Sometimes when I see the way the rest of the world lives I wonder how they afford it. Sometimes I wonder what they think of me. I don’t drive a nice car. I don’t have fancy clothes. I try not to think about it much. I’m not living my life for them anyway. It is very apparent though that there are some things my family does to cut back on expenses. Sometimes we do these things just because we can and because we like to save money. Right now though, many of these are necessities to getting by every month.
Some things on this list may seem crazy to you. That’s ok. I was considering a few titles for this post. One had the word “crazy” and another had the word “extreme”. I don’t think these are extreme or crazy so those didn’t seem to fit in the title. Perhaps these items will make you think and wonder if you could do one or two of these to help save your family some money.
We don’t make coffee runs. I enjoy my coffee just as much as anyone but I just can’t justify spending that kind of money on an indulgence. Coffee can cost $2-5 per cup. I can make a lot of coffee at home for that price. I know of some folks whose coffee habit cost them over $100 per month. That’s a lot of money! I don’t mind getting a coffee treat every now and again, but these treats might be once a month. They are certainly not a daily habit.
We don’t have a car payment. You may be wondering how in the world I can have three cars in my driveway and no car payment. I have always been a frugal gal, but about 7 years ago my hubby and I took Financial Peace University classes at our church. We sold our van. Actually we paid the dealership $1,000 to take it back. Yes, that hurt. Since then we have been buying used vehicles. It doesn’t matter if it’s a $700 car to get us by for a year until we can afford something better or a $3000 vehicle that we can drive for a while, we pay cash. Some people say that they want a car that they don’t have to worry about or they say they can’t afford to make repairs. If I’m not paying $350-500 per month in a payment, I can easily justify making some repairs from time to time.
We limit hair appointments. When my hubby was in the Marines, he got plenty of experience cutting hair while on ship. He cuts his hair and my son’s hair. That alone saves us about $200 or more per year. I also limit my hair appointments. To be honest, I don’t go to the salon as much as I would like. It makes me cringe to spend that much money on my hair. I have longer hair so I can get by without making frequent visits to the salon. If you have a regular appointment scheduled for every six weeks, maybe try to go seven or eight weeks and see how it goes. You might be able to go another week or two which will save you money over time.
We don’t get manicures and pedicures. While nails look attractive, I can’t really spare an extra $40 for my nails to look good.
We don’t smoke. Smoking is an extremely expensive habit. Enough said.
We haul off our own trash. When we lived in the city, it was nice to roll our trash out to the curb every week and not worry with it. Of course, we paid for trash removal in our city taxes. Now that we have moved to another part of the state, they do things differently around here. In some areas you pay per bag. We just decided to make trips to the landfill. Every two or three weeks my hubby and son haul off all of the trash and recycling. I’m guessing that this saves us about $50 per month.
We do our own yard work. Well, actually, my hubby does the yard work. He mows the grass, uses the weed eater, puts out grass feed, and whatever else needs to be done.
We drink water. When we go out to eat we always order water. The exception is if the kids’ meals come with a drink. Think about it — If your family of four goes out to eat and orders four drinks, that will cost you around $8. There’s quite a bit of savings for choosing water. Even at home we drink water. Sodas and sugary drinks aren’t good for us anyway. We have a water system in our house and another filter on our refrigerator so we just drink it from the tap.
We pack our lunch. When I was in college and worked at a restaurant, I would see people that came in to eat lunch every day. Every day! Eating out every day is so expensive. I’m not saying I don’t like to eat out. Trust me, we like to eat out. When we do, it is using coupons, sharing meals, or as a treat. It is not an every day thing. I have also seen people eat in the school cafeteria every day. Those $3, $5 or more each day add up quickly. I try to pack leftovers, a sandwich, and I try to keep things like peanut butter and hummus at school for those days when I’m extra hungry or I don’t have time to prepare something. You know what? I’ve heard Dave Ramsey say he also packs his lunch. He can afford to go out to eat and chooses not to because it’s not a frugal option.
We limit costly entertainment options. I can’t even tell you the last time I went to the movies. It’s not that I don’t enjoy going to the movies. I just can’t see paying such high prices just to watch a movie. We have learned to look for free and cheap events in our area. Whether it be a trip to the beach, a museum, state park, parade, or a festival, we find things to do. I look online for happenings in our area. There are also free pamphlets and papers listing events. Do a google search and see what you can find. These kinds of events are more memorable for our children and are certainly better for our budget.
We don’t have a dog. I know that dogs are like a part of the family and if I had a dog, I certainly wouldn’t get rid of it just to save money. But I don’t have a dog and right now another animal is not on my list of priorities. Dogs are expensive — the shots, deworming, medicines, vet bills . . . whew I am seeing visions of dollar signs. I love animals and I have two cats. This is just one of the things my husband and I have agreed not to spend money on right now.
We constantly look for good deals. My husband and I tend to be conservative on our purchases. Rather than going out and spending $200 on a camera we see in store, we’ll spend two or three hours at home reading about the camera and looking for reviews. Instead of buying our clothes full price we shop the clearance racks or look for great sales. I just shopped a back to school sale on a tax free weekend and used a $10 coupon and bought myself some shirts for work. I try to know the cycles for when items are at their lowest prices. For example, I know that Target has deeply discounted toys twice each year. I know that November and December are the months when cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soups will be the cheapest. We try to be good stewards of our money and make it go the farthest that we can.
We don’t have the latest in technology. In fact, I don’t even have a smart phone. I just can’t see spending $30 or more each month. This equals almost $400 per year! We don’t have iPads or iPhones. My son just recently got a used DS. haha. Contrary to what many people think, technology is not a necessity. It’s not air and water. If your job requires you to have a smart phone, then so be it. Checking facebook, twitter, and email on the go is not essential.
When possible, we buy used. This can include toys, furniture, bicycles, etc. (The exception is used mattresses.) Some of my favorite pieces in my home are used. I like the thrill of finding a unique item. I am also teaching my children the value of buying used. A few years ago my daughter wanted some Polly Pocket toys. She went to Target with her birthday money and came home with one small toy for $14. She was sad at how little she got for the money. I told her I would look online to see what I could find. We ended up finding a big box of Polly Pocket stuff – mall, pool, clothes, dolls, etc for $40. The cost of these things would have been over $200 new. My children have learned that they get more for their money this way.
We pay cash. This is probably the biggest way that we save money. We just moved into our new home seven months ago. I would love to have new blinds and curtains throughout my home. New wall hangings, shower curtains, rugs, I could go on. If I just swipe that credit card I can have it all now. The problem with that is, there comes a day to pay our debts and with interest. I choose not to be in bondage of debt. Sure, I would really like to have those things but for now, I am trying to be thankful for all of the other wonderful things I have and know that in time I will furnish my home.
I know that these tips may not work for everyone but they help my family out tremendously. I’m estimating that these things alone keep my family from spending over $10,000 each year! In what ways does your family save money?
image source: kwod from sxc.hu