Long before Northern Cheapskate was a blog, there was an old cheap notebook that I kept all my money-saving ideas in.
As the blog grew, journaling fell by the wayside. And sometimes, saving money did, too. (Have you heard the one about the cobbler’s children who had no shoes?). I realized I was slipping a bit when it came to personal finances, so I began taking small steps to get back on track.
Those small money-saving steps didn’t feel all that “blog-worthy” to me, but I knew they were smart things to be doing. I picked up a blank journal I’d been given as a promotional item and began to write down the things I was doing to save money and the positive steps I was taking to change my bad habits.
I learned a few things about myself doing the few months I’ve been keeping my “Diary of a Saver.”
1) The little things really do add up. There are quite a few little things I do that may not seem like much, but collectively, they help us make ends meet.
2) Whenever I find it’s been several days since I have written in the journal, I know that I’m probably getting a little lazy about my money-saving efforts. It pushes me to try new things and to step up my game.
3) Writing about my struggles with saving money helps me to problem solve. Sometimes you just need to see a problem on paper before you can come up with a good solution for it.
4) It is inspiring to look back at old entries. Just like re-reading my favorite frugal books, I have found that looking back at my own money-saving successes inspires me to do more.
A Glimpse Into The Diary of a Saver
Upon review of my diary, I realized that there are some unique ways I’ve saved, and also some patterns that have emerged. I thought I’d share some highlights from the last couple months with you in the hopes you’ll be inspired to find ways to save money.
- I shopped the clearance racks and found clothing for my kids at 70 to 80 percent off.
- I prepped dinners in advance so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat out on busy nights.
- I prepped breakfasts in advance so that I wouldn’t resort to buying overpriced convenience foods for the kids.
- I used coupons, store apps, and cash-back apps to save money on groceries. I even got a few food items for free doing this.
- I used Swagbucks and some credit card rewards to pay for my son’s birthday presents.
- I did a kids’ clothing inventory so I know exactly what they will need for the next year.
- I stocked up on grocery and household items whenever there was a great sale on them.
- When our satellite television provider had a free movie channel preview weekend, we recorded a ton of movies on our DVR to watch at a later date.
- We took the boys to a couple of fun community activities and they were given some free books to read.
- We used the library to find books to read. We also checked out books for Kindle, too. (No gas used to get to the library!). My mom also loaned me some of her books to read.
- The snap on a pair of boys’ jeans broke. Since they were like brand new, I took them to a seamstress who fixed the snap for me and only charged me $2.
- Rather than replace my old screen door, I managed to get it working right with extra screen door parts I already had.
- I did some bargain hunting at garage sales and estate sales.
- My dog was feeling under the weather, but I was able to talk to the vet on the phone and with a few minor changes to her diet, she was good as new. No stressful visit to the vet for the dog and no expense for me!
- I took advantage of loyalty programs. I turned in about $7 worth of Box Tops for Education, scored some product coupons through Kellogg’s Family Rewards and My Coke Rewards, and was able to download two video games for the kids through Club Nintendo (which is going away soon, sniff.)
- One of my 7-year-olds broke the pedal on his bicycle. I called the manufacturer and they mailed me two new pedals at no charge. My boy was thrilled to be riding again in just a few days.
- We went on a day trip and did some thrift store shopping and some free site-seeing. We used some “buy one, get one free” coupons to get ourselves a treat at Cold Stone Creamery.
- Instead of replacing our like-new flat tire, we we were able to have the flat repaired for about $20. Now if we could just avoid all sharp, poky road hazards…
- I planted my vegetable garden. It wasn’t as frugal as I had hoped, but I was able to plant some things from seeds and I even got some free bean seeds from my parents.
- There were several times when I really, really wanted to go out for dinner, but I realized that I was just being lazy, so I made dinner at home and saved our money instead.
Those are just some of the ways I saved money. Individually, they don’t seem like much, but together they add up to hundreds of dollars in savings. Most of the things on this list were simple to do, too. I only had to spend a little bit of time.
Your turn: Do you keep track of the money you save? What are some small things you do that add up to big savings?