How Our Pennies Add Up

Well, since it's a new year and all...and because projects are stalled in this house...I thought I'd write about saving money - the way we do it.  Whether you're sporting a really strict budget or are lucky to be a little more loose with your spending, we think having a guideline to follow every month is smart.  Spending without discipline can be really destructive, regardless of how much cash you have on hand.  Besides, a little dosage of self-control and some patience has never hurt anyone, right?  You can build character while budgeting.  :)

Anyway, on to the meat and potatoes of this post.  Here are some of the ways we save money:
  • We rarely (and I mean RARELY) buy anything for full price.  Everything goes on sale at some point.  Whether it's a new washer and dryer or a new suit for Anthony, we see it, keep an eye on it, and snatch it up at the first sign of a sale (or a really good coupon).  Of course this isn't the easy way to do things and requires a little bit of research and patience but in the end we have more money to spend on something else.
  • Eating out is a we-have-a-gift-card experience or limited to a once-per-week-or-two luxury...and unless it's the gift card route, it's only fast food.  That means that, usually, whatever we eat for dinner one night is Anthony's brown bag lunch the next day.
  • Which brings us to lunches.  I always eat lunch at home but Anthony doesn't have that luxury...yet.  Eating out for lunch everyday could eat a chunk out of our balance so he either brings leftovers to work or eats at the cafeteria ($3/meal).  I know it takes a little more effort to prepare a to-go lunch from home but we think of it this way...if Anthony ate lunch out everyday - spending $5 per meal - we'd be spending $100 a month.  Suddenly to us, pb&j sandwiches and brown bag lunches sound gourmet!  :)
  • Starbucks and coffee drinks not made in our trusty 'ole pot is very rare...sad but true.  :(  (Caramel frappacino's, I have a solely platonic love for you but we just can't see eachother that often...sorry.) 
  • I am the hairstylist in the fam...meaning I cut Anthony's hair and my own (unless I'm visiting my sister in which case she cuts mine).  My mom was my family's stylist growing up and I've learned how to trim, layer, cut bangs, you name it.  It's a great skill to have...professional degree or not.  :)
  • We're not big coupon users (even though we promote them 100% and really should start using them) but we do use price-matching a lot so we get the good sales without having to go to 5 stores to stock up.
  • We have the BEST credit card in the whole world (US Bank's FlexPerks) that we use on EVERYTHING, pay off at the end of each month, and by doing so, get at least one free airline ticket each year.
  • As regards utilities, we're really conscious about turning lights off in rooms we're not using, unplugging things that aren't being used (Anthony's pet peave), and not blasting our heating or air conditioning - turning them down or up during a day neither of us is home or if we're on vacation.  It might sound like a hassle but really only takes a couple of seconds and can save you a hundred or more dollars a year.
  • Thrift stores are incredible places to find unique furniture, decor, fabric, and more for CHEAP...enough said.
  • This doesn't work for everyone, but if you don't watch a ton of t.v. like us, don't pay for full cable.  We pay $13 for 15 channels and are as happy as chipmunks in a pile of acorns.  :)  (Plus, tons of shows are available to watch online too.)
  • We've had super-fast internet (when we first moved here) and we've had 'basic' internet (presently).  The only difference...besides the $30 price...is a few more seconds of wait-time for a picture to upload.  We can still watch online show episodes, youtube videos, and everything else exactly how we did when we had 'lighting speed'.  (a.k.a. Comcast's highest-speed internet is seriously overrated).
  • As regards decorating, we do it in stages.  For example, I really, really, really want a pair of matching chairs to dress up our living room but it's pretty low on the priority list right now.  Besides, if you're going to put money into your house, we think it's smarter to put it into things that will raise it's value, like tiling a bathroom, updating kitchen appliances, or getting new windows.  Then, if you have a little extra money one day you can go for those curtains you're dying to have or that comforter that's calling your name...when they're on sale of course.  :)
  • We don't carry credit card balances.  The only interest we have to choice but to pay is that from student loans and our mortgage.  Watch out for those 'pay no interest until 2014' gimmicks too.  Most of the time, if you don't pay them off by the interest deadline, you start paying interest every month on top of all the interest they tack on for the past 3 years you've haven't had to make payments.  Lovely... 
  • We pay all of our bills online, cutting out the need for stamps.  We pay about 8 monthly bills so we're saving (8 bills x .44 stamps x 12 months) a little under $43 a year.
  • Anthony changes the oil and oil filter in our car himself.  Sure he gets a little dirty but he saves us at least $90 a year.  :)
  • Last summer we tried our hand at planting our own tomatoes and a few herbs - basil, oregano, chives (the only ones still living), and cilantro.  We eat tomatoes like it's our job so not having to buy them in the store all summer saved us tons.  The herbs turned out great too so having them fresh to cook with was great and helped us pinch pennies. 
  • The only phones we have are our cell phones.  Until we have teenagers, a landline won't be much use to us.  One phone bill is much better than two in our book (and we don't have to worry about those pesky telemarketers.)
We know that the way we cut back wouldn't work for everyone, nor is there a 'right way' to do it, but it's still fun to give ideas.  :)  After all, we are two beans in love, on a budget, and most importantly, just trying to get to heaven, and it's why we started this blog in the first place.  Some day, when we're debt free, sipping lemonades on the front porch of our paid-for house, student loans a distant memory, and our grandkids running through the yard...we'll probably still be budgeting.  :) 

Anyone else have ideas on how to save?  We're all ears keyboards...

3 comments

  1. I absolutely LOVE that you wrote these out! Not only is it encouraging to see that I do some of those very same things to save/budget, but it's also got to give you a bit of reassurance (for those times when you wish "oh, can't I just spend a few bucks on this frivolous thing I don't need?") that you are doing a great thing! It's not just about saving money for yourselves right now, it's about learning good habits for the future and eventually passing those good habits on to your children! Thanks for sharing! xoxo

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  2. Agreed Tracy!!! It goes without saying that I got my good spending habits from my dad! :) Helping him in the feedlot office write out checks and asking questions about finances was a life-changer.

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  3. I'm know your dad is so proud of you - in more ways than one!

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