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Saving Money…

March 8, 2011
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Normally for lent I give up or add something that I think I can do with a little push but normally it’s something pretty realistic. This year timing just works out where our “lenting” is something that we NEED to do.

We need to save money and cut back.

If we’re honest with our selves this is something that we’ve needed to do for a while but at this point it’s come to a head and it’s time to get serious.

So far we have:

  • Been really great  about only eating lunch “out” once a week. (I am especially proud of this improvement even if I am getting sick of spaghetti-o’s.)
  • We keep the temperature in the house pretty low (around 64) and even try to turn it off the system when we can.
  • I try to use the library over buying books when I can – which is a big help with my reading appetite lately!
  • I try to buy my wine at the big discount store where I save on average $3 a bottle!

and the big kicker that I did today:

  • I suspended our Direct TV for 6 months. We are now officially a no cable household.

I know these are totally normal savings for people who monitor their money.  And as two people who have college degrees in business related fields it’s almost embarrassing to admit that I would love your advice on how to save.

Do you have a link you love that helps you? How do you keep leftovers at lunch interesting? What ways do you think you keep things on the cheep at your house?

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2011 1:32 pm

    I totally hear you on saving, sister! I keep thinking about after the wedding and all of the lovelies I will be able to buy, but truthfully it is nice to be able to put so much into savings each month…although I did just buy three dresses online for the rehearsal dinner…

    Anyways! Rob and I try to put money in our savings right when we get paid. Then, if money’s not there in your checking account you can’t spend it. We also put our savings in a different bank so it’s a little bit harder to get to it. We also watch movies/shows on Netflix which is way cheaper than cable. Now our dates might be more like cook a good meal and watch a movie on Netflix instead of dinner and a movie out.

    The worst part of saving is not being able to shop. My shopping budget (minus the dresses) is basically at zero which is pretty hard. But, it has enabled us to save for our wedding tremendously and it does make the days when we do go shopping even more fun!

    Sorry I just wrote a book! :)

  2. March 8, 2011 1:53 pm

    I need to do this for lent!!

    I try to keep the temp low and getting a programable thermostat really has helped.

    I carpool to work when possible (I know not everyone can do it but twice a week could Albie drop you off?)Especially with rising gas prices this one is going to pay off big time!

    I bring my lunch too! And you can tell the weeks that I am better about it! Since I just make for one I try and make for 2 and eat whatever the next day. I also make big batchs of soup and chilis and freeze. They are really helpful the days when you ate out the night before or just don’t want to cook.

    I commend you for loosing the cable, but I don’t know if I could do it.

  3. March 8, 2011 2:41 pm

    Good for you – sounds like you’ve already come up with some great savings ideas. I agree with the comment above about putting a set amount of money into savings each month. I have transfers set up automatically each month to move money into two different savings accounts and my money for my retirement account is automatically deducted from my paycheck each pay period. It’s hard to miss money you never see in your checking account!

    It’s not something you can easily change or control but in the event a move is in your future, we chose to live within a mile of our offices. We live, work, eat, shop, etc. very close to home, which cuts down on driving and gas. Plus it’s good for the enviroment. Win, win. (Not to say we don’t ever travel or venture away from home but not commuting daily is a huge savings.)

    Other than that, its really just little things. Use the library, like you mentioned, google for discount codes when I shop online, don’t waste leftovers, etc. I could definitely cut back in lots of ways but saving in some areas makes me feel better about the areas I’m not as thrify in. :)

  4. March 8, 2011 4:17 pm

    Oh! This is one of my favorite topics! I love trying to come up with ways to save money – and with the year we’ve just had (wedding + baby), I’ve had lots of opportunities to practice…

    We try not to eat out very often. This isn’t really hard for us because I have some weird food allergies so I get sick from a lot of restaurants. But when we first realized this and started eating in more, we really saved a lot of money.

    We also menu plan for the week and try to re-use items. So if we have breakfast for dinner one night, and cheeseburgers another night, I’ll re-use the bacon from B4D and the tomato and buns from the cheeseburgers, and I’ll have a BLT for lunch one day.

    The smartest thing we’ve started doing is an all-cash budget. This was especially helpful for Mr. Business (who was a VP at a bank before he started his company – so very finance-oriented). He was super bad about swiping his debit card anywhere and everywhere, and didn’t really think about how he was spending money. Anyhow, we both went on an all-cash budget. Every month on our respective paydays, we get a set amount of money out of the bank in cash. On Monday we each get $80 from our envelopes and on Fridays we do the same. That’s our money for the week – for gas, groceries, eating out, shopping, etc.

    The cash budget is super hard, but it really works out well in the end. Good luck to y’all!

  5. March 9, 2011 10:52 am

    For us, it comes down to priorities. I’m a penny pincher by nature and nurture (my dad was an engineer) so The General and I splurge on things we like and scrimp on things that don’t matter much.

    I <3 traveling, especially to Europe. I have no qualms about paying $300 a night for a hotel room if I'm in the heart of London and living like a rock star for the night. But that's far and few between.

    On the homefront, we keep our house at 55 when we sleep or if I'm home alone – I grew up in a snow-covered place. The General is our executive chef and his grocery list is dependent on what's on sale that week at Tarris Heeter (he gets emails and checks out their sales online). We buy off-brand whenever possible and he picks out dishes that have common ingredients. And we compost like crazy so nothing is wasted. I buy the cheapest shampoo/make-up/soap. We don't eat out a lot, but when we do we're usually conservative about it.

    I put everything on a credit card and pay off the balance each month. It makes it difficult sometimes, but I'm doing better!

  6. Sarah permalink
    March 9, 2011 12:45 pm

    We do make an effort to save too, not everything is a strategic “let’s save money” decision, as much as it’s just how we’re used to living. So I tried to think of some of the things that I think may have been changes in behavior for us over the years.

    1) We found mint.com and although I know you can look at your credit card bill, I wasn’t diligent about doing that and I also wasn’t seeing Eric’s. We found a few hidden things we didn’t know we were getting charged for, but with your’s, mine, and ours accounts, it’s great to see everything in one place. This includes any investments, 401K, stocks, loans etc so you can also see the gratification of your savings growing and debt decreasing rather than just see your checking acct shrink. It’s also a SUPER easy way to categorize your purchases so you can see exactly how much you are spending on various things, which can be an eye opener.
    2) We have started to do much better with meal planning, not only for our budget but also our health. We used to do one HUGE trip about once a month and then would supplement that as needed. But we ended up throwing out alot of the fruits/veggies and other healthy stuff as it would go bad with our infrequent trips. Now we do weekly trips and we only get things for our planned meals. We always have plenty of leftovers from dinners to keep packed lunches interesting and affordable too. This has definitely helped with grocery budget!! Oh and we also shop at multiple locations… even though I hate it, we try to get as much of our staples at Walmart, and then save the fresh stuff (veggies, organic, meat, etc) for Harris Teeter or occasionally Lowes. I wish I was a better coupon clipper, I’ve heard triple coupon days can be awesome!
    3) netflix!! This maybe should be a double item, because we don’t have cable (haven’t paid for it in 6+ years… that’s a savings!!) We watch alot on netflix, usually 2-3 movies a week unless we have too much other stuff going on. Redbox would probably be even cheaper, but since we don’t have cable and we use the watch instantly stuff, we’ve kept Netflix.
    4) Groupons! We love groupons. We *try* not to eat out alot, and we don’t have planned date nights, but have found groupons are a great way to go out to eat on the cheap, or have a date night for a little cheaper than normal. It’s also a great way to find new things to do/places to go. I guess a behavior change over the years too is not going out to bars frequently… I probably don’t want to admit how much that has helped my budget :)
    5) Wants vs. needs. In general, if we want something, we save for it before we buy it. We have alot of wants (bigger tv, new computer, new furniture, new drum set, new DSLR camera, etc) but only after we have been saving for something for awhile, do we actually get it. I also do ALOT of research before any big purchase to make sure what we buy will be reliable and something we’ll like. And I like to DIY anything I possibly can.
    6) Craigslist! In cleaning our house from top to bottom, I found alot of stuff I thought we could live without and before I took everything to goodwill, I tried to sell some stuff on Craigslist. Eric was shocked how much $ I made on stuff he thought was destined for Goodwill.

    I probably have more, and these aren’t huge items (ok, the no cable for 6+ years was), but maybe it’ll spark some ideas! I’ll be curious to see what works for you too!

  7. March 10, 2011 9:07 am

    Good for you! This will definitely be a challenge but good for you for doing it! We’ve never had cable at my house and honestly, I don’t think you’ll miss it! Good luck!!

  8. Lindsey permalink
    March 10, 2011 8:01 pm

    We put everything on credit cards (bills, shopping, groceries, etc.). I know this goes against Dave Ramsey and everything he says, but we pay it off -in full- every month. We use the cards to get points. Every other year we have enough points to take a vacation. Last year we went to London and Paris- everything was paid for with points, including airfare and hotel.

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