K... I was tagged again :-) Miss Chitown Girl is the culprit! I know the rules of the tag game but I want to change it up a bit and do something a bit different....
Instead of writing 7 random things about myself... I'm gonna write 11 things that John and I have done to cut bills/ save money/ live more simply. It'll be sorta random, cause some things on the list will be so simple, but honestly, I've been meaning to write a blog about this. You see, if I write down what I've done, then I can look back and feel good about what we have accomplished. It will also give me motivation to keep living this way and not back tracking into the "spend spend spend" cycle which got me to this point in the first place! (This may be a long post!)
1. We gave up Starbucks! Don't get me wrong... we still like starbucks... BUT we make our own coffee at home now. We have all the flavors needed to make kick ass coffee in our own fridge. We had problems before... we would go 3-4 times a week! We did go once, a few weeks back and I had a thought on it.... We ordered small and our total was still $8 bucks! Then we both ended up letting them get cold and we threw them out! (like taking $4 of the $8 and just pitching it in the trash!) Lets see.... I'm saving approx. $1600 a year!!
2. We got caught up on our bills! It's nice being able to pay one months worth of bills and not have to think about what I didn't pay the month before! No more late fees.... no more pay by phone fees so I'm not late... no more collection notices... no more shut off notices!
3. I discovered consignment shops! After the garage sale... I took the nice kids clothes I had left to a local shop and did in store credit (where you get your money right up front, no waiting) and I'll be damned.... I only took in one tub and now I have $53 bucks to by clothes for them when they need it!
4. I have restructured my grocery shopping :-) This month has been great! I have learned to bulk shop when it's on sale. Example... Wal Mart was getting rid of frozen veggies... all bags were about half off.... I stocked up!! I have veggies in the freezer for the rest of this month! Clearance meat... stick it in the freezer.... coupons and sale items, you just have to look for them... Feels good to see a balance left on my grocery budget knowing I'll only need things like milk and creamer for the rest of the month!
5. DIY. Period. If we need a service, we now try to figure out how we can do it ourselves first. The boys haircuts? Done. Manicure? I've got all that stuff (and it's probably more sanitary any way!) Ripped jeans? My fingers can handle a needle and thread. Even if it's something we can't do.... I've learned to ask around. I needed my sway bars replaced on my car, so happens a friend knows a friends, and instead of the $300 a dealer would have charged.... I paid $100, parts included. (Below is the cake I baked Zak for his birthday party this year :-)
6. I taught myself to knit!! I'm actually excited about this one... it took me a couple nights of reading and watching.... but I'm actually not too bad at it! My first project is this scarf and hat.... (ok, well apparently I didn't measure my head and the hat fits my 3 year old better then me... but trial and error. I'll get it :-)
7. Halloween Costumes. Last year I spent the money, all of us had great costumes, brand new, and that was just DUMB! you wear the shit for one day! (well, I make the kids wear it for 3 days-- it's torture for John and I but damn it, they are gonna get some use out of em!) So this year I went thrift shopping/ garage sale shopping, and here's what I have:
$75 budget for 5 people.
Zane: Dog costume $4.38, sweat pants and a turtle neck from home.
Izeah: Dinosaur costume $3.00 garage sale.
Zak: Football costume UNUSED from last year, FREE.
Me: Awesome Go Go outfit that I'm gonna hem up $6.38
John: Leisure suit HOPEFULLY BORROWED from his dad.
Still leaves about $60 bucks to complete our outfits :-)
8. I discovered the library :-) I stopped my "buying" book obsession and now I just borrow. Even with my late fees (cause I suck), it's still cheaper then new ones!
9. WE were SWEATING ALL SUMMER LONG! But you know what, it was worth it! We only ran the air for maybe 2 weeks total all summer and I managed on my budget billing plan to pay off all of last winters debt.... AND save up $800 in my energy account for this winter's bills! And this winter we vowed to not run our heat as much but to use the fireplace as much as possible and run little electric heaters in the "cold spots" of the house.
10. Christmas is gonna be different this year! *and I'm actually excited about it* Of course, santa is still gonna come but he's gonna bring some home made gifts and only a few store bought things :-) We're still working out the details but as of now Izeah is getting a "Moon sand play box" and Zane is gonna get a "kitchen cooking cart" all made out of the extra oak I have on my porch from my kitchen remodel :-) It doesn't stop there either.... we are gonna make gifts for a lot of family and friends too :-) Doesn't John's ring look nice? He made it himself! I would like a gift like that.... how about you?
FINALLY 11. We like beer :-) No, we aren't alcoholics by any means... but John and I both enjoy going out.... but it's TOOOOO much money! So we stay at home more now... we buy some beer from the grocery store and hang out together... if friends come over, GREAT! But we enjoy each other just as much... The savings are amazing! A typical "night out" would include: $40- babysitter, $50- dinner, $50- bar tab. Now a night at home? $10-20- beer, FREE-goofing around on rock band :-) On the nights we DO go out, we've been trying to "barter" babysitting :-) If my brother wants a new phone? One night of child care :-)
K-- I'm all done for now!!! I'm sure there is plenty more things that we have done but I could go on and on (and I think I already have :-) Any one else have any more money saving tips? :-)