After making the decision to leave my job and stay home with the kids I needed to make some SERIOUS cut backs to the budget in order to make it work. Also, up until 6 months ago I was working part-time in order to help cover the bills. It’s been three and a half long years of paycheck to paycheck living but it’s been worth the financial sacrifice. Here are some of the ways I was able to make some serious adjustments to our monthly bills and live within a limited budget.
Negotiate with your Television and Phone Providers- I can’t tell you how simple this is and how it can easily decrease your monthly expenses. I’ve had great luck just calling customer support and nicely saying, “I wanted to see if there is anyone I can talk with about my bill. Expenses are really high for us right now and we’ve been looking at some other providers to see if we can reduce our payments. We’ve had no complaints regarding our service with you, so before we changed I wanted to see if you might be able to work with us?” It’s amazing how people are willing to help when you ask nicely for it! For the past 3 years I’ve done this with our cable bill and saved on average $30-50 a month. (Typically they will offer special rates for about a year.)
Cancel your Gym Membership OR Check for Healthcare Discounts
- If you don’t actively go to the gym you’re wasting your money! If you signed a contract many will have a fee but you could still be saving money in the long run if you cancel.
- Another options is to call your insurance provider to see if they offer a credit towards gym memberships. Many do! So, if you’re an active gym attendee definitely check to see if you can get some of that money back!
Get a FREE Home Energy Analysis– This point reminds me that I still need to do this myself! Most energy providers offer this to their customers for free. You will likely find fixes or improvements that you will need to invest in, but I have heard of people saving hundreds of dollars a year on their energy bills doing this! Short term investment for long-term gain!
Use your Crockpot! This saves time and money! Find a recipe you like and simply make one double batch a week. This gives you either two dinners taken care of, or extras for lunch. Here is a link to 77 Healthy Crockpot Recipes to get you started http://greatist.com/health/healthy-crock-pot-recipes.
Meal planning! I try to do this for our week night meals by picking 3 meals, with 1-2 being a double batch (For either an extra dinner or lunches for my husband). Sometimes on busy nights we just do simple sandwiches and salad and then depending on the weekend schedule I fill in as needed that day. I have been researching meal planning apps to try out new recipes and have the grocery lists auto generated. Here is a link to some great FREE meal planning apps http://appcrawlr.com/ios-apps/best-free-apps-meal-planning
- Shop by UNIT PRICE! I used to shop by the lowest price, but many manufacturers are tricky with their packaging and don’t include as much as other brands. If you have coupons use your phone calculator to determine the best unit price after the discount. This easily gets you more for your money at every shopping trip.
- Buy generic! Back in the day, with managing my grocery list wasn’t something I cared, or needed to do, I was a brand name girl. It’s so silly thinking back!! There are SOOO many great, or even better, generic brands for much less. Check the unit price on a box of Cheerios and comparison it to the stores generic brand. It’s a serious savings!
- Buy in Bulk– This is extremely beneficial when purchasing meats. Sometimes a bulk package of untrimmed chicken breasts can be half the unit price of a one pound package of pre-trimmed chicken. Buy in bulk and freeze in your preferred portion size for later use.
Invest in BJ’s/Sam’s club– There is an initial investment with these stores but not only do you get the benefit of purchasing many of your staple food items in bulk (yay, lower unit price) but these stores also accept coupons AND offer coupons of their own. You can often times save $8.00 on a large box of diapers using the $5 BJ’s Pampers coupon and TWO $1.50 standard coupons from the Sunday paper. These stores also offer discounted gasoline, clothing, produce, seasonal items, vacation packages and much more!
Use coupons! I have read a lot about extreme couponing and the savings are VERY impressive! But I don’t have much time beyond cutting out the coupons to plan and I often shop at the same couple of stores each month; usually with 1-3 children “assisting me.” But use those coupons! It is a simple way to save and gives you a good excuse to sometimes get those splurge items you don’t typically get. I’ll sometimes get snacks or dessert items if they are on sale and I have a coupon!
Coupon apps: I was recently introduced to a free coupon app Ibotta. They offer discounts at multiple stores for groceries (even generic), as well as alcohol, clothing, movies, electronics and more. How it works: download the app, then after shopping, tap the redeem button, take a picture of your receipt, and verify your purchases to get cash back!! Interested? You can sign up here https://ibotta.com/r/bsbsugh. They also offer a Teamwork option to gain additional savings as a group, so full disclosure; I will get a little bonus if you sign up at my link above and start saving with me!
I hope these tips have been helpful! I also wanted to share a post from a friend and fellow blogger on her budgeting tips that I found beneficial; https://godswillnotmine.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/living-on-a-budget-part-1/
Happy savings everyone!
Until next time… Thea 🙂
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