Since we are self employed, income isn’t such a predetermined number as it was in the corporate world. We have an idea of how much we might make in a month, but that number can vary by thousands at times.
As a result, we’ve gotten very good at cutting costs as a precautionary measure. I like to live frugally anyway regardless of income, so cutting costs is a great way to pinch those pennies. In this series, I’ll let you in on my best secrets to save big money each month.
So how do we watch TV?
Depending on your location, you can get most basic channels like ABC, CBS, NBC and more, free with a good antenna like the Mohu Leaf:
Since we don’t get the best reception in our area, we rely more heavily on…
Hulu has all the TV shows we enjoy watching. We personally don’t mind waiting a little longer to watch the next episode of a show to save some money. Hulu starts at just $7.99/mo.
Netflix is another excellent streaming app we use on our smart TV along with Hulu. Netflix starts at just $7.99 per month.
Watching TV this way saves us AT LEAST a whopping $100+!!!
We shop around for the cheapest internet, and we ask them for the slowest internet possible. You heard me right. We stream shows, my husband very occasionally plays video games, we use multiple computers at the same time since we run a business out of our home, and we have no issues. Time Warner Cable used to have an Everyday Low Price plan which was only $15 per month and we’ve been grandfathered in for a short period after Spectrum bought them, but our internet pricing will soon skyrocket thanks to Spectrum. I have a feeling we’ll be searching for different internet plans soon. Century Link is what I use at my studio and it costs us $40, I believe. On our former Every Day Low Price plan, we’ve been saving at least $25-35 per month.
We eat primarily organic foods. Back in the day, we used to go to Outpost, and $50 would get us one little bag of groceries. We love supporting businesses like Outpost, but with a family of 6 now, it was hurting our wallet too much. Now we shop at Costco, which carries a huge assortment of organic foods. For our large family, it’s very beneficial to shop there. Sometimes, we also shop at Walmart (hello Grocery Pick Up! Use my code for $10 off when you sign up!) and Woodman’s which have the best pricing.
Coupons might seem like an obvious way to save money, but only if you’re buying items you usually buy and know you will use. Often, items will still be more expensive than the generic version after using a coupon. You might also find you buy a lot of items you don’t necessarily need when you have a coupon for them. I’m very strict with coupons when I use them and I make sure it is only for items that I truly need.
For our family of 6, we spend between $400-600 on groceries. I don’t find this bad at all, especially because we are eating organic, minimal pastas, and have 4 growing sprouts to feed, who often eat like teenage boys. 😉
We buy many of our toiletries from Amazon. We have found it to be cheaper through Amazon than Costco or Walmart for the majority of our items. And, we buy many of them in bulk because again, family of 6 here! Can you say diapers, toilet paper, napkins galore?! Here are our favorite and most cost effective brands. Some of them we get because we simply don’t want to spend more for the ‘natural’ version (like diapers) and others we get because we prefer the quality over other cheaper brands:
At least once per year, we check in with our insurance agent to make sure we are getting the best auto, home, etc. rates. We also review the policies to make sure there aren’t any ‘extras’ in there that we don’t need. I recommend using an independent agent who has access to many companies to get the best rates on insurance.
Making a Budget and Sticking to it
The most important thing you can do to save money is to start a budget, and actually stick to it. It’s so easy to spend a little here and there on ‘extras’ like a cup of coffee, that cute throw pillow, and more cute girl’s headbands (even though you have 1,453,876 at home). Trust me, I know. I have a pillow problem. It’s become a joke around our house that whenever I go to the store alone, I might come back with more pillows. It helps to always ask ourselves, “Do we really need this? Could my money be spent more wisely than on this item?” We give our family some grace with spending money on extras, like if it’s something that we will use or if it’s been planned for in the budget. I can buy home decor (you know, just not pillows….that I’m banned from) or spend money on craft projects if it’s been allocated in our budget. My husband and I plan for ‘blow’ money for each of us, about $50 per month, that we can spend on whatever we want to. Having that bit of blow money helps us to spend money wisely and also not be tempted to go on spending binges. We are big fans of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. It helped us be debt free with the current exception of our house and our new van (which unfortunately was a must since we couldn’t fit everyone in our previous vehicle). You can read his book, get the whole Financial Peace University Kit if you’re real serious (which, in my opinion, is worth the money), and there’s even an awesome kid’s version!
We also like to be financially responsible by being environmentally responsible. It’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it. Always turn lights off when you leave the room. Only use lights in the room you’re in. Don’t run the water when you’re brushing your teeth. Take quick showers and shower every other day if you can. If you are paying for a gym membership, shower there instead of at home. If there’s a nice breeze outside, open up your windows instead of turning on the air conditioning. Try using fans before using the air conditioning. Turn your thermostat down for the colder months and just put on some extra layers of clothing, and sleep with extra blankets. Wash all your clothes together on cold (I know, GASP! We do it all the time and haven’t had any issues).
With all of these savings combined, we have done the math and figured out that we save AT LEAST $500 compared to the average family our size. What things do you do that save your family money each month? Leave your tips in the comments below!