Hi all! Well first, Happy New Year! I hope you had awesome holidays. CAH and I literally just sat around the house in our pajamas, opening presents, cooking and drinking. It was flippin’ awesome!
My job recently got downsized and so CAH and I are looking at living on one income until I find something else. It’s part exhilarating and part terrifying. I’ll explain the exhilarating part:
We decided awhile ago that I would take classes where I can because I am changing my career. Taking classes with any regularity while you work is tough and I day-dreamed of getting to the point where I could just quit working and go to school full time. Now that we are going to be on one income, it has forced us to completely change the way we budget. We have the logistics down, but execution is always nerve-wracking. But if we can do it successfully, then we’ve decided that whatever income I do bring in, we are just going to bank for the next year or two so that I can just quit working and finish up school. YAY!
But that means that I really have to scrimp and save to make just CAH’s income work for us. We are lucky in that we don’t have kids to worry about, but we still do have some tiny, but rather demanding mouths to feed.
I’m new to this kind of extreme budgeting and here is what I’ve done so far. I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE any of you out there who are living on a budget to share what you are doing!
The Culprits – what you don’t know about your spending could kill you. Well, kill your bank account.
1) Restaurants – food is our biggest budget item. When we met with our financial planner to look at our food spending budget for November/December, we had spent over $500 eating out in November alone. WHAT? It’s not like we are eating at the finest restaurants San Francisco has to offer, and there are only two of us. Aside from frequency of eating out, what the hell is making the eating out expense of two people so freaking high……
2)….seriously kid, lay off the wine – Yeah, my 3 glasses of wine at dinner may have something to do with it. Luckily I am off of wine pending an upcoming 5K, so that has not been such an issue as late. But from this point forward when we are allowed the luxury of eating out, I’m getting hammered at home first (friends should take note of this and expect me to see me show up to dinner dates HOA – Hammered On Arrival).
3) Amazon.com’s Prime Membership – Amazon Prime may seem like just a convenient free-2-day shipping service on the surface, but it is a gateway service to the seedy underbelly of impulse shopping. Pinterest and Amazon are an especially deadly combo. What’s that Pinterest? Biotin supplements will make my hair grow longer and faster? Well hello Amazon Prime, you have Biotin? *click*, purchased. (Qeueu CAH two days later, “You ordered something ELSE?!?”). Sadly, I have disabled the Amazon Prime instant renewal. It was a symbolic gesture of impulse buying sobriety. ((sob))
4) Food – I love cooking and so our grocery bills can be quite high. That, coupled with the apparent $500/month we are spending eating out, is a problem.
The steps I’ve taken so far:
Took my nails off (AKA bye bye luxuries)
Essentially, and obviously, all luxury is out the door. I had my Shellac manicure removed and replaced with plain old nail polish. Home manis/pedis from this point on. Le sigh. Obviously all travel, shopping therapy, and impulse buying is out for me. CAH’s $500/week strip club habit has to got to be stopped, too. I kid, I kid (he’s going to kill me for that one).
Ok this is the biggie. We have to eat, and I refuse to fall victim to cheap and processed junk. It’s a lot easier to buy pre-made crap (think Hamburger Helper, Country Crock mashed potatoes, Velveeta) to eat on the cheap, but saving money on groceries like this means more money spent on bad health. I think that this is a trap fallen into by many, and many studies show that this is a huge factor in why many low-income families are also obese.
I am a vegetarian and CAH is a meat-eater, which will keep our grocery budget lower if only buying meat for one. Due to cholesterol issues with CAH, we recently switched him to grass-fed/grass-finished beef. It is important that it is grass finished and not grain finished. We found a small, local farm, Brandon Natural Beef, that delivers CAH’s beef right to our door. We are also going to do the same thing with local produce through a local organic produce delivery system, Farm Fresh to You.
Additionally we bought a chest freezer so that we can buy in bulk and freeze. With CAH’s meat and our produce being obtained from local farms, I am going to supplement the rest with grains and beans. With this grocery plan, we will get our grocery bill down to about $50/ week, so we’ve more than halved our grocery budget.
Those damn demanding mouths to feed! This is especially tough because one of our dogs has food allergies and so needs a limited ingredient food. We were previously spending about $32 on a 28 pound bag of dog food that didn’t give our dog a 24/7 scratch-a-thon. We were trying to figure out if there was any way we could find a limited ingredient food for even a little cheaper and scanned the Web for ideas. While I was at Costco, I popped over to their pet food aisle just to see what they might have and lo and behold, their own brand, Kirkland, now has a limited ingredient, grain free dog food! The cost was the same, $32, but it was for a 35 pound bag. 7 extra pounds of food – we will take it!
That is where we are at now, and I know that we are far from finished in figuring out this whole budget thing. I will resume making our laundry detergent, body wash, etc once those things run out. In the mean time, I would love to hear from you all – how do you care for your family on a budget?