What can you do to get ready for the year, while it's still fresh?
I'm not the only one thinking about how to save money next year, These are things that the Brick and I do, though, to give the new year a boost:
1. Buy gift cards -- if they offer a bonus, and are at places you like (and patronize). We took advantage of Outback and Red Robin promotions -- $5 for every $25 at Red Robin, $10 for $50 at Outback. We like these restaurants, have rewards cards with both, and often take advantage of their specials. With $100 spent for each -- an amount we can easily use up within a year -- we have $20 bonus money for each to splurge with these next few months.
Or we'll give some of the gift cards as presents. Either way, they won't go to waste.
More promotions will come along -- we saw some for movie theaters and other businesses. They should come out again for special holidays like Mother's and Father's Day.
2. Cook double. Eat half now, store the rest. A few extra meals in the freezer or refrigerator keep you from going out to eat on a whim -- only when you really want to. (Or there's a great special.) Here's a helpful source of meals that freeze easily.
3. Donate stuff -- now. Not only can you take the tax benefit at year's end (start a receipt box!) -- you'll have more space, and less temptation to spend extra money for 'storage' you really don't need. Or sell your stuff! This family paid $100,000-plus debts by 'flipping' items on Ebay and Amazon.
4. Buy whatever you use regularly -- in bulk. WHEN it's on sale. Many stores have clearance and quantity sales in January. For example, a 50-pound sack of rice or potatoes will provide the mainstay for meals all winter. (Keep them in a cool dry and dark place, if possible, for best storage.) If you spend 10 cents a pound, versus your usual (50-70 cents a pound), you've saved a tidy sum that can be used for something else.
Now's also the time to decide what your household needs -- and start looking for it on Craigslist or elsewhere. We're on the prowl for a generator or freezer.
5. Inventory your assets. What do you have to work with? In food, clothing, tools, other items? If you know what you've got, you won't be going out to buy duplicates...or letting items go to waste as quickly.
Take time now to clean your tools and oil them; they'll be ready for future use. Sharpen the edge of your shovels, for better use. Or spray snow shovels with silicone, to help the snow slide off. It's not just the big stuff, either -- scissors and clippers benefit from cleaning and oiling, and your knives could always use a good sharpening.
Clean guns, polish your shoes, oil boots and leather items, and take care of other maintenance chores -- they're easier to do on long winter evenings while you're watching tv or videos.
Now's also the time to repair clothing -- sew on buttons, restitch loosening seams, fix holes, etc. (Donate whatever doesn't fit, or you're not wearing regularly.)
You should find this post helpful, too. More tips in the future on this blog.
Good luck -- you CAN get through this year successfully!