Happy Wednesday, Savers! I’m so thrilled you’re following this post today because it’s definitely a special topic that I care about. Once you write your budget down, who doesn’t want to trim some expenses somewhere?! This is Part 2 of a series I started on Monday called Simple Items to Cut from Your Budget to Save Money. My first post included 8 items to consider and I can promise you they work. That post became so massive that I decided to split it into another one. Without further rambling, here you go!
Simple Items to Cut from Your Budget to Save Money – Part 1 (check it out)
Simple Items to Cut from Your Budget to Save Money – Part 2
- Unplanned Grocery Trips
- Okay, I just have to put in a plug here for my post on 10 Ways to Spend Less than $100 on Groceries. The number one single most important thing for grocery shopping is to have a meal plan for the week and put together a grocery list. Even if you’re not into coupon clipping or price matching, simply having a meal plan and list will seriously help trim your grocery bill and will reveal money you can reallocate toward your savings goals. Another good post to check out is 3 Free Apps to Save Money on Groceries.
- Online Gaming
- Before we discovered Financial Peace University and devised a plan for our finances instead of living on a whim, we were paying a monthly online gaming fee. This was a great stress relief activity for Ryan after a long day of work, but when we cut our budget, we both agreed it needed to be one of the first things to go. Not only was it an unnecessary monthly expense, it was a distraction from family time and our two young children. Ryan still continued to play games occasionally, but not the level of involvement that required a monthly fee. A little exercise and wrestling with the kids was a great way to relieve that stress and replace the gaming for free:-)
- Lawn Mowing Services
- I can’t deny that it’s so nice to have someone else mow your yard in the hot stickiness of summer. Of course I was never actually the one in the family that had to mow, so I don’t have much authority on this one. I will say that even though Ryan hates mowing the yard, even he agrees that cutting a lawn mowing service from our budget was a great move. Mowing the yard is great free exercise and models responsibility and activity for children. Once they get old enough, you can recruit your children to take over the mowing duties and perhaps pay them a small allowance. It will likely be much less than you’d pay a mowing company:-)
- Gourmet Coffee
- It’s one thing to have your own coffee maker and brew it yourself each morning. It’s quite another to stop by a Starbucks or gourmet coffee shop regularly for it. This is not a new tune and you’ve probably heard that cutting gourmet coffee from your budget is one of the easiest ways to save money each month. Drive right past that Starbucks! If you want to be really crazy, try cutting down on drinking coffee altogether or eliminating it. We have never drank coffee and believe it or not, we have lots of energy and make it successfully through each day. It can be done:-)
- Running late for work and having no time for breakfast at home can be a disaster for your budget. Going through the drive through for an Egg McMuffin may only cost a couple dollars at a time, but they add up quick! Super quick! Frighteningly quick! We learned this through experience and came up with a plan. Ryan did some research and now makes his own frozen breakfast bowls at home (eggs, bacon, sausage, cheese). He makes about 8 bowls on the weekend and they are ready for the work week. If he’s running short on time, he simply grabs one & takes it to work. Then he warms it in the microwave there & eats at his desk while working.
- Unplanned Dining Out
- The first few weeks of our Financial Peace University class 4 years ago were gut busters for us. It was that week where our homework was to develop a budget. We had never lived on a budget before, so we decided to look at how much we’d spent in certain categories (such as dining out) the previous month by checking our bank account online. It was staggering. We had spent nearly $2,000 dining out – in 1 month – crazy I know. We were completely shocked. It was no wonder we didn’t have money to do anything despite both having great full-time jobs. Honestly, that was our wake up call. I will remember that night for the rest of my life, because that was the night we decided to get serious about our budget and we promised that we would NEVER spend that much money dining out again. Now we are that family that shares food at the restaurant, even when eating out with friends.
- Dining out without a dinner plan was our main problem. We had no meal plans, grocery shopping lists, and at the end of each long work day we’d call each other on the way home and decide which restaurant we wanted to meet at for dinner. Create a meal plan, grocery list, and PLAN how many times you are dining out before the week happens. By planning your dining out, you can control your expenses. Here are some great posts on saving money while dining out: Dining Out for Under $20 with your Family, and Pairing Coupons with Kid’s Meals.
- Kids Sporting or Extracurricular Activities
- If you have kids involved in extracurricular activities, you know the truth. Not only will these activities take over your life, but they can also devour your budget. It’s important to let your children have opportunities to try new activities, but also important to set some limits. We’ve tried to limit our kids to 2 extracurricular activities at one time. As they get older, we’ll likely narrow this down to 1 activity.
- Registration fees, uniforms, sports camps, coaching, gym/facility use fees, equipment, and vehicle gas (driving your kids all over creation) will quickly add up. If you are in debt (other than your house), you might consider eliminating these expenses altogether until you can pay it off. Missing a season or two of a sport won’t kill your kids, especially if they are young. If your kids are older youth or teenagers, I would recommend having them work during the summer to raise funds to pay for their own extracurricular activity costs. Even kids younger than 16 can raise some cash mowing yards, washing dogs, painting fences, babysitting, etc… Your stress will be reduced if you pay off your debt first and you’ll be able to enjoy each game or tournament so much more!
Well, we made it to the end of my list! I hope these were helpful and if you haven’t checked it out already, hop over to Simple Items to Cut from Your Budget to Save Money – Part 1. There are some great ideas there also.
Do you have another suggestion that I didn’t cover? Have you cut something from your budget that has made a huge difference? I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences!