February 10, 2010

Sweating the Small Stuff

In order to live on one income, you can’t continue spending like you still have two incomes. Okay, everyone knows this, however some people don’t embrace it and find themselves in financial trouble. Expenses have to be cut when income decreases. It is just a fact.

In the past few months I have taken on the mantra of “Sweating the Small Stuff.” Yes small cutbacks on expenses can add up to big savings over time. However, it is getting into the mind set of seeing that those small savings on nickels, dimes and dollars adds up. We may think that it is not worth the trouble if it is only going to save a dollar right now. But over time, perhaps annually, it could lead to bigger savings.

Look at the big picture. That $1.00 a week saved by using a coupon or buying store brand cereal adds up to $52 annually. If someone said to you “I can guarantee you $52 in savings” you would listen.

Sweating the small stuff adds up to big savings annually. Here is what I have done with our budget (or challenge as I have come to call it):

Netflix – We reduced our membership to one at a time, unlimited. We are still able to get a good movie on dvd and we now make a conscientious effort to view movies or documentaries on line. Savings - $1.25 per week; $5.00 per month; $60 per year.

Haircuts for my DH and DS - I have learned to cut their hair. At the salon the stylist used clippers on their hair. Both were willing to have me give it a try. The cost of the clippers paid for themselves after 2 haircuts. Savings - $7.50 per week; $30.00 per month; $360.00 per year.

Laundry Soap – I make my own. Savings - $0.785 per week; $3.14 per month; $37.68 per year.

My Haircuts - I used to get my hair cut every 4 weeks and now I get my hair cut every 6 weeks. Savings – $2.00 per week; $8.00 per month; $96.00 per year

My Eyebrows – I would have my eyebrows waxed at the salon when it was time for a haircut. I now do it myself. Savings - $2.50 per week; $10.00 per month; $120.00 per year.

My Hair care Products – I used to buy my shampoo, conditioner, root lifter, etc. at the salon. I have found products such as Pantene and Suave that work just as well or better. Also, I add to the savings by using coupons for these products. Savings - $2.50 per week; $10.00 per month; $120.00 per year.

Pet Savings – We have a black lab and we use a lot of dog cookies over the course of a month. I now make my own using whole wheat flour, saved fat from meat, broth from cooking down bones and such. (As a side note, we only buy Iams dog food for our dog and our cat is on vet food. We will not skimp on their main food source.) Savings - $2.00 per week; $8.00 per month; $96.00 per year.

Magazine Subscriptions: When it has come time to renew some of my subscriptions, I have elected to let them go. I have found that even though I am home I still don’t have the time to sit down and read them. A lot of the “women” magazines repeat the same topics or articles and I can look at these online. Savings: $1.25 per week; $5.00 per month; $60.00 per year

Savings from above: $19.785 per week; $79.14 per month; $949.68 per year

Grocery Savings – By cooking and baking from scratch (I bake my own breads, noodles and so on), through the use of coupons and stockpiling sale items, I have reduced my grocery bill. I used to spend around $500 per month for the 3 of us. This is what I was spending when we went to one income. Now I spend between $250 and $300. Savings (if I use the $300 amount): $50.00 per week; $200 per month; $2,400 annually.

Savings with Grocery Savings added in: $69.785 per week; $279.14 per month; $3349.68 annually

The small stuff adds up.

Notice what I am now saving per week on laundry soap. It is less than a dollar but over time this adds up. On other items the savings are $2.00 or $2.50 per week. Everything adds up.

Don’t get discouraged by thinking that it is useless as you can only save a small amount of money at a time. Get a jar and put the savings in that jar and watch it grow. Get yourself in the mindset of saving and finding ways to cut back.

As to Future Savings:

Landline: we are considering dropping our landline. Savings - $2.50 per week; $10.00 per month; $120.00 per year.

Flowers for my flower garden: I harvested the seeds from last year’s garden and will plant those instead of buying seeds or plants. I plan on being patient and waiting longer in the season so that I can buy plants at a significant price reduction. Last year I paid $200 for plants. I should be able to save $150.00 with this plan.

Gasoline: When the weather gets warmer, we will be doing more walking or riding bikes to our destinations.

Throughout the day as I am doing housework or taking a walk, I think about other money saving ideas and I write those ideas down and try them out later on.  If you were to ask my family if they feel deprived by any of the cut backs that we have made, they would say no.  How can you feel deprived when you are eating homemade whole wheat bread with homemade jam? 

I used to give up and say what is the use if I can only save $5.00 a week by cutting back on something. Now I see the big picture of looking at all the small stuff and seeing how it adds up into big savings.

What small stuff do you sweat that translates into big savings over time?


Elizabeth said...

We use a pay-as-you go phone which is just $25 every three month. Huge savings!

No cable which saves us at least $25 a month.

I make our laundry soap most of the time (unless I find a really good deal on store bought).

I use cloth diapers.

Those are just a few, that really add up over time!

Martha said...

Ah, cloth diapers. When my boys were babies I used cloth diapers. There is just something about a soft cloth next a baby's skin vs. paper.