I don’t know about you, but I keep kicking. I’d spend months eating clean food, only to fall off the wagon and polish a box of Toasty Cheez-Its. I can spend years watching my budget like a golden retriever watching newborn pups, then falling off the wagon while life gets busy. And when life gets chaotic or busy, burn the money that could have been saved and invested.
Fortunately, I realize when I am not as careful as I should be and be able to take steps to correct myself. Here are three ways to save serious money without depriving yourself a bit.
Heading to the grocery store is as fun for me as getting patted at the airport. My travels are often the result of desperation. For example, I’m going to decide to make a Mexican for dinner, only to realize I don’t have any tortillas at home. While I’m at the grocery store, I bring a few other things, so I won’t have to go back any time soon.
Here’s the problem: I often buy things I already have at home. If I only took the time to look in the fridge, freezer, and pantry, I’d have a better idea of what I should be spending the money on.
An estimated 30% to 40% of food in the United States is wasted each year. This is a bug on so many different levels that it’s hard to parse. For example, how many people can be fed with the food we throw away, and how much money can we save if we buy only what we need and what we will use?
I’ve been struggling with this problem for a while now, and this is what I came up with. I joined Walmart+. It’s free for me because my American Express card reimburses me for the $12.95 monthly fee. The main advantage of being a Walmart+ member is that I don’t have to pay a fee for grocery delivery. I leave a tip to the driver, but the amount of money I save by not buying things I don’t need more than makes up for it.
Before placing an order, I make a list of the meals we will have at home. As much as it pains me, I check the fridge, freezer, and pantry to make sure none of the ingredients are actually there. Only when I am sure do I place the order.
Having someone else shop for me means not buying junk you don’t need (including the delicious Toasty Cheez-Its mentioned above). The less unwanted waste in the home, the more likely you are to eat fruits and vegetables. When it comes to the foods Americans throw out most often, fruits and vegetables top the list.
2. Chill out with cleaning products
When I was a kid, I promised myself that my house would be clean when I grew up. And for the most part, I’ve been true to that promise. Having said that, I have a thing for cleaning products. I will try anything new in the market. Since moving into our new home four weeks ago, my favorite purchase has been a mop and bucket from O’Cedar EasyWring. Don’t put a good point on it, but it might be the best mop I’ve ever used.
The problem is that I can waste hundreds of dollars each year on cleaning supplies I don’t need. I have to ask myself why. Vinegar and water kill things like salmonella and E. coli. And if you follow that up with a store-bought disinfectant, 99.9% of lingering germs will be gone.
And if you haven’t discovered the fun of Murphy’s Oil Soap, let me tell you what it can do. A few drops in a bucket (or tub) of water clean all the things you wouldn’t think of using oil soap on. Murphy cleans everything from worktops and windows to blood stains (don’t ask). It makes old furniture look great and that new doormat you mentioned? I honestly didn’t know our laminate floors could look so good until adding a few drops of oil soap to the bucket of water and giving the room a spin. Murphy’s is also great for cleaning toilets, sinks, showers, and bathroom floors.
In my area, 128 fluid ounces of white vinegar costs $3, 128 fluid ounces of Murphy’s is $14, and 32 fluid ounces of All-Purpose Disinfecting Cleaner costs $4. I think the vinegar and Murphy’s will last for four or five months and with the sanitizer it will last about six weeks. I still want to buy laundry detergent and dish soap, but keeping it simple will save hundreds each year.
3. Dump your insurance company
Do you remember anyone ever telling you how much they love shopping for auto insurance? Me too. It’s hard to know where to start, how much coverage you need, and how to find the best rates. However, the average driver saves nearly $400 annually when switching car insurance companies. This is just car insurance. If you also own a home, you can pool coverage and save more.
If your driving record is in disarray or you have a very low credit score, you may want to give your standard time to recover and take steps to boost your credit score before shopping for new coverage. Both will allow you to score a lower rate when the time is right.
The great thing about each of these tips is that none of them feel like they’re on a financial diet. You don’t have to do without anything, but you can still enjoy the bonus.
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