If you have ever happened upon my blog before, you know that I will be losing my job here really soon. And, even though it initially threw me for a loop, I am now really starting to look forward to it. The biggest question on my husbands’, and my mind was – how are we going to afford it? Here are some money saving tips that may just help you out like they have helped us!
Ways to save $$$ and live on less
One thing I will admit from the start is that we did not get to where we are at by ourselves. The good Lord has been helping us all along by guiding our path. But, even with that said, we had to do it. What’s the old saying ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink’ – same goes for finances.
A little over a decade ago…ugh, I think I just dated myself…anyway we came across a Dave Ramsey book “The Total Money Makeover”. Now we weren’t in a huge amount of debt, we had a little on a credit card, a mortgage, and 2 school loans. We had paid our cars off and lived in a small town where we didn’t go out very much. We were both working and even though we were making decent money, we always seemed to be struggling. It wasn’t as bad as some, but we knew there was a better way to live financially.
So we bought the book – with cash – and started reading. It really is a great way to get started. So, if the tips that are below leave you wondering where to go next – that would be a great place to start.
I will note that the tips below came from me – and my husband – just brainstorming ideas to live on less over the dinner table one night. I am more than sure that some will be in the book. Please know I am not trying to take credit from Mr. Ramseys’ ideas, I am just here to acknowledge that they work.
- Make a budget – If you don’t know where your money is going take a couple months and keep tabs of every dollar. It really is amazing where the money will disappear to. And remember your income needs to exceed your expenses!
- “OUR” money – If you are married, it’s not yours and theirs – it all becomes “our” money. We are to become one once married – that goes for money also!
- Be on the same page – Money problems are stressful, when you are in a relationship you need to be on the same page. It won’t work if one is on a budget and the other isn’t. Yes, I have been there, working those early budgets and going back and forth about what we should do late into the night. Even now, years later, we both have to be happy about the budget and sign off on it. If not we keep working at it.
- Be realistic – Pull yourself out of the fairy tale world, life is expensive and getting worse by the minute. My husband and I build in a buffer into our budget. That way we know that when inflation creeps in we are covered.
- Make an emergency fund – It’s not for “IF” you will need it, it’s for “WHEN”. We also have a funds for other things, not just emergencies. We have many, but an example is one for our daughter (for clothes when needed), and cars (for gas and repairs).
- Get rid of things not wanted or needed – The first thing that comes to mind is a gym membership, I once read that something like 65-70% of gym memberships are never used. That’s a lot of money! My other thought is cable/TV. We have not had it for 7+ years. Based on $50 a month, that’s over $4,200!
- Pay off debt – If we had a mortgage or car payments I would have HAD to find another job after I get laid off. But, we don’t have any debt, so that gives us a lot of options.
- Downsize house, car – Before we started looking at houses, we decided we wanted to be able to pay all monthly expenses with one income, including mortgage. With that in mind it cut back what we could buy – yes, our house is smaller, but it’s ours. Our cars are a little older – but guess what our insurance is decent because they are older.
- Get rid of credit cards – It is easy to use credit cards to keep you in your comfort zone. (Clothes, travel, eating out, etc) Just remember, you have to pay those companies back – with interest!
- Don’t look at being on a budget as jail – perspective makes a big difference.
- Prioritize what’s really important
- Plan for unexpected expenses – Guess what – things will break down when you don’t want/need them to. A couple years ago we had just finished a kitchen and living room remodel (which we paid cash for). Not a week after we were done the dryer died, the washer was on its last legs – so a new set was bought (with savings) then not 2 months later the kitchen range died – also bought with cash. Having to buy all of them did lower of savings that we had for appliances, but it didn’t break us and all we had to do was build it back up.
- When you do NEED to buy something – Like an appliance or even a car, don’t buy the top of the line model, buy what you can afford, and what will work for your needs. When we had to buy a range we spent $750 for a good range with good reviews. Is it the one I wanted, maybe not, but it works for our needs, and I have not had any problems with it. Also check sales, ask about sales, check for “dinged up appliances. I got our washer in a dent and ding sale. I saved $500 and I still cannot find the “ding” they told me about.
- Stop comparing yourself with others – Everyone is on their own paths and their needs are different from yours. Sometimes – yes, even now years into being ‘financially responsible’ – I feel the little green monster creep in. I would love to have a bigger house and a new car. But, then I remember how far we have come. It’s a daily choice that we make. The best part is we have very little money worries.
- Budget for holidays/birthdays – Save for them, it will keep you from overspending if you know you only have ‘X’ amount to use.
- Think of long term goals – And reevaluate periodically – Life changes and sometimes you have to adjust where you want to go.
- Stop buying stuff – Really look at what your needs are vs your wants – there is a big difference, and that’s coming from a crafter! I have made very hard decisions deciding whether or not I needed something in the middle of a craft store…it was torture…
- Kids stuff – When I was pregnant with my daughter I was introduced to a whole new world. A world where a onesie for a newborn was $65, and a little pair of shoes were $50. I almost choked. If I would have bought all these “cute” little outfits, my babies’ wardrobe for her first few months of life would have cost more than my car! Kids – especially babies don’t care what they wear. Just as long as they fit and are clean, who cares if it costs $5 or $50. Plus they go thru clothes so quickly, spending a small fortune on something they will only use maybe twice is crazy – at least to me it is…
- Need something, try thrift stores, garage sales or end of season clearance – But only buy what you need! We have kids thrift stores around here where you can sell them your kids clothes when you are done with them. I was able to sell a bunch of clothes that she had outgrown and buy clothes for her to grow into. I also keep an eye out when the seasons have changed for clearance. I was able to score my daughter $350 in clothes for less than $50. This is especially helpful when I notice she needs new winter gear, like a coat, snow pants, and boots.
- Use cash – Every dollar means a little more when you are giving it away instead of writing a check or swiping a card.
- Go easy on yourself when you fail – Just keep trying
- Reward yourself – We gave up eating out while working our debt – But, when we paid one off we rewarded ourselves with a meal out. Nothing expensive, usually fast food. Just enough to give us a little pat on the back, then we were back at it.
What are some great ways you spend less?