I decided it was time to re-evaluate my budget when my grocery bill per month got to $750 a month ( yes I got a little off track). I guess with everything that I’ve had going on in my life (divorce, moving, son in the hospital) the stress was too much and I stopped budgeting like I should have been. I used to clip coupons, meal plan, do make ahead meals, etc but all of that took the back burner for a while. So anyhow, now it’s time to put my foot down on spening too much!!!! I’m getting back on track. I have some goals in place (more on that later) and it’s time to make some changes. Here are some ways I am cutting our grocery bill down. One simple thing!!!! Shopping at the dollar tree! If you don’t have a Dollar Tree in your area maybe you have a .99 cent store or something similar. Just by know what to buy here you can save hundreds. Here are some of the things that I feel are a good value and I will do a price comparison Dollar Tree vs. Walmart Cream Cheese $1.00 vs. $2 @walmart (we go through a lot of this with bagels and crackers) Snack crackers $1 vs. $3-4 a box Bread or buns $1 vs. $3-4 Sour cream $1 vs. $2 Soda .25 a can about the same right now Juice $1 vs. $3 Pasta $1 vs. $2 Pasta sauce $1 vs. up to $4 Frozen waffles $1 vs. $2-3 Coffee and tea And hot cocoa $1 vs. up to $6 or more Snacks (this is the biggest budget breaker in our house) i would say just buying all your snacks here tou can save $50 a week (assuming you grocery shop once a week) Frozen foods $1 vs. 2 Misc Paper plates $1 vs $2 Tylenol $1 vs. $4 Band aids $1 vs. $3 Coufh or cold medicine $1 vs. uo to $10 Vitamins $1 vs. 4-$9 or more Tupperware $1 vs. 2-$3 See how fast the savings add up? You can basically cut your bill in half every week. I shop about once a week (big shopping trip) and a couple more for misc. items. So basically what I am now doing since the main stores i shop at are Walmart and the Dollar Tree, I am only buying milk, meat, eggs and produce at walmart. Everything else like pantry and household items I’m now getting at the Dollar Tree (not everything depending on sales but most)and I am back to clipping coupons. More on that in another post. Happy saving!
Ok, lets talk budgets. Yeah, there are more exciting things to talk about but let’s get this out of the way to make way for some more exciting topics. As a newly single parent I am faced with a whole new set of financial challenges. Before the divorce my husband and I weren’t rich my any means. We were the typical american family. Well, maybe not totally typical. I stayed at home and earned money at home (this was our extra money) while he worked a full time sales job to pay the bills. We did ok (more on this later on ways to make money at home), but we never felt comfortable. Let’s just say there were no Hawaiian vacations…maybe one to Louisville Kentucky, lol, but we really were just staying afloat.
Now as a single parent, there are even more challenges financially so I had to give my finances a kick in the pants, and myself. Lol Here’s what I had to do to cut my budget in half…..
Determine what is your main expense? For most of us it’s housing.
This is usually something non-negotiable. It’s a fixed monthly expense. There are some ways around this expense though. Look into housing assistance programs in your area. As a single mom I now qualify for assistance with this. Call your local social service agencies. If one says no, there may be another, don’t give up. Ask questions, tell them your story, people are mostly good and willing to help if you are just friendly and polite. If you don’t qualify for any kind of assistance there are other options.
Get a roommate and split expenses in half. Move in with mom and dad or a brother or sister. Also, another option is to buy, it may actually be cheaper to buy than rent…talk to a mortgage broker or do a rent vs. Buy comparison
Rent $800 ( cut in half) $400 with these tips
Ok, going down the list….
Most of us have a car payment, this is another fixed expense (I don’t have this one). I got a car from my friend Sarah (thank you girl, love ya). I will also be looking for another one that will be purchased with tax money (try to pay cash for a car if you can…payment monthly zero)
You can try to refinance your loan to lower your payment (this may lead to more installments, but less monthly expense)
You could take out a personal loan with a lower interest rate and pay the car off.
Let’s say your payment is $300 you could reduce it to $150 buy doing this.
Next on the list…..utilities
This is usually somewhat of a fixed expense. Ways to reduce this expense…
Barter…for example, my neighbor and I share internet I use her internet and she uses my garbage service. A win/win scenario. We both save monthly about $50 or so monthly. My internet bill is a whopping 0.
I don’t have cable but I watch movies and use Netflix steaming which is awesome and I don’t even miss cable or the $150 bill that follows. I do have a pg&e bill every month but there are even more ways to reduce this. If you qualify there is a program called CARES that saves you a portion of your monthly bill. There’s also a program called HEEP, its an energy assistance program that will help with your bill.
Moving right along…..
More flexible expenses
Groceries….this is my favorite one because this is my most flexible monthly expense. If you have a good panty stock you really can get creative with this one. You can use coupons (see my kindle ebook for sale on amazon to get started). If you aren’t into that just meal plan around the weekly ad at your favorite grocery store. Buy produce that’s in season, try cutting some meat out of your meals. You can still eat a balanced meal with other protein. Eggs for example, are so cheap and versatile.
This is my weekness. I love clothes. But I refuse….absolutely refuse, to pay retail prices. You will not see me in Macy’s. Sorry Macy’s you have some cute stuff but I can’t see spending $50 on a shirt when I can go to a consignment store and buy the whole outfit and shoes for $50. I always dress nice and my kids always have nice name brand clothing. There are several ways I do this…
Thrift stores (ask questions a lot of times these stores have bag days or half of days doesn’t hurt to ask)
Consignment stores….I love stores that take items for store credit. This is a lifesaver when you have kids…they outgrow their stuff so fast.My son is four but as tall as a six year old. These stores always have like new items. No one will know you bought it used.
Garage sales…super cheap clothing and household items
Rummage sales….went to a church on (the best ones) today. Go on the last day of the sale for the best deals usually a dollar or two a bag
Friends and family….love the hand-me-downs. With two boys I pass all of my four year olds clothing to his lil brother then after he outgrows them we pass them on to friends or family or trade them.
Other expenses…credit cards.
This is a tough one. Best tip. Don’t use them. If you can’t afford to pay cash for something….you can’t afford it. Sorry. I know easier said than done. If you have a credit card balance try consolidating to one card. A lot of companies like Capital One will have the zero interest for balance transfers…take advantage of that. When the offer runs out transfer to another zero interest card. Keep doing this until its paid off.
Consolidate, apply for a forbearance, the main thing with student loan companies is communication…they are there to help. These to me are good debt. Student loans are one the lowest interest loans of there. Not that I would encourage taking out student loans but if you want an education and would otherwise be destined to a life of flipping burgers, this is your best option. And your credit score doesnt matter since it is backed by the goverment.
This is a tricky one. Most things that are fun cost money. But you can still have fun on a budget.
Utilize your local library…you can rent movies, cds, books, use the internet….free.
Redbox…movie night? Sign up for free redbox movie codes
Parks…pack a picnic lunch and have a park day with the kiddos. Bring some skates, kites, jump ropes, tennis rackets. Take advantage of the park.
Take a hike…haha…yes litetally. I love to explore my local area. I live in beautiful Northern California, an area rich in recreational opportunities. We have Shasta Lake, Whiskeytown, endless camping, hiking and adventures to take advantage of.
Summertime fun in the park…in my area during the summer there are family movies in the park one night a week..there are also Friday concerts in the park. Check your local newspaper and entertainment magazines for info on free local events.
Hope these tips helped trim your monthly budget. I will be posting more about budgeting and makign money at home. Stay tuned.
Recently my husband and I *gasp* took on a car payment after owing our cars for years. Here are some of the steps we took to prepare for this so it’s not as much of a shock to our budget.
1) Cell phone. Our bill with Verizon was $230 for 2 phones. We switched to MetroPCS and saved $150 each month.
2) Cable. We had Charter with the bundle package but we also have Netflix so by cutting out the cable and watching netflix movies it’s going to save us $80 a month.
3) Buy a fuel efficient car. Mine get’s up to 30MPG. This saves me about $150 a month.
4) Print coupons before you go shopping for items like groceries, entertainment and clothing. If you shop at Target. Right now they have lots of coupons for back to school items. Check store websites before you head out for back to school shopping. You can save about 50% by shopping with a plan.
Total saved by following this steps… about $500-$600 a month or more.