When I traded my traditional classroom for a virtual one, I was soooo excited! I was trendy–for the first time in my life–working from home! Oh, I was also excited to be home with the kids. Blah blah… Mostly, though, I was all what’s up hipsters on your laptops at Starbucks?!
Except that Starbucks is expensive, yo. And I really didn’t need caffeine until my second daughter was born and set out to kill me via sleep deprivation. So I stayed away from the fancy coffee. I also stayed away from walking the malls with my adorable boy in his Ergobaby because mall walking = shopping. And maybe you’ve heard, shopping requires money. Most of the time…
As it turned out, that virtual classroom really gave me freedom, and with that freedom came the undeniable urge to spend money we didn’t really have any more. So, crap. The first few years were rough, budgeting every last penny because we had to and not because my husband is a spreadsheet whore, but we made it. With some planning and a few changes in our spending, we were able to keep me at home with our growing family and not resort to selling my breast milk on the black market.
We were able to save $20 here and $100 there, and were pleasantly surprised at what a difference it made. Here are some tips that initially allowed my family to survive a change of jobs and a decrease in pay, and now affords us the chance to pad our savings.
Take a Local Vacation
So your big plans to visit another country can’t happen right now. Simmer down, it’s cool. There’s no reason to give up your travel plans completely; just vacation locally. You’ll save a bundle on transportation and hotel expenses if your next vacation is within a 200-mile radius of where you live. And if you’re a blogger who is willing to document the trip, maybe you’ll get some of your family fun comped!
Reduce Your Car Insurance
You haven’t changed your car insurance since you were 16, huh? Let’s do something about that. The next time your car insurance policy expires, chat with your insurance agents about reducing your monthly payment. There are several things you can do such as adding an anti-theft device to your car, successfully completing a driver’s education class, or agreeing on a larger deductible to reduce the cost of your car insurance. And be safe. Good drivers pay less.
Use Natural Cleaners
A solution of white vinegar and water is all the cleaning product you need to make your counter tops, floors, bathrooms and kitchen shine. You don’t need to buy expensive, toxic cleaners that are harmful to the environment. The vinegar and water combo leave no chemical fumes AND kills mold. I personally don’t care for the smell of vinegar so I add a few drops of lemon oil and my house smells awesome. Then a dog craps in the hallway, but let’s focus on the smells awesome part, shall we?
Know a Good Price
With a little research in your local grocery stores, and by reading weekly flyers and advertisements, you’ll come to learn the basic prices of the staple items you buy every week. Once you know a good price, you can buy extra when your staples are on sale, regardless of where you’re shopping. I’ve also found that store brand prices almost always beat name brands even with coupons. So shop smart.
It’s not easy to make changes that impact your lifestyle in big ways, or in ways that you may not appreciate (Starbucks tall Latte much?), but with a husband like mine and/or little attention at the beginning, you can get the habit of saving and significantly reduce your monthly expenses. Then use some of that extra cash money to buy a bottle of red and toast your good money sense.*
*Note from my husband: a bottle of red is wasteful; water is free**
**Note from me: my husband is NO FUN
Loretta W. says
This post is so timely and true!! I am a recently retired school librarian and my husband and I are STILL counting our pennies. We will be celebrating our 40th anniversary in Oct. and, as much as we’d like to go on a big trip, my husband said your exact same words: plan something 200 miles from our house. And you know what?!? We could stay home and be happy. That’s what it’s really all about and you have it figured out. Continue to love your blog.
Stephanie Jankowski says
And I continue to love you for continuing to love my little hodge podge of a blog 🙂 HAPPY RETIREMENT!
Shay from Trashy Blog says
My hubs and I are the king and queen of living cheap–or is “frugal” the more acceptable term? 🙂 Our friends used to tease us about it, but when they saw that we were having just as much fun–or more–on vacations and doing creative and fun (and inexpensive) things with the kids, they started asking us for tips. We live SUCH a full, happy, and fun life–and our house is almost paid off. BOOM
Stephanie Jankowski says
That. Is. Amazing!!!!!!