from: Amy Hannold, 247Moms Frugal Living Editor
Several of my friends and others who witness me saving large amounts of money often say that I’m “just lucky”. Luck, by definition is “Preparation meets opportunity”. How can you improve your chances of finding great deals? Take these steps, one or all – and you’ll too save more money, everyday:
1. Be organized. If it takes you too long to save money, or you frequently miss great deals because of expiration dates or not having the coupons with you, you are stuck in a cycle that will cost you precious time and “frugal confidence”. Find and utilize organizational tools which will make saving money easier. Look around your home, car, desk and counters for ways you can be more efficient in paper shuffling and coupon/discount keeping. The use of a coupon file for your going out book-bag and an index card box for under your car seat (for shopping/dining discounts) can keep all the discounts you’re going to need, wherever you go. Make a date with yourself, whether it be waiting at the doctor’s office or in the car at pickup time – to sort and replenish your money-saving “toolboxes”.
2. Form a Team: Saving money is not a solitary lifestyle activity. To be most successful at saving money, you need to share and recruit amongst your many social circles. The more eyes and ears you have looking for the deals, and sharing them with you – the more money you’ll save. If you’re self-conscious about carrying a coupon file around – or shy about asking for discounts, get your friends involved and soon you’ll not only spend more time together, you’ll spend less money. If competition is your style, you can make it a sport to save the most and find the hottest deal. Frugal is definitely in – so start the “Frugalista” group in your neighborhood – and you’ll be the hero!
3. Think Outside the “Big Box”: When you need to buy something, think last about the mall and first about the many ways you can get your purchase, for less. Example? My husband is working on a yard-improvement project. He needed a whole lot of bagged concrete mix. Reluctantly, after making sure I did not have a coupon for Home Depot, he trotted off and bought most of what he needed. The next day, while sharing at work about his project, one of his co-workers offered him several bags of the concrete mix, for free. My husband came home, a bit shy to tell me this tale, but we both learned to talk-up our home projects in advance of buying the supplies – we just may find a treasure – and someone we know may be glad to reclaim space in their garage.
In the “good old days”, neighbors helped neighbors. In our time now, we need to get back into that mindset of sharing our needs and our forgotten treasures with our friends. Broaden your circle to acquaintances, who will become your best friend when you help one another. Other ways of finding what’s on your list: bulletin boards, Facebook, Twitter, Freecycle.org, Craigslist.org, free local classifieds, finding the local Yahoo groups consisting of frugal neighbors, recycling centers, swap meets, and garage sales. Online: try shopping via Ebay, or swapping items via Bookmooch.com, Paperbackswap.com, and Freepeats.org. Can’t find a place to swap? Create one, and make it an annual, anticipated even