Here’s what we’re doing to help cut spending and save money:
We have a calendar that lists paydays (and estimated amount), when bills are due (ideally, we pay the bills the payday prior to due, but companies do appreciate a call saying “I won’t make the due date, but I can pay it that Friday”), and any other info (gigs, date night, work, etc). It makes things less scary for me when I know what to expect.
Divide up your income by percentages
When I was first out on my own, my father told me to put no more than 30% of my income towards rent. I took that to heart. I bought a house and was working a job where the mortgage was 16% of my income — if I had been renting, that extra 14% would have gone into savings, but it went into paying the house off (which I did, earlier this year).
For us, we have to put away 5% of every paycheck for wood in the winter (we rely on a wood burning stove to heat our home) and 5% for propane (we have a gas stove and gas water heater).
We put 1% into a fund to handle the septic tank (for those of you who have never dealt with this issue, it’s a rare need, but absolutely needed when it arises).
And we put 4% into a “rainy day fund.” From there, we discern what the bill need, grocery need, and gas need is, and allot appropriately.
If you have any big purchases coming up, then shift some of those percentages towards that. Even if you’re looking at a house, some money is better than no money when going into it.
The Thursday before payday, I take inventory of what we have as far as meal preparation. I then plan two weeks worth of meals to a T — breakfasts, lunches, dinners — using what we have and ultimately minimizing what we have to buy. I’m not comfortable letting many veggies sit around for more than a week, so I will tuck away the cash for those in a pocket in my wallet so that I can get them for the next week the next Friday.
Whenever possible, we buy what we need in bulk — it’s cheaper, it freezes or stores well, and gives us options. I also take those circulars — you know, the annoying grocery store ads — and find what I need at the best deal. I’m fortunate that our main grocery stores are within walking distance of each other.
Determine what you need, what you want, and what you can live without
We need power, water, wood, and propane. We have the internet (definite need as it’s supporting school, job opportunities for me, my husband’s job, and basic entertainment). We have cell phones (definite need because my husband’s job requires it). But live TV? We don’t need it. We can find what we want through Netflix and Hulu, when we want it. Without cable, our bills decreased significantly.
We have begun making our own meals at home. Do we need to go out to eat? No. Is it nice? Yes, but even nicer when we’ve budgeted right and can afford it.
Do It Yourself whenever possible
A quick search can give you quick and easy meals and even recipes for going ShamPHree and making your own cleaning supplies. My mother (I know, I know) makes my window and mirror cleaner in recycled milk jugs, and it works better than… well, I forget the name of the other stuff.
It takes a bit to cut out old habits, but once you’re there, it’s amazing! The homemade meals have really brought my family together — we always eat together and often cook together. The planning ahead has taken a lot of stress off of us; at least we know the bills are paid up and we will have food to eat. Living on a tight budget isn’t always easy, but with the money we put away and the habits we are instilling, it gets easier and easier.
Wanna read some posts about money-saving hacks?
- Meal Planning to save money, time, and break your take-out addiction
- How to budget, save, and still have a life
- 4 ways to make extra cash that’ll make you say “why didn’t I think of that!?”
- My breakable piggy bank: worked when I was 5, still works to help me save today
- How Lady Gaga can help you save up money for your wedding