Monday, October 15, 2012


Surprise!  Dan and I are not rich.  He makes a decent salary for a touring musician and I have a good job but we're not rich.  We worked hard to pay off debt the past couple of years and we are so happy that all we have left are a couple of small student loans. Since our debt has been gone, we've been saving Dan's paychecks and living off my income because we'd like to buy another house someday.  Here are some ways we've been able to save on a pauper's wage:

One of our best financial decisions was selling our newer (2005 Chevy Malibu) that we were still paying off.  This left us with an '87 BMW.  Some people scoffed, thinking it was foolish to keep the older car but, between the payment and the extra insurance, it saved us nearly $400/month (which have been saving, not spending).  Inevitably, the beemer needs some work.  It goes into the shop tomorrow for a pricey tune-up but we're not too upset because we've saved ourselves thousands this year by only having one car.

(So, YAY!  Dan's back.  Welcome back, Dan!  You get to figure out how to get our dead car to the shop.)

Here in this part of Washington, our summer days are long and not too hot so there's little need for electricity at all.  We don't even need air conditioning.  But once the days get shorter and the nights get colder, our bills skyrocket.  Our gas bill is $25 in the summer and up to $275 a month in the winter.  Since I work from home (and Dan does, too, when he's not on tour) we keep the heat running all day long.  So, I figured it would save us almost $10 for me to shut down the heat for 8 hours a day and work from a coffee shop so I'm going to try and do that more.  We've also been heating our bed rooms with energy efficient oil heaters.  They keep our bedrooms nice and toasty while the rest of the house is frigid and we're saving tons of cash by doing this.

We love good, quality food.  We used to go out to eat or buy all of our foods at fancy markets but that's not a good use of our money.  Groceries are a big deal now that we have a tiny man who can eat almost as much as I do (Where does he put it all?!?).  I've cancelled our weekly delivery of organic vegetables and vowed to stop by the local fruit and veggie stand that I pass ALL THE TIME but never shopped at because I was fancy and got my vegetables delivered.  Times are tough and I can save us quite a bit of money by buying my own produce.  Also: Winco and Grocery Outlet have saved our lives.  Grocery Outlet sells overstocked items at about half the price and WinCo is just cheap.  They're kind of like a non-member Costco because they have a lot of bulk and overstock.

I'm really bad at this but I would like to take cash out on paydays as a way to budget.  If I promise not to use my debit card (or leave it at home) and just use the cash I have, I will make MUCH better choices.

So, fingers crossed, we'll make it through the cold, rainy season (and the Christmas season) and still be able to save.  What are some creative ways that your family has saved?


  1. ack...we suck at budgeting...we keep trying every month though!

  2. A Grocery Outlet is opening about five minutes from my house - they have some great deals! I do sometimes wonder about some of the brands though, but that's just because they are unfamiliar :-) When I shop there, I look at it like an adventure because I never know what I'm going to find! And if it saves me money, then I'm all for it!

    1. Check the expiration dates! Ours has a TON of organic products, too.

  3. We totally use the cash system, and I love it! We each have a weekly spending budget that we can use anyway we want, and the other person can't comment on it. I've noticed that since switching over to cash I actually think a LOT more about what I'm buying. Before I would buy something because I thought I liked it and I'd get it home and use it once or never. Now I actually stand in the store and say, "Do I really want to spend my (limited) money on this?" 75% of the time the answer is no. Not only am I getting things I actually like, I also eat a lot less junk food...usually. :)

    I'm also much better about what groceries I buy when I only have so much cash on me.

  4. I would recommend an electric blanket to heat up your bed at night. They have some that turn off after 2 hours, by that time you're toasty warm enough. Those oil heaters use more electricity than you might think, so use them wisely.

    Good for you guys! House prices are really coming down so you're wise to wait.

  5. We are really working on our budget to and keeping with what we have planned. Glad to know we aren't the only ones that are working on this.

  6. We are not looking forward to the heating bill this winter here in Maryland! Good tips, thanks for sharing. We also try to save in the grocery department by stopping at farm stands throughout the week instead of buying at the store each weekend grocery trip, and then buying what we can in bulk at the store, like beans and rice, granola, etc. Soaking dry beans is also a lot cheaper and healthier than buying cans (although those canned beans are good to have in a pinch since soaking take planning), and from what I gather your family doesn't eat meat, right? That's a huge savings right there, and amazing for the environment :)

    1. Very good ideas, Jess! Dry beans are so much cheaper and I've got to get back into that. you're right! We don't eat meat to often (only when it's served to us by friends or occasionally at restaurants we will order it) but we never eat meat at home.

  7. Using cash is awesome, because you get coins back. And when you cash in your coins you have like $50-$100!!! Safeway has awesome $5 deals on Fridays too, like paper towls, meat, big boxes of crackers, etc. You 'clip' their additional coupons are on your smart phone and they show up when you use your phone number. And Cy saves .10-.50 a gallon on fuel with our Safeway points. I also had to say no to Honest Diapers. Which is a bummer, becuase they are SO cute! The size five would cost me .52 a diaper. Huggies are .29 a diaper without discounts. Toys R Us has &5-$15 off coupons or if you buy two packs you get a $20 gift card all the time. Target also sometimes has the $10 gift card when you buy two. I do love the Honest wipes for cleaning off baby and toys, so I am going to do the Family Essentials Bundle still. Huggies wipes at Costco are crazy cheap, you get a million, and they just had a coupon for them.

  8. Your blog is so amazing! Love it so much!
    You have a new follower (Gloria Pepe 90 via GFC)! Hope you'll do the same, dear!
    Thank you!


  9. we need to get in the habit of taking cash out out of each paycheck and making sure we live off of that only. and i wish we could save more on our utilities but unfortunately our over 100 degree days means air conditoning

  10. Cash is the way to go!! JD and I haven't gotten it down pat , but we're trying. An awesome tool we use for budgeting is Mint.com. It has been SUCH a huge help with keeping on track with our budget. Fortunately, with our travel schedule, our utility bill is usually cut in half with every trip we take. We get pumped when we get our bills after trips like that! We're trying to save up for a house right now (20% down payment is our goal) so it's nice to have a visual goal in place where we can say to ourselves, "Would I rather have this super cute jacket or a house?" Easy answer. ;)

    Thanks for sharing your saving strategies with us!!

  11. i had a very wise friend tell me that the most effective way of budgeting is to use the old fashioned "cash in envelopes" route, which has a different envelope for each section of the budget (groceries, gas, bills, etc)... and i have never tried it but always wanted to. now i have a small burst of inspiration to try.
    thanks :)

  12. Oh I can relate to all this. I always think it would be a great idea to take cash out and leave my debit card home, i'd make better choices. Also, with heat in the winter, bundle up. I keep the bedrooms cool, because I hate being hot when I sleep. And then during the day I try to run the heater minimally (I also have an energy saving heater in baby's room) but make sure we have wool sweaters and socks on. It helps! Also, I have an old car (jealous of the old beemer, I wanty!) We don't have car payments, so I understand that.


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