Christmas is behind us and we’ve welcomed in the New Year.
Almost two weeks into it, conversations, both online and in real life, seem to revolve around our New Year’s Resolutions.
The most common seem to be getting healthier and saving money.
When it comes to saving money, we often underestimate how the little things can add up over the years. While each one of these may result in savings as small as a few pennies, many can be significantly more. Over time, they can really add up.
If you’re having trouble making ends meet, or need a little help reaching that financial goal, consider giving up one, a few, or all of these expenses.
Please note that none of these, in and of themselves, are bad things to purchase. My purpose it simply to encourage you to think about your finances with respect to needs vs. your wants. I want a lot of these things, but I need to be mortgage-free. It is with this heart that I share this list with you.
1. We don’t buy things we can’t afford.
I don’t use the word hate very often, but I hate debt and interest. We have a very competitive interest rate on our mortgage, but when I see the interest we pay each month, I can’t help but think about how many groceries I could buy with that money rather than lining the pockets of my mortgage lender.
We do use credit cards for the rewards, (you can read about that here) but we treat our credit cards as though they are cash. If we can’t afford it, we don’t buy it.
See what Steve Martin has to say on this subject in this short, but very funny, SNL skit. https://screen.yahoo.com/dont-buy-stuff-000000884.html
2. We don’t pay bank, ATM, credit card fees, checks, or (very many) stamps.
We used to believe that these fees were just a fact of adult life, but they are not. Spend a few minutes reviewing your financial statements to see how quickly these fees can add up in a year.
You might need to change banks or credit card companies, but the time you invest will be worth it.
We also do all of our banking online through our credit union’s free bill pay service, so I don’t pay for checks or stamps to pay bills. If you do shopping or banking online, be sure that your information is secure. (This is part of my husband’s career, so I know we are as safe as possible in this area.)
We all know that time is money. Many people have more money than time so they can pay for services that afford them more time. If, however, you have more time than money, providing as many services as you are able can really save you some cash.
If it is something we are able to do on our own, we do it. We garden, harvest our own firewood, cook, clean, as well as home, auto, appliance, and any possible repairs.
Admittedly, sometimes it would be nice to be able to pay someone to provide a service for us rather than having to do it ourselves, but remember what I said about the interest I am paying on my home?
4. Membership Fees
We don’t pay for a gym membership as we can exercise at home and outdoors. Not only do we save membership fees, but we save gas because we don’t have to drive to work out.
We recently gave up our Costco membership. (You can read about that here.) This was a tough one for us, but it made financial sense for us.
One membership fee we continue to pay, however, is AAA. We justify this one because we drive an older vehicle and live in a remote area. This is one membership fee that affords us peace of mind in our circumstances.
5. Multiple Vehicles
This is a tough one and one that doesn’t work well for most people, but should you really need to save some money, consider decreasing the number of vehicles your family drives.
We are down to one “road” vehicle and one “work” vehicle. Our situation does allow for this, but it can still be a challenge. While it isn’t the most convenient, our family squeezes into our pick-up truck when we need to leave home. Our work vehicle is our snow plow truck that allows us and our neighbors the freedom to get out when the snow dumps.
Having less vehicles isn’t easy, especially when schedules conflict or repairs are needed, but the cost savings is significant. It isn’t for every family, but it is something to consider should your financial circumstances deem it necessary.
6. Subscriptions, Movies, and Books
We used to subscribe to the local newspaper and several magazines. It was always fun the day a new magazine came in the mail, but when the finances needed to be tightened up, this was something we chose to let go of. Between the internet and the library, we can find all that we need without having to pay a fee.
With the exception of a very few movies, we usually don’t purchase them. When we do want to watch movies, we utilize our local library where we can borrow them for free.
The same goes for books. While I do own many books, I no longer purchase them unless I know it is something I will use on a regular basis. Our library accepts purchase requests so if they don’t have what I am looking for, they usually purchase a brand new copy for me to borrow.
Here are a few of my highly recommended favorites: Homemade: How-to Make Hundreds of Everyday Products Fast, Fresh, and More Naturally, William-Sonoma Family Meals: Creating Traditions in the Kitchen, the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, and Natural Beauty at Home.
These are on my wish-list: The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making and Make the Bread, Buy the Butter.
*Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. You are not obligated to make any purchases, but when you do through one of my links or the Amazon search box to the right, I will make a small percentage on the sale. Thank you for supporting my site.
Speaking of movies, our entertainment budget is almost non-existent. A review of Quicken tells me that in 2014, we spend $51.50 on entertainment. We went to the movies 1 time in the entire year. Our family had one of the most stressful days we had ever experienced and decided we needed to head out to see a movie.
We love going to the movies. We also love bowling, traveling, camping, and a host of other activities, but we have learned to make do entertaining ourselves from home. Once in awhile, we hit the road to visit family, but we justify that expense because, well, they’re our family! (They are also more than generous and help us pay most of our expenses, so that certainly helps).
8. Cable TV or a landline
Because we don’t live in the city, it was quite an expense to have a landline put in. We decided that things like a well, septic, and power were more important and that we could make do with my husband’s business cell phone. That certainly presents its challenges in the way of communications, but it does save us quite a bit in the way of monthly charges, as well as the initial investment for construction fees.
While we have to pay for internet for my husband’s business, cable tv is not an expense we can justify at this point in our lives. With the exception of a few times, such as the Olympics, elections, or other news-worthy events, we rarely miss having tv. I would miss internet very much, but tv is something our family does fine without.
9. Weekly Trash Pick-Up
Our power bill has gone up twice recently, so we wondered if we could cut something else back to make up the difference. We decided to change our trash pick-up to twice a month rather than weekly. We were able to cut our bill in half.
Because we don’t use a lot of disposable or packaged products and take great care to have zero food waste, we simply don’t generate a lot of trash. We are thoughtful with what we throw away, so we have found this system to work very well for our family.
10. Cosmetics and Salon Visits
Don’t get me wrong, we do shower with soap and brush our teeth with actual toothpaste. We even floss with store-bought dental floss. We just keep these expenses to a minimum.
I keep my hair very simple so I only need to cut it about once a year or so. My husband cuts his hair and the boys now cut their own hair. We don’t use many styling products, so we keep these expenses pretty low.
As much as I love massages, facials, manicures, and pedicures, this is something I have chosen to give up in an effort to meet my financial goals. I do what I can to handle these needs at home. I wear make-up on very rare occasions. I have very sensitive skin so I am better off not wearing it at all. I use natural products for my skincare rather than purchasing them from the store.
You can read about how I make frugal and natural facial cleanser here. We also (sometimes) make our own bar soap, which I will write a post about some day.
11. Conventional Batteries
Conventional batteries was an area we found we were spending too much money on, so my husband bought rechargables, and we have never looked back. While it is a bit of an investment, at first, it certainly pays off in the long run.
We have used these for years and highly recommend them.
12. Disposable Paper Products
Only in very rare exceptions do we purchase disposable paper products. I do keep paper plates, Kleenex, a roll of paper towels, and a few napkins on hand for power outages, traveling, or unique circumstances, but on the whole, we use re-usable items instead.
I cut up old t-shirts, pajamas, etc. for cleaning rags and tissue. We use cloth napkins and I use cloth feminine napkins as much as possible.
Instead of paper muffin cups, I use these silicone ones, and I would never go back to paper. Not only do they save money and trash, but they are much easier. My muffins never stick!
I buy disposable shower caps as they are perfect for covering plates and bowls instead of saran or cling wrap. They are easy to wash so that I can reuse them several times. I also wash and re-use plastic baggies as much as possible (unless they contained raw meat). I made an investment in glass bowls with plastic lids so that I would use less plastic wrap and foil for covering leftover foods.
13. Conventional Cleaning Products
I save a ton of money by not purchasing many conventional cleaning products. You can do a lot with a squirt bottle, homemade rags, baking soda, and vinegar. See my post: 23+ Ways I Use Vinegar.
I buy my laundry detergent in large quantities and use less than the container recommends. (This goes for my dishwasher detergent, as well). I don’t buy fabric softener, but use vinegar instead. I tear my dryer sheets into thirds or quarters and find that it works just fine with less.
14. Fun Drinks
Most of the time, we drink reconstituted powdered milk, tea, and water. We never purchase alcohol or soda. On rare, celebratory occasions, we may purchase Sparkling Apple Cider or egg nog (my boys LOVE this at Christmas!). Sometimes we will purchase 100% juice from the freezer section, but this is mostly for use in smoothies.
Generally speaking, however, there are no fun drinks for us. Personally, I’d rather buy food that fills tummies than drinks that taste good. It’s definitely not as fun, but it sure is good for that food budget.
15. Fun Foods
We also don’t purchase much in the way of fun foods. We don’t buy packaged cookies, donuts, chips, or other fun, snacky foods. Occasionally, I will have crackers, granola bars, or cereal on hand for the times when we are traveling, have a power outage, or I don’t have the time to make something from scratch. Otherwise, these foods are considerably less expensive to make from scratch.
16. Convenience Foods
While purchasing bread, tortillas, frozen pizza, baking mixes, and salad dressings is certainly more convenient than making them from scratch, they are, as previously stated, significantly more expensive. I have learned that you can make almost anything from scratch, including things like cereal, crackers, and spice mixes. I do like to have some of these items on hand for “emergencies”, but as a whole, I make them from scratch in an effort to keep grocery spending at bay.
17. Restaurant Meals or Take-Out
This has, admittedly, been the most difficult thing for me to give up. I don’t even want to admit how many nights of the week I would rather head into town to a restaurant for dinner rather than the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking. But there are nights when going out would be so much easier. That being said, eating out is expensive. I save a small fortune by giving up this luxury. We may, occasionally, celebrate with a meal out, but we usually only eat out while we are traveling.
It’s not always fun and it requires a great deal of hard work to save money, but the results are worth it to us. If we can get through the short-term discomfort, we can enjoy the rewards in the long term.
What do you think? What things has your family given up in an effort to stretch the paycheck, pay off debt, or save for a financial goal? Share with us in the comments.Print This Post
Shared at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth, Cornerstone Confessions, So Much at Home, Soul Survival, Good Morning Mondays, Women With Intention, I Choose Joy!, Thrifty Thursday, The Thrifty Couple, A Bowl Full of Lemons, Missional Call, Counting My Blessings, & the SHINE Blog Hop.
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