When my husband took a job with better hours that paid less, while at the same time we decided to buy a house and bring our first baby into the world, we had quite the wake-up call. We realized that what we were earning could no longer support the lifestyle we'd chosen for ourselves. It seemed a hopeless cause when we looked at our budget, but once we broke our attachment to certain aspects of our lifestyle, opportunities to spend less and save more became apparent.
Getting rid of cable
As it turns out, we don't need cable. It's surprising, I know. We stuck with our Netflix subscription and Internet and allowed the cable company to haul away our coveted box. This leaves an extra $50 in our bank account each month, and we're enjoying resurrecting our old DVDs, tuning into music instead of TV shows, and occasionally even enjoying a little quiet time at home.
Sticking to a meal plan
Our grocery bill, which frequently included expensive meats, unnecessary snacks, and impulse buys, was ringing up to the tune of $400/month. Now, we make a meal plan at the beginning of the week and stick to it. We don't buy more food unless we've eaten or allocated what's in our fridge and freezer. We eat a lot of hot dogs, I'm sad to say, but we're eating less overall, and believe it or not, the scales are actually showing it. We've been able to cut our monthly food budget in half with our discipline and attitude adjustment.
I used to think nothing of picking up a cup of coffee from one of the shops surrounding my workplace or treating myself to a caramel Macchiato from Starbucks on Sunday. Each purchase always seemed minimal at the time, but it quickly adds up. Instead, I've now brought a coffee maker into work, and with its programmable feature I have fresh coffee waiting for me every morning at a fraction of the cost.
Trading treasure for time
I think it's extremely important to give to others, but it doesn't always have to be in the form of money. I've decided to temporarily suspend my monthly charitable contributions and give of my time instead. I've joined a committee and a choir at church, and I'm kicking my prayer life up a notch. Giving to others in this non-tangible way is rewarding in its own right, but it will be even more so when we get out of debt and can make large donations later on in life.
It's amazing how accustomed we get to things we think we could never go without, but it turns out it's possible and even beneficial to do so. Now we have extra cash in the bank each month and a feeling of empowerment from taking control of our finances, making smart choices, and sacrificing for the overall good of our family.
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