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Today, we’re going to look at a huge budget pitfall and do two activities to get you closer to your financial goals.
Assuming you’re still working and have the luxury of waiting to leave your job, let’s use the next month as an experiment.
In my last post, we figured out exactly how much money we have to make up for by either cutting back or making more in order to make staying home with your kids a real possibility.
In today’s post, we’re going to go over some easy ways to save money on things you’re already buying by shopping smarter and using less. Let’s do a 30 day experiment…
What can you do to cut your food budget? Can you break your addiction to going out to eat? Cook at home more? Buy generic instead of name brand? Shop at the cheaper grocery store?
Whatever it is, start doing it. For the next 30 days, I want you to cut your food budget in half doing anything you possibly can. Here are some great tips from all over the web that you really can’t afford to miss!
My best food budget ideas:
- Craving baked ziti? Go buy the ingredients at the store and make 2 huge family meals for the same price that you could buy one dish at a restaurant.
- Make your freezer your best friend. Double up on whatever you’re making and freeze another meal for another day. This isn’t just smart time management, it helps you eliminate that excuse to stop and pick up over-priced convenience food when something comes up and you won’t have time to cook.
- Buy in bulk…
When it makes sense, buy things you use all the time in bulk IF AND ONLY IF the unit price is cheaper. Divide the price by the number of ounces and buy that one.
- …But eat smaller portions
Portion out your own snack bags, don’t just eat mindlessly because you bought more in bulk. Buying in bulk shouldn’t allow us to eat more, it should let what we did buy stretch much further so we’re buying it less frequently AND saving money.
- Use your slow cooker. I know it sounds kind of stupid to throw this in there, but how many times have you been running errands and just not felt like coming home and throwing a meal together? This makes a perfect excuse to go out to eat and blow money you need. Instead, throw random ingredients into your slow cooker, and you’ll come home to an amazing meal. Seriously, you could cook a shoe in a slow cooker and it would still taste good.
- Traveling? Go to the grocery store instead of a restaurant. The things you *should* be eating are around the perimeter of your grocery store. Throw together a cheap meal with fresh fruits and veggies instead of spending money on food filled with fat, sugar, and salt at a restaurant.
Obviously this is kind of a necessity unless you live close enough to things that you can walk. If that’s the case, holy crap, just walk!
Otherwise, plan out your errands at home first. Make a big circle and get as much done in one trip as you can.
Check out the Gas Buddy app. Buy gas at the cheapest place that you can without going out of your way to find it. Remember: Watch your pennies and your dollars will watch themselves.
Does your local gas station have fuel perks? Many gas stations that are associated with grocery stores have perks on fuel if you buy your groceries there. A word of warning – those are usually the expensive grocery stores, but they have generics that can make this REALLY worth your while.
If you live in the US and are anywhere on the eastern side of the country, check to see if you have a Sheetz. At the time of this writing, if you have one of their free customer cards, you scan it at the pump and get 3 cents off per gallon. Every penny counts.
Empty your trunk.
Fill your tires.
Change your oil on time.
Take good care of your vehicle so you don’t have to blow your savings (or worse, run up a credit card) for costly repairs later.
Money-Saving Activity #1
Next, let’s do an activity that might make you roll your eyes, but remember that every penny gets us closer to your goal.
Let’s make a quick list of everything in your house that you replace on a regular basis. For us, that looks like this:
You get the idea.
Now, I want you to write next to each of the things on your list what you spend on them. Do you buy Pantene shampoo for $4 a bottle? Mac cosmetics for an arm and a leg?
Your goal is to replace each and every one of those items with a cheaper version, paying attention to unit price. It doesn’t do you any good to buy a smaller bottle of Pantene for $1 an ounce instead of a 20 ounce bottle of shampoo for $3 that’ll last you much longer.
I know this seems like small potatoes, but seriously, pennies and dollars. Watch your pennies and your dollars will watch themselves.
The best place to keep this list is in a simple note app on your phone. Check out apps that help you compare unit prices and do your best to cut your current expenses by half.
Money Saving Activity #2 – Challenge Yourself to Use Less
Living more frugally is going to be the name of the game when you’re living on one income. One thing I’ve done for years is to challenge myself to use less of the products I use daily.
When I open a new foundation, cream, etc., I write the date on the bottom with a sharpie and see how long I can make it last. We’re all using too much shampoo and conditioner anyway. Shaving cream isn’t a necessity. I can go on and on. Remember, dollars and cents.
I know a lot of people are picky about brands, but now is the time to consider generics and alternative options. Have you checked Amazon Prime (not an Amazon Prime member? Try it free for 30 days by clicking that link!) for some of the things you buy regularly? If you subscribe to enough items, you’ll get a percentage off of things you buy anyway.
Do you buy online often? Are you shopping through Ebates? If not, you’re just throwing money away.
Change Your Mindset
Something really helpful that I learned from listening to Tony Robbins helped us to get our spending under control. He basically says that every single thing you do, you do because there is some payoff. You have to interrupt that thought process that tells you “I’ll feel better if I just go out to eat” and force yourself to rewire your brain to see the benefits in not doing that action.
Take going out to dinner, for example. In your mind, you’re probably thinking about the excitement and fun of going out to eat. Your brain is telling you that going to a restaurant will equal happiness in some form. The trick here is to interrupt that thought process and ask yourself what will happen if you give in and go out to eat.
In this example, your answer might be – I spend money I didn’t need to. I feel guilty for not just eating at home. I blew my diet…you get the picture.
If you challenge the “high” your brain tries to tell you you’re going to get, eventually you’re going to rewire your brain to make smarter decisions instantaneously that are more in line with your goals and values. This works in just about every area of your life. Try it!
Okay, that completes day 2. Easy activities right? Did they help you save any money at all? How can you take these challenges a step further to save even more? Let me know in the comments!