Living on Cash is something that I feel I am hearing a lot more of these days and yet it is something my hus and I have literally always done. We have an emergency credit card but we learned early on to live only with what we could afford. Today there are courses by people like Dave Ramsey who are teaching people to live the way we have for over three years.
During the course of our marriage, we have felt financial discouragement as we've felt like we've watched the material world surpass us but all along the way we've said, "We're doing this the right way for us." Now we are encouraged as we listen to people like Dave give financial tips that we already have in place because we had to. They are things that we have just done on our own and they have set us up for a stronger future (which has been what our temporary sacrifices have been ALL about!)
So I wanted to take a minute to share some of the ways that we live within our means...
No Cable. $100 a month is a lot to watch TV. During our first year of marriage we decided that we would not have cable so we would invest our time more wisely in each other. This has been an awesome choice for us. We utilize Netflix instead for $15 a month
Virtual Cash Envelopes. We use mint.com for our monthly budget for Groceries, Baby, & Date Nights. Each time we spend money, we reclassify the expense by logging into mint that's connected with our banka ccount so it deducts from our monthly allotments. It keeps us very focused on spending wisely, using coupons, and within our budget. Many people use actual cash envelopes but to us, taking out our full monthly allotments at once isn't an option and it's less convenient to go to the bank. If you can be organized enough to go virtual it works.
Entertainment. This falls under the date night category but we've found great tricks to saving money on our date nights, too. One is to buy your movie tickets from Costco where they sell two movie tickets for $15 vs. spending $10 each at the theater. $5 is a lot of savings! Another fun thing is that our families know we enjoy our date nights so birthdays and holidays often yield restaurant gift cards.
Lists. We love lists in this house (Okay, I love lists). We have a Home Project List, a Dream List, and an Activity List. Whenever we feel the "I'm bored itch" coming on we check our list and automatically have something to do and it's often free. Walking downtown, going to Farmer's market, Local community events, Beach Walks, Free Museums. Theme parks, unless it's Disneyland, all have coupons so you can even put a little savings aside and make that an all day date. Lists keep us accountable to spending our most valuable asset, time, wisely.
Grocery Games. Spending the time to peruse the weekly grocery store ads can be consuming as can coupon hunting, but turning it into a game makes it fun. Each week I scour the ads for what's on sale and keep my meal list to what will save me the most money. Between my Club Cards, Coupons, and Ad scouring I end up saving a lot and I'm always proud to come home and say, "Guess how much I saved today?!" Planning in advance is like putting money right back in our pockets.
Online Banking. Save on stamps, envelopes, and time! Set up automatic bill pay online and eliminate the stress and wasted time of bill paying!
Online Shopping. Using amazon.com has been a huge money saver for us with my son's supplies like diapers and wipes, especially when he was a newborn. The free shipping alone is saving gas money and the ordering eliminates the hassle of loading the midge in and out of the car as well as lets me use my time wisely--I can shop while he naps. Sites like dealnews.com are great places to find freebies like coffee at Starbucks or smoothies at Jamba Juice.
Eliminate your Land Line. If you have cell phones, you're already paying for your minutes and if you're like me, the one person you really talk to is your spouse so free mobile to mobile is better than the extra $50 for a house phone.
Fun Fund. Our fun fund is our house fund. We keep our home money in cash and as we find something we love it's not a burden to buy it. A) We don't see the money leave our bank account and have to sacrifice a weeks' worth of groceries and B) The money we're saving goes exactly to what we intended to use it for vs. being wasted on something else because we see an extra increase in our account. (*Our home fund is built as we sell things off of craigslist or put cash gifts into it)
Build the Savings Account. Our bank accounts are automatically set up to deduct a specified amount from each of our paychecks into our savings account. It's money that is a part of our budget. Yes, we budget for our savings account. We also budget for our son's savings account as well as his Education Savings Account.
So that's how we do some of it. Don't get me wrong, we continually have to work at squashing the immediate gratification bug but we are always proud when we resist! Yes, having good credit is important, thankfully we have that. But living on credit is not the way we can protect us and keep our monetary life in perspective. We love saving. It's actually really fun for us but it also takes a lot of work and adjustment if you aren't use to it. I believe you can do it though if you aren't already! Start with one thing and become great at it and then take on something new! Baby steps. One thing at a time!
How do you save?!