Money Saving New Years Resolutions you might actually keep
Have you ever read Anne of Green Gables? I adore the whole series with the first three books being on my list of all time favourites. Truth be told, my daughters middle name, Anne, was for this beloved storybook character. In one of the books Anne explains why she loves mornings so much- they are beautiful days without any mistakes in them yet. That's more or less how I feel about New Years Day. Except I am an imperfect being and even by dawn on New Years Day I have done something to mar its perfection (sigh when my 4 year old wakes us up at 2am to announce he's gone pee- since he has been dry by night potty trained for well over a year now this has long ago lost its novelty, slept too late, rushed my children, failed to be present etc). So I usually take today, New Years Eve to revel in the beauty, magic and perfection of possibility that exists for the coming year.
My list of resolutions for the new year are so typical they would be considered downright boring. But or those of you with financial goals on your resolution list, I thought I might help guide you with a short list of resolutions you could actually keep- and will save you some money as you do.
1. Shop the perimeter
When you grocery shop everything you actually need is on the perimeter of the store. I know you're mentally walking through your local grocery store right now...and there it all is. Your fruits, veggies, eggs, milk, cheese, meats everything you need for healthy delicious meals. Bonus is that almost nothing you need is taxed. Pizza Pockets- taxes apply, fresh bell peppers- tax free.
I'm not insisting you cut out all crackers, coffee, and chocolate chips. I know that is a resolution likely broken January 2nd- the first day of the year the stores are open. Just be aware. Shop the perimeter first. Then really think about what it is you're headed into those middle aisles for. Ask yourself if you actually need it or if you could make due with a tax free alternative. Do you need to buy a jar of applesauce, or could you whip some up tonight in the kitchen with some apples? (The answer is yes, yes you could. You remember my negative relationship with cooking? Even I make our own applesauce).
2. Make a household product
Start the year by choosing just one. Laundry soap, dishwasher detergent, all purpose cleanser, hard water stain remover, drain cleaner, window cleaner...these are just a few of the products you can skip buying for a year if you make your own (side note: cleaners like the ones listed above are located in the middle section of your grocery store...what does that tell you?)
By arming yourself with vinegar, lemons and baking soda you would be able to create a number of effective and non toxic cleaning supplies.
Did you know:
- a few tablespoons of lemon juice added to the humidifier will help deodorize the air in the home
-lemon juice and baking soda will remove hard water stains from chrome
- a paste of lemon juice and salt will clean and freshen your sink.
- lemon is a very effective grease cutter, use it to clean stove tops, cutting boards or small appliances
-vinegar and salt mixture poured on weeds will both kill existing weeds and prevent them from returning
-if your dog is sprayed by a skunk, rubbing his fur with undiluted vinegar and rinsing will help remove the odour
-instantly stop hiccups by taking one tablespoon of vinegar
-bring wilted vegetables back to life by soaking them in 3 cups water with 1 1/2 tablespoon vinegar
Those are just a few ideas to help you see that pre-packaged household supplies may not be as much of a need as they are advertised to be.
3. Buy used
In an ideal world the best thing to do is budget for a new item, buy it used and save the difference. This is one of the best and fastest ways to financial freedom. However, for most people this is not an ideal world. We might need a new car before we've saved $25,000, or we might need something now that we just are not able to find used (like a snowsuit for a baby girl 18-24 months....for some reason impossible to find around here this season) but at the very least check it out.
Since there exist websites like crigslist.com or kijiji.ca, thrift stores, consignment shops and auctions it should make it obvious that buying used is something almost everyone does, even if they don't talk about it. Know what else people usually don't talk about? Their debt.
4. Find real entertainment
Browsing at all the mall is not entertainment. It needs to not be your go to option when you want something fun to do. Ask yourself honestly, how many times do you go to browse the mall and come back empty handed? But you just bought one little thing, you justify. But if you hadn't been at the mall for entertainment you wouldn't have bought it. So, did you really need it? One small thing multiplied by every time you go to the mall is is going to add up- to both a lot of money and a lot of clutter.
Skating rink is entertainment, live theater is entertainment, festivals and fairs are entertainment. The mall is your local source for buying new items. Period.
5. Drink more water
Totally boring resolution, right? I'm still going to recommend it. Strongly.
There are two pretty big name soft drink brands out there right now. You know they contain sugar and lots of it, but have you ever wondered why? Not why do they contain sugar, but why so much? Because they need to cover the taste of salt added to the drinks. If the highest concentration ingredient in a soft drink is sugar the second highest is salt. They add salt to make you thirsty, so you'll drink more of their drinks. Pretty clever if you ask me. Except all that salt and sugar isn't good for you- your body or your budget. After all, these drinks are not free!
Your body craves water. Its almost free (from the tap). Getting enough water can cure headaches, soothe cramps, repair dry or blemished skin. In fact, in many people the thirst response is so weak that we often mistake it for hunger. So if you're feeling a bit nibbly try a glass of water and wait 20 minutes, chances are your cravings have faded - saving even more money on snack foods.
I am looking forward to 2013, am excited for the opportunities it might contain for me and my loved ones. I wish you, gentle readers, peace and joy for the whole coming year.