Over the next few weeks many of us mamas are going to be overwhelmed with the feeling that the mall is calling us by our first and last names. It’s hard to resist the bombarding commercial sales pitches, the empty hanger in your closet that says you need just one more shirt for work and the small hole in your pocket that can’t wait to leak out all of your income tax money. Let’s face it, it’s not easy to be frugal during this most wonderful time of the year.
But the good news is, there are ways that you can have tidbits of this feeling all year round if you decide to spend this moolah the right way. My hubby and I have had our fair share of financial mishaps, and through them we’ve learned a few tricks of the trade that keep us from living ghetto fab for two months and in the poor house the rest of the year. Here are our secrets to stretching our federal income tax return check.
1. Pay your rent or mortgage for up to a year. As my pops would say, this is a killer move. If you mortgage or rent exceeds $500, you could be saving a bundle every month if you paid it off for the year. That’s money you could put towards starting your own business, closing cost for home ownership, a family vacation or increasing the amount you put towards retirement. If nothing else it’s a bill you don’t have to worry about, which brings me to my next point.
2. Eliminate one bill for the year. Estimate the amount electricity is going to cost you this year, and send them a check. Again, even though it’s less than paying off your rent, it’s another bill you don’t have to worry about and more money to put toward something else. Plus, you’ll save a bundle on late fees and may even get a discounted rate if you chose to pay off a cable or phone bill.
Victory loves preparation.
3. Save enough money to cover your bills for six months. If you already know you’re heading towards a major life event like getting married, buying a house or sending a kid off to college, you must know that there are going to be some financial faux pas in your future. So get prepared. Don’t wait until the furnace breaks, your 6 months pregnant or your college kid calls home with his hand out to put money aside to fix the problem.
4. Pick one category and buy everything you need. Buy all your kids winter or summer clothes, buy their school uniforms and supplies, fix up your home office or buy enough frozen vegetable for 6 months. Think about ways to stop last-minute purchases. When we purchase items last-minute it often leads to us spending more money or getting behind on a bill.
The whole point of getting rid of some of these monthly expenses is to free up money to allow you to make better financial decisions for your home economy.
Yes, your home is its own little economy. Just like the government is supposed to put checks and balances in place to ensure the timely payment of bills, the acquiring of good assets and the elimination of non-sense expenses, you should be doing the same. Use your income tax to reinforce this idea, rather than living it up now to live down later.