As we've been on this journey of only one income we have done many little things to make every dollar stretch as far a possible. We didn't always have super self-control when it came to our spending, but you should see us now! We have chosen to trim away little things here and there to help us make our money work for us. These are just a few examples of how little changes can add up to nice savings.
We do not have cable or satellite TV. I know, it's hard to comprehend in this day and age, but it's true. We actually canned the satellite before K lost his job. I mean seriously do you really want to pay for commercials with questionable content for 20 minutes of every hour? Not us. For a long time we just used Hulu to catch shows on the computers. Since K is a computer guy our TV screens are hooked to the computers in the house, so it is pretty convenient for viewing. At Christmas we decided to get on Netflix. It has been awesome. Even with the price increase in September we will still be paying about $60 less than the basic satellite plan.
During the summer I have rarely driven the car. We ride bikes when we can to run errands. K and the boys rode their bikes to school last spring and plan to continue to do so this fall. If it were practical for me to ride my bike to school I'd do it to, but 50 miles a day would be a bit much! When we do drive we really try to link the trips and make the most out of every mile.
Going out to eat is pretty much nonexistent. We just can't justify the cost when we know how much making something similar at home would save. I really enjoy cooking and benefits we see in making things from scratch are worth the bits of extra time some things may take. I keep a well stocked pantry, so even crazy days can end with a good dinner. K and I try to keep each other on track. Sometimes we'll get $6 pizza, but even that anymore is rare.
We've gotten away from paper towels and napkins. Even before the job loss we had stocked the kitchen with rags and cloth napkins. We simply grab a rag to clean up a mess or wipe down the counter and throw it in the wash. Since I was washing towels anyway there is no noticeable increase in laundry. We went from buying a big package of paper towels every month to buying one about every 5-6 months.
I also started making many things at home rather than buying them in the store. We have been using homemade laundry detergent and vinegar to wash our clothes for about a year now. At about $6 for 5 gallons of detergent and about $1.70 for a gallon of vinegar, I'd say we're saving at least $20 a month on just that stuff! Counter cleaner, window cleaner, and Chewy bars are other homemade savers in our house. Not only are they better for us, but I know the cost is about half or less what I was paying for the pre-made versions.
We are making do or doing without. We have started to think more creatively when we want to do something around the house. If we can't find something we already own to meet a need then we wait until we find what we need at a yard sale or one of the thrift stores around town. Sometimes a little creative thinking solves a problem without spending any cash. It has been a good exercise in teaching us patience. No more running to Target to grab something.
These are just a few little things, but when you put them all together it saves us quite a bit. Maybe some of you have some other ideas to help stretch those dollars. Let me know what you do to make the most of your money!