Wednesday, August 21

Belt Tightening

Well, we are in for another budget crunch at the Kawaii household. It is nice when we're able to see these things coming and take a few weeks to prepare for the lean times ahead. That isn't always possible, of course, but we happen to be in a place where we have some control over the direction we're heading.

Whenever there is a need to tighten wallets, it's back to the budget we go. It seems no matter how lean we are living, there is always something that we can do to reduce living costs. If you're heading back to basics as well, here are some great tips to help trim the fat:

  • Check to make sure your cell phone plan matches your usage.
    You might be surprised at how far off your plan is from your needs. You may benefit by upgrading your plan to include unlimited texting if you have a teenager or business person on your plan. Likewise, you may be paying for a data package that far exceeds your needs, even if you are a person on the go. Ask about any available discounts based on your employment, age or income status.
  • Get an Insurance tune-up.
    Auto maintenance doesn't just happen under the hood. When it's time to lock down your budget, make sure you aren't over-paying for your car insurance. Check your deductibles, emergency towing and car rental options, and decide if you really need full coverage. If your car is more than 8 years old, it may be worth your while to drop to liability-only coverage and save the extra cash for a down payment on something new when your car goes wheels-up.
  • Control your portions.
    Budgetary crisis is the perfect time to look at your diet. Reducing portion size not only will help your grocery budget stretch that extra mile, but it may also help you to fit into your skinny jeans again. Do be warned: cheap food does not often equal healthy food so while you are battening down the hatches make sure to keep an eye on those food labels. Check sales at your grocery store for lean meats, and start buying local fruits and vegetables that are in season to keep your fridge as full as your wallet.
  • Think Green.
    Going eco-friendly can be great for your wallet. Look into carpooling groups, home-made cleaning supplies and thrift store finds to save money. Saving on gas fill ups, reducing spending on heavily manufactured (and packaged) goods, and buying used can save your household a lot of money over time. 
I'm going through this list myself as we get ready for the lean times up ahead. I don't see it as frugality, just a challenge to be accepted - and conquered!

Wednesday, August 14

Coupon Buddies

I really enjoy couponing, but it has gotten even better now that I have a friend to talk to about it. Discussing our newest great deals, sharing ways to collect coupons and sharing photos of our hauls with one another really makes the whole adventure even more fun.

Not only has talking with a friend made couponing easier (we both have shared tips that the other wouldn't have thought of on our own), but it also makes me feel just a little less crazy. And sometimes, that's all you can hope for.

Thursday, August 8

Read The Fine Print

Well, I got duped at Safeway this week. I was reminded, while standing at the register with a line of people behind me (all rolling their eyes at my coupons) that it is important to always read the fine print.

I had gotten one of Safeway's $10 off a $50 purchase coupon (LOVE those!), and after using them in the past I was pretty sure I had it figured out. I bought my gaggle of groceries which totaled over $70. I thought I was in the clear until the cashier added all of my other coupons, bringing the total down to just $43. Unfortunately, the Safeway coupon was only valid for $50 in groceries AFTER all other discounts had been applied. So, I was sunk.

The cashier did offer to let me run to grab another $7 in groceries to meet the total, and I started to bolt toward the pasta sauce aisle. But due to dietary restrictions in our household, grabbing random jars is not an option. So I turned back to the cashier, heavy hearted, and just asked her to ring me up.

It's just a reminder to always make sure you understand the coupon you're trying to use before you use it. It's really hard for me to coupon off-the-cuff, and when a wrench gets thrown into my plans it always costs me money. Make sure you're looking at that fine print too  - it can save your bacon.