Work has been sucking up a lot of time lately and not only has it caused me to cheat on my wife, it’s also caused me to cheat on our personal finances! In both cases, it wasn’t a serious form of cheating, just a lack of time to fully focus.
When we traveled around the world, I kept a daily log that showed how much we spent and helped budget our trip, but now we pretty much pay the monthly credit card bill and only find out then. However, I have recently completed a retrospective by adding my debit and credit card info to a pivot table and confirmed what we suspected, our lack of attention has equated to a higher than needed spending (and I’m reconfirmed my nerdness).
Thanks to the hot Dallas summer our renovations have slowed with only the yard and two interior bathrooms remaining and it’s allowed us to refocus on finances for a while. We’ve made four not-too-painful changes that are now saving us $400 extra per month!
Here’s how our we’re saving:
Groceries – $150/month
Groceries are always one of the highest monthly costs, and a lack of focus can allow the bill to skyrocket. As you might have suspected after the whole the Whole Food’s animal welfare scale post, we’ve been yuppin it up at Whole Foods and other equally expensive grocery stories.
A few months ago a Trader Joe’s opened up close enough for us to bike to, so we’ve slowly started transitioning our shopping. We noticed a lot of items were cheaper, but it wasn’t until we started paying attention that we realized how much cheaper it could be overall. They only carry their own private brand so they maximize efficiency in the supply chain and minimize store size… which means – lower costs!
We’re currently saving about $150/month as we’ve fully transitioned over and save on some major items like coffee ($11.99/lb to $4.99/lb) and blueberries ($6.99 for a giant carton vs $4.99 for a tiny carton at our old grocery store).
Taking our lunch to work – $150/month
This was one initiated by my wife and reluctantly accepted by me. After the earlier mentioned spending audit, we realized we were spending around $200/month on lunch bills. Once she got a hold of that little piece of information, she decided it was time to put a stop to it so we both started taking our lunch to work. Okay, maybe not a total stop, but we cut it down to about $50/month.
Cutting Cable – $50/month
If you paid attention to one of my last posts, you already know we cut cable and are now depending on a combination of OTA (over the air) and Dish Sling TV. If you didn’t pay attention, well you deserve to pay $109/month for cable! We’re over a month in with this cost-cutting experiment and no major issues… we’ll see what happens during football season though.
Cell phone savings – $50/month
Over the years cell phones have evolved from much cooler than a pager to a technological must-have; and with it the cell phone companies have become very good at prying as much out of our pockets as they can.
My company offers a nice 28% corporate discount through AT&T, but we were still paying around $168 month for our two iPhones (yes, I’m an Apple guy, but to be fair, owning their stock for a couple of years has more than paid for those two phones). After a lot of research, I decided Wal-Mart’s smart talk plan at $45/phone all in was the way to go. I called AT&T to discuss cancellations costs, and they magically found a new plan that saved us $50/month! All of this without even having to call or visit Wal-Mart (my preferred option).
You may have already cut your expenses to the bone, but if not, I challenge you to spend some time on them now. You never know where you might find an extra couple of hundred dollars per month!