I love the New Year. I love starting fresh and brand new. I’m not one of those that HAS to have the New Year to start resolutions or goals. But it is nice to know that you have a whole year in front of you to accomplish whatever you set your mind to.
Even before the start of the year, my husband and I sat down and really tried to tighten up our budget. We had hospital bills coming in from the birth of our daughter, I was going to be staying home and not bringing an income in, and we had other unexpected expenses that hit us.
I grew up in a very frugal home. There was a point in my childhood where my mom would buy milk when it was on sale and freeze it. If you’ve ever had thawed milk that’s been frozen…it’s disgusting. Ha. But she did what she had to do.
Now, my husband and I are doing what we have to, for me to be able to stay home with my daughter, and any of our future kids.
Dave Ramsey says, “If you live like no one else now, you can live like no one else later.” Meaning, if you bust your butt to pay off your debt, stop spending money in unnecessary ways, and save every penny, you will be rewarded in the near future with freedom from debtors.
We did not make all of these cuts at once, but over the course of 3-4 months. We started off cutting a few things here and there, and then realized how much extra we truly didn’t need, and so we cut more and more!
Here are my budget slashing tips:
-Cook From Scratch.
I have an entire detailed post about cooking from scratch, and how it saved my family money. You can go HERE to see that.
We were paying over $120 a month for cable. Even if you drop down to the lowest package, it’s still money you don’t have to spend. There are so many ways to stream movies and TV shows now, for free, that it’s pointless to have Dish, DirectTV, Mediacom, or any other cable provider.
This was the hardest thing for me to do. I’m very social, and being a stay at home mom means I just need to get out of the house sometimes. But I do that now by going on walks to our local downtown or walking around our neighborhood. We honestly didn’t realize how much we were spending on gas until I stopped driving everywhere. It’s hard, not to just get in the car and go somewhere, but I know it’s just a season of life, and eventually I’ll be able to do it again.
-Drive Gas Efficient Vehicles/Go Down to One Vehicle.
You think you can’t do it, until you actually just bite the bullet and make the sacrifice. My husband and I both have vehicles. I have a car, and he has a big, gas hungry SUV. We bought the SUV as a family vehicle, but also because my husband is 6’7 and needs the space. He drives 20 minutes to and from work everyday, so we decided that instead of him driving his SUV, he would start taking my car. Now we spend about $40 less in gas a week.
-Stop Using So Much Electricity.
I have ALWAYS been an energy fanatic. I unplug everything and only turn on lights when I need to. Did you know that even when things are plugged in to an outlet, but OFF, they’re still using electricity?? UNPLUG EVERYTHING. I literally unplug everything but the washer, dryer, fridge, and deep freezer. I also never turn lights on in the house until it gets dark. Yes, it’s extreme, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to save my family money.
-Turn Your Heat Down.
We have the advantage of having a fireplace in our home. Our thermostat is set at 65 in the winter and I turn on the fireplace for about an hour or so to heat the house. If you don’t have a fireplace, just bundle up. It’s healthier for you and your family to not have the heat jacked up anyways. Also, if you’re leaving the house for a while, turn your heat way down. There’s no point in running it if you’re going to be gone.
-Turn Your AC Units Off
When it comes to the AC, we are extremely frugal. I work outside most of the summer, as does my husband. Because of that, we are much more adaptable to the heat. We use fans and open our windows during the summer. There were only a couple of days last summer that we closed the house up and ran the AC (mainly due to the fact that we had a new baby). When we did run it after she was born, our energy bill literally doubled. That’s insane and A HUGE un-needed expense.
-Stop Eating Out.
That one hurts, doesn’t it? At one point, we were spending over $100 a week collectively eating out. OUCH. Pack your lunches ahead of time, pre-make breakfasts if need be… The most expensive items are those last minute breakfast sandwiches you just add on to your tab when you stop for your morning coffee. Or when you just run across the street to the gas station for a meal. Stop doing that!
-Brew Your Own Coffee.
Stop buying the $4 and $5 Starbucks drinks. This was harder for me to stop doing when we lived in a bigger city. Now that we live in a rural town, with no coffee shops, I have no problems with need my Half Caf, Double Shot, Caramel Latte. There are a lot of cool ways to brew your own coffee, AND make it extra delicious. I use a French Press for a wonderful, rich flavor. (Excuse me…Be right back…I need to go make some now)
We ended up re-financing our SUV, and got our payments lowered. It’ll take you longer to pay off, but personally we are focused on paying off other debt first.
-Stop Treating Yourself With “Things”.
You don’t need a new outfit every month. You don’t need those $100 shoes. Every 3 or 4 months I would go on a shopping spree and spend about $200 or so on new clothes, shoes, and make-up.
If you do need to purchase something, check out your local thrift stores first. You will be amazed at what they have to offer.
-Stop Using Paper Towels and Napkins.
Make your own! Just cut up old towels for re-usable rags. For napkins, buy reusable!
-Buy Cleaning Supplies in Bulk and Concentrated Forms.
I personally either make my own products or use Melaluca’s Earth Friendly Bulk cleaning supplies. We save a ton buy them in concentrated forms.
-Hang Your Clothes Out to Dry.
Not only is it better on the environment to not use your dryer, but it’s better on your utility bills and clothes.
-Lower the Temperature of Your Water Heater.
-Stop Watering Your Lawn.
Just don’t. Plants are one thing, but to irrigate your lawn is just preposterous and a huge waste of water. If you want to water plants, install some simple rain barrels off your roof or create a simple water collection system to use on your plants.
-Only Mow Your Lawn Once a Week or Less.
Keeping your grass cropped and super short is completely unnecessary. You waste money on gas for your mower, and honestly your time. Personally we mow our grass every 2 weeks. It might get a little shaggy looking, but who cares, right?
-Pay Your Bills Online.
Save the stamp and envelop. Just pay online!
-Shut the Water Off When You’re Brushing Your Teeth.
-Take Shorter Showers.
-Make Your Own Shampoo.
-Make Your Own Body Wash.
-Stop Going to the Salon.
I buzz my husbands hair and I only go about once a year to get my hair cut.
-Switch From Contacts to Glasses.
Contacts are expensive. Seriously. I have yet to find a 4 month supply for under $200.
Have any budget saving tips? I would love to hear about them, for my own personal budget and to add to my list!!