Save Money by Planning Ahead

Because of my poor planning I blew $15 yesterday.  You see, last fall we got a new laser printer and I decided then to not bother getting any extra toner cartridges because I thought I would watch for a good deal and save myself some money that way.  But I never got around to actually watching for or buying the good deal. Well, fast forward to today when I was in the middle of printing some important things and suddenly the printer wouldn’t print.  Upon investigation I realized, much to my annoyance, that the toner was done for.  And so I had no choice but to run out and get another one for full price.

Had I simply planned ahead I could have saved myself $15- and a bunch of time!  When I realized my toner was done for, I remembered that right now in our area there is a $21 voucher for Cartridge World for only $11.  Plus I have a $5 credit in my account so my total would have only been $6.  But since you have to wait a day to redeem the voucher- and I needed to be able to print my stuff today- I couldn’t take advantage of this offer.

Planning ahead is definitely one of the easiest ways to save yourself money, time and stress.  Think about it.  Usually if you need something last minute you have to make a special trip to go get it.  So not only are you wasting your time you also are probably by that point feeling a bit stressed too.  And the chances of you finding the item on sale is pretty slim.

Here are just a few ways that I try to plan ahead and save myself time, money and hopefully stress too.

* Taking food to an event.  If I know in advance that I am to take chips to our church picnic I will watch for a way to get them cheap.  I pretty much always can get them on sale and often will even be able to find a coupon to use with it.  So instead of paying $4.00 for a bag of chips, by planning ahead I can get them for $1 or $2.

* Keeping our pantry stocked.  Have you ever been in the middle of making something and suddenly realized that you are out of an important ingredient like flour?  Or you want to save money by making dinner at home but realize that you really don’t have much on hand to make anything decent and so you end up eating out again?  My dear mother taught me well.  She was a stickler about putting things on the grocery list as soon as we opened a new package of something.  By doing that we almost never ran into either of those two scenarios I gave.

I take it a step further.  As soon as I open a new package I put the item on my grocery list.  But if I can’t find a good deal on it and it is something that can wait a week or two I will move it to the next week’s grocery list and keep watching for a good deal.  Most times I will see a coupon for the item or find it on sale before I am in desperate need of it.

* Birthday/Christmas/Baby/Wedding gifts.  One of the ways I save here is by watching for deals on daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social and checking clearance racks.  If I see an item for a great price, I mentally go over my gift list and see if there is anyone I could buy it for.  So instead of rushing out the day before a birthday party to get a gift and spending $20, I can walk to my “gift closet” and grab the item I bought for only $10.

How do you save money, time and stress by planning ahead?  Share with us so we can learn from you!

Image: Calculator and Piggy Bank via Shutterstock.
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  1. by Julie Ann

    On February 24, 2012 at 8:56 am

    I save money by creating a game out of our weekly shopping. First we plan the meals for the week – breakfast, lunch and dinner. I make a list of what we need and then have everyone guess what they think the total will be. Then when we shop we try to get the lowest estimate to be the winner. We look for store brands, in aisle coupons, etc.

  2. by Lydia Beiler

    On February 24, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Julie Ann, what a fun idea! And what a great way to teach your kids about saving money and being smart shoppers too.