As a self-employed couple our monthly income tends to vary pretty widely.
For a while – it felt like forever – we lived on what most would consider a poverty level budget – completely dirt poor – but with a lot of hard work building our businesses, our finances have improved considerably, and while we’ve continued to live on a pretty low budget in order to put money into savings, our budget has definitely gotten looser.
Recently though, I’ve been working on a project (specifically, another website), which I’ll have to invest quite a bit of money into before I ever see a return, and that has inspired me to cut down on spending and save money where I can – because even though we have a pretty comfortable savings cushion, dipping into it makes me uncomfortable.
Here are some of the ways I’m keeping myself from spending money unnecessarily:
Ordering Groceries online
Did you know that You can order groceries online at Walmart, and then simply walk in to customer service to pick them up? It’s hard to quantify how much money this saves me, but I think it’s a lot. See, what happens is obviously, I don’t have to walk through all the aisles of the store putting things in my basket, so I avoid the temptation to put things into my cart that I don’t need. And of course, the kids don’t talk me into buying things, which is a LOT less stressful!
Now obviously, I can’t buy my fresh or frozen produce this way, which would be lovely, but since I don’t buy that at Walmart anyway, that’s okay, I just drive down to the only other grocery store in Stephenville and hit the produce section only. I don’t mind the kids talking me into buying more produce. 😉
Plus, I can shop through rewards sites like Giving Assistant to get (or give) cash back.
Staying Away From yard sales
Summer is THE time for yard sale, and I LOVE them, but they don’t love my pocket book. I’ve committed to not buying any new clothing for myself for the time being, and my kids have plenty of clothes, so there’s not reason to tempt myself. There are a few pieces of furniture I’m keeping an eye out for, but usually those get advertised on the local Facebook buy/sell/trade groups, even if they’re being sold in a yard sale, so I don’t feel the need to browse anything but Facebook and craigslist for those.
Eating a lot of vegetarian food
I’ll be honest, this one is more for health reasons, and the budget benefit is just a side bonus. I’m eating a lot of eggs from our chickens/ducks, and beans (largely in the form of hummus) for my protein, which is much MUCH cheaper than buying meat. Even though I’m the only one in the family doing this, it’s still a pretty significant savings, and I feel better to boot!
Investing in a larger wading pool for the kids
They LOVE going to the pool, but they’re really too little to appreciate the deep water of the public pool, so for the price of one day’s admission, I bought them a snap set wading pool, which when full, is deep enough for them to float around on the rafts and have a lot of fun with. I’m enjoying the savings now, because I’m sure I won’t be able to get away with this one they learn how to swim. 😉
Fixed my bicycle
I’ve noticed that people seem to look at adults differently when you pull up to the store on a bike to get groceries. Like, you must be poor or something. It made me gun-shy for a little while, but I got over it. People can think what they want – I like riding my bike whenever I can – I sit down too much as it is, and with the Dollar store a mile a way, there’s no reason I can’t get a little exercise when I need to go. Plus, I’m savoring every moment of Hadassah being small enough to fit in the back seat – I’m not looking forward to having to use the bike trailer!
I can’t really say that these are little thing that I can implement without a second thought – retraining myself to order groceries instead of just heading out to the store has been a pretty big change, and so has eating so differently – but in some ways, it’s even easier.
Ordering groceries has majorly de-stressed my shopping trips, and eating more carbs as a result of my diet change has given me tons of energy. So I’m not sorry at all that we have an unpredictable income!