Quitting my job was a serious Game Changer in the money stakes and now more than ever I need to Save Money and cut our families spending budget.
After years of earning a healthy monthly salary and not paying much attention to what I put in my trolley or online basket, I am now in a position where I have to watch every cent.
No, I mean like literally every cent.
Just for the record, I am so OK with that and if you asked me to make a choice between continuing on the career path I was on and making money OR spending time with my family and getting back to basics, I would be all "der no contest".
Creating priceless memories win hands down.
I do intend on contributing financially again, it's just going to take a little time to turn my ideas in moolah and in the meantime I have to make sure that I am only spending within our means. And considering that carelessly throwing my credit card at inane household objects I spy in stores, is not considered within our means, its time for me to grow up and start being responsible when it comes to spending money.
Before I made the leap of faith and handed in my 'I wont be at work on Monday' letter, I sat down and looked at ways I can potentially save our family money.
I was tempted to write down - Lock me and my children in a room with no computer, no phone, no credit card and no way to send smoke signals to retailers - and leave it at that, but the shit I'm nearly forty sensible side got the better of me and I actually got serious for a moment about how we can save money in our family.
I came up with a list of nearly 50 ways we could cut costs, and then I sat there and felt totally overwhelmed for a little while. I realised that whilst I need to drastically reduce our families spending, I need to do it in a realistic and achievable way.
So I narrowed the list down to 10 ways we can save money, small changes that can make a big difference - like potentially over $25,000.00 a year difference, and not feel like we are going completely without.
1. Create a Budget and Don't Carry my Credit Card With Me.Um yeah - that goes without saying. If we haven't budgeted for something then we just can't buy it. Simple as that.
The money I have put on my credit card in the past 12 months makes me feel physically sick. I could cut it up, but since you and I both know that's not going to happen then I just need to make sure I remove all temptation by not taking it out with me. I worked out that my weekly impulse buys were costing close to $5k a year (and that is being light on).
Even if I allow myself a few splurges every now and then, I can cut out at least $4k of meaningless spend.
***Estimated Savings per year $4000.00***
2. Slash Our Electricity Usage.By turning off lights when we leave the room, switching off appliances at the wall, using cold water for washing, washing in off peak periods and not using the clothes dryer unless it is absolutely necessary, I worked out I can reduce our electricity bill by at least 30%
I have been totally lazy when it comes to all of the above and I hate to think how much my laziness has cost us.
I was going to try and figure out EXACTLY how much we could save by doing this, but I got distracted by a really awesome new reality show (Newlyweds) so I never got around to actually doing the numbers. But with energy costs so high it doesn't take Einstein to work out that we could potentially save bucket loads a year by flicking those switches. If I reduced our energy bill by 30% on a $850 a quarter bill, its totally worth the extra effort it takes to flick off switches and nag the kids.
***Estimated Savings per year $1008.00***
3. Pack Lunches When We Go Out on Weekends5 people at an average of $8 bucks per lunch, times say once per weekend by 52 weeks. That is freaking $2080 per year. Enough said.
***Estimated Savings per year $2080.00***
4. Cut back on Cable TV PackagesBy removing the channels we don't really watch on Foxtel and locking ourselves into another 24 month contract, I saved a whopping $36 bucks a month. For The Win!!
***Estimated Savings per year $432.00***
5. Buy Bulk Fruit and VeggiesWe go through tons of fruit an veg in this house and spend at least $100 bucks a week on them. If we pool together with some friends and buy direct from the markets or growers (in bulk) and then share it out, apparently we can save up to 40% off our weekly fruit and veg bill.
***Estimated Savings $2080.00***
6. Don't Buy Takeaway.By doubling the ingredients of a meal once a week and freezing the leftovers, we give ourselves a night off from cooking. The main reason we buy takeaway in our house is to either have a night off cooking or grab a quick meal when kids sport activities keep us out late. Cutting out $50 bucks a week on takeaway means an extra $2600 in the bank every year thank you very much. Sold - hand me a an apron and a saucepan, I'm gonna get cooking!
***Estimated Savings per year $2600.00***
7. Colour my Hair at Home.6 salon visits a year at $180 a pop = $1170 a year. 6 packets of hair dye brought on special at $14 bucks each = $84 a year. Total savings - $1086. Score!
***Estimated Savings per year $1086.00***
8. Make our own Takeaway CoffeeBy making my coffee at home and taking it with me in a flask we can save $1820 a year by not buying coffee from coffee shops. And that is after I take out the cost of buying and making the coffee ourselves.
***Estimated Savings per year $1820.00***
9. Meal plan and Shopping ListThis had proven to be a HUGE money saver for us. When I set a weekly meal plan and only buy what we need to make those meals, we eliminate 90% of our food wastage and save bucket loads on our weekly grocery shop.
I have been buying in bulk and dispensing snack items into smaller containers for kids lunches, buying staples in bulk and putting them in jars and buying home brands rather than top shelf labels.
Our weekly grocery bill went from $350 a week to $190 - $200. That is a savings of $7800 per year, not including what we save by not wasting food.
***Estimated Savings per year - $7800.00***
10. A No Spend Weekend ChallengeI have decided to set a Weekend Challenge where the kids have to come up with an idea once a week of something that we can go and do as a family that wont cost a cent.
The kids loved the concept and some of the ideas they came up with were; explore a suburb on bikes, skateboards and scooters, picnic somewhere we have never been before, take advantage of free activities and shows put on by Sydney City and local councils, Footy in the park, make a movie.
We used to spend on average between $50 - $100 per weekend on family outings and activities. If we saved even $50 a week that would amount to $2600 a year. That could go a long way towards a family holiday.
***Estimated Savings per year $2600.00***
Holy Moses if my calculations are correct I could potentially save our family $25,506.00 a year by making these small changes. If you add all the other ways I can save money by making gifts, buying Christmas gifts and clothes only during sales, bargaining on key household purchases, checking out gas cars as an alternative to petrol, along with a zillion other potential money saving ideas - just imagine how much I could save.
To say I am excited by this challenge and the money saving potential, would be an understatement but I am realistic too and know I am going to need to really focus and stick to this plan. The pay off is not just the money we will save, it's the fact that it makes the whole Mid Life Crisis / Throwing in my job thing - a little less scary.
What other ways do you save money in your house?
Where else could I reduce the spend?
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