March 10, 2009

Saving Money

Life is getting more difficult for just about everyone these days. People have had to think about their finances in ways they may have never before. On one hand this is a bad thing - people are losing their jobs and their life savings. On the other hand, this can be turned into a good thing - with the majority of Americans getting their spending under control and finding ways to save money.

Michael and I are no exception. With the loss of my salary last year due to staying home, and Michael being tied to the performance of the market, we have had to cut way back. We have had to alter our lifestyle in order to not get ourselves in trouble. So long, cable (and Project Runway...tear). So long Netflix (I guess we didn't watch enough movies anyway). So long eating out (I'll miss you Katie Downs). And so long spending without thinking about the consequences.

Wait a minute - that last thing is great! Not that we have been frivolous, but to highlight my grocery bill alone, I have cut back from over $100 to $60 a week! What the heck was I buying before?! I always bought on sale and what we needed, but I guess we didn't "need" everything I thought we did!

Now that I'm home, I actually have the time to think about ways we can save money. I plan out our meals weekly and since we are cutting back I do less "experimenting." Or if I do try something new, I try to use what ingredients I my have on hand. Another huge way I've cut back on my food bill (besides using coupons) is to shop around. I buy bulk at Costco, the majority at Fred Meyer, but I have found a local produce place, Tacoma Boys, where I buy my fresh items. They are better and cheaper!

I try to make things last as long as possible by keeping our home organized (so I know what we have!) and by stretching something until it's absolutely gone. If you've ever seen my peanut butter jars before I throw them away, you know what I mean. I keep lists around with things we need and buy those before wants, and speaking of lists, this saves me tons of money at the grocery store, as well. I have also let go of the mentality that I need everything new and perfect. I used to buy tons at second hand stores, and have returned to this way of shopping.

A few other random things we are doing:
  • getting less expensive haircuts and me coloring my hair myself!
  • planning food and dates around coupons and gift cards
  • filling the bathtub with less water when Avila takes her bath
  • making thing from scratch: baby food, popcorn (you must try this: put 1/2cup of popcorn kernels in a paper lunch sack. fold over the top 2 times, stand straight up in the microwave, and pop until kernel sounds are 2 seconds apart. It's foolproof and awesome)
  • I am managing my time better to put in more hours at my stay-at-home job
  • for other ideas click on Cheri's blog

I know that, in due time, God will reward the sacrifices we are making. It may not be a monetary reward, but it may be the reward of our children understanding the value and importance of money. It may the example we are setting that life is not about "things." It may be the extra time we have with our children instead of watching TV. Living simply is more fulfilling and it makes the things you do and the stuff you buy more exciting. Saving money is like a game, and this is certainly a game we want to win!

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