Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pinchin' Pennies

We're almost 5 months into the year, only 1 month away from taking a small family vacation, 2 months away from buying THREE plane tickets for my sister's wedding in IL, and 7 months away from buying THREE more plane tickets to travel back to IL for the holidays....so I thought it would be a good time to re-evaluate our current budget and try to save a few pennies.


My first "cut"....the cable TV. Knowing that I could save $50/month just by eliminating HGTV (and Co.) was eating me up. We survived all 4 years of med school without cable, so I guess in our minds, we felt like we deserved this small luxury...even though NONE of our fellow Residents have it. It was nice to enjoy the dozens of channels for the past 10 months...but we really don't need it, we need the $50/month, however.


The next "cut"....the gym membership. Since March, I've barely stepped foot into the gym.....whether it was due to Randy's schedule or my lack of motivation. The early AMs or the late PMs were just no longer working for me, and since the gym's child care rule is "2 AND potty trained", working out during the day is so not an option. While I know that my gym time during the past year is what has helped me stay sane, I'm willing to sacrifice it in exchange for $40/month and find something else (I bought Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred).


Next....the monthly allowance for diapers. I have been cloth diapering Laney for the last 9 months, so I've been doing a pretty good job at keeping her diaper purchase minimal (still need to buy 'sposies' for when we leave her in the nursery for church, MOPS, babysitters, etc). However, Josiah has always been in 'sposies'. A fellow Resident wife shared that she puts her 2YO daughter in undies in the afternoon just to "save" a diaper or two (1 diaper = $0.25). I thought this was brilliant!!!! But because I was too afraid of cleaning up messes (I was no where near ready to start the potty training process, or so I thought), I just put him in a cloth diaper along with his sister. He loved it, he loved matching his sissy. But then the more I thought of it....Josiah is just 4 months shy of turning 3 (the supposed "magic age" for boys when they finally get the whole potty training thing), why not see if he's ready....that would drastically save our monthly diaper purchase. Operation Potty Train is a completely different post, so I'll save all of the specifics, but he's doing pretty well (with #1 anyway--he's still not sure about using the potty to catch the #2 business). We might use 3-4 diapers/day now instead of our normal 6-7 (3 diapers saved = $0.75).



Now that Laney is just 2 weeks shy of her first birthday, I will no longer have to spend $50/month in formula. I tried EVERYTHING I could to keep the nursing going (after all it is best for baby--AND it's free)...but alas, my body said "ENOUGH!". Thankfully, we only had to buy 6 months of formula, but each can adds up....and before you know it, you've spent over $300 on milk. YIKES!


And lastly, since I'm constantly doing laundry (adding another little person sure does impact how quickly the laundry hamper fills up), we're using an amazing amount of laundry detergent. In my quest to find recipes for more natural cleaning products, I came across a recipe for homemade laundry soap. I made my first batch this afternoon. And as soon as it cools, I'll be washing my first load tonight. A friend of mine makes her own, too, and enjoys it....so we'll see. If we do end up liking it, it could potentially save me $20/month.

And there you have what I've done to squeeze a few more dollars from our budget so that we can enjoy a small family vacation and buy 6 plane tickets in the next few months without gasping for air. If I add up the aforementioned "cuts", we should save around $180/month. Whoa!

What am I missing? What have you done to your family's budget to make your hard-earned dollar stretch a little bit further?

19 comments:

Allison said...

Wow Jessi - I think you're doing great! I don't think I could give up my cable tv - it's what I look forward to every night after Jenna goes to bed.

Anyway, you are doing better than I am! :)

Shelley said...

That's awesome. I could easily go without cable but Mike won't hear it. I wish I could convince him because we pay $90 for Directv. It makes me cringe every time I pay the bill!

I stockpile when I find a good deal on things. It saves so much money. Go to www.afullcup.com and they list all of the really great deals at different stores. A lot of times you can buy things for very cheap and a lot of times free by combining sales and coupons. It's really not too much work since all of the deals are listed on the forums. I have tons of toothpaste, deodorant, shaving cream, chap stick, etc that I've paid very little for.

I'm also trying to be better about eating from the pantry instead of buying everything. If you go to allrecipes.com you can search for recipes by ingredient. So you can plug in the ingredients that you have on hand and it will give you recipe ideas based on them. I found a really good homemade pizza crust recipe that I tried last week and apparently you can freeze it. I'm trying to do more homemade things like pancakes, breads, etc to save money too.

I'm also going to sell some of the stuff we no longer use. I'm debating if I want to take the time to do a garage sale or just list the bigger things on Craigslist.

ValleyGirl said...

Good for you!! I find making a weekly menu and grocery shopping just once a week really helps ~ and giving myself a strict budget for groceries makes me better at using up leftovers and constantly sifting through my chest freezers in the basement. We spend HALF what we spent on groceries just five years ago ~ and five years ago, we only had a 2-yr old!!! Now we have an almost-5-yr old and a 7-yr old!

Elizabeth said...

I think I've already told you all of my not-so-brilliant ideas, but if/when I hear of anything else I will let you know, of course. Don't forget to let us know about how the detergent works out. And post the recipe if it's good!

Do you know if it works in HE machines? They require low-sudsing soap.

louann said...

That's great -- especially cutting off the cable and opting for cloth diapers. Gym membership also eats a big chunk of one's budget especially if we don't really get to go on a regular basis.

Mitch said...

love your post!! money-ug!! you have so many great ideas! it is amazing how much money kiddos add on to the budget! have you checked out thegrocerygame.com i did it for awhile and then ran out of time to really benefit from it and i always thought it made more sense for families with kids. it is a great concept!
hope you all are well!! can't believe how much josiah looks like daddy! so cute!
-jenny mitchell

sarajworley said...

Wow! You continue to amaze me. You're doing such a great job managing your home! Good job, Jessi!

ValleyGirl said...

Oh, another thing I do is stock up on cheap meat! I know this grosses some people out, but grocery stores will drastically slash meat prices when it's getting very close to its "best before" date. And so I buy it. Since it's going straight into my freezer anyway, it doesn't bother me one bit!

Christie O. said...

those are really great cutbacks. yes, the potty training does help, we're down to one diaper (only sometimes two) a day with the older one, and it's only for naps or bedtime. he's in undies for the rest of it. we have to make cuts too, really badly. starbucks was the first to go. i won't even tell you how much that adds up to!

Bev said...

I hang dry a lot of mine and Lucero's clothes.

One friend of mine unplugs everything that is not currently in use, including the TV, computer and microwave.

Robertson's said...

Great job on cutting back! Always like to see what other people are doing.

Joy said...

Maybe go meatless one night each week?

Girl you are doing great!

Trisha said...

Look at those squishy little legs! So stinkin' cute!

Yea to no more formula and less diapers. By the way, 2 AND potty trained? Wow! Hayes wasn't trained until 3 1/2 and that is because he had to go to school... but he is a stubborn little fella!

I can't do the detergent I just discovered. Our washing machine has been acting up and we read the manual and it has to have the he detergent. :(

Trisha said...

my blog update on the side of my blog didn't tell me you had updated. do you use a reader or the blog list on your blog?

i keep missing people's updates.

Laura said...

We don't have cable. I could do better at turning lights off. Cell phone is a big bill, but Charles loves his iphone and I couldn't see taking that away. I've also decided to start using up all the little bits of things. Instead of planning several meals and shopping for those things that week I will just buy the minimums at the store, and use the leftover frozen veggies, can of beans I never used, etc to make dinner. I figure it will take us the year we still have here to use them all up! We use Wal-Mart diapers which are $.15 for Anayah and $.17 for Judah and just deal with the occasional leak, which truly are just occasional.

mjs said...

I'm gonna need you to update, please! :)

Colin -N- Lori said...

My mother-in-law just gave me a recipe for laundry soap. I haven't tried it. Let us know how you like it. I am pretty sure you can use them in HE machines. You are great to cut back and let Josiah run around naked for a few days if he is getting the pee part down. I did that with Jack for just a few days and he caught on quickly. He was about 2 weeks from turning 3. When he had to poo he would run around and I would go put him on the potty until he went. Just take a deep breath and don't let it frustrate you. It will just get hard all around if that happens. Way to cut back!!

Dion said...

We do the whole no diaper in the afternoon, too. Actually when we're at home, I pretty much keep Katie in a terry clothe panty.

I'm trying out a meal planning service that claims to keep your grocery bill for dinners to $75-85 a week. I'll let you know how it goes. So far the food has been good and fairly nutritious.

Allison said...

Ok, just had to check your blog to see if I've missed any new posts. Anyway, I'm missing your blog!!! Come back!! :)