Happy Weekend! I hope yours has been as happy as mine. I woke up this morning to breakfast in bed served by Mr. Thoughtful himself!
After breakfast, we ran some errands and headed to the gym. Yes! The gym! It felt so amazing to walk up to the counter, have my card swiped, and sweat it out in the company of my hunky hubby!
We did about 35 minutes on the Expresso S3 Upright bike.
Talk about killer cardio! This bike has a simulated riding course where you are actually racing other “bikers.” The course I chose was about 9 miles and was hill-y!
After working up a good sweat, we walked one lap around the indoor track to bring our heart rates down. Then we each did our own strength training moves.
I went to the GroupX room and did the Winter Shape Up 2010.
Like last time, I did the beginner and advanced/intermediate moves two times each. I feel great! Today was the best workout I’ve had in a LONG time!
Yesterday, I got the chance to meet my mom for a girls outing in Fredericksburg! We ate a lovely lunch together. Then we hit the shops and browsed around.
This (strangely) leads me to the topic of this post: Saving money.
Larry and I are planning to sell our teeny-tiny townhouse and buy a bigger and better single family home this year! We began saving right before Christmas and are already half way to our goal! Here are some of the things we have done that have helped us to save big bones, but still have fun.
1) Plan a weekly meal menu and grocery list.
Each week, I plan a weekly menu. As I am planning what we will eat throughout the week, I type the groceries I will need in an organized table. This keeps me from impulse buying, and prevents me from having to go back to the store several times throughout the week for things that I have forgotten.
|Dinner in Petersburg
||Corn Chowder with Jiffy
||Panini with sweet potatoes
||Grilled Chicken Salads
||Turkey Burgers/Veggie and Potato Fries
||Honey mustard Chicken with Rice and Sugar Snaps
||Beth’s Engagement Party
|Tuna Steak and Portabella
|ProduceOnionCeleryRed potatoesChivesSweet potatoes
||MeatsChicken stripsTurkey meatVeggie crumblesChicken breastFake chicken
|Dry Goods/cannedJiffyRoasted peppersPestoHoney bunches of oatsKashi wheat cereal
||Frozen3 cups frozen cornSugar snaps
||Dairy Panini cheese½ gallon milkhummusAmerican cheeseEggs
I keep this document saved on my computer, so each week I just have to update the contents.
2) Plan quick and easy emergency meals for those nights when you want to call it quits and order in.
One thing that I am famous for is staying too late at work, and then wanting to punk out and not make dinner when I get home. But ordering in, or going out to eat, really adds up! If you spend $40 a week on take-out, that’s $160 a month ($720 a year!) you could be putting into a high interest savings account.
To prevent us from ordering in, I keep a few “emergency” quick meals in the house. Nothing beats breakfast for dinner on a cold, blustery winter night. Pancakes, anyone? Another favorite of mine is to add a little bit of sharp flavored cheese and rosemary to scrambled eggs. Believe it or not, it goes great with a glass of wine!
3) No Fast Food
Not only is fast food high in sodium, fat, and calories, but paying for it can really add up! Just think, if you cut fast food out of your diet, you could make your waist smaller and your wallet bigger!
4) Take leftovers for lunch.
I used to be the Queen of Lean Cuisines. That was until this summer when I discovered how much cheaper my grocery bill was without these weekly purchases! While I was working from home on my masters classes, I would eat leftovers from the fridge.
Now I take leftovers every day for lunch. This keeps me from having to throw leftovers away, keeps my grocery bill lower, and helps me control my sodium intake! It’s a win-win-win situation!
5) Invite friends over for a night “in” instead of a night “out.”
One thing I hate about pinching pennies is how many social outings we have to miss. I’m not talking about the actual night out, but I hate having to tell people “no.”
Now instead of saying no, I tell those friends that I am unable to go out that particular night, but that I would love for them to come over to our house for dinner or cocktails one evening in the near future. And I always try to set a date right then and there.
A couple bottles of wine, an appetizer, and dinner prepared in your own kitchen is healthier and cheaper! You get to control the ingredients and the cost!
6) When you pass up spending in order to save, write a check for that amount and put it in savings.
Otherwise, I find that I just spend that money on something else. This way you know you are guaranteed to save it! For example, this past New Years Eve we were invited to celebrate at an event that cost $75 a person. We decided to stay home and make our own dinner. We then each wrote a check for what it would have cost us. That was an extra $150 we put into savings in one night!
7) Track your finances on a website such as http://www.mint.com/ to see your spending trends.
This is a secure program that allows you to link all of your accounts, debts, and investments together. You can track your spending and savings trends. It’s amazing to see where your money is actually going! Once you’ve analyzed your monthly spending, you can create a plan to spend smarter.
8) Before checking out, check in.
This last tip has helped me to save a lot of money. I love, love, love to shop at Target! Where else can you find groceries, cute clothes, accessories, home goods, cleaning supplies and cosmetics in one place?!?!?
So here is what I do to avoid spendint my entire pay check at Tar-jay. Before going to the checkout counter I look at all of the items in my basket. I really think about what I am buying, and if I really need it. I then remove any items that are not necessary and return them. This is also a helpful strategy to use at the grocery store. Do I really need those cute heart-shaped sugar cookies????
So, there it is ladies and gentleman. Eight simple tips for saving and spending smart. I am by no means an expert or an angel. I did buy a cute purse and two tops yesterday that I didn’t necessarily need (but they were both on clearance!). Sometimes a girl has just got to shop!
What are your best money saving tips? Do you have a goal you are working toward??? Please share!
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