I’m so excited to share something very dear to my heart with you Growing Slower followers – SAVING MONEY! My husband and I made it a goal to pay off our house in 7 years (with a 15 year note), so I would be able to stay home with our kids when the time came, so saving is/was my best friend.
We were both teaching and did not have kids. We doubled up on payments for a while and then started paying more and more, beating our goal by 4 years and paying it off in 33 months ($110,000 loan)!
Here we are almost 3 years later and I’m a stay-at-home mom with no debt, still saving for college and retirement. So here are some tips I find useful!
1. MAKE A BUDGETThis is the #1 way to start saving. Why? Because you see exactly where your money goes and how much spending you can reduce when it’s laid out in front of you.
Once my husband made me control more of the budget, I really started saving money. I’m amazed with how many people don’t have a real budget.
When I say “budget,” I’m talking three important things on it: Category (i.e. Groceries), Budgeted Amount ($400), and Every Expenditure (every trip to the store that was for groceries (see our budget below).
I could go on and on about a budget, but the main thing is to get one in writing and start using it. You will be amazed at how much you are spending and how clearly you can see your money.
Trust me, I know how easy it is to let the credit card statement be your budget. We are CONSTANTLY revising our budget…and we get better and better each time!
Our Budget – written on paper, old school, but it works!
2. GET RID OF CABLEI’m talking the big, crazy packages most families have. We haven’t had cable since we got married. No Netflix, no DVR, no HuluPlus. I feel so out of the loop when people talk about "cable shows."
We watch a ton of movies. We also buy seasons on dvd (or ask for gifts) and watch them in the summer!
This really is an easy way to save a lot of money each month. I’ll be honest…I wish we had DVR so I could record shows, but I like saving money so I can stay home with my baby much better. We pay $69 for Internet AND Basic Cable (have to have this for TV).
3. SHOP AROUNDShop often for different rates for insurance and electricity. There is almost always a better deal out there. My husband changes electricity companies, almost monthly, for the best rate. I think that’s a bit extreme, but he’s in charge of that.
Texas summers are brutal, so A/C is a must! We keep it at 77-78 degrees in the summer and our bill is between $100-175 a month (2000 sq ft house).
4. CUT GROCERIESI love food so this one is hard for me, but most Americans overspend on groceries. I know this will differ for each family, but rule of thumb is $100 per person in the household. We have three, so we should spend about $300. We actually spend around $360 (this is everything except diapers). I’m hoping when we have more kids, we’ll stick to that rule of thumb. When Ryan and I were first married we spent $280 a month. You can check out my detailed tips for grocery shopping here. Menu planning and ads are key for us.
My grocery template with meals and items to buy.
5. MINIMIZE DINING OUT MONEYI love to eat out! Therefore, we have to find ways to save in this category. I have tons of tips here. Coupons are the key for us in this department. We budget about $100 a month for dining out (this includes fast food, restaurants, and my must-have Starbucks every once in a while…any food outside the house).
6. SPEND WISELYWe are stewards of God’s money here on Earth, so how we spend it is important. This very simple equation will help you manage your money: Income > Expenditures = Good Budget. Sounds easy, but surprisingly, majority of Americans do not follow it, hence the debt crisis. Viewing money differently is important to saving.
BONUS TIPSIf you really want to save BIG, there are TWO major things you should focus on: HOUSE and CAR. I won’t go into detail here, but the following are important for each:
HOUSEThe key is to buy the right house first. Your mortgage should NOT be more than twice your household’s total annual income. For example, if your household income is $80,000, your loan should not be more than $160,000. Of course, this a general rule, but the point is, your mortgage should be lower than you think it would be (definitely lower than what most Americans buy). Also, get a 15 year note!
CARNever lease! It’s the most expensive way to operate a vehicle. Do not take on car payments. This post says it all. I love what Dave Ramsey (whom we follow for financial advice) says about this: "Will your broke relatives and friends make fun of your junk car while you do this? Sure they will, but that is a very good sign you are on the right track."
Olivia Snyder is the writer at Snyders Tell All: Living a FabuLESS Life. The blog is a culmination of all things Snyder (finance, money saving tips, family, recipes, and more). She’s a former teacher, called into being a stay-at-home mom to an adorable 1.5 year old, Beckham. She spends her “free” time blogging, making printable signs for Joyful Art Designs (on Etsy), and playing soccer. She and her husband live in Texas. God is good!