Keys to spending less & living well: be a planner


Over the past few weeks, I’ve been talking about five fundamental elements of saving money and enjoying a fulfilling life. These steps have worked wonders in my life, and I know they can for you too!

We’ve already talked about Cherishing Your Long-Term Goals and Tracking Spending.

Number three is:

Be a Planner

Long term goals are important in saving money, but daily planning is essential.

Here are some examples of how this works:


If the refrigerator is full of fresh, perishable veggies, the beans are soaked and the meat is thawed, it’s hard to justify ordering in. Also: pack lunches, brew your own coffee, make double batches of recipes and freeze the rest.

Sign up for a farm shares (read: cheap organic produce) in the winter (or earlier) for the next growing season. For more information on Community-Supported Agriculture, and a participating farm near you, see LocalHarvest.

If you want to plant your own, way before spring arrives research planting times and how to start seeds.


Never, ever leave home without snacks and water. For longer trips, bring a picnic lunch or dinner.


Frequent flyer tickets with the lowest mileage requirements are snapped up almost a year in advance. Subvert airline baggage fees by trying these tips.

Kids’ classes:

Be aware of deadlines for preschool, toddler or after-school classes. Often the most economical (and high-quality) programs are those offered by the city, county or parks and recreation department. If you think you qualify, ask about tuition reduction or scholarships.


Give yourself the time to make or buy thoughtful gifts. Keep on hand a bunch of favorite yet inexpensive hostess presents (I like to give a tin of homemade magnets or a wine stopper) and kid birthday presents (we love Stomp Rockets).

Planning ahead is another case of how the slow and steady turtle wins the race. If we can pause in the evening to think about what’s on the docket for the next day, give ourselves an extra cushion of time in the morning, or write down deadlines and to-dos, it’s amazing how we will feel ahead of the game, both organizationally and financially.

Of course the folks at Buttoned Up wrote the book on getting organized: Pretty Neat: Get Organized and Let Go of Perfection. I love their ideas on topics as far-ranging as wrangling family schedules to mastering home-cooked meals.

Next key: Join communities.

Have you found that planning ahead saves money?

By Amy Suardi, Buttoned Up’s Savings Expert

Amy Suardi loves to find the silver lining of living on less at Frugal Mama.