Being tight on money is stressful and frustrating, but after making a budget and having the confidence that I can do this, I find myself striving to be more thrifty and much more careful with every penny spent. And I’ve been thinking much more about how evil money is and how I don’t need to be rich to be happy. As my wise uncle said, “Some people measure wealth by how much money they have. That’s not the case in the Valyou family. We measure wealth by the amazing family that supports us”. And we do. We don’t need fancy cars or expensive vacations. Backyard BBQs, birthday parties on the lawn, crazy wacky family reunions, and camping trips are more our style because all that really matters is that we are there together – whether it be to celebrate or support each other. At the end of the day, that’s all that really matters – enjoying the simple things in life with family and friends.
So, the plan is to have these little saving tips in my head to keep our heads above water. Instead of being stressed about having more $, I can focus on knowing I’m doing everything possible to keep us afloat and know that if at the end of the day I have $0 to my name, that’s just fine. Because what matters is that I have Avery and he is happy and healthy, we have an amazing time playing together and spending time with family and friends and enjoying life.
$$$ Saving Tips
- Pack Lunch. Always. It saves sooo much money. I was good about this for a while but with the busyness of late, I wouldn’t pack lunch and go out to get a salad or sandwich. That adds up at $5 a meal, 3x a week = $15 a week and $60 a month!
So I make sure I buy lots of healthy options for lunches like veggies for salads or wraps and soups, and snackies, so I don’t get hungry at work and get tempted to go buy anything.
- Don’t Use a Credit Card. I always pay my credit card in full, therefore I never pay interest. But I do rack up some nice points by using it. I try not to use it, unless fund are low and I know they are coming, so I will then pay it off a couple days later. But I NEVER put anything on my credit card that I can’t pay off within a month.
- Only Buy Essentials. After paying the bills, the only money that I shell out is for food and gas. I don’t buy myself anything – sometimes I splurge, but only after really thinking about it. It took a couple days to think about buying admission to the 5K race this past weekend – it was $26. (which was so much fun, btw. Running at 8PM at night in the dark wearing glow sticks and I finished in 31.:23……………. more later!) my I can’t do that every month, but every now and then I can spare a little $ for fun and fitness. Same goes for Avery. I never buy him toys or clothes – he has so much from gifts and his amazing grandparents always stock him up when they come visit. I have on occasion bought him a $1 goldfish treat at the supermarket and little things like that, but nothing extravagant.
- Utilize Points. Huggies, Gas, Credit Card. The Huggies points take a while to accumulate, but when they do, there are some neat toys I can get for free and get for Avery as a gift. The grocery store I use gives gas points, so I make sure I get a full
tank of gas with the 10 cents off I get with every shopping trip. I use cash rewards with my credit card, so every couple months, I cash it in for $25 that I just put into the bank account to add a little cushion.
- Be Thrifty with Gifts. We’ve had a couple birthdays go by and Halloween coming up, so I try to be thrifty about gifts. We don’t go crazy with gifts – I like to be thoughtful and spend less $. Homemade cards by Avery and $5-$10 for a gift seems to work just fine. We did splurge on a $1 Halloween card for Great Grandma that Avery gave her this weekend… she’s a great pen-pal so that was $ well spent – since I didn’t buy one of the $4 cards – what a waste those are!
- Crazy Couponing! I don’t spend hours clipping coupons or printing them offline, but I do take a little time to get a couple coupons together before going to the store. I get mailers for $3 or $5 off and I grab those, and I save any that come with the reciept each trip and browse online quickly to see if there are any deals on stuff we usually buy – most coupons are for processed foods and I spend most my money on meats and fresh veggies and fruit, so I make sure I’m not tempted to save 60 cents on a can of soup I never buy and would probably never eat.
- Buy Store-brand, in Bulk, & Freeze! Meals for Avery and I are very small, so I can make 3lbs of meat last 3 dinners, 1 leftover dinner, and 2 lunches. Seriously. I freeze 3/4lb bags that are way enough for a meal, take them out one at a time to cook, and save the leftovers and use for another meal or take for lunch. I also buy cereal in bulk and store brand – Avery likes it just the same, but a bag of knock-off Cheerios for $4 will last us three months, when a box of Cheerios for $4 would only last a month, if that. I also buy things like yogurt in bulk instead of the small packaged kind because I can save $ and just use Tupperware to store it for lunch.
- Simple & Free Activities. Avery is completely content going to the park, or playing with trains or stacking blocks with me. I don’t need to spend $ to bring him anywhere. But when we do find free/cheap activities, we take advantage. For example, we have a trip to the Children’s museum planned in November with a friend and her son that have a membership, so we go for free! And our recent apple picking trip was a 4 hour activity that Avery LOVED and only cost us $19.
- Shed the Fat of Non-Essentials. We don’t have cable, internet or a TV. Seriously. That saves us at least $100 a month. I don’t have a house phone either, because I have a cell phone. I don’t have a gym membership anymore ($20 savings/month) because I utilize the gym membership thru work.
- Swap. Instead of paying a sitter, a friend of mine has a deal to watch Avery when I need her to and I do the same for her. No cost to either of us. Sames goes with books. I swap books with friends and family instead of buying them. I just got 3 huge books this past weekend that I can’t wait to dive into – Thanks, Joey!
- Take Advantage of Free. I don’t need lunch on Fridays because we have free pizza. When I am offered second hand toys and clothes, I gladly accept them. When my parents and family demand on paying for something or buying something for Avery, I don’t protest, I just thank them and have to tell myself that it’s not a hand-out and that I’m just so lucky to have amazing friends and family that support us and want to help us out. I have to put my pride aside and just be thankful.
- Pay Down Debt. Now, as you know, I’ve been trying to pay down my student loans for, well, since forever. I had a good push at it this past year and posted monthly on my progress, but now that my situation has changed and $ is tight, I can’t expect to pay them off as early as I had hoped. But paying them off is important, because the sooner I pay them off, the less I will pay in the long run AND it will free up $450 a month that I’m paying (minimum) now. That $450 could be saved for Avery’s college fund, or put towards saving for a house down the road, or just a little more $ every month to help us get by and not have to be so tight with $. How in the world I’m going to do this, no idea. I think I’ll just have to monitor how my income/expenses go with my new budget and after a month or two see what I have leftover every month and send that extra in to Mrs. Sallie Mae.
I’ve always been good with $. My parents raised me to work for something I wanted. Buying my first car, paying my way thru college, supporting myself since I’ve been on my own has really taught me how to handle money. There is always room for improvement though. This new found thrifty self of mine is excited for this challenge to save even more $. Be aware upcoming birthday gift recipients and Yankee Gift Swappers at Christmas – I’m going to get creative this year 😉
Do you have any $ saving tips to share?!!