Rick and I have learned so much over the past 8ish months since beginning our quest for financial freedom. (We’ve paid $44,000 in student loans since April!) I thought I’d share some of the habits we’ve developed since beginning our journey that have helped us to save thousands.
1. Eating in. We didn’t eat out a lot before, but we’ve really reeled it in over the last few months. Rick’s talked with his friends about doing a potluck for some of their meals when they get together. We’ve invited people over instead of going out or suggested going out for coffee or drinks instead of a full meal.
2. Having weekly budget meetings. We learned that we need to regularly check in with our expenses to make sure we’re staying on track. We plug what we’ve spent each week into our budget spreadsheet and then see how much we have left to spend for the rest of the month. This helps so we don’t get to the end of the month and go “oh crap, we blew our budget“.
3. Discussing purchases. We have started communicating better about what we actually need, how much things cost, and making grocery lists. Even when going clothes shopping after my clothes buying fast was up, I made a list and set a spending limit after talking with Rick about it.
4. Using the library for entertainment. I don’t care what Leslie Knope says, libraries are the best! We use the library for many of our entertainment resources such as books, audiobooks, movies, and TV series DVDs. Lately, the audiobooks have been awesome for long drives.
5. Keeping grocery shopping to once a week. We make a list of meals and snacks we’ll eat each week and then create a list of ingredients we’ll need. We shop our fridge and pantry first to make sure we use up things that are about to expire. I’ve been doing a much better job at sticking to the list without purchasing extra in the store. It’s enough to last a week, and if we missed something, we manage without it. Since making a few changes, we’ve cut our grocery bill by about $100 each month.
6. Making more meatless meals. I started a Meatless Monday recipe series last month, and I’ve found some tasty, filling recipes that don’t require meat. Before creating our budget, we spent $400+ per month on groceries. With October’s Meatless Mondays, we spent less than $300.
7. Unplugging stuff and turning out lights. Honestly, I don’t know how much money this has saved us- maybe a few dollars a month? It does help with the mentality of using only what we need and wasting less.
8. Trying at-home/outdoor workouts. The weather’s getting cooler, but we still don’t plan to get a gym membership this year. I’ve been bundling up to go for walks or runs. If it’s dark by the time I get home after work I’ve been using online workouts such as this pop pilates challenge or yoga.
9. Using what we have first. I mentioned that we shop the fridge and pantry first before going grocery shopping. The same goes for other areas in our home. I try to use clothing in new ways and play around with different outfits to make things seem like new. We’ve gotten crafty with gift wrap and cards using supplies we have on hand. We also check the gift card drawer in our house to see if we can use a gift card for something we need to purchase. If we don’t have it, we try to borrow or buy used before purchasing something new.
10. Checking for coupons. I’m not a big couponer, but I have been checking for coupons online and in the mail lately. We’ve used coupons for eating out, haircuts, auto maintenance, donating plasma, and movie rentals. Cashback apps and Ebates have been helpful with groceries, gifts and household items, too!
11. Saying no. Sometimes things aren’t in the budget and we have to say no to ourselves and/or other people. Usually it’s not a flat-out “no”. If it’s not in the budget that month, maybe we can make room for it the next month. Or maybe we’ll suggest a less expensive option instead. Most of our friends and family members know we are working hard to pay off debt. They’ve been extremely supportive and understanding, and I can’t thank them enough!
Now, don’t think we’re always perfect. We could definitely up our game in some of these areas. Really, it’s not about being perfect, but it’s about trying our best.
We’d like to make these habits sustainable so that even when that glorious day arrives when we can finally say we’re debt-free, we’ll continue to make sound financial decisions.
What kinds of frugal habits have you developed?
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