Thursday, October 16, 2008

ELEVEN things.... not seven :-)

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? :-)


-jd said...


You really have been a rockstar at championing this cause for our family.

I'm proud of you, really. You make our lives wonderful and I love you.

One thing....was my budget request for new running shoes approved...I don't know how to make those.

ChiTown Girl said...

You two are so damn cute!!!

I LOVE that you posted this!! It's hard enough to do these things when it's just the two of us (plus Lex is at his dad's almost half the time now) but to do it with a house full of people....kudos to you both!!

My family has always given me crap because I keep my thermostat at about 65 all winter (we have piles of blankets on the couch, and Lex and I were sweatshirts over our clothes in the house. Hell, I sleep in sweatpants and a sweatshirt OVER my pajamas!) In the summer, I set it at about 82 (seriously!) and keep the ceiling fans going. Once the humidity is gone, it's just a matter of circulating the air.

I've been trying to really cut back since this summer, when I had to start paying tuition AND a monthly braces payments (total for the two = $500!) And, that would be the reason I'm now working THREE freakin' jobs! :( Thank God CSJ usually pays his half, or I'd be paying $1,000 extra a month!!

One thing I did this school year was to stop going out to lunch everyday. I used to go to Subway every day, which wound up costing me over $100 every month. That's what my half of the braces cost each month, so that went right out the window! Thankfully, this school year hasn't been nearly as stressful as usual, so I don't have that burning desire to leave the building for that 30 minutes each day. ;-)

Girl, I'm SOOO impressed with your hat and scarf. WTF? I think we both picked up that stuff the same week, and I have nothing other than a square to show, while you have a complete ensemble!! Good for you!

Umm....hate to be a pest....November is just around the corner....anything you want to share? ;-) (Sorry John!! I had to ask!)

three moons said...

Dana!! I'm so impressed with all this! Especially the knitting and the cake. It looks like you are really getting the hang of may have to show me a few things. Warning: do not combine beer night and knitting. at least for me, that combo is dangerous!

I'm checking to see if tom night will work getting together.... we were possibly going out of town Sat morning (early!) but we're not sure due to limited funds. I'll call you later when we figure it out :-)

Jerry Critter said...

Very impressive list!

I was going to make a smart-ass remark, but it would just make me look stupid...or maybe stupider.

YanniFan said...

they say it's not how much you make it's what you save!

Hmmmmmmm........I better get started on my homemade gifts!

Jay said...

You amaze me. So glad to read what you posted here. Just fantastic! I feel like I have accomplished something as well. Now I need to get some rest.

Love ya,

Jack said...

I like the beer policy. Thinking of instituting something similar over hear, though in my situation, it will probably involve more house get-togethers and such. It makes a big difference.