Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Part Four: Other savings to stretch the budget

Hopefully, you’ve been following along for the first of our series and today will be the last post in this series. I’m going to talk in general about some other ways we have lived within our means of $500 a week.

Gasoline prices have varied greatly this year from about $3+ a gallon to presently about $2.15. We do try to get the lowest price we can find. We use gas perks when we have them. We buy gas gift cards at discounts when they sell them and I’ve done some of those purchases where you can earn a gas gift card. I realize though the best way to save is STAY HOME. There are times when appointments are filling up our calendar but those days are winding down now. It makes much more sense to stay at home and find something to do there!

Technology is always moving along and always expensive. So another way we have stayed in our budget is to stay BEHIND in technology. Up until three months ago, our VCR player worked and we used it to watch videos we still owned. I could buy movies for $1 at the flea market and I owned it to watch as many times as I wanted. Now, I’m de-cluttering, so since the player broke….the movies are now gone too. But for a while, it helped us have entertainment and it was in our budget. We also own older computer models, older cameras and an older “type” cell phone. It’s the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Technology can work a while, so instead of getting rid of the older computer, find another use for it by loading older games for your son/daughter to use rather than hook up to the internet. It may not be the latest and greatest, but it still works. It’s not about keeping up with the Joneses when you’re trying to stay on budget.

Stay out of debt! This is easier to say then do, but the less you have in bills, the more you have to save/spend on things that are needed. If you have debt, start a plan to pay it down and wipe it out. There are some things that we know we cannot pay down right now, but we do have a future plan on how to attack it when the time is right. But for now, leave the plastic behind and the debt will soon follow!

Use cash when possible. I have tried the envelope option and it works for areas such as entertainment, groceries and eating out. It’s harder for us with gasoline and medical expenses. One month, we may have 3 doctor appointments a week and other times we may have none. So I do have a debit card that we use for gas and other “non” planned expenses. The best thing to do is only bring one card and ensure BOTH you and your husband AGREE that this is an expense you cannot do on cash.

Make sure that you are also paying your bills on time. The last thing anyone needs is finding out that they owe months of an electric bill or credit card payments. Find a system that you and your husband can agree upon and communicate to each other about what your spending. Currently, we are going to re-vamp ours to start the New Year. We used a budget binder for last year and it worked well….until we got lazy about not punching holes in bills for filing!! So now I’m looking at building a better command center to calm the paper tiger before I can’t catch it’s tail! Haha.

Become a DIY expert! This last year I have been pinning a lot on Pinterest. I have found and used recipes for homemade laundry detergent (3 different ways), homemade handsoap made with ivory soap, and even more homemade cleaning products. It’s amazing what you can do with a few different ingredients that you usually keep on hand already. If you wish to follow my boards, click on the right hand side for the Pinterest symbol. I have one marked FRUGAL LIVING and another one marked DIY. Feel free to follow my links to some of my favorite articles.

Keep up your vehicle! Keep it clean, keep ONE running and try doing your own oil changes or having family members help in this matter. There are TONS of YouTube videos on repairs for vehicles or if you don’t feel comfortable, ask a family member or friend/neighbor for help. We have several people we know that are always willing to lend a hand on keeping our one family vehicle up and running. We do own a second vehicle, a truck, but with the transmission out, we don’t feel the need to fix it up just yet. It can wait for another day. As long as one works, we can do just fine. When my husband goes back to work…the vehicle goes with him for MOST of the week. I’ll just have to survive not running errands until the evening or the day I have the vehicle. And did I mention that both vehicles are paid for!

Our “home” budget is quite simple, if it doesn’t need fixing at this moment then plan for the future or fix when it breaks. This is a little harder than it sounds because we really cannot save much, if at all for BIG repairs. We also have no furniture budget either, so we use what we have.

Right now we are in a season and sometimes I just have to keep telling myself that. (As Galatians 6:9 KJV states: And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. And Ecclesiastes 3 KJV states: To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.)

I hope you have enjoyed this series. For now this will be all I will write, unless anyone has some specific questions or requests about how else we have lived within our means. I hope this truly blesses someone out there! In this day and age it seems like we are constantly trying for bigger/better things when sometimes its OK to stay where you are at! Slow down and always come back Sew Hungry For More.

Photo courtesy of "Death to the Stock Photo."