creative ways to cut back.
So my wife and i were talking the other night and we were surpised about how much our financial situation has changed since we met ten years ago. Im a self employed electrician and she works for a small local bank. I make the majority of the money and she carries the health insurance and she makes decent money. We have the usual bills, mortgage, 2 car payments, cable phone and internet, 2 smart phones and a 4 year old in preschool which is the equivalent of another mortgage basically. We are considering cutting out the smart phones and cutting the cable bill back. I was curious as to how many of you have had to cut back and how/what you cut back in?
I cut back on everything...
I don't even know where to start. It sure helped that I got a big buck this season.
Make a budget if you don't have one. Record your expenses for a month, you'll be amazed at what you waste.
If you eat out often, cut it back to once a month.
Skip Starbucks or other store bought coffee, take a thermos of your own brew instead.
Cancel HBO, Showtime etc.
Pack your own lunch.
Save all your change, just throw it in a jar or something every day. Surprisingly, it adds up pretty quickly.
Use coupons when shopping and watch for sales.
Cut out impulse buys.
Make stuff last until it's worn out, then repair it if possible.
Buy generic brands. You can still buy good stuff, but limit it to things that really require the brand name.
Cut back or eliminate junk foods. It's better for your health and saves money.
Operate on an allowance.
Check the thermostat setting on your water heater and lower it.
Check your car insurance coverage. Chances are that you're over insured somewhere and raise the deductible.
Treat yourself on occasion or you won't be able to tighten it up. You want to save money and be practical, not miserable.
I'd save a ton of money if someone would take the internet from me so I wouldn't have access to all the gun and parts shops.
+1 on the budget. Once you write it all down and see how much you can cut out you'll feel like you got a raise.
One place to start is with TV. You don't need cable. I don't even own a TV. I get all my news from the internet on my smartphone.
Dining out. This is an obvious one. People don't realize how much they spend eating out until they just look at it. It costs my son and I about ten bucks at McDonald's, arguably one of the cheapest places to eat anywhere. Times that by 5 times a week = $50 bucks. It can go way higher. WAY higher. I know. I've spent over $1K in a week on grubb when I was making damn good money on the pipeline. I was eating at some really nice places and drinking too.
That's another one. Drinking. If you drink the occasional beer, wait until you get home and have a couple. They cost about half as much at walmart as they do at a bar. I don't imagine you do much of that, just as a wild guess, but it's something to be aware of.
Smoking/dipping. If you do either, that crap is expensive. www.killthecan.com has a calculator that will help you figure up how much you can save by quitting. It has a running calculator that will tell you how much you have saved since you quit.
Entertainment. These yahoos on FTF entertain me plenty. I don't go to movies, clubs, shopping for fun, any of that stuff. I log on and argue with somebody.
Driving habits. This can get so in depth I don't even know where to begin. One example of what NOT to do... Don't go grocery shopping, then say "Oh, I have cold items, gotta get that home", then go home, unload the groceries, and THEN head back out for more errands and paying bills or whatever. Plan your excursions. Try to do everything on the same day if you can, errands, groceries, car maintenance, etc., and try to plan your trip accordingly, possibly to do such things immediately after leaving work or picking up the kid, BEFORE going home for a nap, dinner, play time, whatever.
Diet. This can get extreme. I don't go to extremes. But, homecooked meals are cheaper, as I've already mentioned. They are also much healthier, in general, saving you even more in the long run in regards to your health. Also, what you drink. I buy a package of tea bags that cost about $4, and a pound of sugar that costs about the same, and I have a tasty drink for over a month. Compare that to around $1.50 for a 20 oz. soda every day, IF you only need one drink a day. Drink water as much as possible. A homecooked meal at my house of fried chicken, biscuits, gravy, mashed potatoes and sweet tea costs around... maybe 50 cents to $1 total for two people. The same meal will cost around $10-$15 anywhere else.
Have a great driving record, and your car is paid for? Get a basic libility insurance plan, especially if you have health insurance and a supplemental. Even more especially if you have good credit and some money in savings to get a new car if you're hit by someone that has no insurance, which happens way too often.
Don't stop taking a shower. But DO stop watering the lawn. God (or who/whatever you may believe in) made grass, and it's survived for thousands upon thousands of years without help from any man. Reduce the frequency of your cutting if you can, to maybe every 2 weeks instead of 1, or 3 instead of 2. I think any more than that, and the added strain on your mower may outweigh the benefit. If you pay someone to cut your grass...? Do I really need to say it? Stop that.
On water - wash your dishes by hand. If you want to go that far. Water is usually cheap. My water bill runs around $14 per month, and I'm not trying. I shower daily, sometimes twice a day depending on what happens. I make my sweet tea, I do my dishes....
Electric. Look for drafts and take measures to stop them. Turn lights off when you leave a room, don't turn them on to begin with unless you need to (I have no lights on until after dark, as I benefit from great natural lighting in my home). Unplug your "vampire" appliances (no, they didn't come from a store owned by the Cullens's), the appliances that draw juice when it's not being used, such as chargers, coffeemakers, TVs, computers, such things like that. Also look for any damaged wiring, faults, or grounds.
This is just a start. This is my daily life. I do splurge if I have a little extra money. I went to Wendy's today and got a spicy chicken sammich with chili cheese fries, extra onions.
I only splurge when i have extra too. We are just trying to cut back our monthly expenses. We generally get something to eat out on fridays. Its usually sandwiches or chinese food. We both make our morning coffee at home and pack our lunches. The thing that really kills us is the mortgage (1700) and my daughter in day care (1200). One more year and a half and she will be in kindergarten. It will feel like ive gotten a raise i hope!
I agree with all the above recommendations. I can live pretty cheaply. I make simple meals that are tasty but not expensive. I rarely have steak or other fancy cuts of meat and eat chicken, hamburger, grilled cheese sandwiches, eggs, soups, etc. My daughter doesn't really use her leftovers and I often bring them home for myself. I go to the local grocery store early in the mornings if possible and they have marked down any meat that needs to be sold by the end of that day. Almost all the meat I buy is that marked down meat. I waste very little food. Everything gets used somehow.
I don't generate much laundry and I don't have a dish washer. Even if I did, I really like washing dishes by hand. That's when I do my best thinking. :D
I, also, plan my trips to town. I pick my granddaughter up from school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and that's when I visit my Dad, run errands, etc.
If I do order out, I share the expense with my daughter. We usually share a pizza.
Take a look at refinancing your mortgage. Interest rates are still kind of low.
Get a HD antenna for the TV and cut out cable altogether or take a look at Netflix online.
Credit card usage is fine as long as you pay the bill totally when it comes in (no interest then).
Look for the electricity parasites. The phone recharger, the cable box when not used, the television (instant-on still uses electricity when the TV is off).
(Or you can run an extension from the neighbor's outside box and plug everything into there.)
Share shower time. Don't let the time pass after one has taken a shower for the next.
Turn the refrigerator up 1° and have the water heater set at 120°.
Unfortunately we are upside down on the house. We aren't in dire straits or anything but we just want to save more for our daughters future and our own.
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