Jun 1, 2012

Penny Pinching Tips....from a pro.

I feel like an official blogger now...I've asked a guest poster to give you some tips on how to save some money.  Lucky for you, she gets paid to tell people how to save money as the Nelson County FCS agent....and she's my sister!  We are nothing alike--Dayna is a saver, I'm a spender.  Dayna is outgoing, I'm super shy.  Dayna is modern and color, I'm vintage and black and white.  Despite all this, the boys in our family can't tell us apart when they're learning names.  I'm "black hair," she's "red hair."  So, without further ado, Red Hair and her "Penny Pinching" tips.

Hey Penny Pinchers!

I hope that Devan has been giving you some helpful tips this summer about how she saves money and that you’ve been able to apply them to your own life. Dev asked me to “guest post” on her blog because her “Penny Pinching Summer” idea is exactly what I do in my job. I am the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent at the Nelson County Extension Office. (Every county has an extension office and most have an FCS agent- check out your county office here: www.ca.uky.edu/county). Basically, it’s my job to deliver UK information to the community about financial management, nutrition, food preservation, food safety, child development and much more. It’s kind of hard to explain to people but I love it.

Fortunately for you, the information I give out about financial management is all research based and backed by the one and only University of Kentucky. So, I figured I’d compile all of my favorite money saving tips into one and then give you the links to a few publications on saving money.
First: Couponing 101
Couponing 101 is just a lesson for basic coupon etiquette and use for those individuals who want to use coupons to save a little dough. Basically, it’s for those smart folks who take the free money stores send out in the paper every week.
When couponing, don’t make your list around the coupons. Make your grocery list, then browse the coupons to see if you can use any. If you hunt through coupons first you’ll end up buying things you don’t need just because you have a coupon for it, which ultimately, just cost you more money.
When you coupon, sort them out in some way that makes sense to you. Some people like to separate into food and non-food, some put them in order of the grocery store aisles, and others paper clip the ones they know they’re going to use onto their list. Regardless of how you do it, find a way that works best for you. It may take you a few tries but you’ll figure something out.
The first rule of couponing is this: only try to use the coupons for what they are intended. If it says buy three, save $3.00, no you may not buy one and save $1.00. Buy what it says you need to buy for the coupon to be honored.
Second, don’t try to use expired coupons. They have an expiration date on them for a reason. If you have some recently expired coupons, visit www.coupsfortroops.com to find an address to someone you can send them to who will send them overseas to our military families who have access to commissaries. They can use them up to 6 months expired there. (only manufacturer’s coupons!)
Last, don’t get angry at the cashier if one of your coupons doesn’t work. First, make sure you bought the correct item and amount (don’t try to buy a 16 oz Coke and use a coupon for a 20 oz). Then, if you have the correct items and it still won’t scan, check the expiration date and check that it isn’t a coupon for another store. Using a Dollar General coupon at Kroger aint gonna fly. If all of this is correct, calmly ask for the manager. No big deal.
I think couponing is a wonderful thing- I honestly see coupons as free money. If you have to buy toilet paper and it would have cost you 5.89 without a coupon, but you have a coupon for .40 cents off, imagine that you paid your normal 5.89 and they just handed you back .40 cents. For free. It helps.
I just skimmed the very basics of this publication. Check it out to learn about sale cycles (typically 12 weeks) and more. It’s worth the read: http://www.ca.uky.edu/hes/FCS/FACTSHTS/FRM-AP-087.pdf
Next, we have these awesome “Add Up the Savings” cards. They’re quick tips to saving money different ways. Let me re-cap for you:
Add Up the Savings When Eating Out: http://www.ca.uky.edu/HES/FCS/FACTSHTS/AUTS_When_eating_out.pdf
1. The obvious one- try to limit the number of times you go out to eat.
2. Don’t order super size meals. They only add calories and money. Order smaller, save money.
3. Drink water. Sodas shouldn’t cost 2+ dollars but they usually do. So again, save money, save calories. If you don’t like the taste of water, take a flavor packet into the restaurant with you.
4. Bring your lunch to work. Sometimes this isn’t feasible if we’re on the road or we have a lunch meeting, but when possible, you can save up to $1,000 a year. And I know there aren’t too many people out there who couldn’t use an extra $1,000 a year. Lunches is one of the fastest ways we blow our money. Spend an extra ten minutes at night or in the morning to pack yourself one, or better yet, eat your leftovers from the night before.
5. Eat earlier in the day when you’re going out for dinner. Many places up the prices of their meals later in the evening. Get there while they’re still offering the early prices.
6. Order off the lunch menu if you go during the day. They’re usually smaller portions and cost less, again saving money and calories (anyone else see a theme here?)
7. Avoid vending machines or stopping at a gas station for snacks. They’re usually packed with fat and cost more than they should. Keep a drawer of healthy snacks in your office or at home.
Add Up the Savings On Clothing: http://www.ca.uky.edu/HES/FCS/FACTSHTS/AUTS_on_clothing.pdf
1. Avoid fads that are probably going to be unfashionable next season. Those flamingo pants may be cool today, but they probably won’t be in a month, and you just dropped $50 for something you can only wear a few times. Purchase classic pieces that you’ll be able to re-wear season after season.
2. Don’t buy lots of bright colors. These can usually only be worn in spring. Darker colors can be worn all year.
3. Follow care instructions when washing and drying your clothes. Meaning, if it says dry clean only- dry clean it. Don’t risk tearing it up, then you’ll just have to go buy another one. (Personal opinion: don’t buy things that are dry clean only in the first place!)
4. Buy solid colored pieces so you can mix and match and re-wear more often without people noticing. If you start to show up in that start studded pink zebra shirt more than once a month, people will talk.
5. Use accessories at a minimum. Yes, they are nice and can add to an outfit, but they also cost quite a bit of money. Find classic earrings you can wear with anything and a good watch and bracelet or necklace. Use extravagant accessories for special occasions.
6. Shop at consignments stores. Yes, I said it and I mean it. Consignments stores can offer you the same thing a store offers you for a much cheaper price. Who cares that someone wore it a few times already? It’s half the price and technically, people have tried on the clothes in the store, so they’ve been worn too.
7. Don’t buy clothes you don’t need. If you already have a black shirt in good condition, don’t buy another one.
8. Learn how to sew to make minor repairs. (You can all come to my beginner’s sewing class at the Nelson County Extension Office if you need to learn. July 25th at 5:30 p.m. and it only costs $5.00)
There are also “Add Up The Savings” cards when shopping for food, at home, on energy, and on food preparation. See those here:
At Home: http://www.ca.uky.edu/HES/FCS/FACTSHTS/AUTS_at_home.pdf
On Food Preparation: http://www.ca.uky.edu/HES/FCS/FACTSHTS/AUTS_at_home.pdf
When Shopping For Food: http://www.ca.uky.edu/HES/FCS/FACTSHTS/AUTS_at_home.pdf
On Energy: http://www.ca.uky.edu/HES/FCS/FACTSHTS/AUTS_on_energy.pdf
My last money saving tid-bit is this: host a swap party! Get some snacks, call up your girls and get together for a night of fun! Have everyone bring their purses, shoes, clothes, books, whatever that are in good condition, lay them out and swap! Then, have the party the next month (or rotate it to someone else’s house) and do it again! Bring the same items (friend A may have borrowed friend B’s purse that you really wanted to get) and/or bring some new things! You’ll always have new things without spending a dime! Plus you get girl time!
Basically, just be aware of how much you’re spending and what you’re spending your money on. I recently went through my bank statements and saw that I had bought 12 McDonalds Sweet Teas in one month. TWELVE. I justified it to myself each time that it was only a dollar. ONE DOLLAR! Who can pass up a large delicious sweet tea when it’s so cheap? Well I can when I figure out I’d spent twelve dollars over the course of the month.  Needless to say, I’ve banned myself. I grab a cup and fill it up with water instead. No money, no calories. I really don’t see a down side to it!
I hope you all find this helpful, I know it was long but I hope it was worth it! And please don’t hesitate to call me (our office number is 502-348-9204), email me (dayna.parrett@uky.edu) , or check out my work blog (www.nelsonfcs.wordpress.com)  if you want more information! I also try to tweet financial tips every now and then (@NelsonCountyFCS).  You’re also welcome to call the FCS agent in your own county. That’s what we’re here for!
Additional publications you might find interesting:
How To Keep Money In Your Pocket: http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/fcs5/fcs5102/fcs5102.pdf
Supermarket Savvy: http://www.ca.uky.edu/HES/fcs/FACTSHTS/FRM-RHF-131.pdf
The Power of Ten: http://www.ca.uky.edu/HES/fcs/FACTSHTS/frm-ssb-76.pdf
There are tons more! Visit http://www.ca.uky.edu/hes/index.php?p=206 to see all of the financial management publications. From estate planning, to retirement planning, to which bread machine to buy, we’ve got you covered.

Happy Penny Pinching! :)


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