Last month, Dayton Mom’s Blog rolled out a post I had written called Living on Love, how we live with a low income and still love our lives.
The response to this post blew me away…it turns out I’m not the only one living in borderline poverty…and still loving life.
One question that I got several times from that post was, “What are the top ways you save money?”
So the following post contains the top five ways that my husband and I pinch our pennies and manage to live on less than 30k a year.
- Eat at Home, Cook from Scratch. I think that the main way we save money is by simply cooking and eating at home, 3 meals a day, 7 days a week. We eat out about twice a month, and by “eat out” I mean grabbing a pizza or something on the cheaper end like Chipotle. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it takes menu planning and grocery shopping and a lot of self-control to not eat out. But it saves us A LOT.
- Second hand and Consignment Sales. I am a garage sale and consignment sale junkie, and I’m not afraid to admit it! I have gotten most of my furniture, toys and clothes from thrift stores or consignment sales. It often takes some waiting to find exactly what I’m looking for, but it’s always worth it to me to save the money!
- Phone, Internet and Cable. My husband and I actually don’t pay for data on our phones, and we don’t use any of the main cell phone companies. We only spend $45 a month on both of our phones, unlimited talk and text. I do have a smartphone and I can use all the apps and gadgets as long as I have internet access. As a stay at home Mom, I am pretty much always at home. And let’s be real…pretty much every store and restaurant nowadays provides free wifi. The only time I don’t have access to my smartphone apps? In the car, at some stores and some restaurants. And you know what? Those are all places that I really shouldn’t be on my phone anyways. We also save money by paying for the slowest internet available. Trust me, it can still stream multiple computers using Netflix at one time (even though the internet company won’t admit that to you). We also simply forgo cable. Sometimes it really feels like I’m missing out, but most of the time I’m none the wiser, with a lot more time on hand to read books and save money 🙂
- Free Family Fun. We don’t often go out to fun places that require paying to get in, but we are huge fans of finding free (or almost free) things to do in our area. We love going for hikes on some of our trails, hitting up playgrounds or finding local libraries or churches that are putting on free events. The Dayton Mom’s Blog Dayton Dozen is one way that I find these events!
- Know the Difference between Need and Want. The final way we save money has taken years of practice and is more mental than physical. I am list maker, so when something pops into my head that I would really like, I write it down on a piece of paper. First, I ask myself if this is a need or a want. I currently have a living room area rug at the top of that list. I wrote it down for several reasons. After thinking it over, I came to the conclusion that it is a want. Do I really NEED an area rug? No. Will we survive without one? Yes. Next, I ask myself why I want this item and if these are good enough reasons. I want my area rug so that my living room can look a little more tied together, so that my coffee table can stay planted and so that my kids don’t fall right onto the hardwood floors. I think those are some extremely valid reasons, so I keep it on my list. Now that it is on my list, I start looking for one. Sure, I can check Target and Home Goods and all those places and find one almost immediately, but instead I’m going to wait. First, I check out garage sales and thrift shops (although I won’t be buying a rug secondhand). If I can’t find it after months of shopping second hand, I will start looking online for really great deals. This process takes months and it’s not the most convenient, but I usually end up with items that I really, truly, actually want in my home and my money has been well-spent.
What about you? I would love to hear the top ways that you save money!