People may think frugal cuts to the budget may one day come to a close but I say bunk! There is never a shortage of ways to find stuff you can cut out of your budget. Ever. As long as there are new and inventive ways being discovered daily on how to separate you from your money, we can equally fight back and cut, cut, cut.
First you have to look over your expenditures and be totally honest with yourself. So, here’s my true confession: I’m a food hoarder. There! I’ve said it. Despite being a minimalist almost every where else in my life, I can’t stop buying and hoarding food. I know it’s due to my two lifetime bouts of being totally and completely broke. I vowed to myself, in true Scarlett O’Hara-Gone With The Wind fashion that “As God is My Witness, I’ll never be hungry again!” I need to get a grip on my food spending.
I spend entirely too much money on food. I store food in every which way: pantry shelf life, canned style, fresh and frozen. My pantry, fridge and freezer are so packed that sometimes I have difficulty closing the doors. I tend to stock every single thing I could ever think of eating. From American to Italian, to Greek, to Mexican to Asian…..if I get a nudge for any type of food longing, you can bet I’ve got it covered. And in stock!
It’s a frightening thing not to have adequate food available to feed yourself or your family. I don’t wish that horror on anyone. It’s also extremely embarrassing to go to a food pantry and yet, when need be, we do it and are grateful for the blessing.
I play games with my budget. If I see I am spending too much money on food in one month, I carry over the remaining expenditures into the next month. And so on and so on. On average I spend about $490 on food for two people. There’s no doubt that my husband and I eat very well. We try to have a fresh salad each and every day, pan-seared sustainable salmon once a week, locally raised-hormone free chickens a few times per week as well as The Meatless Monday cuisine. All that costs money.
My month of April food spending finally caught up with me. I did my usual trick of forwarding my food expenditures over to May but by May 3rd, I totaled up what I spent and the amount came in at a whopping $769. Yes folks. I spent $769 on my April food bill budget. Granted, yes it was Easter and Palm Sunday and guests came two weekends in a row and of course I have to show everyone what a fantastic cook and provider I am……not good.
That was April. Now its May and I’m still bursting at the seams:
#1. So, first thing on my frugal cuts to the budget is to STOP BUYING FOOD! I need to start eating out of my pantry and fridge! Pronto! I should only need to buy milk, eggs, bread and fresh greens and veggies for a few weeks till I get my pantry reorganized. Yo, Cindi! You have money in the bank now. If you run out of food, you can go to the store and buy it! Yikes. I’ve limited our food budget to $400 a month. $100 a week is more than enough for the two of us. Savings minimal at least $1080 for the year.
#2. I’ve also completely stopped eating my meals out. Last one was a few weeks ago with two of our very dear friends. I didn’t want to have lunch out but there was no way around it. These things do happen. So, I just ordered a simple chicken salad sandwich @$8.00. When we got the bill, our meal out for hubs and I, complete with tip came to $39. Gulp! How does that happen? Don’t know. Don’t care. It’s over and done with. Savings of at least $1200 for the year.
We’re going to be RVing this summer. We need to channel our money towards the rising gas prices if we want to go anywhere. That means ‘no more meals out’. Period. (Unless it’s a fish shack. Then all bets are off!)
#3. I finally cut our cable/satellite bill in half. From $63 to $33 a month! Since we live in the mountains, we can not get TV coverage from an antenna. We need to get our local channels, which we will under this new ‘Welcome Package’. This new package we downsized to has about 25 cable channels (HGTV, WE, Sundance, etc.) What we don’t have anymore is (Praise God!!!) FOX NEWS, FOX BUSINESS, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC……….I don’t have to listen to any more of these fake news shows anymore! Hubby had them on ALL.DAY.LONG. They are now gone and I can dream away on my Hallmark Channel. Saving $360 for the year.
#4. Our car insurance premiums were up for renewal. I cancelled our rental car riders (we own two cars, we don’t need rentals) and made some other minor adjustments. Saving $160 per year. Hey! It’s something.
#5. I had registered to take a local watercolor class. This has always been a dream of mine. But after realizing the class was going to cost me $140 for 3 lessons and $100 in instructor’s recommended supplies, I cancelled. Yesterday, I read a nearby local library newsletter and they were offering a free watercolor class with free supplies included. I called to register but the class was closed out. I was put on a waiting list. I was Number One on the waiting list. Today they called: I made the free class. I start tomorrow. Savings $240 plus. SCORE! I already have my own supplies. I don’t think I need any thing else. But we’ll see.
#6. My lazy husband and I have been hiring a person to do our gardening and landscaping work for the last few years. And why not? Hubby was working. We had the money. Plus we were lazy. Our regular guy recently left the business to get married. We called in other yard people. The lowest quote we got to clean up the winter mess and do the first mow was $800. WTF! Hubby fixed our broken wheel barrel (which we got for free from a neighbor) for around $22 and out I went onto our 3.5 acres (only 2 acres are exposed, the rest is treed). We got back to our basics. I would go around the property with the wheel barrel, picking up twigs and downed smallish tree limbs. I worked one hour per day. It took around 2.5 days for me to do my work. Once I cleared the land, hubby came in with his John Deere tractor (which we also got for free from a relocating neighbor) and mulched/cut the grass. Voila’. The property looks spectacular. Oh, and we have three flower beds, which I easily raked out: two are under the front windows and the other one is at the front entrance to our property. Yes! I feel ashamed that we let this chore go. We still need to hire someone to remove one tree and grind up the twigs and branches but…..we’ll see. Maybe we can do this ourselves too. Savings $800 less the repair of $22=$778.
#7. Our first summer vacation this year is at the beach on the Outerbanks of North Carolina. We used to RV and stay at the KOA campgrounds at Cape Hatteras. When I logged on to reserve a week there, the least expensive spot was $106 a night X five nights= $530 (plus tax). I was able to book a site at The Cape Hatteras National Sea Shore (Federal government run) for only $17.50 a night (thanks to my Senior Citizen membership card @$20 for life!). The same five nights will only cost me $87.50. That’s a savings of $442.50. SCORE! Granted we won’t have WiFi or Cable, but really? We’re at the beach. Don’t need that stuff. Plus, its only for a week. I’m sure I’ll survive without the internet.
What’s on your budget agenda that can be cut? Take a breathe and give it a whirl. Just like grandma used to say “There’s always something.” Indeed, there is. Indeed there is. Good luck!