One thing that’s guaranteed to make anyone frantic and frenzied is worrying about money. There is nothing worse than losing sleep wondering how you’re going to pay your bills. It seems like there is always more going out than coming in. When this is the case, it means looking for ways to cut expenses in order to save money.
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I know a few people who don’t pay much attention to their budget, but none of those folks happen to live at my house.
We’ve always had to watch our pennies. And even if penny-pinching wasn’t a necessity, I’d probably be doing it anyway simply because that’s the way I was raised. My grandmother was a young married woman during the Great Depression and she had a huge influence on my thinking in many areas – money in particular.
And then there’s the fact that the hubby and I have never followed the herd. We made the decision to become a one-income family years ago – but with a twist. I had the higher paying job so it made sense for hubby to make the transition to become a stay-at-home dad to our three kids. It was just what our family needed since my job hours tended to be somewhat unpredictable and we wanted our kids to have the stability having a parent at home and available when they needed it.
So hubby took over the home while laying groundwork for the careers we’re now working in, while I went off to work. It wasn’t always easy. In fact, it was downright difficult at times. But it was worth it for our family. (And our experiences with this will be another post.)
But in order to make it all work, we watched our pocketbook like a hawk and became ruthless in sorting the “wants” from the “needs”.
And you know what? We found that a lot of things people “need” were things that we decided we could do without. Oh, they’re all nice things – but they weren’t the necessities we’d been led to believe they were.
So here are some things we decided to do without. We still do without most of these expenses since we discovered how little we really missed them.
Expenses we cut to save money
Cable TV :
I can hear it now. “But we have to have our cable TV! The kids would revolt if we cut if off.”
When we gave up our cable TV our kids ranged from ages 2-9. They were huge fans of Cartoon Network and I won’t lie – they missed it.
But a funny thing happened. Once the choice was no longer there, they began to do other things. Things like playing in the yard, having friends over for play dates, and reading books! This last one was the most interesting result because my kids were already readers. But after the cable was gone, they became avid readers! As a teacher, I thought it was the best thing that ever happened to my kids – and I was right.
From a purely financial standpoint, I figure that ditching the cable saved our family approximately $900. ($75.00 x 12 months = $900.00) That’s a significant savings and was a relatively easy place for us to start trimming.
The Hair Salon:
Speaking of trimming, the next area was the hardest one for me personally. And that was giving up the salon haircuts.
I’d never gone to an expensive salon in the first place, so many people would see even greater savings than we did. But we still saved at least $240 each year on my haircuts alone. ($20 x 12 months = $240). By assuming another $10 a month for the other four people in the family, and you’ve saved another $480 per year for a grand total of $700 savings.
And then there is the issue of having your hair colored. I have to admit that I have never had my hair colored professionally. I know – that makes me a definite outlier. But I have lots of friends who spend a fortune getting their hair colored. I’m estimating a conservative $480 savings each year by coloring your hair at home. ($40.00 x 12 months)
Okay, now with this next confession you’re probably going to want to check to see that I’m really a woman. I promise I am, but I’ve also never had a professional manicure or pedicure. And I’ve never felt one bit cheated either. In fact, I love nail polish and love changing my nail color a couple of times a week. I can buy a lot of nail polish (and share it with my daughter) for the $360 I estimate that I save ($30.00 x 12 months).
I know, my friends think I’m weird too. I’m not offended if you think so as well. But I’ll happily pocket the money while everyone is scratching their head
Now, this next expense is where we’ve saved the most money. And I admit right up front that it wouldn’t work for every family. But we lived for several years as a one-car family. This was a major money saver for us! Assuming a car payment of $300 per month, we saved $3600 before we ever get to the maintenance and upkeep a vehicle requires. Assuming those expenses can be held to $200 monthly, we saved another $2400 on things like gasoline, tires, oil changes, taxes, license registration, etc.
Giving up that second car saved our family nearly $8000. That was enough money to make up for the inconvenience of having to coordinate schedules and sometimes having to wait for a ride.
Was it a pain? Sometimes it was.
We’ve also chosen not to have an unlimited data plan on our cell phones. This is one my teenage daughter tends to complain about, but I know we’re saving at least $50 each month by having less data. It does force us to be more discerning about our usage, but that’s not a completely bad thing. Savings = $600
I’m probably the only person in my circle of friends who doesn’t have a Netflix subscription. Granted, I’d be on one of the lower priced plans, but at $10 each month, I’m saving $120 each year. In case you’re wondering what we do for entertainment – we’re huge supporters of the local library where we can borrow movies and TV series for free!
And finally, we’ve never been a family who went out for fancy restaurant meals. For one thing, the hubby is a marvelous cook! We’re lucky to have such a talented chef in the family. He’s one of those people who can taste a dish and then go home and recreate it (I know, lucky me!).
But with a family of 5, eating out at even a medium-priced restaurant would cost us at least $60 (and I’m being conservative here). While many people I know eat at restaurants at least once each week, I’m going to figure our savings based on one restaurant meal per month (VERY conservative!) for a savings of $720.
We’ve always found that planning meals and eating at home was much better for our wallets!
Grand Total: $9,660.00
Yes, we gave up some things that lots of people consider necessities. But you know what? We adapted and didn’t really miss them once the initial adjustment period was over. Some things required an attitude realignment, but having a parent at home and saving the money was a high priority for us. A serious look at your budget and a reclassification of your wants and needs may help you get your spending habits to a level you’re comfortable with too.
I’d love to hear your suggestions for saving money. I’m always looking for a new tip on how to stretch that dollar till it screams. One major way we saved money was through meal planning. The other thing we’ve always done is watch our grocery budget. We just see no need to spend money that we don’t need to…we’d rather do other things with it instead.