When it comes to getting our finances under control, the biggest problem Shane and I have is not being able to pass up a bargain.
We do our best to not pay more than we have to for anything, from groceries to automobiles. One way we make sure of this is by keeping up with current prices. Knowing the "going rate" for goods and services is a great way to save money, but it also brings to our attention anything that is being sold at a really good price. As in "a really good price we can't afford to pass up".
Sometimes it pays off to go ahead and buy something when the price is unbeatable. For example, we knew when we moved into our home in May of 2006 that we'd eventually want to remodel our bathroom, but that we wouldn't want to do that until we built a bathroom in our basement. Since then, we've "collected" most of the materials we need for the downstairs bathroom:
- the toilet and it's hardware (brand new - $20),
- a brand new shower stall ($160 - 50% off the Home Depot price),
- a sink for the new vanity ($2),
- a nice piece of laminated counter top for the vanity (free),
- a utility sink (new - $20),
- bathroom heat lamp similar to that in a hotel bathroom (new - $15)
- miscellaneous plumbing supplies (pennies on the dollar of regular price)
There are drawbacks, though. Those materials take up a lot of space in the basement. And what if, for some reason, we aren't able to build the bathroom for another year or two? That money and space is tied up until we do something with it.
That was a good example, but sometimes when we find bargains, they are things we don't really need, but think we need them because they are at such a good price. Like 10,000 of these for a buck. I'm sure that was a good price, but we had no use for them. Fortunately, Shane ended up bartering them to our mechanic one day when he took a quick look at the brakes on the truck. (He said he'd use them to tag the car keys of his customers; he'll be set for years, no doubt.)
January is just around the corner, and instead of making any year-long resolution, Shane and I have decided that just for the month of January, we'll do our best to not spend on anything that isn't crucial to our home or health.
Now I know, one person's crucial is another person's frivolous, so when it's all said and done, we probably won't be as hard core about our spending as we could be. But that's OK, because the goal isn't to be perfect, but just to do better. I'll post our success (or failure) throughout the month.
Feel free to join in, if you feel the urge to not spend!
A Little Thing To Save Money: Keep a running list or two of things you need at the grocery store, the hardware store or the discount store. Consolidate your trip to these stores and buy only what's on your list.
A Little Thing To Save Time: Learn the layout of the stores you shop in most so you can get in and back out in short order. Not knowing where things are increases the likelihood you'll spend more time and more money than you intended.