As a family we have prioritized spending money on experiences rather than stuff. Our decision was confirmed the other day when I read somewhere about the memory of an experience will last much longer than the memory of stuff purchased, and even grows fonder over time. And, while we make many memories with local experiences, our favorite experiences are our Disney vacations. We have found ways to save on our Disney vacations but we have also found ways to save for our Disney vacations by cutting expenses at home and/or adding to our income.
Cutting expenses: I have been a sale shopper since I can remember and the husband can identify the shirt I paid full price for a few years ago. There hasn't been a full price purchase since! Coupons, sales, rebates, on-line codes, and cash back incentives are all part of the strategy.
We also prioritize purchases. Is it a need or a want?
When I was getting my haircut the other day (the salon was having a half-price sale on haircuts) the stylist asked me if I was going to the grand opening of a new store in town—starts with a “K” and rhymes with moles. I replied, “No” to her surprise. There was nothing we needed, so there was no need to go. The $10 coupon I got in the mail I gave to a co-worker as I wasn't planning on using it by the expiration date. I explained to the stylist that shopping isn't a sport for me—unless it is grocery shopping—and then it’s a game!
Then there are things I no longer buy. Cards for instance. Oh, yes, family still receives birthday cards, etc. but I have found ways to get them for free, including personalization AND mailing by looking for discount codes at treat.com and cardstore.com. Yes, there are times that the discount code is available when I may not need a card, but I think ahead to the next birthday and order a card for that occasion and have it mailed to me, not the recipient. Last year we even got our holiday cards for free!
I also don’t buy photo prints anymore. Yes, there are great specials available—buy 50 get 50 free at local retailers, but what would I do with 100 prints? I already have drawers full of them. Instead, I make a digital photo book (think scrapbook done on-line) and order it when there is a sale as well as get money back in my Ebates.com account. For photos to frame and display, I wait for discount codes for free larger prints.
When I do make purchases, I want a value added experience by getting something in addition to my purchase. If I shop on-line, I earn cash back through Ebates.com or Swagbucks by using Swagbucks.com Shop & Earn.
Last week I needed cartridges for our printer. Walmart has a good price and the kind we needed. Yes, I could have gone to the store and bought them. I was heading to the store over the week-end anyway. Instead, I went on-line and made the purchase. Since Ebates was only giving 1% back, I went to Swagbucks.com Shop & Earn which was offering 6 Swagbucks per dollar. The “rebate” for my total on-line purchase was going to be enough to redeem for a $5 Amazon.com gift card—bonus! And, the printer cartridges were waiting for me at the store when I did the rest of my shopping, so no extra trip or shipping fees were required.
Earning the $5 Amazon.com gift card is an example of increasing the amount of money coming into the budget. We take advantage of rebates, surveys, and contests to add a little extra to our wallets.
I went out to lunch the other day and paid for the meal with a paid on-line survey check and a rebate from an oil change last month (the husband filled out the rebate forms and we got two rebates from oil changes on both of our cars).
And, speaking of the husband, the boy gets in on the act, too. He saved a Lunchables cardboard cover as it had a special code inside to win a prize.
Our saving strategies have gotten the attention of others as I have been asked to co-teach a couponing class at our local community college. I am looking forward to it and will be getting paid to teach the class which adds to our wallet!
Just yesterday I had someone tell me they didn't have time to find coupons, plan shopping trips, etc. and regularly I have people tell me they just don’t want to bother with it. I get their point of view. There are some weeks it seems overwhelming to me, too. And, if that is the case, I scale down the list, the plan, etc. One week, I watched the clock as I snipped and strategized. Then, I calculated how much I saved and divided it by the time it took to prepare for the shopping to determine the cost per hour; actually my cost per hour wage. $50 per hour was the average. Who wouldn't have time for a $50 per hour job? My time is valuable, too, and I want to spend it well, just like money.