I wrote this post for the first Show & Tell “Tuesday” of 2017. I know the link-up doesn’t officially open until Tuesday, but a busy calendar means I am sharing my post today. The first topic is Steal & Splurge, how your family saves and what you feel is worth the splurge. Oddly, before the topic were announced I had already planned to share about this subject later on in the month. I guess it was just meant to be.
I battled with how to go about writing this post. I didn’t want to open up our checkbook and dish out all of the dirt by putting numbers on our financials, but I also wanted to be real with people. So figuring out how to find the balance and deciding what I wanted do share was hard.
So here it is… We are a one income, blue collar family living in the mid-west. We live on a tight budget out of necessity to live within our means. Sure, our income could be and has been bigger. I once found a copy of our old budget sheets from when I was working and I nearly cried over how much money we were making (and wasting). But we have chosen to be a one income family because we feel that is the best choice for us. At the end of it all, one income or two, everyone just has to do what is best for them. I’ve been a stay at home mom and a working mom so I understand the dynamics and struggles on both sides.
Having said that, over the past 5 years that I have been a stay at home mom, I have learned the fine art of penny pinching. I feel like I have a few tricks up my sleeve to share with those looking for ways to save. The things I suggest are simply just that, suggestions. This is not a manual, but it is what works for us.
Know Where Your Money is Going
Attempts to save money are useless if you don’t know how much or what you are spending your money on in the first place. The best way to do this is by setting up a monthly budget. There are endless websites, apps, programs and printables out there to help you get started. Or you can go with my personal favorite, an excel spreadsheet and a pencil. Track your expenses, ALL of them.
Eat at Home
I once did the math and the number of meals I prepared a month is something like this.
4 people x 3 meals a day = 12
12 x 30 days in a month = 360
360 – 8 (assuming we eat out as a family twice, a rarity)
Grand total = 352
On the average month I make 352 meals and that doesn’t include snacks. As the girls have grown older and help prepare their own meals that number has gone down. But regardless of who is making the food, eating at home is a great way to save money. Are there days that I would MUCH rather let Chick Fil-a do the cooking? Of course, and sometimes I do, but most of the time I suck it up to save the money.
Cut the Cable
In the almost 10 years that we have been married, we’ve never had cable. We’re talking pre Netflix days people. Now days there are SO many options that are way cheaper than the luxury of cable or dish TV. If you’re looking to cut expenses quickly, this is a great place to start.
Go less, buy less, do less, want less. An easy way to spend less money is to be content with less. Money and things don’t really make people happy. Embrace the simpleness of less and really focus on being content with the little things.
Save on Groceries
One of my favorite ways to save is at the grocery store. From Walmart Saving catcher, Ibotta, Coupons, and ad-matching to shopping what is on sale, buying in bulk, and going to Aldi. You also can’t forget shopping with a list and meal planning. There are so many ways to save money at the grocery store! In our house this is one of our largest expenses in a month. It also is one of the few areas that I really have the power to change things. Feeling overwhelmed? Think of one new to you money saving option and start there.
Needs VS Wants
Impulse shopping can be the worst. So often we get caught up in buying all the things that we want that we don’t even realize how much money we are wasting. If you are more conscience when you shop, really thinking about what you’ll use and what your family needs, you can save a lot of money. The added bonus is you’ll also save yourself some clutter too.
Being entertained is far from cheap. Try to come up with a list of free activities to do as a family, with your spouse, or with friends. If you find yourself bored check your list before opening your wallet. When it comes to activities or memberships you have to pay for shop around and use coupons to get the best deals. Last January I saved our family $25 a month simply by switching gyms! That’s $300 a year!
Coupons and Clearance Racks
In our house we shop sale items and clearance racks preferably with coupons and rewards too. Seriously y’all I HATE to pay full price. Those very rare times that I do, you can guarantee it’s an item that is under $20. It all comes right back to need vs want and when you do have a need, make smart choices. For example: Don’t buy an item unless you LOVE it, Ask questions like “Do I own something similar that would work instead?” And if it isn’t on sale and you can wait, wait! Families can save SO much money in the clothing department without sacrificing the style they want, IF they want to!
How We Splurge
So I ‘ve told you some ways our family saves, but I haven’t talked about how we splurge.
For us splurging looks like going out for lunch after church, an unexpected trip to the donut shop, ordering pizza, buying the box of White Castle burgers at the store, and date nights. It’s $10 trips to Target, new shirts, paying full price, and $5 coffees.
Splurging isn’t big things in our home, it’s little ones. The little things that put a smile on our face and make us feel special. The little things that wouldn’t be quite as special if they happened every day.
What is your favorite way to save money?
Sharing how our family thrives on a tight budget and my favorite ways to save money! Click To Tweet
Linking up with Momfessionals for Show & Tell Tuesday.