10 Ways to Save Money This Month

There are many ways to save money. We are currently working very hard to pay off our debt. By making a few short-term sacrifices we can make a huge impact quickly. Do you have a credit card or student loan that you want to pay off? Maybe some of these ideas that helped us will help you too.

1.) Cook your way into some extra cash – We had a problem with eating out way too often. We did a lot of the grabbing something on the run without ever thinking about it. I never thought twice about grabbing dinner on a weeknight just because I didn’t plan ahead or I was too lazy to cook. We bought lunch on work days and sometimes breakfast too. It is cheaper to make things from scratch but it won’t save you a dime if you don’t cook it. Be honest about who you are and plan your meals accordingly. Throwing in a couple frozen pizzas on a busy night is cheaper than ordering it.

2.) Shop the PantryWe had many odd things hiding away in the pantry. I went through our pantry, freezer, fridge, and cabinets to come up with as many options for dinners as possible without buying anything. When I could come up with no more meal options than I looked for ways to make meals with the smallest amount of added items. This helped to cut down our grocery bill for a couple of weeks which gave us additional money to pay toward our debt.

3.) Leftovers are Your Friend – Use up your leftovers. Take leftovers for lunch. Use them in another dish or as part of another meal. We use the bottom of the cereal bag to top yogurt. Plan for leftovers sometimes. I will often make extra chicken to throw in a salad the next night. Whole chickens, turkeys, and hams can save you a ton if you use your leftovers appropriately. A whole chicken can easily feed our family of five for a few days. We made a large ham last month because they were so cheap per pound. That ham made us multiple lunches and dinners for two weeks. We had ham with potatoes and vegetables a couple of nights. We made sandwiches, casseroles, and even ham and cheese omelets.

4.) Use it all before buying more – Waiting to buy items until you are out or almost out can help you to save more money in the short-term. Depending on your habits you may save money in the long-term as well. You will not have money wrapped up in things just waiting to be used. If you are the type of person who begins using the new item before finishing the old one you will save quite a bit with this approach. Can you get another week or month out of your mascara? Do you want to buy another lipstick or eyeshadow but you have ten already? Can you squeeze a few more days out of your toothpaste or cleaning products? These little things can really add up.

5.) Delay, Delay, Delay – Anything that you want to buy should be delayed. Did you see an ad online and now you simply have to by a llama or whatever? Put that thought aside. Try to delay everything not necessary to basic living for the month. You may change your mind about the llama. Impulsive buying is not your friend.

6.) Get Back to Basics – Simply pay your bills, pay your transportation costs for work, and don’t starve. What is the bare minimum that you can get by with? Can you go without buying anything that you can live without?

7.) Break the Rules – This is extra fun if you have kids! The only rules about food are the rules that we have learned from society. Breakfast food is cheap and easy to make. Try having breakfast for dinner once a week to give your budget a break. Think pancakes, eggs, toast, and fruit. There are not many meals that are cheaper or easier than an omelet. They are also great for using up leftover meat, cheese, and vegetables. Vegetables and rice is a perfectly acceptable meal and so is PB&J. Do you want to eat only a banana for breakfast? That’s fine. We love peanut butter, banana, and cereal sandwiches. Really get inventive with low-cost options.

8.) Cancel subscriptions Are there any subscriptions that you are paying for that you don’t need? Do you have multiple television options? Do you need cable? Netflix? Hulu? Amazon Prime? Could you just use one of them? Could you give one of them up for 6 months? We tend to cycle between them. Do you have a gym membership or anything that you don’t use? Anything that you have been meaning to cancel and haven’t yet? Even $10 a month helps. That’s $120 a year. If you are paying that on a credit card every month, you are also saving even more on the interest you would have paid.

9.) Tell Your Friends & Family – You will be surprised by how supportive people can be. You don’t want your friends to think that you are avoiding going out with them because you are upset with them instead of just trying to save some money on dinner. They may invite you over instead of out to dinner and be much more understanding when you suggest that they come to your house for a drink instead of going out to a bar. They may also help in unexpected ways. An amazing friend of mine gave us a ton of clothing for our youngest. A complete wardrobe, even for a toddler, is a small fortune.

10.) Be Boring – You can save money by being extremely boring for a month. Stay home. Watch Netflix or work your way through your DVD collection. We signed up for a free month of Netflix and binge watched a few shows. You could also watch YouTube or rent library movies for free. If you want to get together with friends, invite them over for a pot luck or coffee. Play free games on your phone. Read that stack of books you have been meaning to.

Try some or all of these to help make a difference in paying down your debt or building up your savings. By making these little sacrifices, we were able to pay off some of our smaller debts so that we could snowball the payments forward to the next debt. Every little bit counts when you’re on this journey.

February Goals 2018

February Goals

  • Pay off the second credit card on our list
  • Pay part of the third credit card on our list
  • Spend more time with friends and family
  • Read “The Joy of Less”
  • Have a clean laundry room

Our February Plan

The second credit card on our list currently has 0% interest and we want to make sure we pay it off before time runs out and the interest is added. We currently owe $475 on it. We will be focusing everything we have on clearing this debt. We are going to avoid buying anything but groceries. We are going to try to avoid going out to eat this month. We are eating the cheapest dinner options that I can come up with that are still reasonably healthy for our family. I will be taking the kids to the library a couple of times so that we can get out of the house together but not spend anything.

The third credit card on our list has a current balance of $464.89. We didn’t think we would be able to completely pay off both but we wanted to at least start working on it. I would like to pay $100 of it this month. It is actually the credit card with the lowest balance. We will be paying them in order of lowest to highest balance starting with this card. The first two were higher on the list for other reasons.

We have been so busy with work, sick kids, and developing our goals/plans that we did not get to spend much time with anybody outside of our immediate family in January. We wanted to make friends and family a priority in February. We already have four days over the next week planned to visit with people. Two are with family and two are with friends.

I have been attempting to read “The Joy of Less” since I bought it in December. I am making it one of my goals this month to finish it. I want to read through it and then go back through it to implement the teachings in it into our life/home. I plan to dedicate at least ten minutes a day until I finish it. I used to read a lot and I miss it.

Our laundry room has become the bane of my existence. I hate even going in there and I have to walk through it to get to the garage every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I will be working on cleaning it out. We had a ton of extra laundry in January because of the girls being sick multiple times. We are now behind on it. We are going to spend the first weekend of February catching up on laundry and getting it put away. We bought a hanging rack for our broom, mop, and things. We will be putting that up. We are also considering putting a shelf in our laundry room for detergent and stuff. There is a closet in there that we use to store art supplies and games. I am trying to decide if these items make sense in this area and where else we could possibly store them. Maybe we could get rid of some of the stuff in that closet too.

Are you working on anything in February? I’d love to hear about it! I’ll do an update at the end of the month. Wish us luck!

Update on January 2018 Goals

January Goals:

  • Pay off my Capital One card
  • Do not go out for dinner more than 3 times
  • Pack our lunches for work
  • Continue to Simplify/Declutter/Minimize Our Home & Possessions

We have done extremely well on our January goals! We have worked very hard and sacrificed a lot but it has paid off. The first goal on the list was to pay off one of our credit cards. We started the month with $745.01 on my capital one credit card and we have paid it off completely. This was just the first of many but it is a success and we will celebrate every one of them, no matter how small.

The second goal was not to go out to eat more than three times. We can check this one off too. Ivy and I went out for sushi for her birthday. Michael got take-out on the way home from work one night. The little girls were sick and it made life easier. We all went out to a sandwich shop one night. I had to work that weekend and then we ran errands afterward so going out for dinner made sense. We tried to pick inexpensive places for the two nights that we went out unplanned.

We have done better at packing our lunches and having breakfast items available. We were a long way from perfect though. There is room for improvement but at least we tried. We managed to pack lunch about half of the time. We did much better with breakfast. We ate breakfast at home or took easy items with us most days.

We played the minimalism game and will finish with it in a couple of days. I’m proud of us for continuing with it. We are enjoying the small benefits of the items gone already. There is still a long way to go around here. The idea that we want to live out of suitcases or backpacks in a few years time is hilarious when staring at the amount of stuff in our house. We are only buying items that are necessary to our daily life and slowly editing the unnecessary items out of our home. We will save money by not buying excess stuff which will help with our other goals too. We will be continuing to work on this throughout 2018.

I will be posting our February goals and plan tomorrow. I hope that by sharing every step with you that we inspire others to make a plan toward their goals. Are you working on anything big or even just big to you this year? Have you found anything that helps keep you motivated? Drop me a comment. I’d love to hear about it!

Our Debt Confession

We have debt. There, I said it. We are working on paying everything off so we can live the way we want. We spent years working on becoming “normal” only to realize that we didn’t want to be normal. We are breaking down our debt into small payoff goals. I touched on this in our January goals post. I started this website to completely share our journey into our new life. Our long-term plan is to be debt free, travel with our kids, and buy a house someplace warm that feels like home. This all began with a conversation while on vacation. My husband and I talked about what we would do if we could do anything. What would our lives look like if we were living our dream life? Our dreams included lots of travel, beach days, sunshine, and time spent with our kids and each other. We were not surprised by this. We do travel quite a bit with our girls but not as much as we would like. We went a step further and constructed our dream life. We would sell the majority of our stuff and live out of backpacks for a year while traveling the world with our kids. Then we would travel the United States for one to two years while I work as a travel nurse and Michael works at temporary jobs or stays with our kids. We spend that time getting to know our country and decide where we want to live. We buy a house near the beach someplace that feels right. Wow! That sounds amazing, right?

Do you know what happened after this dream planning? My crazy husband says “Let’s do that.” while nodding his head. Like it was completely doable. Like we just discussed having tacos for dinner. Did I mention that my husband is abnormal? I literally rolled my eyes at the man. He looks at me incredulously and asks “What? If that’s the dream, let’s do it.” I respond to this like any sane human being with “We can’t.” His response…”Why not?” Please keep in mind this is an intelligent, grown man. My response…”Because.” That is where the conversation dies. We left it right there for ages and we could have left it right there forever. That is the place most dreams are abandoned. I mean, we are adults. We can’t just go live our dreams.

For some reason, we revisited this conversation. I like to think it was because we both really want the same things in life. This time we really discussed the reasons that come after that because. We are currently working on the first big hurdle, our huge mound of debt. We want to be really upfront and honest about what we are facing so these are the exact numbers. I hate when I read websites that are about debt payoff, preparing for long-term travel, or budgeting and they do not include the actual numbers. They’ll say things like “Let’s just say this is $100. That’s a nice round number to work with. I also hate when people who only discuss debt payoff after it is done. I love to read about how somebody paid off $50,000 in 14 months or whatever but I wish they were writing the whole way so I can read their entire journey. I want to share all of the details from start to finish with you. So here we go:

We actually sat down together and wrote out every debt. We didn’t know exactly how much we owed. The number makes me want to vomit.

Our Debt

  • Loan – $1,202.67
  • Credit Cards – $17,973.94
  • Student Loans – $49,278.68
  • House – $115,766.18

Grand Total – $184,121.47

We are starting with paying off our credit cards. We have picked out the order we plan to pay them off in. We will continue to make the payments on everything as normal while working on the first credit card we are attempting to pay off. The personal loan will be the next thing on the list if we don’t pay it off while paying on the credit cards since it is so close to being done anyway. The student loans will be next. We are using the snowball method except there are a couple of credit cards that are out-of-order from least to most because we want to pay them off before the interest-free period ends. We have a long road ahead of us but we can do it!

January 2018 – Goals

January Goals:

  • Pay off my Capital One card
  • Do not go out for dinner more than 3 times
  • Pack our lunches for work
  • Continue to Simplify/Declutter/Minimize Our Home & Possessions

Our January Plan

Our first goal for January is to pay off one of our credit cards. Currently, we owe $745.01 on it. We are going to give it all we got to pay it off by the end of the month. My husband is going to be picking up some extra hours. We are going to be cutting as many things as possible to stretch our budget. This is a large but achievable amount for us. We are so excited at the thought of getting rid of this debt!

I am finishing up our budget binder today that we will be using as a tool going forward. I will put up a post about this soon once I have it finished. I’m really excited about this! We are also using the app “Every Dollar” and I write down all of our due dates in my day planner as well. This helps us to stay on budget and to make sure that our bills are paid on time. We are attempting to use up the things that we already own so that we will spend less. We are going to go through everything in our pantry, fridge, and freezer to use up what we already have. This will help us to lower our food costs even more for this month.

We have one dinner out planned for our oldest daughter’s birthday. She is still deciding on where she wants to go. Last I heard she was thinking sushi. We are secretly hoping not to have to use the other two nights but we wanted to make sure we had some wiggle room in case something crazy happens such as illness or a super late work night.

We are going to plan ahead each week when making the grocery list to include easy to grab breakfast items and items to pack for lunch. We have been tracking our finances and we both spend too much on buying food and beverages on work days. We have discovered that we are the death by $10 type. We take the time to really consider larger purchases but we never second guess those small purchases like a donut and coffee for breakfast. Packing our lunches and planning ahead for breakfast will help with two goals. We will be saving money and potentially making better choices about what we are eating.

The last bit of our plan is to continue our trip toward minimalism and simplifying our home and lives. We will be doing the 30-day minimalism challenge. I read about this on The Minimalists and have been wanting to try it. I don’t have anybody doing it with me. I just plan to try to make it through the 30 days because I think it will be good for our family and our home, especially after Christmas. The idea is that you get rid of one item on day 1, two items on day 2, three items on day 3, and so on until you hit day 30 on which you would get rid of 30 items. I have been considering this challenge for quite a while. As many of you know I have been making it a point over the last year to push myself to do things that I want to do but avoid because they are hard or not part of the social norm. This is one of those things that I know is going to be really difficult by the end. Just finding the time each day to complete the challenge will be difficult. I intend to take a photo each day and keep a running list of what I got rid of to share with all of you once a week. Wish me luck!

Here’s a link to the minimalism game: https://www.theminimalists.com/game/