Because we have been essentially a one income household for the past year, I’ve been really watching every penny. I know this will not come as a shock to most of you but I’m not a saver!!!! Yep, I’m a spender! And I come by it honestly! My mother’s a spender and her mother was before her.
Growing up we shopped for entertainment. (We did a lot of other wonderful things too – so don’t go telling my mom that I said we only shopped!) My grandmother loved the mall. She could walk around for hours at Central Mall in Fort Smith or Park Plaza in Little Rock – looking at the pretty things and shopping the clothes racks. I do believe the phase “shop till you drop” was coined for her.
So my spending habit was instilled in me from a young age. And although i know that money was tight in both my grandparents’ house and my parents’ house, we always had what we needed and in most cases what we wanted. Somehow the money magically stretched.
But in my new live-within-your-means reality, I’ve taken a hard look at our spending and we’ve made some changes I would have thought impossible 12 months ago.
I love eating out and as a working mother, eating out wasn’t just a luxury. It was a necessity of sanity! The last thing I wanted to do after a long day at the shop was to think of something to fix for dinner. Let alone actually cook it. So eating out 3 to 4 nights a week (if not 5) was normal in our house. Our dining out spending per month was easily $750. Plus groceries. I would still buy groceries like I was going to cook.
But I actually like to cook and I think I’m pretty good at it. So now that I’m only working about 20 hours a week, we eat at home every week night and usually try to limit our dining out to once or twice a week. And we think about cost before we pick. No more The Pantry or The Faded Rose on an ordinary week night. And water please. Have you seen the cost of iced tea these days??? Not to sound old but I can buy a whole box of tea bags for the price they’re charging for one glass (with refills). But if I do splurge, I go all out with house wine!!!!
Take Me To The Pictures
I used to see 1 or 2 movies a weekend at the movie theater. Granted I was in high school and collage but that’s still a lot of movie theater going. Not to mention all the video rentals from the local video store. But now I think I’ve seen 1 movie at the movie theater this year. and it was fifty shades darker because I couldn’t wait for it to come out on dvd or streaming!
I’m addicted to my streaming services and for the price of Netflix, Hulu, Sling and Amazon Video per month, we could go see one matinee and get snacks. And if you really want to get frugal, cancel all your streaming services. You can get most everything you would want to watch on DVD from the library. You might have to wait a little longer but if you really want to not waste money…
The Best Things In Life Are Free
Think about all the services you pay for or you subscribed to and now can’t seem to get them to cancel. Look at your checking register and you’ll be amazed. Back in 2008 we were looking to buy a new car so I subscribed to Consumer Reports online for $5.95 a month. Not much right? Well after we purchased the car, I kept forgetting to cancel the subscription. And then once I did, it won’t take for some reason. So about 7 years later (yes really!) I finally got it to cancel. That was $499.80 I wasted. And the library has the online subscription you can use for free! And you can use it from home!
If you are married or share a bank account with someone else, you know the struggle to keep track of what the other person is spending. Sure we are all supposed to have these conversations about spending etc. because I’m not calling my husband every time I want to grab fast food for lunch. So I looked and I researched and we use Mint.com to keep track of our daily expenses. It is not perfect and yes you have get past some ads and offers but it syncs to both our phones and we can see want we are really spending. No more real surprises at the end of the month.
Don’t Buy Books
Borrow them! I’m surprised that Barnes & Noble hasn’t seen a dip in sales in the last few years. Cause with two historian book lovers plus a kid that just wants to buy things, we were keeping our local B&N in business. But since I started working at the library, we just don’t buy books anymore. Or puzzles. Or audiobooks. Or ebooks. You can get all of those things through your local library. Yes we all have a nice fine balance on our accounts but it is much better than the interest on the credit card.
Most importantly I’ve finally gotten to the point in life where I think about what I’m buying before I buy it. Do I really need it? Or do I have something else that will work just as well? And if I really want it, then I cut back in another area so I can have it.
Trust me people if I do it, you can to!