Did you make any New Year's resolutions for 2015? This time of year, the media often focuses on topics like weight loss, health and wellness and financial wellness.
For me, couponing and financial wellness go hand in hand. Coupons are certainly a part of my savings equation, but on a larger scale, my life is self-governed by this simple principle: Spend less than you make.
I didn't grow up wealthy, and I still don't consider myself to be wealthy. Successful, blessed and happy? Absolutely. I know how to live well within our household's budget, and we're able to put away money for other household expenses, college, a future vehicle and household emergencies. We definitely make different financial decisions than some of our friends and peers do, but we do what works for our household.
Some of my readers have been sharing their tips for living frugally and setting a household budget. Here are a couple of them:
I don't know how old you are, Jill, but I'm going to guess you're in your mid-40s. You escaped being a 20-something in the social media age. Today's young people want instant gratification. They want expensive clothes, expensive cars and they want those things right now so they can post pictures to all of their friends of what they've got.
I don't know if the parents are buying these kids new cars when they're in college or what, but I wonder if they appreciate what they have and how long it takes many people to earn what is not handed to them?
Seems so many people believe success should be immediate. It is not. Generally, success is the result of time and hard work, not the instant gratification that so many seem to feel is their right.
Marvin, you guessed pretty closely on the age, and indeed, I did skate through my 20s without embarrassing photos of myself being Tweeted and Instagrammed everywhere! Even so, I doubt that growing up in the social media age would have swayed my values and stances on working hard and saving money.
There are a few tips that I acquired over the years, which have helped my husband and me to save money.
Try to keep your mortgage/rent payment (including tax escrow) between 25 and 30 percent of your monthly income. My mom recommended this when I first married. I'm glad she did.
Use cash only for weekly purchases of gas, incidentals and food. I draw out the same dollar amount each week from the bank and use an envelope system for dividing the cash into certain categories. When my husband and I are out of cash, we have to wait. It teaches discipline.
Save off the top. If you are able, then have a set dollar amount deducted from your check and deposited electronically into your savings account. Even five dollars a week is a start and you really don't miss it.
When it comes to gifts, always check the clearance and sales racks. I was in a big chain bookstore in October and found a nice hardback children's book and a 500-piece puzzle for $2 each. I bought them immediately and set them aside for the upcoming gift season.
When my family travels, we calculate the cost of breakfast, snacks, travel information and swimming into the cost of our room. For example, a hotel charges $100 for a double room. It also has an indoor pool, cable, fitness room, free local calls/Wi-Fi and free breakfast. I know that breakfast alone might cost the family $15 to $20 and admission to a pool or water park may be another $10 per person. With that in mind, I think $25 per person for a family of four makes that $100 a night hotel affordable and fun.
Take advantage of your community's free and low-cost activities. I find my local library and historical society some of the best sources of information and entertainment.
Hopefully something inspires you or your readers.
Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to email@example.com.