Frugal Beautiful

Posts Tagged ‘Savings

The famous line “People first, then money, then things,” comes from financial guru Suze Orman.  I adore Suze- I am watching her show right now on Itunes.  Fabulous stuff!  While her other advice is great- “people first,” is really something I’ve been focusing on.  I’m currently on the 30-Day-No-Shopping Challenge and I realized that time not spent shopping needs to be filled with something else in order to succeed.

Filling your life with people, not things is a way to free up your money for greater opportunity: retirement, starting a business, going on vacation, cutting your work hours and living comfortably…or how about this:  not bursting into tears when the credit bill comes each month?  That sounds pretty darn good.

 

Shopping keeps us busy.  It also gives us a sense that we’re building something- a more beautiful home, a more savvy wardrobe to spur more confidence,  a repertoire of things to make life better, faster, more efficient.  But what it all boils down to is people.  We want a nicer home to invite friends over and gadgets to entertain them with, a wardrobe that inspires awe and praise from people at work,  a birthday gift that shows our appreciation.  While things can be useful- it’s a distraction from the sometimes intimidating work of making personal connections with people and building community based on our own personalities and effort.

I recently had some friends over for drinks after hitting up a discount pizza place for their Monday night specials.  Honestly, I was embarrassed to have them over- my new apartment was sparsely furnished- we didn’t even have enough chairs for everyone.  I found myself fretting over the appearance of my apartment, but of course- as you can imagine, nobody cared.  Everyone was just happy I opened my home and we had cheap beer and wine and sat around and talked.  They were happy to get together, and in the end, I was happy to have done it.  Relying on personal connections and not things can be scary-  but often the experience is more genuine.

To ensure the success of my No-Shopping Challenge, I’m filling my life with EVENTS and not stuff.  I’m going to knitting meetups and attending health workshops.  I walk my dog each day and finally tackle projects that have been nagging at me.

 

Shopping has been a distraction for far too long.  It makes you feel accomplished, productive and successful when you can buy something new- especially when you’ve hunted down a good deal, but the activity of shopping usually distracts from other activity.

What are you using shopping to hide from? How are “things” holding you back from genuine experiences and connections with people?  Does debt keep you in a constant state of stress or does shopping hide the fact that you haven’t explored what really makes you happy?  Do you feel you don’t have the right “things” to start your goals?  (Trust me, having a cute pair of Nikes will not really encourage you to go to the gym).

People first– the money will sort itself out and the the things will matter less and less.  You will have exactly what you need.

 

 

Victoria's Secret Black Friday at Westfield San Francisco Centre 2009While I am not in consumer debt- I seem to have a penchant for spending as much as I make- if not sometimes more (which is easy to do when you work part time and go to school).

I find that my spending habits are irregular- sometimes I’m very aware of my income level for the month and spend accordingly- other times I feel as if I make all of my purchases at once leaving for one month of an unusually high credit bill.

I just recently took in a foster pug named Ralph, and while some expenses are reimbursed, much is not- such as kibble, treats, grooming and a bed -$80.  I also a month ago signed up for a student gym which was -$96 ( if I go to yoga at least once a week it’s the cheapest rate around, even better when I go twice weekly!) +$6 for yoga gloves to help my grip on the mat.  I got a great rate to fly back to the west coast for a 5 year reunion with my friends from the non-profit, which was a round-trip ticket for -$305 with taxes.  I also purchased two books from Amazon for -$20.  Needless  to say, it’s gonna be a wee-bit tight for the next two months since I make a meager income and I’m going to challenge myself to BUY NOTHING for 30 days.

I tried to challenge myself and not shop for 30 days at the beginning of this year and failed around day 20.  I had to chip in conjunction with a gift card to buy a pair of boots I needed for winter so that was $25, and a few days later I gave in at Target and got a pillar candle and a picture frame.  Seriously, THAT is what mucked me up- $33 in 2 days.  I have to try again- both because I’m broke and because I’m prideful.

The Challenge Parameters:

-No purchases except food, medical care and necessities for the dog (if the dog needs a crate I will get him 0ne).

-Gift cards may be used, but not if the purchase exceeds the card amount.

-My grocery bill must be under $200 for the entire month.

-Purchases for the reunion dinner are applicable since I am in charge of the food/prep/setup.

What else am I forgetting?  Oh, ya, probably how challenging it’s going to be. Grumble. Grumble. Grumble.

 

I want to set up a reward for myself at the end of the 30 days, but what can I do as a treat for myself that wouldn’t defeat the purpose of saving money? Suggestions are appreciated.

See you on March 1st, 2011 for a challenging challenge!

I get totally giddy over this site.  There is just something fabulous about needing an item, finding it cheaper than amazon, having a coupon for 10%-30% off, free shipping and getting cash back for whatever I purchase.  I introduce you to: CouponCactus.

Couponcactus is a free service that works in two ways:  It provides awesome coupons for discounts, cashback and free gifts with purchase  for hundreds of stores.  Also, it provides varied rates of cashback for your purchases through those merchants- and again, it is absolutely FREE.  Cashback is generated in your account to be dispersed through paypal or check automatically every few months.  It could be likened to a rewards credit card, except there are no fees or strings attached- it’s really that simple.

Last week I needed a pair of yoga gloves to help me retain my grip during downward dog.  (I can’t make this crap up).  I looked on amazon- the pair I wanted was going to cost me $14 with shipping.  I went to CouponCactus and found the gloves on Gaiam.com for $8, with 10% off, free shipping and 7% cash back.

What’s also great is that you can refer friends and get credit for it.  On February 15th I have $24.57 that will be deposited into my PayPal account from cashback and referrals and I didn’t have to do anything for it!

I love CouponCactus because it’s stupidly simple- just log in to their site and choose your merchant to see what offers/cashback are available.  After your purchase (as long as you have logged in and clicked the merchant through CouponCactus) your cashback will be automatically generated.  All coupons open up in a window to be copied or directly applied to your order.

The site is great because they don’t hassle you through email or annoying pop-ups.  They sustain themselves by generating traffic for merchants by advertising great sales and providing you with discounts, so there are no hidden fees or hoops to jump through.

That’s why I totally ❤ Couponcactus.com- it’s simple to sign up.  Simple to save money.  Simple to generate cash back through my spending and referrals, and simple to find my favorite sites- ThinkGeek.com, Express, American Eagle,  Eharmony,  ProFlowers (hint hint people).

Oh yes, and you can *totally* sign up with my referral number!        124740

I’m going to be posting several small articles that will help you tackle your finances and be your most powerful self in quick, do-able steps. Today’s step?

Take 5 minutes to look through your wallet, bank statement and credit card bills.  Taking stock of what’s going on with your spending habits will give you powerful insight to take control of your life!

It is time to get real with your finances, because you know you aren’t doing what you should!  Take a good hard look at what’s going on in your wallet (or how many swipes away you are from wearing a hole in your credit card) and evaluate what’s happening in your life.

Your finance habits correlate with your thinking and living habits.  I can tell you when I relocated to Chicago, my spending was out of control!  While I bought a lot of things I needed for the new place and new weather conditions, I was so desperate to get “settled,” that I didn’t think my purchases through.  Needless to say, I ended up with two pairs of boots purchased online I don’t use, and three very high credit bills.  I was so stressed about feeling secure in my personal life, I was doing the opposite in my financial life!  Take stock (and a good hard look at  where your money is going) and spend just 5 minutes quickly spotting any red flags or things to simply be aware of.

It’s that simple.


Check out some of my favorite sites that will make this goal a breeze and give you ideas!

www. Mint.com – (MY FAVORITE TOOL)- online or on my phone!   In 10 minutes you can see every penny you have saved or spent in savings, CD, investments and credit cards.  PLUS they generate great tips and leads for better ways to save money on purchases and gain more for your savings!

http://www.dailyworth.com/ -their daily emails are fabulous!

http://lifehacker.com/

http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/ -they so totally are!

http://www.Wisebread.com

http://www.frugalvillage.com/ -I love the forums, any question you want answered from a variety of perspectives!

Up next? Two simple things you need to be doing to live a healthy financial lifestyle- and it doesn’t have to be painful!


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