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Thrifty Thursday's #4 - How to Save Money

by Beth Jaworski

There is no way around it. Part of being thrifty is using coupons. There is just so much money to be saved! The trick is to find coupons on items you would buy anyway, with minimal effort on your part. That way the reward really is worth your time.

Part of being thrifty is also knowing your prices on items you buy all the time. You would be surprised at how many items you purchase on a regular, continual basis. I am talking about shampoo, toothpaste, tissues, toilet paper, paper towels, coffee filters, soup, pasta, etc. Pay attention to sale prices at different stores for these items and get to know what is your "buy" price. For example, my "buy" price for a box of Kleenex is $1. Once you know the best price available, your "buy" price, you only purchase these items only when you can get them for that price. I will always stock up on non-perishables when I see them offered at my "buy" prices, and then if I also have a coupon for that item and so I get an even better price, all the better.

Since I don't have a lot of time to invest in looking for coupons, I will usually search for coupons online shortly before I will shop. I keep an eye on the grocery store circulars delivered to my house also, along with browsing the weekly sales on store websites while eating breakfast or while eating lunch. Once you become aware of your best or "buy" price on an item you buy repetitively you will also start to notice that stores will actually advertise those same items at a much higher price, and even say they are "sale" prices! You will know better, and you will start to realize how much money you are saving by knowing your prices.

Online coupons are great money savers also. Check in on Yelp at a restaurant or business, and you might just get an offer for a free item or some other type of discount. Googling a product you are about to buy can also produce coupons or other discounts in the search results. By using coupons, and even more importantly, being aware of what are the best or "buy" prices on products you always purchase, you can save hundreds of dollars a year, with minimal time invested. Until next week, happy savings!

 

Thrifty Thursdays #3 - How to Save Money

by Beth Jaworski

One of the best ways I know to save money is to shop consignment/Goodwill/thrift stores. You can find so many bargains, you will be amazed at how much money you can save. Many people say shopping at these types of stores are "too much trouble/effort/takes too much time". Somehow the same people who say that still find hours upon hours per year to shop in the mall/at department stores however! 

Great quality exists at absurdly low prices, if you shop at the right places. You really do not need to spend a lot to look like you did. I think many people would be surprised to know how little I pay for most of my clothes. On our recent cruise I received numerous compliments on a skirt, and on both of the dresses that I wore for the "dress up" dinners onboard. I had paid $10 for the skirt and $30 for one of the dresses, purchasing both at a local consignment shop (U-turn). And I paid $25 for the other dress at Divine Consign (a local traveling consignment sale). Grand total for all 3 items was $65, while I could have easily spent that much on just one item if I had gone to a boutique or a department store.

It is HIGHLY unusual for me to spend more than $20-40 for an item of clothing. (The one exception I have to make is for pants. Because I am 6'2" it is very difficult for me to find pants at regular stores, much less at consignment or thrift stores, so I do have to pay more for those.) I just went to Goodwill the other day and found 7 tops that fit well and that I liked. One even still had all the tags on it, so had never been worn. Total price for the 7 tops was $42! 

But don't limit your consignment/thrift store shopping to just clothing. You can also find seasonal decor, housewares, books, small electronics, lamps and furniture at a fraction of retail cost. When I was at Goodwill I also found an adorable Thanksgiving table decor item for $6.99 that still had the Kohl's price tag of $16.99 on it. And I needed some more baskets for shoe covers at my listings, so I bought two, at $1.99 each. I would have easily paid $7-$12 per basket at Target or Walmart.

And keep in mind that you can also turn your unwanted items into cash. When we moved and no longer had a place for some art, I sold it through a consignment store. Facebook groups are also another great way to sell things you no longer want or need, along with being a great place to find bargains as a purchaser. I have sold chairs and lamps that I had no room for in the new house through a Facebook group, and among other items, I have purchased a refrigerator, a kitchen island, a patio table and 6 chairs, and our front porch swing, all at greatly reduced prices. In fact I did not even pay $450 for all of those items combined.

Bottom line, you can save a lot of money by checking thrift and consignment shops and resale groups first. Why pay retail if you don't have to? Save that money instead! 

Thrifty Thursdays #2 - How to Save Money

by Beth Jaworski

Today's Thrifty Thursday Tip is to get a good cash back credit card. I do not believe in carrying any credit card debt, but I do believe in making my money work for me, along with saving money any chance I can. The right credit card can do both. You just have to make sure that you pay the balance off each month, no exceptions.

I personally like the Discover card for a number of reasons. First there is no annual fee. I will not pay for a credit card. Secondly, I get 1% cash back on all purchases and 5% back on purchases in categories that change quarterly. This January through March the 5% cash back was available on all purchases at gas stations, from April through June the 5% cash back was on purchases for movies and at restaurants, from July through September the 5% was on all purchases at home improvement stores and at Amazon.com, and now from October through December the 5% cash back bonus is on all purchases at department stores, Sam's Club and at Amazon.com. Please be aware however, that the 5% cash back is limited to the first $1,500 charged on those purchases each quarter. What an easy way to earn up to $75.

I try to charge all my purchases and all my monthly bills (cell phone, internet, etc) to maximize the cash back bonus each month. Another feature of the Discover card that I love is that I can redeem that cash back bonus when making a purchase on Amazon.com, I can use it to pay my bill, I can donate it to charity, or I can redeem it for a higher dollar amount in gift cards from select partners. For example, I frequently redeem $45 cash back for $50 gift cards to Chipotle, Panera and Starbucks. This allows me to eat lunch at two of my favorite places for free. And remember my mentioning in my first blog that I also get most of the coffee I brew at home for free? My redeeming my cash back for a Starbucks card and then using that card to purchase ground coffee allows me to do just that.

A bonus tip is to sign up for the loyalty programs at any merchants or restaurants that you frequent. By doing this in combination with the free gift cards from Discover, I really am able to make my dollars stretch. How nice to get a free bakery item at Panera, or a free coffee at Starbucks, from making purchases with a free gift card!

Discover also has other money saving features I enjoy. They have "Discover Deals" that allow me to save even more money. Currently they have 198 merchants offering these "deals" for cardholders, ranging from 5% cash back on purchases to offers like $15 off a $100 purchase at Wayfair.com, 40% off a $75 purchase at the Limited, $10 off a $25 purchase at JC Penny, etc. Discover also does not charge any foreign transaction fees, a real bonus when traveling.

A high credit score will allow you to save money too, by allowing you to get the best rate on your mortgage or car loan, and Discover allows you to keep track of your FICO score by reporting it to you monthly on your statements.

And in double checking the rewards on their website for this post, I learned that they also have a "Refer a Friend" program. If I refer someone to Discover and they get the card and make a purchase within three months of getting the card, both they and I will get a $50 cash back bonus! A nice feature I had not been aware of. If this post has made you interested in getting a Discover card, please let me know. I will register your email and then we can both receive $50. I also see on their website that they will double the amount of cash back earned at the end of the year for new card holders. That could really add up!

Of course there are other credit cards that have reward programs and some may be a better fit for you. I encourage you to investigate what benefits you are currently getting from your credit card(s) and also see how that compares to Discover and other cards out there. Make sure you are really maximizing every dollar you spend and that you are getting the best benefits for you. Here is a link featuring some of the best credit card deals currently available: https://www.nerdwallet.com/the-best-credit-cards

Looking forward to sharing more tips next week. 

Thrifty Thursdays #1 - How to Save Money

by Beth Jaworski
We just took a dream vacation last month to Europe, to celebrate my turning 50. We obviously spent a good amount of money on this vacation, but had saved for it for a long time. I do not believe in carrying any type of debt, other than mortgage debt, so always save for what I want before I buy (or travel). I realize this is not easy for most people. I was raised by a divorced mom who was terrible with money and as a result, we never had any! I saw firsthand what spending money you did not have could do to a person and vowed never to be that way myself. When I first moved out on my own, I was naturally very poor and had to watch every penny, so I learned to save money every chance I could and became very thrifty.
 
Luckily I found my passion in my 20's, selling real estate, and I have been able to build a very successful business. I also have saved for and purchased investment properties over the years that supplement my income. However, I have not outgrown my thrifty ways. In talking to people about saving money for things like a trip to Europe, it occurred to me the same thrifty ways will help you save for a house (or for an investment property). There seemed to be interest in my sharing tips to save, so I am starting this blog series "Thrifty Thursdays" here today.
 
Each week I will share one or two of my top money saving secrets. Use what you will. Hopefully some of these will make you think, oh yeah, I could really save a lot of money here. I will guarantee that if you follow all of these tips, and always put your savings into a separate savings account instead of spending it somewhere else, you will be able to afford a new home, an investment property, and/or a fabulous trip to Europe. You also will have the peace of mind of knowing you are putting your hard earned money to work for you. And the more you save, the more addictive saving money becomes!
 
Watch here each Thursday for money saving tips. They will go from very basic to hard core savings tips only a few are aware of. Here are the first two:
 
1.) Cut the cord on cable. I have NEVER paid for cable tv since I left college in 1987. In my opinion, this is the biggest waste of money there is. I am astounded when I hear of people paying $100-200/month for cable tv. First of all there really is not that much quality programming to watch, much less who really has the time to watch all that tv? Secondly, sitting in front of the tv is an unhealthy pastime, both for your body and your mind. Read a book, take a walk, go for a run, do some yoga, lift weights or ride your bike instead. All free and all will make you feel better than the tv. And because I know sometimes you really do just want to lay on the couch and relax by watching a movie or show, keep in mind that "free" tv has greatly progressed in the last few years. We get 40+ channels with our antenna. All FREE. Most tv shows are also available online, plus Netflix has tons of movies, past seasons of tv and cable shows and original programming for only $12/month. Eliminate your cable bill and you will save $700-2400 per year!
 
2.) Make your own coffee. I brew my own coffee at home every morning and take a "to-go" cup with me when I have morning meetings or appointments. I also brew my coffee in a good old regular coffee maker I got free years ago (yes I am too frugal to even spend money on a coffee maker). Often the coffee I brew is also free. And yes, I will share my tips on how to get free (or almost free) coffee in a later blog post.
 
Sounds so basic, but coffee really is a money drain. If you are a coffee house addict and buy one $4 coffee per day, 4 days a week, not including tax, you are spending $832/year on coffee. I also think I  am being very conservative here, in using only one $4 drink, four days a week. Mark works at the US Bank building downtown and he works with many people who buy 3 coffees per day, 5 to 6 days per week! That equals a MINIMUM of $1950 (3 cups at $2.50/day, which is probably a lot less than they are spending x 5 days/week x 52 weeks). And it could be as much as $3120/year ($4/cup x 3 per day x 5 days/week x 52 weeks). This is why buying coffee is so often used to explain the concept of compound effect. 
 
Again, I know these two tips are so very basic, but look at the savings. At the minimum you can save $1500/year by cutting out cable and making your own coffee. Depending on what you are spending on these two items, you could actually save $5,000/year or more! Definitely will pay for a vacation, or the closing costs on a new home. Happy savings until next week!
 
 

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4

Contact Information

Photo of Beth Jaworski Real Estate
Beth Jaworski
Shorewest Realtors
11622 W. North Avenue
Wauwatosa WI 53226
Direct: 414.844.1118
Cell: 414.520.8555
Fax: 262.782.1551

I hope that this website was able to assist in your search for a home, or in your quest for information about buying or selling a home.  Please do not hesitate to contact Beth Jaworski of Shorewest Realtors with any questions. Email is sold@bethjaworski.com  and cell number is (414) 520-8555. Thanks!