My name is Danny Kofke and I am currently a special education teacher in Georgia. I am also the author of the book “How To Survive (and perhaps thrive) On A Teacher’s Salary.” In addition, I have another personal finance book – “A Simple Book of Financial Wisdom: Teach Yourself (and your kids) How To Live Wealthy with Little Money” – scheduled for release this fall.
My wife, Tracy, is a former teacher and now stay-at-home mom to our two young daughters. In order to live on my teaching salary alone we have to be extremely frugal with our money. Here are some ways in which we save money:
Make a List Before Going Shopping
It’s called impulse buying for a reason. Most of us have a tough time resisting the temptation to purchase extras while shopping. Without a list you will buy items that you simply do not need. Grocery stores are masterful at placing tempting items at the end of aisles to get your attention. Even worse is when you forget to purchase the actual item you went to the store for in the first place. If you’re cooking at home, pre-plan a rough menu and make a list before going grocery shopping. Getting all the food you need in one trip can help you avoid another unnecessary trip and the temptations that go along with that.
Make Your Own Halloween Costumes
Tracy has made our daughter’s costumes the past few years. One year, she made a skeleton costume that looked identical to one that was for sale in a Pottery Barn catalog for $60. This homemade costume saved us $50! Tracy has also made a butterfly and salt-and-pepper costumes.
Get a New Cell Phone Plan
This might not apply to everyone, but we use our cell phones very little. My school is three miles away from home so I don’t have a long commute and don’t need to use a cell phone that much. A few years ago, we had a plan in which we were paying $50 per month for a cell phone that we barely used. We now have prepaid cells and average about $20 per month on both of these combined. I’ve talked to people who tell me they have no money but tote around the newest iPhone. These people do have money but are choosing to spend it on items they may not really need.
Use Your Local Library
We all know the library is a great place to get books for free, but a lot of people don’t realize that many libraries also have CDs and DVDs available for checkout. Most libraries offer great free programs for all ages. At our local library, my family has watched movies and seen a juggler, a magician and tap dancers. These were fun family events that only cost us the gas to get there.
Save a Little Every Day
Some people buy their coffee on the way to work. This practice can add up easily to over $100 per month. If you made your own coffee at home, you can save up to $25 a week, which adds up to $1,300 a year! Another way to save is to bring your lunch to work. On average, you’ll spend at least $5 eating a fast-food lunch and even more for a sit-down restaurant meal. This adds up quickly. You can also save money by purchasing sodas at the store rather than from a vending machine. Some machines charge $1.00 per soda, and I’ve even seen some priced as high as $1.75. I wait until there’s a sale at the grocery store and buy four 12-packs for $12. If you had one soda a day while at work, this would save you almost $200 a year!
Use Coupons at the Grocery Store
Tracy really got serious about using coupons in 2010 and the results were great—we saved over $1,600 that year by using coupons and shopping for deals.
You can find all sorts of coupons online. You can even find deals with big stores such as Lowes Home Improvement coupons and Target shopping coupons.
For many, it’s not how much you make, but how well you plan your spending. These tips can help you cut back on your spending which puts more money back into your bank account.
By Danny Kofke. Learn more about him and his work on his blog.Subscribe to the Podcast