Friday, November 5, 2010

Stretching our Dollar

Patrick and I have been on this money saving kick lately. It is largely due to the fact that we had a very expensive summer. I spent an insane amount on midwifery school and then decided it wasn't what I needed to be doing, our air conditioning needed some work, our internet got struck by lightning, our monster needed to be fixed, and Patrick's car finally bit the dust. Needless to say, our "emergency money" is looking pretty slim. Money is tight for a lot of people right now, so I thought I'd share some things that we've come up with to stretch our dollars.

1. Mint, mint, mint. No, not that kind of mint...We love mint.com. You can enter in all of your information (credit cards, checking accounts, savings accounts, stocks, etc) and the site will budget for you. If anything do it for a few months to have a look at exactly where your money goes each month. It was definitely an eye opening experience for us. Most people greatly underestimate how much they spend on groceries and eating out each month. The site also helps you create goals. For example, if you want to go on a great vacation that costs x amount of dollars then make it a goal by setting the date. The site will calculate the rest. Did I mention it is free?

2. Redbox in, movie theater out. We love watching movies, but watching them in the theater is pretty ridiculous. The times that we have gone I have to take a big purse to sneak in our own cans of coke and popcorn. Movie night now happens in the comfort of our own living room. We can snuggle up on furniture that is way more comfortable than stadium seating and pause any time we need to for a bathroom break or refill. Total cost = $1. Way better deal if you ask me.


3. Build up points. After our move we quickly consolidated as many bills as possible onto the credit card. It is a lot easier to track because we know exactly what day they all get paid. We pay it off every month so we don't end up paying interest. Plus, paying online means no stamps to buy or paper to deal with. We don't have to worry about checks getting stolen out of the mailbox either. Also, our credit card gives us points that we can cash in. I think plane tickets are in our future.

4. Dining in. We eat out together once a week (Thursday night), but the rest is at home. Patrick eats out during the week with students but gets to write those expenses off each month. I've started packing a lunch the days I go to work. I got out of this habit over the summer but am happy to say that I'm back on track. Not only do we save money by dining in, but we end up eating a lot healthier.

5. Personal grooming just a little more personal. For as long as we've been married Patrick has cut his hair himself and now I get to help sometimes. While I do pay to get my hair cut I will confess that it's not even every 8 weeks. It's probably more like 12 to 14. However, I like my hair long so it works out okay. If I had more stupidity guts, I'd learn to cut it myself. I also do my nails myself. I can count on one hand the number of times I've paid money to get my nails done. I can't seem to keep nail polish from chipping and have always preferred a natural look anyway.

6. Free cups of joe. We do our best to utilize our coffee maker at home and my sweet husband makes me breakfast and coffee every morning before I leave for work. This way, I'm not tempted to stop at the starbucks I have to walk past. But starbucks has a clever marketing scheme going on with their bags of coffee grounds. Did you know you can turn in your empty bag of coffee for a free cup at any starbucks? We go through a bag about every week. So Patrick swaps them in for a cup. This way, we don't feel like we're completely depriving ourselves.

7. One plan. We have one cell phone plan from T-mobile and no land line. Getting rid of the land line can save lots of moolah. In this day and age we realized that we really didn't need to spend the money on both and that cell phones are way better anyway.

These are just some of the things that we've been doing. Hopefully, there will be more to come.

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