In our last article we discussed the benefits of Eating from Home to help save you money on your family budget. In this article we will be discussing the benefits of when you stop spending unnecessarily for necessities.
This topic is one of those things where we didn’t even realize how much had been spent until we added up our receipts or reviewed our checking account. We all make the mistake of becoming so easily enthralled with products on the shelf as soon as we enter the store. Honestly, companies spend a lot of money and time designing the packaging to catch our eyes. The Holidays make this even more of challenge because the stores know exactly how to display items so its even more inviting to our eyes! In the windows we see the twinkling lights, the oversized ON SALE attention getters, the beautiful colors… it’s everywhere and that is how companies get you to buy their products. While I can’t blame companies for wanting to sell their products, because just like us they need to keep the lights on as well. So why is this such a challenge for us when it comes to seeing all these eye catching details and how can we prevent ourselves from being the bug to the bug zapper? If you’re worried you are going to fly into the bug zapper of consumerism and overspending, we have some suggestions for you to try to help you and your family start today so you can start saving money.
Stop Spending Unnecessarily for Necessities
- Know the difference between a “want” and a “need”.
- Generic or store-brand items often are just as good (if not better).
- Wait for sales, watch the store ads and know the prices of items you use.
There is a BIG Difference Between a “Want” and a “Need”
So picture this, you just finished a long days work and dinner is over and dishes are washed and put away. You sit down for a cup of coffee/tea and some evening dessert, either alone or with your family. You are cozying up in your chair and reach down for the newspaper. While opening the paper, a sales ad falls onto your lap with the big bold letters “50% OFF SALE this Saturday! 12 HOURS ONLY!!!” Then, you hear a buzz on your phone and you put down the paper and check what it is. So and so just tagged you in a photo. You click to see what this is all about to discover your friend or a family member just purchased a new (you fill in the blank) that you have been eyeing up for months/years now. You cringe a little and scroll through your news feed and begin to see photos, ads, and status updates from people and companies with their purchases or sales and you start making a mental list of things you just have to have. Next, you turn on the television and the first thing you see is a guy and woman dancing around showing off a new style of clothes for a Macy’s sale, then another commercial and then another. The next day, you wake up and get ready and head to the store. So wonderfully displayed, you see an item that you really like and without any thought you toss it in the shopping cart. Each aisle you become more tempted and your cart becomes more fuller. You go up the checkout aisle and realize your bill is way more than what you expected and realize that $100 bill isn’t going to touch it so then you swipe the debit card to purchase your items to save yourself the embarrassment of returning the items. Later that week you your tire goes flat and you have to get groceries, you figure its not a big deal and just swipe the debit card again, but there’s a problem. Scratching your head you tell the cashier that that can’t be correct. How is it that you have insufficient funds? Trying to remember what all you bought you rush home and realize all the items you bought that wasn’t part of your budget, and you blew through a months money on things you can’t even remember. This situation here was done with only cash and a checking account. The “crash” was bad, but it’s even worse if you would put everything on a credit card only to have the Christmas credit hangover as the last Christmas “gift” to unwrap come January. You bought a cart full of wants rather than needs. If your life and career depends on it (food, water, utilities, shelter, clothing, basic transportation), that is a “NEED”… If you have survived without it this far, odds are you can wait a bit longer until you can actually afford it without blowing the budget.
Generic & Store-Brand Items Often are JUST AS GOOD (If not occasionally better)
One of the biggest lessons Jason and I both realized when you are on a VERY tight budget is that you don’t buy beyond your means unless you find a sale/coupon that makes the item FREE! When you are on a tight budget this doesn’t mean you stop buying food, personal hygiene products, and cleaning supplies and other NEEDS around the house. This just means name brand items (If they have a commercial, odds are it’s a brand name…) can be substituted for the generic/store-brand. You can also make your own cleaning supplies and foods (I’ll post these recipes in a later blog). If you feel generic and off brand aren’t as great as name brand products you can coupon, write to companies or wait for sales. The problem there though is that a portion of every dollar you give a name brand is paying for the advertising that got you to buy it in the first place at full retail. Personally, while we were on a very tight budget we bought mostly off brand products until I discovered secrets to couponing that I have posted in previous blog entries. I am still learning and I am able to buy our home name brand products for half the cost of generic or even free! Just find out what works best for you but whatever you do, avoid paying full price for name brand products if possible while on a limited budget to avoid over spending.
Wait for Sales, Watch the Store Ads and Know the Prices of Items You Use Consistently
If you haven’t already, I would recommend signing up or going to local stores for their weekly sales ads. One of the wonderful perks of sale ads is if there is a NEED for anything specific you can plan your weekly meal plans around these sales or wait for a sale on that particular product you need to buy it on sale and not on full price. This is where NEEDS vs. WANTS is crucial. Just because it’s on sale does not mean you need it. Whenever I discovered couponing and couponing sites I began with a nasty habit that I quickly realized I need to end. Whenever I saw products on sale or even free we would be running to the store to get those items. While I came home with one or two free products I failed to realize the gas expense to go to these stores. The only time you should be using your coupons and many maker sales is when you are making a big purchase in town, or you are in town already, or a family is going to be driving by that location and does not mind stopping. The best site I have discovered to find sales is Krazy Coupon Lady. Whenever I am running low on a particular item that is a need, I always type in the search on their page and it will let me know if and where that item is on sale. I avoid waiting until what I need is almost empty or gone completely before searching so for a sale. If you wait until the last minute you will be stuck on that item being gone and have to settle with generic or pay full price which I do my absolute best to avoid!
For example: When I purchase three jugs of tide (free or almost a great sale of course) and I’ve used 1 1/2 jugs and now have 1 1/2 remaining I will then start to search daily on Krazy Coupon Lady or local ads for sales on Tide and stock up. Not only does this help you but if you know someone who needs a product or in an emergency you have plenty stocked up at no cost to you if you was to pay full price to help them.
Bonus: Kick the Social Media Comparison Circus out of Town
The old Rolling Stones song that says “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, and that is exactly what comes to mind when I think of overspending. If you constantly want something that someone has or what is on sale you are NEVER going to get ahead financially. Without contentment, you’ll only ever be caught up on the next thing you don’t have. You will make unwise spending a habit that is hard to break rather than building your contentment and bank account. Know where your money goes and avoid being caught up with what others are buying or advertising. Desiring what others have has always been a part of being a human, but today’s social media platforms allows this desire to escalate to level I don’t know that society has seen before. The constant barrage of the best of other people’s lives can make you and what you have feel inferior, but this absolutely cannot guide your life and purchasing. If you’re always following after what others have, you’ll never be able to live a life of your own.
Following these tips will not only help you avoid sudden surprises in your budget with overspending, but it will also make you less stressed about how to afford the necessities for your home. It’s also a great feeling to be able to help your friends, family or neighbors when you can and not let it be a burden.
~But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.~
2 Corinthians 9:6-7