When my hubby and I first got married our income was $900 a paycheck. Where we lived, a decent one-bedroom apartment was almost $800 a month, so nearly half of our monthly income went to rent. Utilities were expensive in that area, so most of the rest of our income went to electric, gas and water bills along with car insurance. Money was pretty tight. We budgeted carefully, accounted for every penny we spent and almost never ate out or bought anything that wasn’t a true need (i.e. food, car repairs or medicine).
Adding Up the Little Things
In the last ten years, our income has gone up quite a bit (though it went down some with the economy). We fell out of the habit of being very careful with our money. We are by no means frivolous spenders, but there are so many little ways we could save money that would really add up. I’ve decided that for the month of February, we’re going to see just how much the little things can add up!
These are the three main areas I will be focusing on:
- Food and other groceries: This is our biggest expense, apart from our mortgage. We have food quality standards that we aren’t willing to compromise on (unless, of course, we simply didn’t have the money. Then we’d make the best choices we could.), but I know that there are ways to save money by shopping smarter and being more creative.
- Utilities: There are several tips and tricks we’ve used before that I just haven’t kept up with. I plan to get back to them and I will be sharing them with you. I know we can spend less on heating/cooling and water usage. February is usually the coldest month, where we live, so we’ll see what kind of difference I can make on our electric bill!
- Fun and Activities: We don’t go out and do expensive activities very often. Most of the time we’d rather be cozied up together at home, but I do get a bit carried away with purchasing supplies for projects. I won’t be spending any money on that this month. Instead, I will be pulling out supplies I’ve bought for projects that I haven’t gotten around to yet. If I don’t have everything I “need”, I will try to improvise with what I do have.
What we do with the money we save is just as important as saving it!
Just avoiding spending money in one way doesn’t guarantee that we are being wise. My hubby and I will be setting the money aside in savings and carefully deciding what to do with it. I’ve known people who are obsessive about doing little things to save money, then they waste their hard-earned savings on junk.
It’s so important that we all keep learning. Barry, the husband of my friend Stacy at Stacy Makes Cents, has written an e-book called From Debtor to Better. With our new baby, I haven’t been able to read and review it yet, so that is going to be near the top of my to-do list for the month. If you haven’t visited Stacy’s blog before, you should. She has tons of great ideas and information for being frugal… and her sense of humor cracks me up!
As I mentioned, food is our biggest expense, so I will begin by making the biggest changes there. Come back tomorrow to see what will make the biggest difference.
Does your family need to get creative to save money? What are your favorite ways to cut back?