Howdy! Sorry (yet again) for all the crickets over here. The kids and I decided to take one last spontaneous trip back home to Oregon to visit my folks for Labor Day. Sure, my daughter is missing her first 5 days of preschool (first day of school, whaaaaaa?) but with Daddy being gone for work it's been a hard summer and we all deserve one last hurrah (especially before baby girl comes in 13 weeks).
As we've been enjoying some Mimi & Grandpa time here in good ol' The Dalles, Oregon (yes, THE Dalles. Random, I know…), I'm reminded of a few things that I wanted to remind YOU all of:
- Right now is the time to use your “other budget” to stock up on fun summer items for NEXT summer, and even the time to start buying ahead for Christmas, birthdays, and back-to-school next year,
- You really don't need to spend money to have fun (see tomorrow's post for more on this).
Here's the background on this first seemingly “um…duh” tip.
Sometimes when we go shopping it's hard to focus on anything other than what we need RIGHT NOW. Whether it's because our budget is tight enough that it doesn't allow for much wiggle room, or because our brains can only concentrate on 1,000 things at a time instead of 1,001…sometimes it's hard to plan ahead. But I want to remind/challenge you over the next few weeks to do your best to concentrate on buying AHEAD, and by doing so, it will not only make your life easier, but will save you loads of money in the long run!=
For example, the Summer clearance right now is AWESOME (especially with Labor Day just around the corner)! If you can squeeze in a swimsuit here, a pool floatie there, equipment or an accessory for your boat or what-not, it will save you a ton of money come next summer when you end up needing those things. But it doesn't have to stop with Summer clearance. If you start looking at good clearance and sales you could stock up for Christmas, birthdays, and even back-to-school next year.
A few things to note and words of warning about shopping ahead though:
- Remember to follow my tips for shopping sales. Most importantly, when you go to a store (even a grocery store) head straight to the BACK where clearance usually is (or in a grocery store, go to the “seasonal” isle) and start there before even getting distracted by the full-priced stuff.
- ONLY go shopping when you have a purpose in mind. It might be a general purpose such as “I want to go to Target to see what pool toys they have on clearance”, rather than a perfectly defined, “I want to to go Target to get 2 pool noodles, an orange flag for the boat, and and pink polkadot rash guard for Suzie…”. However you do it, make a plan and choose your store(s) BEFORE going. Which leads me to my next point…
- Don't shop aimlessly. If you have a spare 30 minutes, don't wander into a store with the plan to “see what I can find”. You WILL end up spending money that you don't need to spend.
- If you won't need it within 12 months, don't buy it. No matter how good the deal is.
- Plan ahead size-wise. This may seem like a no-brainer, but do the math and think ahead. Estimate as best you can the sizes you'll need for next summer and buy those – NOT the sizes that fit your kids right now.
- If it doesn't fit within your budget, don't buy it. This is precisely why I have $65/week for my “other” budget – to cover the non-grocery expenses that come up. Right now is an expensive time of year with back-to-school and all. But the other day I was at Kmart and saw a rash guard for Hutch that was only $2, and it will fit him great next year. So yes, I grabbed it. I will just take $2 out of my grocery budget this week if I need to, and will stretch my leftovers longer or will use food that I have in my freezer to allow for the extra “other” expenses.
- It may seem like it's costing you more, but stocking up will actually save you TONS in the long run (as long as you're smart about it). Though you're using up much of your “other” or even “grocery” budget this week for NEXT year's summer stuff (or Christmas gifts if you find killer deals on stuff your kids want for Christmas…), think of how nice it will be to space out those expenses throughout the year.
I often get asked, “how can we afford to save up for ___ (a vacation…a new car…a house…new clothes for my kids…) when our budget is so tight as it is?” My answer?
CHIP. AWAY. AT. IT.
You can't expect to do it all at once. Buy an item here. An item there. A thingie here. A thingie there. Space it out, and when the time comes when you actually need it (like school supplies, Christmas gifts, clothes for next year, etc.) your shopping will already be done so you can use your budget that month to put toward saving up for bigger and better things! You can't expect to eat an elephant any other way than one bite at a time, after all. But of course, remember to always abide by the 3-Month Rule for larger purchases.
It's not about making or finding MORE money, it's about being smart about the money you DO have.
Trust me, if you're always searching for more money, the money you find will never be enough. You must learn to do well with what you HAVE, rather than use the “not enough” excuse.
Ok, stepping off my soap box now. Hope this was a quick reminder to be thinking ahead. Living too much in the NOW will only keep you treading water in the same place. Being a forward thinker will propel you just like that – FORWARD.