Trying to decide what to cut from your budget when you’re broke?
You’ve probably heard that in most relationships, there is just one person who is largely in charge of the finances.
It’s a generalization, but one that hits the nail on the head with my husband and me. We make all our major money decisions together – house, car, investments, insurance… anything that costs more than a couple hundred bucks really.
But I, almost unilaterally, do all the spending. I pay the bills, I buy the groceries, I plan the holidays, I buy the kid’s clothes, and I am absolutely not complaining.
I love having free reign over the bank account – which, by the way, G contributes to far more than I do. I make around 1/4 of what he does at my desk job, and do a few fun things (like photography on the side, or taking Survey Junkie surveys for spending money, but really, I don’t make much money. (Update: this USED to be true until I started this blog – now I make over $5000 from home – read my October Blog Income report!)
We don’t have a perfect relationship, but we do have a pretty perfect financial relationship. I don’t believe a lot of people can say that. We do not fight about money.
Now, I’m pretty financially responsible. G wouldn’t trust me with all the spending if I wasn’t. (Hopefully, I can encourage you to be as well, if that’s a goal of yours!)
But it wasn’t always like that. Over the past few years, as we got older and somewhat more financially secure and lazier, I developed some very bad spending habits. Not bad enough to rack up a bunch of credit card debt (thank goodness) but bad enough that I was spending at least $5000.00 a year that should have gone into savings.
When I started on my intentional living journey I took a very long hard look at my spending. Maybe I’ve been spending poorly for around 5 years.
Maybe I have wasted $25,000. This thought makes me sick. It SHOULD make me sick; I don’t even make that in a year. The stark reality is that I have no way to know how much I have wasted and it’s likely far more than I think.
So I looked at my spending. I watched myself hand over my debit card again and again, and I asked myself to be honest about what I was buying that was unnecessary and not in keeping with intentionally minded spending. A few things were so glaringly obvious I couldn’t even pretend they were justifiable, and some things were a little harder to give up, but I did it. So here you go;
(THIS POST PROBABLY CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. OUR FULL DISCLOSURE POLICY IS REALLY BORING, BUT YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.)
Ten things I banished from my shopping list, to save money:
1. Take out. The amount we spend on food is INSANE. It’s not that I don’t like to cook – it’s that I was never prepared to cook at dinner time. Meal planning is where it’s at! To make this easy, use a program like Eat at Home Cooks – for less than $15 you get access to FOUR separate meal plans (Traditional, Slow Cooker, No Flour, No Sugar and Wholesome Traditional). Print the plans, color-coded grocery lists, and recipes you want for that month — and never think about what’s for dinner again!
2. Shaving Gel. I’ve always known that cheap hair conditioner works just as well or better than shave gel. It costs a fraction and lasts so much longer. I don’t even know how I was justifying buying the shaving gel.
3. New Books/Magazines. This is hard for me to post because I’m afraid to start an online battle about how authors deserve compensation. I totally agree. But I want this blog to be honest and at this point in my life, new books are something that I can’t justify for me. Thrift stores everywhere are a testament to how wasteful it is to buy new all the time. I usually get the newest books by my favorite authors within a few months to a year of their release. At the thrift store. ← IDEA! If you read lots and can’t fathom not buying books, try Amazon KindleUlimited FREE for 30 days now. You don’t need a kindle to use it, you can install the app on any device, and the best part is that you get to try it for free. Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial!
4. Bottled Water. Another “how did I ever justify this?!” item. I have great tasting tap water, from a well and chemical-free. Oh and also actually FREE. Shame on me for not taking every advantage of that. Plus my new habit of filling my bottle before I leave the house is so much better for the environment. Extra intentional points. I have these freaking awesome Contigo water bottles… 5 of them. Seriously.
5. Convenience Food. I can admit those first four things were pretty easy to give up, and I don’t miss them very often. Now it gets trickier. Giving up pre-packaged foods was not entirely budget-related. It also had a great deal to do with intentional health and doing things that were good for our bodies, but unless your an extreme coupon-er and getting almost all your canned soup and hamburger helpers for free… convenience food is actually really expensive. (But I do miss just putting a pizza in the oven sometimes, or microwaving a cup of noodles. *sigh*) But really, why would you buy pre-made potato wedges for 10x the cost when you can make AMAZING WEDGES at home for pennies (+ they have no weird additives).
6. Specific Brands. We all know that brand loyalty could be costing us big bucks. Open your mind, save money. (With the exception of my three exceptions, see next point.)
7. Toiletries that aren’t on sale. This isn’t one specific item, but much like the brand loyalty point, I can not justify buying full price soap, shampoo, deodorant, ect. These things go on sale, and they go on sale often. I love it when the brand I prefer goes on sale, and I stock up then… but when I NEED something and I don’t have it in the house – I buy the one that’s 50% off. There are three things in this category that I make an exception for. Q-tips, big sexy hairspray and Bioderma Hydrabio Serum moisturizer – Because I love those things with my whole heart and they have proven their worth over and over 😉
Related: How to save money on groceries
8. Curcumin Pills. This is one of my proudest money-saving revelations – I’m sure someone else has thought of it before, but that doesn’t make me any less thrilled about it. Anyhow. Curcumin is the active agent in turmeric that makes everybody talk about how great turmeric is for you. “They’ve” processed it into a supplement mainly used for inflammation. The thing is, turmeric is available in great big bags (and organic) for a fraction of the cost of the pills. I add a tsp – tbsp of turmeric to my shake every morning now, and I don’t need to buy $60.00 bottles of Curcumin pills. It is not, like, the yummiest thing I’ve ever done, but I take a lot of supplements so finding a way to save money this big in this area in a huge win.
9. Almond Milk for my smoothie. I thought I needed it. We don’t drink dairy milk in our house, I have a smoothie for breakfast every morning and I never gave any thought to not having almond milk. One day I was out so I made it using water and honestly with all the fruit and seeds and protein powder in there already – I really couldn’t tell the difference. I was buying it in bulk for a bit of savings, so it only cost me $10.00 for 6 cartons, but saving $10.00 every month is saving $120.00 a year. I think about you once in a while, almond milk.
10. Manicures. I invested in a gel nails kit from the cosmo proff store and taught myself to do gel nails. And they look professional. Well, they usually look professional. When they don’t, they still look like 50 bucks that stayed in my bank account, minimum 12 times per year.
So there you go. 10 things that I have deemed too downright wasteful of our hard-earned money. Are there any frivolous regular purchases in your life that need to go? (I asked myself this question, and did a self-audit of the things I DO still buy.)
Share your money-saving epiphanies with me – I’m always looking to build my frugal muscle and save money!