By Jessica of A Parent in Silver Spring. Ah, winter after the holidays. That soul-sucking time of year when we're faced not only with the cold weather doldrums, but also forced to face the music from our holiday shopping spending AND our upcoming tax payments.
It's the time of year when I personally decide to clean up my spending act and make subtle changes that effect our family cash flow. Just as others resolve anew to get up at 6 a.m. for morning runs or avoid the beer and cookie aisles at the market, come January, I re-pledge allegiance to excess spending.
My spouse and I have done everything we can to avoid debt, protect investments, blah blah, but I'm not talking about "the market"...unless you mean the supermarket. I'm no Suze or personal finance manager. Please don't call me about fixing your credit score or for advice on a hedge fund.
I deal in the shallow end of the baby pool with easy-peasy ways to spend less household cash. I personally am making small changes in our spending that save my household approximately $600 per month. That's a lot of cash! Just cutting luxuries and bargain shopping can potentially save $7-8,000 per year. (Now, I'm not sure about the tuition rates in your area, but in my town, that adds up to daily preschool for two kids for an entire school year. Or, as I like to call it, SANITY.)
Here are small changes I'm re-committing to making in 2011 that make a big difference in our monthly budget.
- Maid service twice a month + Christmas bonus vs. cleaning the @#$&ing house myself.
- Drive-through car wash vs. liquid soap, garden hose and pulling out the shop vac to suck up the Goldfish crumbs.
- Gym membership, rarely used vs. power walking, exercise DVDs, occasional drop-in yoga class fees & downloading new music.
- "Winging it" when it comes to tracking our household spending vs. tracking every purchase using the Yahoo! Personal Finance Budgeting Tool.
- Hitting the big "sales" at the children stores at the mall for spring clothes vs. hitting the local kid consignment sale circuit.
- Purchasing lots of boneless skinless chicken breasts for quick healthy high-protein meals vs. learning to make more vegetarian and bean-based Indian dishes.
- College-age babysitter for a Saturday night out vs. swapping with another family in the neighborhood.
- Paying outrageous wine list price for cheap bottle on date night vs. looking up a BYOB restaurant on ReserveYourNightOut.com.
- Purchasing store-bought cards for birthdays & celebrations per month vs. making our own using the computer or kids' crafts.
- Not renewing glossy magazine subscriptions vs. reading online versions, purchasing only for airplanes.
- Fancy salon shampoo & conditioner to protect hair color vs.sulfate-free products from grocery store.
- Ordering delivery pizza when super tired + tip for driver vs. telling everyone to make themselves a dang quesadilla.