When my husband and I first married, we realized pretty quickly that we needed to come up with a budget and learn how to cut back on spending. Thankfully, I had spent months prior to our wedding, doing research on cooking and frugal living.
Here are some of the ways that we have cut back to save money:
1. Cell phones:
- We reduced our minutes to 500 minutes a month. My husband was worried that we would go over minutes at first, but we’ve never even come close to going over.
- We picked the most basic phones that also happened to be free after a mail in rebate. (Speaking of: if you get a mail in rebate, make sure you use it. If you don’t use the rebate that is wasted money and it is so easy to fill out the information and put it in the mailbox.)
- We cut out text messaging and internet and any other extras that are not necessary. I haven’t missed it yet – though my family and friends do complain. They got over it 😉
- We save $70/month. That’s $840 a year.
- We got rid of cable. We save $80/month not having cable. Instead we use Netflix and if there is a show that I really want to watch, I’ll purchase it on amazon instant video. I use swagbucks to get amazon gift cards (more about that later).
- We rented movies from home instead of going to the movie theatres. We got lucky, however, and we get to see movies for free at the theatre because my husband is a police officer and they give officers for our city two free tickets. It’s pretty awesome!
- We don’t go out to eat unless it is a special occasion.
- If we want to do something fun, we try to plan a frugal event. Last week we went window shopping and we also took a drive out into the country and looked at stars.
- Staycation. It’s a vacation but at home! Basically you just do things that you normally wouldn’t do.
- By not having cable we save $80 a month. That’s $960 a year!
- Menu planning. If I don’t get organized and plan a menu and grocery shopping list, I always end up spending more money.
- Cooking and baking from scratch. It was a little expensive when I first started just because I had to build up my stock and purchase kitchen supplies, but it paid off.
- No fast food. It might seem cheap, but it adds up quickly. Plus, your health will end up costing you more down the road when you get sick.
- My husband brings his lunch to work. (Sandwich, cookies, apple, carrots, trail mix, and a camel back for water.)
- We don’t buy bottled water. We drink from the tap.
- We don’t buy sodas – again we just drink water.
- We don’t buy packaged items. Candy, chips, frozen dinners, etc. If I want something sweet, I bake it myself.
- We save $300/month (possibly even more) by eating from home. That’s $3,600 a year!
4. DIY (do it yourself)
- Homemade laundry detergent = Savings of $10/month
- Foaming hand soap = Savings of $2/month
- Shredded cheese
- Home decorations
- I cut my husband’s hair = Savings of $30/month
- Small car repairs (we have a friend that is very helpful with this)
- We save about $42/month by doing things ourselves. That’s $504 a year!
- We keep the air higher during the summer and off during the winter (it doesn’t usually get cold enough for the heater in Texas.) We also unplug electronics that are not in use and make sure to turn off lights =We usually save about $30/month in electricity
- We use old t-shirts as rags to clean instead of using paper towels. (I still buy paper towels, but I don’t use them as often. I buy a pack of 6 for $3 about once a month.) =Savings of $10/month
- We are careful with gas consumption. I try to do all of my grocery shopping and errands in one trip. = We usually save about $50/month or more
- We cancelled our gym membership. = Savings of $40/month
- We buy used clothing and other items second-hand. I’m not sure how much we save because we generally just try not to shop and use what we have until we actually are in need.
- We save about $130/month. That’s $1,560 a year!
Hopefully I didn’t forget anything here. By making little sacrifices here and there we are able to save a total of $622 a month. When you add that up over the course of a year, we save a grand total of $7,464! That is a nice chunk of change. If you have debt to pay off, you can make a huge difference in just one year.
I also like to think, that if we continue to live a frugal lifestyle over the course of my husband’s career, in 30 years, we can save $223,920! That is amazing – don’t you think? You can help feed a lot of hungry people with that money saved. I LOVE IT!
Other frugal ideas:
- Swagbucks. I started using swagbucks in October and I have since earned $25 in amazon gift cards. I’ve used my amazon gift cards to watch tv shows and even ordered food online. Instead of using google, you can use swagbucks as your search engine and you earn swagbuck rewards. One you earn enough swagbucks you can redeem the swagbucks for prizes, such as gift cards. You can check out swagbucks here (If you use my link, I can earn extra swagbucks – YAY!)
- Cloth diapers. We don’t have a baby yet but when we do I will be investing in cloth diapers. I’ll do a cloth diaper series in the future to talk about this great money-saving option and how easy it can be.
- Making homemade baby food. Again, I don’t know much about this, but it will be something that I do when the times comes.
- Second hand shopping. Thrift stores, consignment stores & consignment events. If you have young children, this is a must. They grow out of their clothing so quickly.
- Clothing swaps: Here’s a post from one of my favorite Christian bloggers, Courtney at womenlivingwell.org. She and her girlfriends had a clothing swap and it looks like a great way to get new-to-you clothing and also a great way to enjoy a fun night with the girls.
- Selling items that you don’t want anymore: think eBay, Craigslist, garage sale, consignment shops and consignment events.
Now, I would like to add something from a spiritual perspective. Sometimes I’ll refer to the frugal things that we do as sacrifices, but the truth of the matter is that we are so very blessed. We have more than we need while many people in the world don’t even have clean drinking water or food to eat. There are parts of the world where children die of starvation before the age of 5.
If you are ever lacking in motivation to live a frugal lifestyle, just remember that the choices you make with your spending, could bless someone else. We have a lot of credit card debt, student loan debt, and medical bills to pay. Sometimes when I am focusing on just paying off the bills, it can feel overwhelming. But then I remember how truly blessed I am, and I remember that because I have been given much, I have a great responsibility to give much to others. The sooner we take responsibility and pay off our debt, the sooner we can be more generous with what God has graciously given us.
I hope that this post will offer you encouragement to live a frugal lifestyle and if you have a story to share about how frugal living has given you the opportunity to bless others, please share it below in the comments, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48