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Where is All My Money?

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Do you find yourself looking at your checkbook and bank statements asking yourself, “Where is all my money?” Happens to me all the time. Here, a few areas you may be wasting money and ways to keep your money where it belongs: In your wallet.

Meal Planning

When it comes to meals, do you plan in advance or just fly by the seat of your pants? Did you know that we waste about 25 percent of our food every year? That adds up to about $22 hundred dollars of wasted money. I usually sit down on Sunday and plan meals out for the next week or two. It’s also a good idea to sit down with the calendar so you can coordinate meals, meal times and schedules for the whole family, so there aren’t any nights you’re planning on grilled pork chops with a balsamic marinade, steamed veggies and a side salad and little missy has a tee ball game 25 minutes away and you’re in charge of snacks. There are a few websites and apps that can help in this area as well. FoodontheTable.com is a good one that also has a free meal planner app for iPhone and Android where you can search for easy and yummy dinner ideas and creates a grocery list that takes advantage of local sales to save you even more money. Also check out the PushPins app. It’s a free coupon app that allows you to scan product bar codes for coupons and deals.


Ditch Your Bank

How do you feel about your bank? How much do you pay to be a customer of your bank? Yes, some banks charge you a “convenience fee” to hold your money. I finally got frustrated and closed my bank account in favor of an account with a credit union. My credit union is not for profit and has no shareholders telling them what to do. The customers tell them what they like, what they need and what they want out of a financial institution and they tailor your account to what you’re looking to get out of your relationship. My credit union has saved me literally thousands of dollars. They’re awesome. If you’re looking to tell your bank to go jump in the lake, look for a new one on BankRate.com or MyCreditUnion.gov. There are also online only options like Ally.com that pays .84 percent interest on your savings account. American Express also is known for better than average interest rates and offers .85 percent interest on savings accounts. The average bank offers .1 percent, or .01 percent.


Go Local

How much do you pay for lawn care, babysitting, dog walking or any other everyday expenses? One way to save money is to check with your parish office and see if there are any summer programs during the day at your place of worship so you aren’t taking a day off of work or spending a ton on day care if your regular care provider is sick or on vacation. You may also be able to find young men and women who are looking to earn money over the summer by mowing your lawn, watching your kids or walking your dog. I made a ton of money babysitting when I was a teen, just by posting my name, qualifications, certifications, and telephone number in the church office. You can also check out online group buying websites for summer camps and go in with a neighbor or friend whose child is into the same activities. Also try Patch.com. It’s a local message board through AOL that offers community news and local listings.


Go Automatic

What is your time worth? If you’re not sure, use the rate your babysitter charges, or what they pay you per hour at work and assign that amount to yourself when you go out shopping and running errands. Say your assigned rate is $15 an hour. Time yourself the next time you sit down to write out bills (and don’t forget to add in the cost of stamps!) hit up the grocery store, the gas station and the bank. Let’s say it took three hours. That cost you $45 just in time alone; not to mention what it cost to buy the groceries, the gas to get around, and the gas to refill your tank. Save money and time by going digital. Comparison shop on websites like Soap.com, Wag.com, YoYo.com and Amazon.com and sign up for deliveries of regular items like household items, toiletries and pet food. There are also online grocery delivery services that don’t have a delivery charge and you can use coupons.

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