Once we received our orders to move a couple months ago, we decided that I would leave my full time out-of-the-home job about five weeks before the move to pack, sell our house, search for housing in Texas, and deal with all the things that crop up in the weeks before a cross country move. However, with my leaving work, about 40% of our family income goes out the window as well. As much as I like things the way they are, I’m not willing to go into debt to maintain my lifestyle once our income is slashed. So I’m starting to practice my frugality now so that I can make the most of our money once we become a one income household. (I should also mention that while I will be searching for employment at our new duty station nothing is a guarantee, so once I leave work we’ll be a one income family for an undetermined amount of time. Scary!)
1. Make coffee at home
Y’all. Let’s not talk about how much money I used to spend on coffee, it’s embarrassing. Especially during the warmer months, I love iced coffee and I never could make it quite as perfectly at home as the baristas at my local Starbucks. But in the interest of living the frugal life, I’ve found an option that works for me. I’ve been buying the pre-brewed iced coffee (you find it by the milk and coffee creamer in the refrigerated section) either made by Starbucks or a company called Stok. These aren’t quite as cheap as truly making it from scratch at home but I have not mastered that skill yet (mine always comes out tasting stale, yuck), and it still fits within our grocery budget. Win!
2. Meal planning every meal
Over the last 5 years, I was in survival mode a lot of the time. My husband travels a lot for this job and I convinced myself that I either didn’t have time or “deserved” to eat out because my life was so crazy! Unfortunately, that lead to a lot of money spent and a few pounds gained as well. Over the last few weeks I’ve been planning out our meals so I can (A) be sure to buy the right supplies at the grocery and (B) have a plan to stick to during the week when things get hectic.
3. Only pre-meditated and necessary shopping allowed
Before, whenever my husband would go out of town and/or I’d have a super stressful week at work, I would shop to relieve stress and treat myself to something I “deserved”. I don’t totally disagree with this strategy if you have the spare funds as it did help me cope and I was fortunate/smart enough not to go into debt over it. And I wasn’t spending crazy amounts of money, but enough that it’s not wise to continue on a smaller income. It’s important that I don’t shop just for the fun of it and that if I do need to purchase something, I make sure it’s something I/we actually need (like food, or clothing for my continuously growing toddler).
These things may seem like second nature to some people who have been living the frugal life for a while but until you stop and look at how much you’re actually spending and on what, you may not realize that some really simple changes can have a big impact on your finances. If I’m being totally honest, I would estimate that I used to spend $100 every two weeks (each paycheck) on lunch and coffee. Using these tips I now spend about $40 every two weeks on coffee and food at the grocery store to bring with me to work. That’s $60 every two weeks or $1500+ per year. YIKES!
Are you living the frugal life? Why or why not? What tips do you have to share?