Cutting Costs — The Bump
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Cutting Costs

In preparation for paying for child care, I'm trying to make a good budget/ spending plan.  We are terrible at this Embarrassed.  I need to cut back on our spending but I'm having a hard time figuring out how.  Here's what I have so far:

-give each of us an "allowance" each week for any discretionary spending (eating out, shopping, movies, etc.)

-make a specific grocery budget and stick to it each week

Other than that, I don't know how else to cut costs.  Do you have any suggestions?  I'm open to anything (except DH would have a $h!t fit if I tried to take away our cable.)  I'm stressing out about this so any tips at all will be helpful.  Thanks!

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Re: Cutting Costs

  • We went through this a few years ago before we had our son.  Things we did:

    1. We started tracking all of our spending on mint.com to see how much we were spending for a few months so we could set up a realistic budget.

    2. We then budgeted a set amt for grocery shopping, clothes shopping, etc.  And we stick to it.  If we are out of money for that category that month, that's it... we have to wait until the next month to start over.  There have been SEVERAL months where I have to get creative at the end of the month with my cooking but I try to keep staples in the pantry and freezer so I can always throw something together if need be.

    3. Eating out -- this is the thing we cut the most.  We both pack lunches almost every day and honestly, we don't eat out very much at all.  What we noticed though, is that we didn't have the desire to eat out as much once we had DS because our schedules were so crazy and it was much easier to just spend the night at home.  

    ETA: I also meal-plan which saves $ at the grocery store.  

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  • We do Dave Ramsey and it is hard but it works! I would take a month and write down EVERYTHING you spend money on. Whether it is $1.00 for a coke or $100 for groceries. Then go through and put it in a spreadsheet and see what you are spending the most money on, then go through and see what is a need/ want and prioritize. We spend cash on everything except bills.
  • I use quicken for tracking money but any of those programs work great. Just being able to see how much those little trips to Target add up.

    Meal plan- I can usually spend about 100$ a week and feel all 3 of us including lunches including supplies. Yes, there are weeks where I go over but there are a lot of weeks I'm under. 

    Dining out- we pretty much cut this out almost completely the last budget crunch we did. We were eating out A LOT and it was not only effecting our waistlines but our pocketbooks.

    Write out your budget. Write out what you spend on static things every month (things that don't change)...car, mortgage/rent, estimate highest amount for utilities and go from there. You may see that some of the categories can be cut or scaled back. I'm almost embarrassed what I use to spend on gifts.

    Can you cut gym memberships? things like that always help and a little each month goes a long way. 

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  • PP have good suggestions. Eating out is huge for us.

    Another thing you can do is to call your cable, internet and phone (including) cell phone providers. Each has a department specifically for customer retention. You can ask them if they have any specials to reduce your monthly costs, or tell them that you've been shopping around and are considering switching providers and see what kind of deal they'll make you. 

    We recently switched our TV/internet service and save about $50/month. I called AT&T and asked what we could do to reduce our cell phone bill--they made some adjustments (none of which reduced our minutes) and we're now paying $40 less per month.

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  • Thanks, everyone.
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  • DH and I just did this, as well.  What we did was sit down and total up how much we make per month (the was actually kind of challenging because my income can vary widely).  Then we started deducted our "set bills" i.e. mortgage, electricity, HOA, car payment, etc.  From that we knew how much we had left over.  We then decided how much we wanted to put into savings each month.  Then it was easy to know how much we could spend on everything else.  Each week we get out $x.xx and put it in a bowl in the kitchen.  Whenever one of needs to buy something out of the house, we take some money.  It's very calculated and it's a bonus if we have money left over from the week before.  I have found that using cash REALLY helps curb impulse spending.
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  • I have our allowance directly deposited into seperate checking accounts. They are (obviously) low balance accounts, so when the money is gone, the money is gone. It has cut down our recreational spending so much, I'm emberassed to say the number.

    Also, I thought DH would flip if I suggested no cable (again - we went 2 years before), but he did fine. We have streaming Netflix, and rent from Redbox from time to time. We don't even miss cable. Besides, with a baby, you hardly have time to watch TV anyways - although streaming Netflix in the first few months is a lifesaver.

    We refinanced DH's car for a better interest rate.

    I bought a car with better gas mileage and that uses regular gas.

    I got back into cooking. Eat at home, eat at home, eat at home!

    I track every dollar we spend and that helps SO much!

     

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