I’ve written about how the momentum of debt payoff (or any financial goal) picks up once you get going, and makes you a little crazy. I’ve also already shared 5 things we’re not buying while we’re getting out of debt and 3 semi-hippie things we’re doing to save money.
Today I wanted to share 4 more categories that we’ve figured out how to cut spending in, specifically AFTER we started gaining traction on our debt payoff goal. They’re things we were spending money on while paying down debt, but at some point in the last 6 months, we tipped over the edge and got a little crazier about what we cut spending on.
Note: there is some risk to this cut-every-non-necessity approach. The risk lies in getting necessities and non-necessities mixed up. First innocent luxuries like cable and snack food get kicked to the curb. But it’s a slippery slope to cutting dates, soap, and toilet paper, all of which belong in NEED categories, in our opinion. If we seem particularly unkempt, crabby, or stinky, feel free to stage an intervention, offer free babysitting, and remind us that skipping showers doesn’t really save that much money 😉
We cut cable, so out of that $50 savings we spend $9-ish on one a la carte TV thing [i.e. Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go.] We just subscribe to whichever one has the show we’re into and then put our membership on pause when we’re done with that show. We actually watch less and less TV lately, so one of these types of subscriptions is plenty!
I have to admit, we will miss football season. But we usually end up watching the big games with family, so we’ll mooch the Husker games off our friends and family. #gobigred
Also, we like watching movies on Friday nights after the kids go to bed, so between Netflix and Amazon Prime or Redbox we can usually find something. If we pay for a movie, it comes from our dates budget category. (Oh, and we don’t pay for Amazon Prime. That would be an obvious no-no while getting out of debt. I have a free account through something called Shopper Consultants. You can read more about it in this post. It’s weird, but legit. #Sketchy #ButLegal)
Ok, I admit, we buy food. And we don’t exclusively eat beans + rice, the cheapest meal you could possibly find. But we have cut our food budget way down over the past few months, and find that we’re all just fine. We eat more leftovers, more ‘simple meals,’ throw out less food, eat less junk food, and drink less beer, wine and pop. I plan our meals around what’s on sale, and we don’t eat out. I shop at Aldi, and go to the store less. That helps a lot. I’m working on a detailed “how to spend less than $100 at the grocery store” post, but for now, those are the basics.
Darn you, Target. A friend recently was telling me about setting up a new budget on Every Dollar (which I highly recommend), and she said “I was definitely spending way more at Target than I realized.”
Said every.girl.ever. Ugh.
I had the same realization when we started budgeting more carefully. That store. They just have everything. And it’s always so pretty. I love Target, but for now, I stay away. No more quiet, night-time wanderings around Target with a latte from the oh so convenient Starbucks IN THE STORE… [Come on, I wasn’t the only one who liked doing that sometimes right?!]
I used to do that for some fun alone time and leave my wallet in the car. But even just wandering around makes me want stuff I don’t need and can’t afford during our debt-pay-down, so my time is better spent elsewhere. Sometimes you just have to notice those habits in your life that aren’t helping you get towards your goals, and then stop doing that and get new habits.
My Target exception is if I need something very specific. Then I am allowed to go with a list. I recently went there to replace my yoga pants, which had holes (that’s how you know you need new ones). I occasionally go to stock up on Target brand diapers. But that’s it. I love Target as much as the next momma, but reducing my trips to Target has reduced impulse spending and increased our monthly debt-payoff amount! #winning
We used to have a miscellaneous category of $100 per month. At some point during the last 6 months, we realized everything we were purchasing in this category was optional and unnecessary so we cut it entirely.
Ok, but what about necessary miscellaneous items?
Enter our monthly blow money. This is our catch all. We each have a small amount of spending money allowed every month for whatever we want, no questions asked. Starbucks, takeout, home decor, new shoes or yoga pants, whatever. This category may seem contrary to our whole don’t-spend-money-to-get-out-of-debt-thing. We’ve actually tried cutting it. But, having our individual pocket money category has allowed us to cut other spending and lump it into here.
Some things we’ve spent our blow money on in the last few months include: jeans, shoes, Addie’s room decor, dinner with a friend, a new calendar.
Basically, we rarely have ‘miscellaneous’ purchases any more. Miscellaneous almost always comes out of our individual blow money.
So if I buy a new shirt, that means one less lunch with a friend. Or if I buy Addie a puzzle, no cute home decor item this month. Each of us gets a little spending money which means there’s no guilt-trip-why-did-you-buy-that talks at our budget meetings. Ever. It also means – we can get away with no miscellaneous category for now.
You can stumble into debt but you can’t stumble out. Sometimes you have to get a little bit nutty. What borderline crazy & culturally weird things are you doing to get out of debt or achieve your financial goals?