my how-to video.
- I keep on top of our contracts and insurance rates by calling once a year to ask for discounts, using these phrases that have worked for me in the past. Often you’re eligible for a lower rate just for being a loyal customer.
- I keep our entertainment costs very low by using the public library and taking advantage of all the free kids’ activities in the area (and yours, too!). These freebies are nationwide. We also have regular movie nights (with free Redbox rentals), board game nights, and do outdoor activities together.
- I use coupons for everything–groceries, toiletries, restaurants, and more–and rarely go out without one! Keep an eye on blogs, companies’ Facebook pages, and store ads for coupons you can use every time you shop.
- I planned ahead. By keeping lists of what clothes my kids need, keeping a gift closet for upcoming birthdays, and meal planning, I was able to shop ahead and stay out of the stores, two habits I employ to save money. Last-minute shopping often leads to overspending.
- As my twins have grown, I’ve gone green on many household products. Starting when they were in highchairs, I ditched paper towels for cloth rags. Now that they’re older, I use reusable containers in their lunchboxes.
- I never pay for babysitting. When my twins were younger, I was part of a babysitting co-op through my local MOMS Club. Now that they’re older, we just trade nights with our neighbors or another couple who wants a date night. Read more ways to save on babysitting.
- We keep all of our money by adjusting our tax withholdings to avoid a large refund. Especially with three children and a large child tax credit, we’ve had to work the numbers (with help from HR) to get the formula right. Now, instead of getting thousands back, we have that money throughout the year for debt payoff and savings.
- We have less. Less toys, less clothes, and less “stuff” means less time spent cleaning, organizing, and maintaining it. It also costs less! My kids have learned about limits and know that we clear out before birthdays and holidays, either donating, Freecycling, or prepping goods for a consignment sale. It’s taken a few years, but it’s working with them. Here are some other frugal rules we live by.
Is 2012 your year to get your finances under control? You can do it! I’d love to help. Stop by MoneywiseMoms.com for ways to earn extra income and save big in 2012. Here’s to a great year!401K at Flickr