Monday, October 11, 2010

Ways We Try to Save Money

Even though Dustin and I both work, and it should seem like we would have plenty of money, we also have a lot of monthly bills and expenses to keep up with (student loans, car loan, payments on furniture and appliances, PLUS the usual suspects: rent, etc.). Which means we are always looking for ways to cut some corners and save some money. I thought I would share with everyone the ways Dustin and I have found to save some extra cash! As a disclaimer, I am not an accountant, so take any tips with a grain of salt. Most of these tips are military-specific, but a couple could apply for anyone.

1. Haircuts - Dustin was paying $8+ a week getting his hair cut every Sunday. Add that up, and I was thinking $400 a year on haircuts?!?!  So, I figured, if I have a Master's degree, I should be able to figure out how to cut my hubby's hair, right? Well, it is a little bit more difficult than I originally thought, but I have finally mastered cutting Dustin's hair, and have been doing it for the last ten weeks or so now. He only had to go get it fixed one time, and we invested about $40 into buying a haircut set with all the different sized guards, and then another beard/goatee trimmer that I use to get a really good trim along the back and bottom of his hair. So, it is just now starting to really pay off and save us some money. This picture is similar to the trimmer we use.

2. Setting a Budget - I sat down when we got married and mapped out our monthly income, and then broke down our expenses. We then doled out any remaining money into different bank accounts, which we save for different things. For instance, we have a savings account for emergency funds, house savings, summer pay (teachers only get paid during school year, so I have to budget some money for those summer months), and tuition savings (for Dustin's classes if he takes more than TA pays for). Having each account labeled with a purpose really helps us feel good as we see the funds growing! We use to make all of our budgets and store all our bank account information. It is a great website to track all your expenses, and lets you even include student loans, car loans, and retirement accounts all in one place. You definitely might have a few eye-openers as to where all your money is going as well! It is a lifesaver in keeping all our finances organized and at our fingertips!

3. Credit Card Rewards - We use my credit card for almost all our expenses. Why? Because it gives us 1% cash back on everything we spend, plus 5% on rewards in certain categories on a seasonal basis (right now groceries and department store purchases). Then we pay the balance every month so we don't accrue interest. Just since our wedding, we have earned about $135 in rewards by using my credit card so frequently! The important thing is, you have to make sure you pay your entire balance, otherwise the interest will cost you way more than the value of the rewards.

4. Pay off debt - We try to always pay extra, when possible, on the lines of credit we have with the highest interest rate. We purchased our car, furniture, and appliances all with 0% interest financing, so it is only my student loan that is actually charging us interest. Whenever we have the chance, I try to throw an extra $25 - $200 a month at my student loans to save us some extra money in the long run. So far, we are set to pay the loan off a year early! Yippee!


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