Friday, June 15, 2012
Ways We Save Money: Basic Stuff
I'm starting a new series here at Feathers in Our Nest. I want to share with you some of the ways that our family saves money, not so we can save thousands each year in a bank account or take dream vacations, but truly so we can make ends meet. This is not to make anyone feel guilty who doesn't economize in these ways, but to encourage you in several ways.
First, I want you to know that if you are struggling financially, there are other people out there who are struggling to keep afloat as well. We can provide support and encouragement to one another, as well as share practical advice for ways to be better stewards of our finances in our own families.
Secondly, I want to encourage women who would like to become stay-at-home moms, either now or in the future, that it IS possible to live on only one income. You will probably have to cut back in certain areas and not live at the same "level" as many of your friends, but it is entirely worth it and doable.
I'll say it again... these posts are not meant to discourage you if you would like to be saving more money but just can't right now. We ALL have limits, whether those limits be on our time, our creativity, or our physical location or capabilities. For example, you may be able to "play the drugstore game" and get all of your toiletries for free (and even make money!). I am not able to do this because of where we live. The town near us is 12 miles away and has one chain drug store. It just doesn't make sense for me to clip coupons and make special trips every week to a part of town I am not normally traveling to. (That's just one example, but I'm sure there are many other examples of limitations.)
So... without further ado, here are some basic ways that our family saves money.
We decided before we were even married not to have a TV, period. This may be shocking to some of you, but we weren't raised in families that watched a lot of TV in general, so we don't even "miss it." We aren't morally opposed to someone having a TV, of course, but we have chosen not to have one. We still watch things on our computers (DVDs from Redbox on rare occasions, and online with Hulu or Amazon Prime), but we don't have to shell out money each month for a cable bill. We also have the added benefit of more time spent together as a family and as a couple, and more time to read, play games, and do creative projects!
2. Used Cars
By God's provision, we have paid cash for all of the cars we have owned. We don't have any debt on these cars, so that saves us another payment each month. We certainly have had our fair share of car trouble, but we know people who have purchased new cars who still experience the occasional breakdown.
3. One Car
For almost two and a half years of our marriage, we had only one car. We needed a new vehicle when Cordelia was born because the car we had could not fit all four of us. Tad still uses that car to drive to work, since it gets great gas mileage, but I could see in the future us possibly going back to one vehicle if we needed to.
We try to keep our utility bill lower by keeping the thermostat high in the summer and low in the winter. We try to be content with being a little warmer or cooler than we would prefer in an effort to save money. We also try to turn off lights we aren't using and turn off/unplug electronics we don't need.
5. No Home Phone
Like many people are now choosing to do, we don't have a home phone. We both have cell phones (generously part of Tad's parents' family plan), so we haven't had a need for another phone that would cost us probably $20 a month (minimum).
6. Buying Used
In addition to buying used cars, we also buy used furniture, books, clothing (both for us & the girls), home decor items, toys, baby things, and many other items! We are not afraid of thrift shops, consignment stores, Craigslist, Goodwill, or yard sales. I love getting a good deal and I don't mind at all that someone else got to enjoy something before I did!
I'll talk about this more in upcoming posts, but if we are capable of doing it ourselves, we usually learn how to do it (thanks, Google!). Tad has learned a lot about plumbing since buying a 90-plus-year-old house, and he has also repaired dryers and fixed cars. I don't think he'll mind me saying that he's not a "fix-it man" kind of guy... or at least he wasn't. :) I've learned to persevere in sewing even though I don't love it in order to make clothing, gifts, and things for our home that we otherwise wouldn't be able to afford. We're becoming better painters since the cost of hiring a painter for our house would be prohibitive.
Well I think that's a good start! I can't wait to share more money-saving ideas with you soon!
What are some big ways your family saves money on monthly expenses?