This is a new and somewhat unfamiliar season of life for us, to be honest. It’s a season of saving pennies and stretching dollars – something we didn’t have to do quite as carefully our first three years of marriage.
My husband went back to nursing school, while continuing to work full-time, and I am also working full-time while Liam goes to school during the day. We are all going in different directions, and our money is, too. In an effort to be mindful of our resources and not be too overwhelmed, we recently shaved our budget.
1. We cut cable.
We were DVR addicts. I recorded so many seasons of reality shows just because I could. And then I would binge-watch those shows or become overwhelmed that there was not enough time to ever catch up on those shows. And when Chris and I would be home together at night, we would find ourselves watching TV just because it was right in front of us.
Since cutting cable, we shaved $100 off our budget. Instead, we kept wi-fi and purchased an Apple TV for $99 (a one-time cost that we were already spending on one month of cable anyway).We are also able to pick up a few local channels without having paid cable. Now, with those local channels and Apple TV, we are able to watch the shows we like and be more intentional with our downtime.
Cost savings: $100 a month
2. We got down to one car.
We became a one-car family one year ago. Besides the automatic savings of close to $500 a month when we cut out a car payment, insurance and gas, it has allowed us a lot more time together and has made that time together more intentional, whether it’s in the car or out running errands.
We now rely on specific schedules, constant communication about our calendars, and the light rail/bus system. I completely understand that getting down to one car doesn’t fit everyone’s schedule and commute, but it’s working for us at the moment, so we’re going with it.
Cost savings: $500 a month
3. We use coupons and search for great savings.
I’ve been using coupons for a few years now, both for groceries and activities. I save around $20 per grocery trip with just the coupons alone (not including additional store savings or sales). We get a lot of our toiletry items for free this way – toothpaste, toothbrushes, soaps, shaving creams. I cringe just thinking about paying full price for those items!
I also make sure to clip any coupons for restaurants. You know the ads that come in the mail that we typically just toss? There are so many buy-one-get-one-free coupons in there, which make our date nights a lot more reasonable.
Cost savings: At least $25 a week
4. We meal plan.
By planning out our meals for the week and creating a grocery list, I am able to stick to our grocery budget. Instead of wandering into the store grabbing anything that looks good or reasonable, I stick to the list and come home with food I know will be put to good use. I attribute a savings of at least $25 a week to meal planning, because we are not running out to grab food last-minute or throwing tempting items in the basket.
Cost savings: $25 a week
5. We just say no.
A big part of saving money is learning how to say no to things that are just not doable at the time. We have had to say no to trips with friends, family vacations, eating out, big purchases, not-so-big purchases, and outings. Some things we have said no to is because by the time we add up the gas, hotel cost, and food cost, it’s just not within our means. It makes you think twice about what really goes into the night out or the weekend away. And we know that one day, we will finally be able to say YES to all of those things.
Cost savings: Priceless
What are areas you have had to shave to save money?