Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Step by Step Tutorial - Week 1 - Day 1

Well, as I promised, I am going to thrill you all with a little tutorial of how I organize so I can make and save my money from home. Are you just so excited?

I have appreciated all the questions on this over the last couple months, and although I love emailing you back individually....I thought this would be more beneficial to everyone...including myself!

As always, leave a comment or suggestion for myself and all the readers. If you have a better way of doing it...let us know! I am always looking for ways to improve. If you haven't been able to tell, I am all about spending the least amount of time to generate the maximum benefit financially for your family. So, organization is one of the key factors in this.

And, with that, let's get started....

Week 1

Day 1: Supplies!!!

Items needed:

  • Planners - I recommend an actual planner plus a digital planner. Why? Well, I used to do everything digitally, and then one day...well, let's just say, my computer malfunctioned and I lost everything! This could be a major setback if you are doing online offers and have to cancel on a certain day, have the phone numbers listed, etc. What would you do? SO, I keep everything on my computer, BUT I also log everything on my planner, too. The other benefit? I can throw my planner in the car with me. If I am waiting in line to pick my daughter up from preschool, per say, I can open my planner, look what I need to that day ( the phone number will be listed ) and can call and take care of business. The other benefit of having it digital, too? What if I lose my actual planner somewhere? Luckily, I can go home and pull all the info off my computer. It is just smart to have a back up!
  • CVS Card/Grocery Store Card, etc - If you don't already have these items, you need to drive to your local stores and register for your free cards. These cards will save you a lot of money, and you can not begin getting in on the deals until you have them.
  • Local Paper - Time to subscribe to your Sunday paper. Click here to read my article on making sure you get the best price on your paper. If you want more than one set of coupons, you can always subscribe to 2 papers. Some have mentioned their paper gives them a discount on the 2nd paper. You could check with yours to find out. In additon, although you may be able to get the paper from the gas station/grocery store/newstand on Sunday for a little cheaper, from my experience, it is not worth it. Many times, these papers do not have all the ad inserts, and you need every single one of them to take full advantage of sales and coupon matching.
  • Tracking mechanism - I prefer Excel. But, I also used it for years in my old job. So, I am a spreadsheet junkie. If you prefer a different method, that is fine. But, you need to decide today how you are going to track everything and set it up. If it is excel, set your worksheets up, add columns, etc. You can always edit as you go along. If you are a hard copy type of person, make sure to go buy a notebook and decide now how you are going to organize it. By month, by week? Whatever works for you. But, have it ready now. You will use this to mark down when you earn or save something. Or, what you spend in order to get money. That way you know your true profit. You NEED to know what is working for you, so you can continue doing things that benefit you, but cease if things aren't working.
  • Envelopes/Baggies - Get your hands on these and label them now. If you haven't been doing this already, start with April and label one for the month. Then, stick it in your purse, glove box, somewhere that it will be with you everytime you go to a store. Now, EVERYTIME you buy ANYTHING, get your receipt and immediately put it in the envelope. This not only keeps them all together for future use, but also keeps them in date order. If you ever stumble upon a rebate a month from now, you can go find the receipt and make money. Or, if you ever sign up for an offer and it gives refunds for purchases, you can go grab your receipt. OR...this happens alot, if a price goes down, you can get the lower price. Click here to read how I do this. Remember, most stores allow returns for 3 months, so I always keep 3 months worth of receipt envelopes on me at all times in case I need them. After that, they get filed in my cabinet at home, just in case. Read my post on the $1,000 we got back almost a year later, thanks to keeping our receipt.
  • Coupon Filers - You need to go buy these, if you don't have them. Everyone organizes their coupons differently, but you need something. So, decide what you need and go get it. I have a coupon file for all my grocery store coupons. Then, I ALSO have a coupon filer ( a large one...probably could fit file folders in it ) for all my restaurant, oil change, hair salon, etc coupons. I alphabetize those. I keep them both in the car at all times ( Luckily, I have the hidden stow compartment in the mini van ). When, I get new coupons, I go to the van, bring the files in...file my coupons, then take it back out immediately and put it away in the van. This is important, because you never know when you are going to be running around and all of a sudden you are picking up something you KNOW you had a coupon for at home. Or, a friend asks you to meet them for lunch when you are already out. You don't want to be caught without your restaurant coupons. AND, I keep every restaurant coupon, etc and file them. Even, if I think I will never go there. You just NEVER know!
  • File Cabinet/File Folders - If you don't have one, get an old box...something...anything! As soon as mail comes in, offers, check stubs, invoices, bills, etc begin rolling in, you need to do what you do with them ( pay them, log them/track them, cancel them...whatever ) and then file them in a file folder in your file cabinet/box. I can guarantee, you will need to be able to go back and find information on some of this paperwork at some time during the year. And, if you can get to it in a matter or seconds, then you are more likely to follow thru with whatever you need to do to get the savings or make money. If you don't know where something is, you might just give up. And, that is money lost!

So, with that said...this should give you something to work on today. Right? If you need to run to some stores to get all these items, make some phone calls to sign up for papers, store cards, etc....get to it! :-) I promise, if you don't start with these tools, you will just get overwhelmed and frustrated as time goes by.

So, any other ideas? Comment now. I would love to know what has been working for others?

And, don't forget to check back tomorrow for Day 2 of the tutorial!


Evelyn said...

Could you comment more on what will be on the excel sheet? Examples of columns? I have no idea of what to chart.

My example: I bought the soft soap body wash the other day.

3 body washes
1 bar of soap

$4.50 in soap coupons
$5 off coupon
$3/$5 beauty coupon

So OOP was around $3 which I paid with other CVS bucks. I got back $14.97 in ECB. How do you show that?

Good job

Carrie @ Moneysavingmethods.com said...

Thanks for the question. I, personally, have links, going from one spreadsheet to another, pivot tables, etc linking all my stuff back to my checking and savings account balances, etc. But, I love spreadsheets.

If you just want basic columns and how to track your savings and earnings by themselves, I would have just a generic Savings and Earnings Spreadsheet.

I broke mine out into columns. The first Column was the date. The 2nd column was the description ( I typed notes, so I would remember what it was ) the 3rd column was the title, and the 4th column was the Amount Saved and Earned. I lumped mine together, but you are welcome to break it out if you want.
So, date is self explantory. Description, too.

The title is a predetermined title I had for each of my categories before I started ( although I could add them later if I need to ).

So, my titles are:
Credit Cards
Gift Cards
Grocery Game
Car Insurance
Free Trials
Online Offers
Cust Satisfaction
Recycle Bags
Buying Coupons
Text Pay Me
Loyalty Programs
Kids Eat Free
Sale Shopping
Birthday Freebies

And, I will add to this list as I stumble upon new ways to make money. :-)

Then, I have a table at the bottom that calculates it all by category. So, here is the formula. =SUMIF($C$2:$D162,B171,$D$2:$D162)

So, on the table, make the 1st column your list of titles. Then, in the 2nd column, type that formula. You will need to change the $D162 to be whatever you last cell is ( that is my last cell )

Also, B171 will change for each row. So, for Credit Cards, you change B171 to be whatever Letter/# combination the title Credit Cards is in. Do this to the first one. Then, just pull the formula down. The number will automatically update for each title. Hope that kind of makes sense?

For your example of your CVS purchase. I would just log the date, Brief Description, and the amount saved ( you can find this on your receipt ). It should be the total of the items, 100% savings, since your OOP wasn't really OOP. It was paid from ECB.

I don't log the new $14.97 in ECBs until I actually use them ( it will then show in the total savings on your receipt next time ). Why? Because, although you can use it like cash, they do expire...just like a coupon. And, if you would forget to use it, not be able to make it to the store, ...you didn't really make any money on it then. I don't like to log the savings until I actually use it and save!

kardel said...

Hello Carrie, I have been reading your site for a week or two, and I am inspired.

Getting organized is where I need the most improvement, but I don't have any idea how to use excel. Do you have any examples/screen shots you could share with us about that? A downloadable form?

Carrie @ Moneysavingmethods.com said...

That is where I am behind on technology. I have no idea how to do a downloadable form. :-)
But, if you want to email me, I can email you the spreadsheets I do have and you could alter them for your needs.

Miranda said...

I've just started getting organized and my newest tool is my favorite! I've used a small photo album to organize my coupons. It makes it very easy to flip through and find what I want!