It is no secret that I have a lot of student loan debt. I really do not want to spend the next couple of decades paying it off as is currently outlined by my so kind loan companies. This means I’m trying to find every way possible to spend more on my loans, and less on other things. My enthusiasm for this has waned over the years, but I am going to focus on doing just this over the next year. I hope that I can make some changes that will be more long term and make a difference in my debt free date.
One way I’ve decided to do this is by cutting back the amount I spend each year on toiletries, household supplies, and groceries. I have done a lot of reading lately and have decided to commit the year to shopping with coupons and stockpiles. My desire is to only purchase things that I need when they are cheep (and invariably before I actually need them, thus stockpile). I’m also going to try really hard not to buy anything I do not actually need. This will be hardest on Amazon.com. We’ll see how that goes.
I have created some rules/boundaries with the couponing and stockpiling. They are:
- Only purchase things I use and therefore will need, no purchasing extraneous things I won’t use or might waste just because they are great deals. For example, today I could have purchased 5 bottles of Wisk Laundry detergent at CVS for about $1 each. However, I only use ALL because I have sensitive skin. Switching detergents, even if I can get a year supply for cheap, would not be smart and potentially wasteful.
- I will only purchase about 3-6 months worth of something (for one person, that is only one-two of most items). I live in an apartment. Space is limited. For example, my recent lotion purchase will last me about a year when I include the fancy-smell-good stuff I also have. I won’t buy anymore for about 6-9 months, if not longer.
- Keep it healthy. You can often get really great deals on awesome junk food. And let’s be real, I don’t need it. When I’m in my dear friend’s wedding this summer, I want to wear a single digit bridesmaid dress. When I go to my 10-year high school reunion next summer, I also want to wear a really small size. (I’m not vain, I swear.) Unhealthy stockpiles will only sabotage these things. Spend unnecessary money, maybe waste some good food junk food, make me feel guilty, therefore eat more, and only get fatter. It’s an all around losing choice.
- I will limit my trips to the store to a maximum of once a week, hopefully fewer. Because I often forget things I need for staff meeting celebrations, this means I need to plan ahead.
- Freeze fresh veggies. I love veggies and they are cheaper certain times a year. I want to buy a reasonable amount of fresh veggies when they are cheap (or at the farmers market in the summer) and freeze them. This won’t be a ton, you know, apartment, small freezer, etc. However, it will make eating aspragus much happier when it only costs a couple of dollars vs several.
I reserve the right to add to these!
It is really important to note that I do not have time to figure all this out myself. I just read other people’s blogs and follow their advice. There are three sources I use a lot!
- Frugal Living Forum on Dave Ramsey’s My Total Money Makeover. This is interactive and there are lots of folks who are experts ready to dole out advice. And there are more people like me who are clueless. I like it a lot. Also the budget tools and access to Dave’s podcasts are great.
- Jenny at SouthernSavers. This is the BEST site for coupons. She has interactive, build your own lists for just about every grocery and drug store (including Walmart) including links to online coupons and dates for ones from the paper. When I did my Walgreens shopping I went to her site, created my list, printed coupons I didn’t have and left. She also has pages of how-to for beginners. I read these a lot. Oh, and did I mention you can follow Jenny on twitter? I personally love that best a lot.
- Coupon Mom. A lot like #2, but not nearly as good– not interactive, no twitter, still good source.
I have learned a lot already, and know that I will continue to learn even more. I hope that you will join me on this journey! The more the merrier!