We are trying to live on half of our income. We are not being completely successful as of yet, mostly because we don't have any savings to take care of unexpected expenses, but we have made a lot of headway. I like to read what others are doing to save money, so I thought I would list the basic things I am doing, and I will elaborate in future posts.
1) GROCERIES- This is the biggest area of savings. I have cut our grocery bill from about $500 every two weeks to $200 every two weeks, more than half. To do this, I am combining the many ideas I have gleaned from the web and my reading. I will post more on this later.
2) Phone and Internet-I consider the Internet to be pretty much a necessity, especially with homeschooling, so I searched until I found a way to cut the expense and still keep the internet. The answer was VOIP. We have not quite cut the landline but I expect to do so in the near future. Before, we had basic phone with a basic DSL service, and we used calling cards from www.callingcards.com (1.5 cents a minute). All this came to $65-$75 a month, depending on how much we called long distance. that is pretty cheap, but I wanted cheaper. What I found was cheaper and BETTER! We got higher speed wireless and bought a Magic Jack for our phone service. Now, for $150 in start-up costs, our internet with unlimited local and long distance calling is only $37 per month.
3) Hanging out all my laundry instead of using the dryer. The first few months this didn't look like it was going to save more than a few dollars. Then this last month our bill dropped by $25! I am going to guesstimate that our average savings will be...
3) Washing everything in cold water and keeping the thermostat on 60 degrees. I can only estimate what this is saving us. The month we started doing this, the cost of gas rose astronomically, but our bill stayed the same. Our bill is still $73 per month. So for fun let's say....
4) WATER- We are doing many things to save water. We bought a front load washer, which not only saves us water usage, it also prevents us from having to pump out our septic tank every 3 months like we were having to do. So the machine paid for itself in a year. We also installed all low-flow toilets. The old ones were broken and needed to be replaced anyway. The first month after my husband did these things, our water bill dropped from $6o per month, to $30 per month. It is back up to $40 now due to an increase in water. I have just started having everyone limit showers to 5 minutes. Too soon to know how much water that saves.
5) No paper products.....period. That's right, none.
6) I am making all my own beauty and health products and cleaning supplies. I don't know how much this is saving. Sometimes we bought this stuff with the groceries and sometimes separately. But it is helping me stay in my $200/biweekly grocery budget, so I will just leave it at that.
7) We cancelled our garbage service. We will recycle everything we can and haul the rest. If we keep our garbage below 150 lb every two weeks, it will be free.
8) We cancelled our paper delivery. Waaaaaaaaah. This has been the harderst and we may end up getting it again, when the credit cards are paid off.
Those are the basics. There are other things I would like to try. This summer we will be adding a garden. I would like to build some solar collectors and also do solar cooking. I know there are other ways to shave off a few dollars here and there and every bit helps. If you have any input, please share! As for now, the grand total is................drum roll..................
I bring home $880 every two weeks. This savings gets us almost halfway to me staying home. The other half can be mostly made up by being wiser in how we spend. I may not be able to quit work completely, but I can certainly see myself being able to go to registry (I am an RN) and working as needed. Even that would bring about a huge improvement in my state of mental health. Our biggest expense is housing. Our mortgage payment is $800/month. We have a really good interest rate so probably won't be able to jump on the refi bandwagon. I am hoping beloved will want to look for something less expensive. We have about $50-$60 thousand of equity in this house so could downsize a bit and get a much smaller mortgage.