If there’s one thing we enjoy, you know it’s saving money! Of course we love Disney and other travel, but how could we ever afford to visit Disney every year without saving money on our monthly budget? How could we ever afford to buy a car with cash and no payments? How could we afford all these things while I stayed home full time with the kids…leaving a full time position and losing a large chunk of our income? These were questions we asked ourselves 2 years ago when we made the decision for me to leave my job and become a full time mom. Cutting unnecessary items from our budget was a huge part of this decision, so I’d like to share some Simple Items to Cut from Your Budget to Save Money! So it was October 2012 and after several months of successfully trying to live off a my husband’s income, we dove into the decision for me to quit my full time job and stay home with the kids. This was both an easy and difficult decision. Easy because I desperately wanted to be more involved in our children’s lives and my job was so demanding that I often worked entire days, many evenings, and even weekends on special projects. I don’t remember much about my kids in 2012 because I was so consumed with working. It was also important that we increase the Christian influence in the daily lives of our children as they grew older (then age 3 and age 5). The decision to stay home was also difficult because although we had been living on a strict budget, we had 2 full-time incomes for the budget and leaving my job meant trimming the budget even more dramatically. It took us several months to tweak our budget enough that we felt confident we’d be able to survive on my husband’s income alone…an experiment we successfully completed at least 3 months before the final decision was made. I also really loved my job and being able to buy new clothes and eat out more often, but I loved my kids more!
Trying to become a full time mom is of course not the only reason to trim a budget! There are so many other reasons, including whatever financial goals you have. This could include paying off debt (this does count student loans!), building an emergency savings fund of 3-6 months of living expenses, buying a vehicle with cash, investing into a Roth IRA, or paying for your children’s college. Whatever your reason, it’s an important one and you can do it!
It’s not easy to look at your budget and decide what’s not necessary because, to you, it may all seem necessary. If you read through this and have trouble, my best advice is to have a trusted friend or family member look at your budget and share feedback. An objective set of eyeballs on the budget could be a huge eye opener for you….and could make you feel like you were punched in the gut. The reality is, you MUST sacrifice to achieve your financial goals. It simply comes down to what is most important to you. Is the present gratification more important than your future goals? Are you able to delay some personal gratification now to achieve something awesome?
What we learned is that trimming items from our budget not only matured us, it helped mature our children. They began asking questions about why we were eating at home more, why I spent more time making grocery lists and looking through grocery ads, and why they had to start doing chores around the house. They wondered why my husband and I were always looking at our budget before we went anywhere…I’m talking before we even put gas in the car. They wondered why they lost their beloved Disney channel and why they weren’t getting as many Christmas and birthday gifts. Things were changing at our house and when we explained it was because we were preparing for me to stay home with them (no more daycare or after school care) they were on board 100 percent. When we told them it was because we wanted to have money to visit Disney World more than once, they were on board 110 percent.
While putting together this list, I realized that this post was becoming MASSIVE, so I decided to split this into a 2-part series. That way your might might not explode:-) Here’s Part 1!
Things to Cut From your Budget to Save Money – Part 1:
- Cable TV
- When we looked into the expense of cable for an entire year, we were disgusted. There were only a couple channels we watched regularly anyway. Of course there were a couple cable shows we did not want to give up, so we did some price comparisons and devised a great plan. This plan is called Hulu. You can purchase a season of a cable tv show and watch it on demand, similar to a DVR. The price of purchasing the season of the few shows we watched was MUCH cheaper than paying for cable each month.
- The kids got very comfortable with PBS. I remember cringing at the thought of my kids watching PBS instead of the Disney Channel (oh how I do love Disney!). Then I realized that PBS shows are actually GOOD! They are educational, perfect for the preschool level when staying home with little ones during the day, and the shows in the late afternoon are great for elementary school kids….thank you Wild Kratts.
- We almost exclusively watch our own DVD movie collection. If we aren’t watching a movie we own or PBS, we are rarely watching TV at all. In case you haven’t noticed, network tv is no longer suitable for children and even if you think the show is harmless enough (such as America’s Got Talent), they give you a heavy dose of reality when the commercials air and Red from The Blacklist is holding a gun at some man’s head. Or Victoria’s Secret models parade in underwear. You just hope and pray a Hardees commercial doesn’t make an appearance. It’s bad. Now, we do watch some shows like Wheel of Fortune and America’s Got Talent, but I have to guard the remote and be ready for a quick intervention during commercials. We may be a bit overprotective….
- Christmas Gifts
- Think homemade gifts for family members. I’m making the relatives a photo album of my kid’s pictures (since I went to digital yearly photo books for home…check it out here). I’ve got a cabinet of old mason jars also waiting to be filled with goodies as cheap homemade gifts. Here’s an example of a gift I made my 16 year old cousin for his birthday and my family was quite impressed – 16th Birthday Mason Jar Gift!
- Eliminate gifts for adults altogether. My husband and I don’t really buy each other gifts anymore. We spend our budgeted Christmas money on our kids instead and get more enjoyment from their excitement. If Ryan and I want something, we save money in the budget and we buy it…whenever we get the money saved anytime throughout the year. We are not deprived, we just plan. For example, we needed new pillows last month. Our birthdays are a week apart, so we bought the pillows and wished each other a Happy Birthday. We also celebrated by using all our Birthday Freebies & Coupons! Practical and awesome.
- Last year we limited our kids to 3 Christmas gifts and a stocking. This worked well and they knew in advance this was going to happen. They were not disappointed or sad on Christmas morning because we are abundantly blessed and Christmas is not about gifts like toys. It’s about the gift of Jesus, which is free!
- Land Line Phone
- Does anyone actually use a land line anymore? At one time, we had 2 cell phones and a land line that no one called. We disconnected it. Although it may have saved us something like $12 a month, it was a start. If you must have cell phones, cut the land line. If you can live without a cell phone, cut out the cell phone, keep the land line, and save almost $100/month. Cell phones…you’re killing me!
- Birthday Parties for Kids
- We’ve dropped $300 on birthday parties for our kids in the past. This year we decided to call the birthday parties quits. It can get ridiculous before you even realize how deep you’re into the planning. We just tried this out with Tink’s 5th birthday a couple weeks ago and it was awesome. She knew there would be no party, but that we would go out to dinner that night as a family instead. She knew she would get 1 large gift instead of many small dinky ones. It was intimate, fairly stress free, and a great memory. If your kids don’t expect a party, they won’t be disappointed. If they know WHY they are not getting a party, they will likely be on board. After all, no one wants to raise a greedy kid. Plus, the letdown will be much easier to take when they become adults and don’t receive any gifts at all:-) Of course you don’t want to completely deprive your child of a party, so if you don’t buy the idea of eliminating big parties altogether, perhaps consider doing a party every other year or just for the major birthdays instead.
- Fitness Memberships
- Running around the block or at the park is free exercise. So is riding your bike around. There are these prehistoric exercise moves called crunches, push ups, jumping jacks, lunges, and squats that you can do for FREE at home. You can still wear your earbuds and listen to your music, or you can stand right in front of your own TV and watch whatever you want, as loud as you want, without the distraction of 15 other tvs tuned to different channels nearby. You also don’t have to look at or smell sweaty strangers. With a little discipline, you can exercise for free and use your spouse as an accountability partner to keep you on track. I often exercise in front of my kids in the living room, which not only creates free entertainment for them, but also models a healthy active lifestyle and exercise. Sometimes they even join me!
- When I was in high school, I went tanning several times a week. Of course that was before we really knew just how hazardous tanning beds were. I’m so glad I cut tanning when I started college (mostly because I was too busy and too poor). I know there are some great tanning alternatives such as sunless tanning and spray tans. I’m sure many of them work well, but if you’re working to pay off debt, build up an emergency fund of 3-6 months expenses, and have other savings goals such as kids college (and kids braces in our case), tanning can be an easy item to trim from your budget because it’s not a life necessity. You might try something like the Jergens Natural Glow lotion, which I blogged about and used all summer with great results! It’s only about $8/bottle and a much cheaper alternative to a tanning membership.
- I have bitten my nails ever since I can remember. It’s a behavior of habit and I’ve tried to quit many times. I’ve never smoked, but I have family members that have/do and I know that it’s very addictive and difficult to quit. If you smoke and want to save money, I’d like to challenge you to track your expenses on cigarettes for 1 month. You may or may not be surprised at the amount, but regardless, if you save that money and apply it toward your savings goals, you’ll reach success much faster AND you’ll be doing your health (and the health of your family) a huge favor. Consider investing in some tools to quit and you’ll probably end up saving money in the end. I know it must be hard–just believe you can do it & try to get an accountability partner to keep you on track.
- Whether you have a drink every night with dinner or you only drink socially when out with friends, consider trimming alcohol from your budget. It can be incredibly expensive. A bottle of wine may not be budget-busting in itself, but when you purchase several bottles or cases of beer in a month, it can bust your budget. All it takes is changing some habits…easier said than done! Again, if you’re interested in cutting this from your budget, find an accountability partner who can keep you on track.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this 1/2 list of ideas to cut from your budget to save money. Of course this is only Part 1! If you’d like a few more ideas, check out Part 2! Thanks for following and please share this with anyone you know who is struggling with their budget. Sometimes seeing this advice from a stranger is more powerful than hearing it from a friend or family member. Have a great Monday!
*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich and http://wp.me/p3TJm1-BF” rel=”nofollow”>Stapler Confessions*