One thing that I don't like when people talk about budgets is when they say “cut out the Starbucks everyday”, while I'm not a major Starbucks drinker (I get migraines from coffee and too much caffeine), if someone could do this, then they would've done this already (hopefully). I don't think I have too many daily habits, so cutting something out everyday like Starbucks won't work anymore. The things that I have done are realistic for me.
Ways that we have lowered our budget:
- Stop Eating out as much– We have significantly lowered our eating out budget. We used to spend more than $1,000 on food every month. It was ridiculous. I am extremely ashamed by this number, and that's the reason that I haven't listed this number too many times on my blog. You can find the exact number that we used to spend by searching blog posts, but I feel stupid sharing it directly. We would eat out everyday (breakfast, lunch and dinner). I hardly ever cooked.
- We used to have exact opposite schedules (whereas now are schedules are still off, but before, he would start work when I was going to bed) so this made it harder for us to eat meals because we were so busy that we would always eat on the go.
- Now we find time to cook and have fun with it!
- I'm going to guess that we're saving around $800 per month now.
- When we do go out, we try and use a Restaurant.com, even though we tend to go to a lot of Mexican restaurants, but hey they're cheap!
- Meal Plan -This has helped us save money by having less food spoilage, and has also helped us save time. We are also more aware of what we already have at the house, and then we can plan meals more easily around what we already have. This coupled with above has saved us a lot of money.
- Cut our entertainment expense – Long gone are the days when we would spend tons on entertainment. We still spend some, but we are saving a lot.
- Lower Cell phone Plan -I recently lowered our cell phone by around $10 a month. Not a significant savings, but at $120 a year, it adds up. Also, we haven't limited our phone usage by doing this. We had almost 6,000 rollover minutes, so obviously we weren't calling people enough. And, I just checked our usage, and our plan is still too high for us, but now we are on the lowest plan, so there's no more cutting in this area.
- Stop buying new cars -After I pay off my car loan in the next couple of days, I will have around $400 extra per month. What a great feeling!
- Unplug and watch electricity usage – We have greatly watched our electricity usage, and it used to be around $100 a month, but now it's less than $50 nearly every month (except in the summer time). I'm going to guess our savings are around $300 per year.
- Lower Cable package – We lowed our package. I can't remember exactly how much this saved us, but I think it was $24 a month. We ordered HBO back because we were sad without TrueBlood, Boardwalk Empire, etc, so this added an extra $15 to our bill every month. Savings of $108 per year.
- We canceled Blockbuster Express – while it was only around $15 a month, we weren't using it. Waiting for a movie to get to our door was too long.
- Car Insurance – I increased our deductible and save a couple hundred every year. Our car insurance rates are already extremely low (Less than $400 every 6 months for my fully-covered 2008 car) and I've never been in an at-fault accident, so I lowered it.
All of the things above are going to sound materialistic, but it's true. We were definitely wasting money before, but thankfully that did not go on for too long. The majority of our budget killers were food and my car. I'm so happy that's over with!
And another thing to add to this! When I got home last night, I noticed a bunch of letters from our mortgage lender and it turns out that they over charged us $270 last year (they sent us a letter last year saying that they were undercharging us, but it turned out that they were wrong), and we got another letter saying that our mortgage payment is being lowered by $64 a month! WHOO HOO
Even with all of these ways that we cut our budget, we are still living the exact same lives. We aren't any less happy, more sad, or anything else. We are also much healthier now that we have been eating at home.
Since we have all of these savings every month, I am able to pay down my student loan debt faster, whereas before I barely even touched it.
In the next couple of days I plan on posting ways that we could possibly continue to cut, so watch out for that!