We moved to San Antonio for my husband’s new job. It’s pretty much his dream job and he’s making double what he was making, salaried. Salary is great because you know exactly how much every paycheck will be, however, those weeks you work 60 hours get no overtime. We had a nice little savings built up for a cushion for the move and while my husband was not working between jobs. It was amazing how fast one goes through savings when you have none coming in and a lot having to go out. Plus, his first several paychecks were a lot less than normal for various reasons and healthcare is not cheap. The reasons go on but the point is we realized we absolutely had to get on a budget. Especially since we were about to add diapers, baby clothes and everything else a new baby will need. Looking at what was coming in vs going out, I flipped out. Do you know what a flip out looks like at 7 months pregnant? It’s 3 hours of ugly crying. The dogs were concerned. It was as bad as when I watched Homeward Bound only the movie ended but the financial issue hadn’t.
I wrote out all of our spending; groceries, prescriptions, health insurance, gas, eating out utilities etc. One thing I learned after researching is that I was spending double the amount per month on groceries I should have been spending. Cutting back to the recommended percentage of income spent on groceries a month would save us $300-$400 every month. How crazy is that? I contribute it to the pregnancy, the hunger demon and cravings but whatever, did it needed to be reined in. I also started using some apps I had used in the past to help me save and make money back such as coupons.com, Ibotta, the Walmart Savings Catcher app and Checkout51. You can also look at the stores you regularly shop at for discounts and rewards programs. We use HEB a lot and they have a lot of in store coupons for buy this get free that.
We also ate out too much. It was under $100 for the previous month and it was due to my laziness and cravings so that’s easily adjustable. We are looking into gas cards to get a discount on gas per gallon as well as help out credit. We don’t have bad credit, just not much credit.
Another simple adjustment is paying attention to electricity useage and water. I cannot be hot at night or I cannot sleep but during the day I’ll raise the thermostat to at least 74° (hey, this is Texas and the heat index today is 110°) and run the fans. I am methodical about when I run the washer, dryer and dishwasher. I know that’ll change when the baby comes but for now I have a schedule that I stick to pretty good. Plus it’s nice to know when laundry day is so we never run out of socks and underwear.
The variables that are hard to account for are vet bills and random items we may need but you just have to be prepared. I’ve also been able to switch some bills around where they are not all due out of the same paycheck. If you get overwhelmed occasionally, most companies will allow you to postpone a payment date for a designated day or even change due dates. I got our cellphone bill pushed back by 2 weeks last time, then I was able to actually change the payment due date. We also also lowered our data package. I postponed our cable bill as well. We will cancel it when our contract is up in December since all we watch is Netflix anyway.
There’s a lot you can do to save money here and there if you are really willing to put in the time and effort. I also have to really consider if I need something or not. Do I really need Pizza Hut or is a $7 Walmart or HEB pizza just as good (it’s just as good)? Do I feel up to making pizza (I used to make it every Friday)? Do I need that shirt or bag of chips? Do I really need more meat or is there meat in the freezer I can use up? Do I need to use the gas to go there?
I also downloaded the Swagbucks app and popquiz. You earn points towards gift cards that can be redeemed. I love me some gift cards. Use coupons and apps that save money. Use points programs (but don’t spend money just to get points. That’s not saving money). Also be mindful on coupon apps. Even if something is a great deal, it’s not money saving if you don’t need it in the first place.
Just since the beginning of the month I’ve been able to cash in a $25 Amazon gift card and pocket some savings, something I haven’t been able to do in a while. Be smart and reasonable. It’s a work in progress and will always need to be adjusted for changing lifestyles. And new family additions.