Unless you live under a rock, I am sure you are aware of the financial woes that have been occurring in this country for a while. It seems like you can’t turn on the TV, go to an internet browser or pick up a newspaper without seeing some sort of panic-invoking money news. I personally like to think of happier things but I also don’t want to avoid reality. I mentioned in my post about changing jobs that we took a pretty big hit when I switched from HR to education, meaning we did not have as much “play” money as before. Before that happened I really wasn’t financially savvy. Yes I paid my own credit card and things like that but I was fortunate enough to have my parents help me through college, and I always worked at least one job with not many expenses so I had some money to spend, even though I did try to save. My senior year of college, however, when we purchased a home, Ryan had to get a new car because his was totaled in an accident, we were going to Europe on our honeymoon, and I was graduating from school, I actually had to put on my big girl pants and take a look at where my money was actually going.
Ryan and I do not have a joint bank account. We keep separate accounts, pay our own credit cards, he pays most of the household bills, and I am responsible for food, vacations, other miscellaneous fun, and the random things that are bound to come up in life. When I worked at the VA this was no problem! I was getting my nails done, not really caring what we spent on groceries, persuading him to take weekend trips on a whim, buying new clothes I “had to have” for my new office job…
And then that bubble burst when I got out of the hospital, left the VA, was working at part-time jobs, and searching for a new career.
Money was not a subject I liked to focus on. I found it stressful, it gave me anxiety, and I did not want to see that I was previously irresponsible with my spending. I wasn’t out of control with debt or anything like that, but I was not valuing things I purchased. But when you are forced to examine the truth, it kinda slaps you in the face and you are forced to make changes.
Where could I cut from my spending that would not completely alter the lifestyle I liked?
There were some easy ones..
1. Stopped getting my nails done. Wow this was a saver. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a nice pedicure and it felt good to get my hands rubbed, but do I need this done every two weeks? No way. I can do it myself and it costs at max, like, $7 for some really cool colors! So this meant nearly $30 saved every two to three weeks! Wooo hooo!
2. Clothes. I have more clothes than I really know what to do with. When you look in my closet you would think I was a pack rat because I seriously have everything; things I haven’t even worn in years but I keep swearing to myself, “oh my gosh there is going to be one day this will be perfect for and I need to keep it just for then!.” Guess what? THAT DAY STILL HASN’T COME! I need to work on cleaning out my closet, but I definitely do not need to add more. I became a pretty big fan of windowing shopping, but unless I need something, or have a super awesome coupon, I don’t typically buy clothes much anymore.
3. Miscellaneous fun…what does this mean? Well we don’t go out to random dinners anymore, we don’t do take out when there is plenty of good food in the fridge, we don’t go see movies multiple times, etc. Tak-out especially can add up quickly without even realizing it. Remember that chinese food we used to want like once a week, or the subs and pizza from our local shop? Yeah, that was twenty dollars. We do go out to a restaurant maybe once a week, or every two weeks, but now instead of it always being dinner we will choose breakfast or lunch, and we chose our venues more carefully. I would rather pay a little more money, less frequently, for a place I REALLY wanted to go, than once a week at a mediocre restaurant just because.
4. Coffee, tea and bottled water. I am a girl who enjoys a hot beverage several times a day, but if you make a Starbucks, or in my case, Sheetz, run it can cost $3 EVERY time. I can make that same cup at home for a one time investment of a few dollars for a reusable cup, and a few cents for the actual drink. Bottled water is the same principle. I bought a Camelback bottle at Target for like $10 and I fill it probably 6-8 times a day. How much is a bottle of water? At the very least $1. Do the math, big big savings!
5. Groceries…now this was a tricky one because I have always packed Ryan and my lunches every day, a huge money saver, but we still need a good amount of food. We do still spend about $75 a week to feed three of us. But this was one I really looked at because I value good, quality ingredients. I want fresh foods and lean meats. I like almond milk and cheese other than Kraft Singles. So instead of changing the quality of the food I buy, I started looking at coupons, going on websites looking for promotions, checking the weekly-circular, buying certain things in bulk, looking at the unit price (Thanks Tina from Carrots and Cake for that tip) and the one major thing I did was shopping local. Some farmers markets are open year round and instead of always going to the grocery store to buy our veggies and fruits, meats, cheese, etc. I try to buy from local vendors. My dad owns a business here in our town and he has always taught me to support companies that give back to the community. I never really considered this to apply to food, but if you think about it, it really is simple. You give local farmers money, they purchase more things around town, or employee people to continue making their product…simple economic cycle right? Not to mention, nothing tasted better than homegrown produce! 🙂
Other small things we changed:
1. Got rid of my gym membership and bought some weights for at home. We already had a treadmill so why was I paying $20 a month? (Also I had a little problem with what my gym was promoting…I will definitely post on that in the future).
2. Stopped going to a tanning salon. This should have stopped long before my budget downgrade but I was in a routine of going once a week and I am a pretty routine kinda girl. Schedules and habits are hard for me to break, obviously, so I needed a little kick in the butt to eliminate this.
3. I joined a library! I love to read and can seriously go through a book in a few days. I used to buy books constantly on my Kindle or used on Amazon, which obviously adds up, but the library has some awesome free options. They may not have the newest books, but who cares. I like to go there for the atmosphere, chatting with people (quietly of course), and browsing the shelves.
Things I need to still work on:
1. Driving less
2. Not wanting to Travel as much (man this is a hard one for me!)
3. Getting lured in by sales.
What are some of your financial/savings tips? I am always looking for new suggestions!!!