Just as a bit of background about me. I was married once before and after my divorce, I was the sole breadwinner and was on my own for quite a few years. When I first got divorced I realized that it’s important to take stock of what I was spending my money on because I didn’t have a lot. Now things are better but I’m still careful and I still take steps to save money where I can. I’m not thrifty, I’m just making my money work for me.
So here are 10 things you can do to save money… and then you can spend it on genealogy. (Note not all tips are genealogy savings some savings are general tips)
- Tracking your spending. Peter Drucker is considered the inventor of modern business management and he said; “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” This is so true of your spending. So whether you track it for a week or month or a year the important thing is to become more aware of how your spending money. There is a book that my son swears by, it’s called; You Need a Budget and this can help. In fact, there is even an app for the book. But I’ll warn you there is a bit of a learning curve for the app. You can also track your spending on Excel or some banks have programs to track your spending. So check online and see what your bank has to offer.
- Keep track of your subscriptions. I’ve started tracking my subscriptions in an excel document so I know exactly how much I’m spending on each subscription. You can also track the subscriptions on Outlook as a meeting reminder so you know when the next payment is coming up. If you take it one step further and create a category called subscriptions (with a color) you can visually see it coming up on your calendar. Then you’ll be able to review the upcoming purchase and decide if it’s still right for you. Some subscription sites allow you to take the auto-renewal off, so have a look for that function. By tracking your subscriptions and knowing when they will renew you will have an opportunity to decide if that subscription has served you in the past year and see if you still need it. (Bonus: when it’s getting close to renewal time give the company a call and see if they can offer a discount.)
- When you go to a conference and see an offer for a subscription update your notes. Recently I went to a conference and bought a 1/2 price one-year extension to my subscription. Then two weeks later I saw a charge for $250 as an auto-renewal on my original subscription. (I should have realized that my 1/2 price purchase wouldn’t change the auto-renew.) So now my subscription had been extended an additional year (so two years in total). I called the company and I asked for a refund because you never know if I’ll come across another 1/2 price deal so why pay full price?
- One final thing about subscriptions; review what you are getting. Some subscriptions have several levels with an increased cost for each level. Do you need the full meal deal? Or does a lesser subscription work just as well? Or if you don’t need the entire year then only buy for one month and really put that subscription to work. (sleeping is overrated don’t you think lolol).
- A popular gift at Christmas is a gift card. But what do you do with the leftovers on the gift cards? You know what I mean; you get a $50 gift card but only spend $47.50 now you have $2.50 left on the card. Well, first of all, I put a little Post-It arrow with the leftover amount written on it. At some stores, you can use several small amounts but at others they what the amount on the card to cover all of the purchase. So here’s a trick I learned. Note that this only works for the Credit Card company gift cards. Go to Amazon and create an online Amazon gift card. When you create the card, purchase it with a custom amount then enter the exact amount left on your gift card and then enter the payment information from the gift card. Now you can throw that old gift card away and you have money set aside for a future purchase on Amazon. If you have another card just add to that same Amazon card. Doesn’t sound like much but if you have several of these gift cards it can add up to a few dollars.
- Speaking of Amazon I have to tell you that my Prime Account has saved me so much in shipping. In case you don’t know, when you have Prime you get FREE same day and 2-day shipping from many of the Prime sellers on Amazon. But it’s not just the shipping because that membership also includes unlimited reading, prime video, unlimited streaming music and more. The unlimited reading is perfect for me because then I’m not buying books that I read once and then have to dispose of them.
- Don’t be an impulse buyer. I know because this has gotten me into all sorts of things. It’s my FOMO (fear of missing out). If it’s truly a great deal then it will probably still be there in a few hours and then purchase it. Just don’t get caught up in the hype of the moment. Beside many companies have abandon cart programs (heck even Shop the Hound does) where they will send you an email with a discount offer just to go back to your cart.
- Sort through your closest and home and have a yard sale. Decluttering is a great feeling. I don’t know about you but I know that I feel lighter when I’ve tidied up. Then if you can turn those items into cash even better. If you don’t want to have a yard sale then you can put an ad on Facebook “Buy and Sell” or on Kijiji or Craig’s List (US). Clutter Busting Your Life by Brooks Palmer or The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo are great books that tell you how decluttering helps you reconnect with yourself. You might laugh but selling my things on FB Marketplace is the method I use to pay for my hotel at RootsTech.
- Go through your cable or phone bill and see what services are still necessary. Sometimes your paying for something you don’t use. It’s also a good idea to call your cable and phone provider and find out if there is a better plan that will suit your needs that costs less. Companies are changing their offers all the time and even if you are in a contract often you can negotiate a way to get from one plan to another quite easily. You just have to ask.
- Don’t use your credit card if you can pay with cash or your debit card. Remember often your debit card is a credit card as well so you should be able to pay online with it. Let’s consider this if you can’t afford to pay for it with your own money and use your credit card how will you be able to afford the interest charges? It’s easy to let your credit get out of hand and it’s tough to get yourself back on track.
1. Don’t let yourself go over your credit limit. I think it’s a crime that a credit card company lets you go over your limit and then charges you $29 Canadian to do it. You’re already paying interest so that doesn’t seem right especially when they let you do it. This can easily happen if you don’t know that a subscription is about to renew and you’re close to your credit limit.
2. Get a little note book (or app) and track your spending. You might be surprised.
I guess the big take away from all this is that awareness is key. Even just looking at your bank account or credit card statements online each day brings awareness and will probably reduce your spending. I hope these tips help. I know they’ve helped me and my brother’s don’t call me the Coupon Queen for nothing.
P.S. if you have a savings tip that you’d like to share? Enter it in the comments below.