Small Changes that make a Big Impact!
I brainstormed as soon as I had read total money makeover of ways to reduce our spending and pay off debt faster. I looked at our accounts and where I could cut some spending and this is what I came up with...
We started by checking all of the "little" monthly expenses. Things that were being auto drafted every month that we either weren't using any more or that we'd forgotten to cancel. One Saturday morning we sat down and cancelled EVERYTHING that was being auto drafted that were "little" expenses but that weren't necessary (an old photo editting program, Hulu that I haven't watched in ages... stuff like that). That alone saved us almost $100/mo.
I decided I'd make the next year a little challenge for myself. I have tons of hair and make up products in my drawers and cabinets that are just waiting to be used up. I've claimed the next year, until Sept. 1, 2016, to be the year that I don't buy any more hair and make up products. I love getting my nails done, I'm going to do my own. For awhile I was getting my nails done twice a month and a pedicure once a month. Doing my own will save $100/mo. I don't know exactly how much I'll save by not buying hair and make up products but I am estimating I spend about $50/mo. I will throw a lipgloss in the cart here, nail polish there, make an every few months trip to Ulta or Sephora and spend $100. In the olden days I couponed and I still have quite the stash of lotions and shampoo and stuff... I should be totally fine to USE UP WHAT WE HAVE. It will create more space in my house, declutter, decrease waste and increase money in my pocket. I am sliiiiightly worried about running out of foundation. If that happens I may have to ask for it as a "gift" for Christmas or Mother's Day. But I'm a month in and doing good! I'm also thinking about extending it to cleaning products. I have a ton of half used bottles and concentrates that will last us a while! Plus I love "homemade" cleaners...
We cleaned out our closets and pulled stuff out of the attic that we needed to sell. So far we've made around $700 that all went toward paying off debt. The rest of my clothes that haven't sold are going to the resale shop tomorrow.
We are limiting our eating out and random trips to sonic/starbucks.... On days when we are running errands I love to grab myself a Starbucks and get the boys something to eat from Sonic. I know this isn't healthy OR good on our budget. I am loading $20 on our Starbucks card every month (that I get from Sams Club at a discount). Once it's gone, it's gone. Considering I just looked and we spent $80 at Starbucks last month (and there are still two days left) that will save us AT LEAST $60/mo. That will also keep me getting the cheaper drinks! And my goal is to not get any fast food for the boys. I am estimating this will save us around $100/mo AT LEAST. Bryan has been coming home every day for lunch and we have been eating left overs... what the what?! We usually don't like left overs but it also reduces waste and increases the money in our pockets!
As for grocery shopping, I use apps like Ibotta (you can sign up here: www.ibotta.com/r/bvswfw), Checkout 51, Shopmium (referral code: GHUMKEWP for a FREE Lindt Chocolate bar!) and Walmart Savings Catcher. Every little bit back helps! Then I can redeem the money I save for gift cards or money back into my account. I also like to price match produce at Walmart from Aldi. Aldi is a far drive from my house, but I live about 3 minutes from Walmart on each side of me. This saves me at least $10 per month. I'm also limiting myself to ONE trip, without the boys, per week, WITH A PLAN. I can't even tell you how much this will save me by not having to buy special things they see and want or popcorn chicken that they end up throwing on the floor. But I'll go with the low end and say $15/mo just on the popcorn chicken alone. I'm also using the reusable k-cup vs buying the individual pods. This is saving me a lot too!
I am on a clothes spending freeze. I don't even want to disclose how much I was spending on clothes per month... but it was TOO much. And I have more than enough. So no new clothes for anyone in my family until they're necessary. The boys are stocked up for fall/winter so we should be good until spring. Then Rhett will have Hudson's hand me downs so I will just need to buy new for Hudson and I'll do that at a consignment store like I did this year. I'm estimating I'll save $200 minimum per month while on my spending freeze.
As for the boys, we don't have cable so they watch Netflix. If there is a certain show they want sometimes I'll buy it on iTunes. Lately Hudson has been asking for all of the Lego Ninjago shows. He used some of his birthday to buy them. I'm trying to teach him the value of money. I was probably spending $15/mo on iTunes. So there is another savings!
Also with driving, I am trying to be more intentional with my trips. Lumping places I need to go in the same area at the same time to save myself time and on gas. I'm also going to the library and checking books out instead of buying them. Listening to free podcasts instead of paying for audiobooks... and we have an old yonky antenna that we use to watch football instead of paying for cable or a $100 subscription on the apple tv.
These are just some simple changes we made that have saved us over $650/mo minimum. We also made around $700 extra from selling things that were laying around that went towards debt too. I got the email that I had successfully paid off all of our credit card balances and had started working on Student Loans. When I decide to do something, I do it ALL the WAY! Those are just some of my tips. What are yours?!