Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Saving, or not saving, money

I love it when I go "blog hopping" and find something really interesting to read or even, when I strike gold, a new blog to follow in google reader. Tonight as I was blog hopping I came across the Zen Habits blog.

I have to admit while, overall, I dislike blogs that tell you how to live your life better, there were a few interesting points. I even subscribed to Zen Family Habits, so we'll see what they have to say over there.

Anyways, I read this post called How I Save Money and had to giggle. I always jump at the chance to read other people's ideas on ways to cut out expenses from our lives and this post was no exception. We very much live paycheck-to-paycheck in our house, though there is some chance in the future of this situation improving as some large expenses start shifting around.

Here is the list of money-saving points that I looked through to see if any would help us:

1) I cut my own hair. Obviously this was written by a man. I know very, very few women who do this. I spend a decent amount on haircuts ($50 plus tip) but that is it. I don't color, perm, straighten, nothin'.

2) No Cable TV. Check.

3) Became vegan. While we are no where near vegan, this kind of suggestion always baffles me. I have been vegetarian, and for a short while vegan, and every other dietary label under the sun. My grocery bill never changed. Though maybe if I ate lots of beans and rice it certainly would.

4) Don’t use the gym. Check.

5) Rarely go to the movies. I will say "check" for this, though I do go to the movies once in a while. I go to the local budget theatre and pay $5.50 for a ticket.

6) Quit smoking. Don't smoke.

7) Don’t drink much. I am the only drinker in our family and I consume, total, about one drink per month.

8) Never go out. Check.

9) Stay healthy. I wouldn't say we are the models of perfect health, but we have great insurance and have little out-of-pocket expenses for illness. I would say I pay WAY more for things to keep my family healthy than to treat illness.

10) Don’t go shopping. Okay, I do like to shop. But by "shop" I mean go to Target (darn them for being two blocks from my girls' school!). I am sure people could look at what I buy and think my family could do without some/most of it, but I would say by far my purchases are for things that are basic household necessities.

11) Have only one car. Check. And it has close to 120,000 miles on it, so there!

12) Bring my own lunch. As a SAHM I rarely have reason to buy lunch out, but I do on occasion. My husband buys lunches out of his "allowance" (yes, we call it that very tongue-in-cheek).

13) No magazine or newspaper subscriptions. I do get a few magazines but I order them at steep discounts, like for $5-$10 per year. So I spend maybe $75 per YEAR on magazines.

14) Rarely buy new clothes. I would have to say that, overall, we rarely buy new clothes, and when we do, it's the Old Navy clearance special. I would totally be a thrift-store gal but my husband and I are both quite tall and difficult to buy clothes for.

15) Never travel. This year we are going on our first real vacation. We do travel fairly regularily to see family, but I consider that an absolute necessity.

16) No more lattes. Any lattes in our family come from our allowance.

Anyone have any special things they have done to save money on their household expenses?


  1. Yeah those articles always baffle me too. I do almost all those things and more. I do pay for haircuts but only for me. Dan cuts his own hair, I cut Ian's & Alison tags along with my and my stylist trims her hair for free. Going vegan is hilarious, a pound of strawberries is $2.50 right now, trucked all the way to MI from CA and therefore taste almost as good as a scratch and sniff strawberry sticker. I guess potatoes are cheap but not much else is. When we go to the movies we go to the $1 shows so it's $3 for me and the kids. We have Netflix not cable. We have to have 2 cars since public transportation is non-existent here. The kids clothes are hand me downs or goodwill specials. I rarely buy clothes for me since I hate to shop for them. We don't go on vacation, rarely go out to eat, don't do recreational shopping, don't smoke. All of our magazines are gifts or super cheap specials. Dan home-brews now so he can afford the "good stuff" for a fraction of the cost. I've never been to Starbucks, lol. We all have stainless water bottles and bring water from home anytime we're going to be gone longer than 30 min. We have cheap tracfones with no monthly fees.

    One thing we could cut down on is prepackaged/processed foods. But even with that we spend $400 or less a month on groceries. I don't know much more we can cut.

  2. Grrr! I keep forgetting about blogger screwing with the parapraphs! Will go fix. Sorry to anyone who read it all jumbled up.

    I hear you Jen! Well, I mean, as I can apply it to my own life. I know our situations are different, but isn't it interesting how it all boils down to some of the same things?

    Oh, and the organic strawberries at the co-op the other day were $4 or $5. Yeesh!

  3. It is kind of funny about that list contains so many absolutes (i.e., "never")...however, I wanted to pipe in and say that we have been a vegetarian family for about five years and we totally noticed a difference in our grocery bill when we "converted." I guess it all depends on what you buy, like you alluded to. I have also cut my own hair for the last...oh...ten years? I also cut the hair of the people in my family. I don't even know how much a haircut costs! And I don't say any of that to say I am somehow better than anyone else--just to throw in my two cents. :)

    I agree with "don't go shopping" (though how can you literally never go shopping?!?!) in that it helps if you don't even know what's out there...Target is my downfall too. :)

    But, to answer your question...one thing we do that helps is put cash in envelopes (entertainment, groceries, clothing, gas, etc.) at the beginning of each month and *theoretically*, when it's out, it's out. Sometimes we go over and go ahead and use our debit card when the cash is out, but it still keeps us mentally in check and we are quite aware of how much over our budget we are going, which I think helps us cut down on what we might spend if we didn't do that. :)

    I recently found your blog and am enjoying it!

  4. Hi Adrienne! Thanks for leaving a comment. I like that envelope idea. I feel like I've tried something like that in the past . . . not sure what happened? We used to be MUCH more disciplined about money when we were working hard to pay down debt to buy our house so maybe that was when.

  5. Well... I was married to a licensed hairstylist (from age 20) for about a dozen years or so. I have never, ever paid for a haircut. So I have a very hard time justifying the expense.

    That was no big deal when I was shaving my head or even shaving am mohawk. I could get anybody to help with that, if needed. However, I have longer hair now, but recently took the plunge and started chopping it myself. I'm pleased with the result as well as the liberation! My case, however, is very specific to my own situation. And I like weird hair, too.

    I've cut cable. I'm not changing my eating habits that drastically for some savings. Screw that. I don't use a gym. We VERY rarely go to any movies, mostly because we don't use sitters. I don't smoke or drink (nursing still). I pretty much never go out. If I do, I try to make it something free like a festival or a zoo trip (we have a membership).

    Who DOESN'T try to stay healthy??

    I no longer go shopping just for the sake of shopping. I try to browse less when I am in the store, too.

    We got rid of 1 car, so now we share. The newer vehicle uses more gas, though. Lunch, when I worked FT, I drove home for lunch so I could nurse the baby. Now I work PT so it is a moot point.

    I have no subscriptions. I very rarely buy new clothes and keep meaning to go to Goodwill to shop for used. I just don't add to my wardrobe much. I don't like shopping for clothes.

    I don't ever travel (yet! I want to travel FT, though!) and I don't drink coffee. Ick!

    So... I'm doing pretty well. We also have moved into a smaller and smaller living space. So we've cut down on rent & electric by doing that. That is probably the biggest step we took that most may be unwilling to do.


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