Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pinching Pennies!

Lately I’ve been fretting a lot here and there about finances. These days I’m the sole income for my family, which is not new, but being the only grown up in the house brings added pressure to stay one step ahead of everything. If anything gets missed, guess whose fault it is?

No, we can’t blame him. He’s too cute.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not going on spending sprees, eating out four nights a week and shopping online whenever I feel like it. That kind of freedom would be fabulous, but that’s not my life.

 I shop with a grocery list.

 I cook at home nearly every night.

 I make lunches for all of us every morning.

You get the idea – we're careful!

One thing I love is insight from other people about how they balance their budgets, or where they cut costs, etc. Once I realized I had more going out every month than coming in, I knew that I needed to start making some changes, and quickly! So what did I do? I put the word out on Facebook that I am trying to tighten my budget, and asked for ideas from anyone who had one. I figured I’d get a few comments back – maybe five?

Try 21!

It turns out I’m not the only one out there watching her every penny – go figure!

I received a lot of great suggestions on how to cut spending, and here are a few I've done so far.
  • Contacted my waste management company and traded in my larger garbage can for a smaller one.  That cut my bill in half, reducing it by over $16 per month.
  • Contacted DirecTV and pleaded with them to help me find a better deal.  Amazingly, the guy on the phone actually tried to talk me into more expensive packages!  We talked for quite a while, and when I finally said I was going to have to terminate my account, he suddenly came up with a family package they have (but don't advertise) for half of what I was paying before.  Done!  This meant giving up a LOT of channels and pretty much just keeping all the kid friendly stations, but I can live with that.
  • The kids and I have been keeping the lights off as long as we can in the evenings, and sometimes we even use candles for a little while instead of turning them on.  We've unplugged everything we can when we're not using it -- I've got them so well trained that Noelle couldn't figure out why the toaster didn't work this morning.  She didn't catch that Charlie had unplugged it as soon as his waffles were cooked!  We had a pretty good laugh over that.
  • Feel cold?  Don't touch that thermostat -- put on a sweater and some slippers!
I'm still finding ways to save here and there, including stretching our grocery budget as far as I can every week.  If you have anything clever to share that you've done to help save your family some money, leave a comment and share it!


Teresa Dawn said...

I'm thinking even in the winter an extra blanket would be a better purchase. I don't like my house too warm, I work in an ice rink and get used to the cold temperature but during the winter my heating bill was $77 every two months. Come spring and it's dropped down to $17... The one that's hardest for me is unplugging the computer. I hate the 2 minute shutdown/start up. I know it's not long, but I still hate it haha.

Sherie said...

When I wasn't home during the day, had programmed our thermostat to have the air off from 8 - 2. Now that I'm working at home, I haven't changed it. I sit in front of the hot computer and sweat. I keep thinking I'll reprogram it, but I don't want to pay a higher electric bill! Sigh...

Kitty Deschanel said...

Whoa! I am just about as thrifty as they come but I have never heard of getting a discount on trash pickup for having a smaller trash can. I'm going to have to see if Albuquerque offers anything like that!
The first tips that come to mind for you are: No cable whatsoever (not just a less expensive package! You can check out movies from the library for free) and no frozen waffles! Cereal (ALWAYS on sale and with a coupon - NEVER pay more than $1.50 a box) and oatmeal are dirt cheap, especially if you buy the oatmeal loose.

I know, I know. I'm no fun at all! Just trying to help :p


Mere said...

That's quite a budget sister! And the toaster thing cracked me up....that's really smart! Simba is beautiful!

Love, Mere

Anonymous said...

You should ask Mark about his cheap "rice and beans" meal pan that got us through our tough patch a few years ago. We were just reminiscing about how delicious it was, and how cheap! You just have to add "the Mark touch" and it doesn't feel cheap!

Have you considered recycling your own stuff for cash? I know it's not much, but it could be enough to get the kids a little something special once a month?

Kids get more expensive the older they get, right? I'm feeling it over here, too!

Take care!

Jenni Chalmers said...

Wait - "only grownup in the house"? What did I miss??