If you are just tuning in to the series this is what you’ve missed as far as tasks:
#1 – Create Short and Long Term Goals
#2 – Make a Budget
#3 – Make a List of Highest Priced and Most Used Items
#4 – Create a Low Inventory List and Maintain It
#5 – Create a Sensible Stockpile
$6 – Learn How to Make a Weekly Meal Plan
#7 – Keep an Organized Kitchen
#8 – Waste Less
#9 – Become a Smarter Shopper
While there are some events in our life that pop-up unexpectedly, most of the special events that we attend we know about at least 3 months in advance. I hear of so many people that say they had to run out and get a gift or an outfit a day or two before something and they end up paying heavily for it at the registers.
But these extra expenses can be avoided if one plans ahead. Since sales cycles usually flip every 3 months, this is what I recommend for how far you should plan in advance.
One of the things I recommend for staying organized is to invest in a good quality calendar that has plenty of room to write down everything that is going on. Typical calendars do not give you enough space and you have a better chance of missing something with them. I highly recommend a calendar like that sold by FlyLady that has nice big squares to fit in your monthly fun. While there are plenty of Apps out there for your phones and gadgets, having a calendar somewhere is a great tool as the entire family can see what is going on in a quick glance and they can add in events whenever they find out about them.
Whatever calendar you choose, take a look at what’s ahead for the next 3 months. You might see things like back-to-school time, beginning of new sporting events, birthdays, Halloween, etc. You then need to make a list of things that you want to start shopping for deals for those events. Things such as back-to-school supplies, back-to-school clothes, birthday gifts, Halloween costumes, sporting gear, etc. Always have a 3-month updated list in your purse/wallet so you know what to look for.
Most people wait until the week before Halloween for a costume and end up spending $20- $30 on one. If your kids already know what they want to be for Halloween, start looking at places like gently used kids’ clothing stores, eBay, garage sales, etc. for the costume or things that you can buy to make it yourself. Most kids only wear a costume once so they’ll be almost like new anyway. The same logic applies to formal events, too. Kids will often outgrow a suit or dress, etc. before they wear it more than once so look for used for these things if you can!
While I don’t recommend buying shoes for sports too far in advance you can look for the rest of the gear. If they are playing soccer, look for the shin guards or correct size soccer ball they’ll need. Just little things like these can add up to a lot when you have to buy them without finding a sale on them.
I like to keep a birthday gift or two on hand at home just in case we get invited to a party unexpectedly from the kids’ classmates. I often get asked what I recommend for younger boys as a gift and I have to say the Stick Storm Game has worked very well as a gift for us in the past. If you wanted to spend more, pair a gift card to a fast food place or ice cream shop with it. You can also keep generic birthday cards on hand to save you from spending $3 the week of the party. Dollar stores sell these or you can watch for a “Buy 3 Cards, Get Something Free” type of deal on cards and keep them in a spot where you won’t forget.
When you are buying gifts, be sure to check out the store’s return policy. Some are only 30 days, while others are 90 days. Always get a gift receipt just in case. You don’t want to buy too far in advance where you’ll lose money if you have to return something past the allowable return window.
When you plan out your 3-month event list, don’t forget to include things that need special attire such as Christmas programs for school, holiday parties, etc. At my kids’ school, they often have days where they have to wear special colors, like red or yellow, so I always make sure I pick up a shirt in their size in those colors when I see them on discount so I have them for later in the school year.
While these things may not seem like they add up to much, think about how many events you attend in one year. Think about all the times you’ve had to run to Target or Toys R Us to pick up a last minute birthday present for a classmates party or niece/nephew. Think about how many times you are standing in front of a dressing room mirror stressing because you have a special event (that you’ve known about for months!) and you can’t find anything within your price limit that you like. Don’t do this to yourself! You already have enough stress in your life to add more to it by the events that are supposed to be adding fun memories.
1) Invest in a larger calendar and hang it where the entire family can see it and add their special events to them.
2) Always have a paper in your purse/wallet with the next 3 months of events so you can shop for any items that you need for them; gifts, clothes, etc. Don’t forget to include the greeting card, wrapping paper or gift bags you may need, too. Dollar stores are great for those!
3) Check for “gently used” items for things like Halloween costumes or formal-wear. These are usually not worn more than once and basically look new without the big price tag.
4) Try to keep a birthday gift and card on hand just in case you get invited unexpectedly to a party.
5) Plan in advance for sporting events and buy any gear that you can ahead of time. Wait on shoes if it’s months away as kids can surprise you and outgrow them before they can even wear them!
How Can This Save Me Money?
1) When you tally up all the events you go to in one year, even saving $10 on each one can add up to some serious savings! Even doing things as simple as $.99 cards and $1 gift bags instead of $8 on the same items can add up!
2) You won’t be rushing out last minute to spend full-price on gifts and/or clothes. Not to mention, you’ll be saving yourself a little stress from already having them ready!
3) By giving yourself time to think about clothes you want to wear to an event you’ll be able to pick out something you truly like and will want to wear more than once rather than having it just hanging in your closet.
Planning ahead is always a good tool when it comes to saving money. Just make sure that you aren’t always agreeing to go to every event you are invited to, as well. You are allowed to say, “No!” if it’s not within your budget.
Stay tuned to more in this series soon!