Four years ago Eli and I jumped into buying our first home. Four miles from town and less than 15 minutes from a Costco. I distinctly remember our neighbor saying, “buying a home is going to be a stretch”. I finally after four years figured out he didn’t mean just the mortgage.
Our version of the nuclear family model somehow traded a house in a colcasac with a mini ranch and a handful of farm animals. Eli has talked about how we use Mint to look into the past, categorize purchases and find trends in our spending. However, it wasn’t until Claratii that we got to see how our future finances were going based on our past spending and saving behaviors. Our daughter is turning five months old, I am taking a more part time role at BizeeBee and so cutting cost without quality on many things was my new challenge but I had the data and here is what I learned.
Easy Money Saving Tips
Cut Quantity not Quality:
We have a very generous food budget in Claratii, counting for up to $330.00 per week! We tend to skip processed foods, snacks and treats but buy high quality meats, and organic produce however we also eat out more than we should. We are now stretching our meat purchases by cutting our portions down by half. Instead of a chicken breast each, we split on. Filling the rest of our plate up with greens. Healthy for our budget and our waistlines!
Reuse Gift Supplies
Holidays, my baby shower and birthdays all came with some very kind and thoughtful gifts. If the wrapping and gift bags are salvageable I kept them. Gift bags can run $2-$8 a piece and tissue starts at $2. That could be up to $10 I am saving plus maybe even a tree or two by reusing gift supplies. The idea of using different types of containers for gifts is also fun. Thrift stores and garage sales are often easy places to find inexpensive but neat containers that can be reused. Think beyond those Santa Claus tins as just cookie packaging!
I am still very much a novice at home improvement projects. However I have learned a few things recently. You can do improvement projects in stages. We set aside a chunk of cash to have our windows replaced. We bought the windows ourselves and paid my very talented contractor step Dad to install them. We got a few bids to have them replaced and installed by a couple of window companies as well as Home Depot. The estimates ranged from $15k to $6k. By buying the windows ourselves and having an independent contractor install them we will have the project completed for around $4k. What happened to those old double pane aluminum windows? We posted on Craigslist and got a flood of replies more than happy to take them off our hands.
Almost New Hotness
New gadgets are great however their upfront cost is a hit to any budget. Wait for a little while and deals spring up! The new iPhone just came out and if you are out of contract and willing to sign one you can have the iPhone5 for $199.00 (just the phone price). Which means the iPhone4s is now only $99 a great deal for someone looking for a speedy Apple product and with a simple upgrade to iOS6 it will have almost every feature of the new shiny budget busting handheld computer.
Downsize from Venti
Long work days turn into long evenings of catchup. I admit letting caffeine more specifically Starbucks back into my daily routine. One for a focus booster and two for a way to get out of the house and see real 3D people. I see my coffee indulgence as a luxury so downsizing to smaller sized cups doesn’t mean I am taking away my need to get out or get a boost of energy just a few ounces and a handful of money that adds up overtime.
“If you buy one $4 latte each day, that coffee habit will set you back $28 a week, about $120 a month and $1,460 per year. Keep that up for five years, and you’ve slurped away $7,300” – CBS News
Picking just a couple of money saving tactics to add to your long term healthy financial strategy is a great way to keep on track with goals. Happy financial sanity!