It’s that time of year again, the Christmas bills are coming in, the heating bill is out of control and taxes are due – everyone is broke!
Recently my husband and I sat down and took a real good look at our finances. My husband has been the only one working full time for the last 10 years and while we are used to being frugal, there is definitely some room for improvement! Here are a few things we started doing to save a little extra money.
Inventory the pantry and the freezer!
We spent a couple hours on Saturday going through the pantry and the freezers and made a list of everything we have. After removing the items that had expired (thankfully it wasn’t much) I took that list and wrote out another one of exactly how many main dish items are there, side dishes and desserts and then I used that list to write out a long term menu plan. We will be eating pasta themed dinners for quite a while!
This also helped me hone in on the items that we need to be on on the look out for. For example, we are in good shape for chicken and have several meals on the long term menu plan to use the supply up, but we are low on ground beef. My target price for 80/20 LGB is $2.29 or less, so the next time I find it for that price I will buy 10 – 20 pounds and that will get us by for a while.
Brown Bag the lunches!
Duh right? Everyone knows this but it is so easy to fall into the habit of picking up something on the fly. Especially my husband! He works at a grocery store so trotting over to the Deli and grabbing a chicken leg and a cup of potato salad is very convenient for him. While it isn’t a budget buster, those Deli meals add up! So I dug out an old lunch box and started making a lunch out of dinner left overs for him. That is saving us $15.00 a week! What would you do with an extra $60.00 a month? How about applying it to a credit card debt and if you are one of the few folks that don’t have any use it to fatten up the savings account or put it into a retirement account!
Another idea: create a Christmas fund! If you start now with $60.00 a month you will have over $600.00 for Christmas and no new credit card bills to deal with this time next year
Take a good look at that Cable Bill!
Our cable bill was crazy. We had two HD/DVR boxes as well as two digital boxes that were costing us about $30.00 extra per month! The kids don’t need HD DVR boxes in their bedrooms anyway and for that matter, neither do we! So, we gathered up the digital boxes and the extra HD box, took them down to Comcast and replaced them with plain Jane receivers that are only $1.99 a month – instead of $9.99 a month. And while I was there, I asked for a better deal in general – why not? Never hurts to ask and in doing so got the same package that was costing us over $200.00 a month down to $120.00 – the new customer deal. The next thing I am going to do is buy our own cable modem! We have been renting ours at $7.00 per month for years now, but I found the same exact modem on Ebay for $35.00. I feel really stupid now that I know we have bought and paid for our modem about 20 times!
While we are on the subject, ditch the Netflix. There are always new movies that are FREE on Amazon On Demand that can be watched via a Wii, X-box or PS3. Amazon Prime members have access to thousands of FREE movies, eBooks and videos, plus Amazon prime accounts always get FREE 2 day shipping. You can try Amazon Prime for FREE for 30 days and after that is is $79.00 a year. If it isn’t what you expect just cancel it when your 30 days is up, but it works out to $6.58 a month, which is less then Netflix and will make getting a great deal on Amazon that much easier since the shipping fee won’t kill the deal!
These are just a few of the things that we just started doing to save money now.
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned – in a round about way – that we are an one income family and have been for several years. One reliable income that is, I do make a little money blogging but it is nothing in comparison to what I could make if I was working outside of the home. Basically, it’s the grocery money.
The decision we made for me to stay at home meant changing almost everything about a lifestyle that had a good deal of expendable income to play around on. No more eating out every weekend. No more afternoon long excursions to the Mall and evenings at the Casino were over. It was a rough adjustment going from two down to one income but we did it and we are in better financial shape then we were before. Plus we found new ways to have just as much fun
Three years ago I was interviewed by Kelli Rigotti from Almostfrugal.com for an article called This is What Fugality Looks Like. It explains in more detail the steps we took to transition over to one income successfully. Kelli spent a few years continuously adding to the series and it is now a great collection of stories and advice from other bloggers and contributors on ways that they have successfully saved money. It’s recommended reading for everyone, click here to see the collection and find some new ideas for saving more money!
Here are few more ways to save:
Grow a garden! Easy vegetables that you can grow at home!
Your Turn! What have you done recently to save money?