While searching for ways to make ends meet after finding out we were expecting our second child unexpectedly, I decided it was time to re-buckle down on the pre-baby saving!
A little background about me: hubs and I used to be in the military in 2010 when our first child was born. We both agreed that having a parent at home for the first years was the right decision for our family – and once both of our contracts were up we decided to separate from the service. We cut down on everything we could possibly imagine expense-wise and found that we saved nearly 20K dollars before we got out. Even though this was the best decision emotionally for our family we took a 65% cut in our income…(YIKES!) which we realized we really didn’t need; but however had missed. Hubs got a job working for the government – making less than 35K a year and I pursued my degree which I have now finished. Today we are in the same position but I have found some creative and no brainer ways to cut down on unnecessary spending.
1.) Make a list of all expenses for the year. You will find that some things can be eliminated and others not so much. One of my most interesting finds for the year was our AAA coverage which we pay $160.00 per year for – when I already have the same exact coverage from my car insurance company – FOR FREE! Also, don’t forget to include expenses for clothing, shopping, trips, dinners out, and even that date night that you pay the sitter for. You will thank me later.
2.) Examine your grocery bill and how often your family eats out. You would be surprised at how much food is thrown away by your own household that is nutritionally better for you and yes, much much cheaper! I have successfully cut our grocery bill to a wonderful $150.00 give or take $20.00 here and there based upon holidays or family visiting. Buy foods that you can use for more than one meal. Examples being potatoes, rice, beans, celery, carrots…you get the point.
3.) Organic food is better don’t get me wrong – but at the end of the day food is food and especially in the case of vegetables you can scrub them and peel those veggies that can be peeled. Health foodies like myself do prefer the organic version of foods but I would rather feed my family in this economy! Just be mindful of the price and you will be fine.
4.) Examine your cell phone bill. Can you really live without the expensive data plan your carrier provides? The answer is yes. If you absolutely cannot live without the data think about reducing the MB per month and you will love the average savings of at least $300.00 a year. Hubby and I recently went back to basic phones with an unlimited messaging plan and mobile-to-mobile calls and shaved off a major $40.00 from our monthly bill. Instead of paying for a data plan in which we use Wi-fi for anyway we take our iPads and other Wi-fi capable devices where ever we go so it’s absolutely FREE.
5.) We love love our furry pets but there are major costs to be cut here. Consider the vet bills, grooming fees, and food it costs to keep these loves of our lives happy. You will quickly realize like we did that commercial Vet’s are way more expensive than a local practice. We also switched our dog’s food to a better brand that actually costs us less and he doesn’t need as much because it is better quality.
6.) Be frugal. Who really cares if your friend’s think you are crazy for eating out one time a month or not having cable services. Find things to do with your family that cost next to nothing or even free – you will find that some of the best things in life don’t cost a dime. My family and I have managed to live with the less is more attitude and at the age of 24 and 27 have a savings account – that I take a lot of pride in – a home, two reliable cars, and enough money left over for extra things that we may like to do. Life is not about having the most expensive car or the biggest television screen. Life is about making memories with loved ones and learning new skills to make the most out of this short life we are given.
So, my best advice until you win the lottery – hehe – is to be frugal and learn how to cut costs in a logical way. You will be more happy that you saved an extra $500 a year rather than catching up on bills from the previous year.