Something you may or may not know about me and my family is that we live on one income – a teacher income. We have been blessed in many ways, including my small income on the side, but we are also smart with our money and make sacrifices each day. We are able to live an enjoyable life and say “yes” to most things we want for a number of reasons that I want to share with you.
You may wonder about my income. Blogging and designing pays for our groceries and any personal shopping (more yarn lol) I do, but my husband’s income pays all the bills, big purchases, traveling, etc.
I want to share this list with you incase you’re trying to make the switch to a single income, or you’re living paycheck to paycheck and can’t figure out why. Nothing here is really profound or unique, just personal ways we save money each day in our own lives. We are fairly minimalist in how we live and don’t have a lot of stuff (besides kids toys now haha). I’m sure many of you can relate to a lot of these!
So here’s what has been working for us. Like I said, we are very blessed in many ways. Also what works for us may not work for you and that’s the beauty of life. Everyone is different! Comment and let me know a way that you save money each day that may help me or someone else!
1. house payment
Two years ago we bought out first home, and we purchased one that was almost half of what we were approved for. We knew what we needed/wanted and that was NOT a maxed out mortgage payment each month. We live in a 900 square foot ranch that is almost 70 years old. It has 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. Do I wish we had more space? Sure. Do we actually need more space? No. Having a low mortgage payment so there’s money for other things each month is one of the best decisions we’ve made in life. It’s also cheaper to furnish and decorate!
2. groceries + coffee
I shop at Walmart and that about says it all! Shopping at Aldi is even better but since the pandemic started, I have been doing grocery pickup. You wouldn’t believe how much money you could save just shopping at a cheaper grocery store. I still buy high quality, organic food. We don’t buy any snacks, and mostly buy produce and whole foods which are cheaper. Someone once said to shop the outside of the store instead of inside the aisles and it’ll be healthier and less expensive, and it’s true.
We order a cheap meal kit delivery service for 5 dinners a week that saves us money as well. Servings are only $4.99 each for a delicious and filling meal. Click here for $20 off EveryPlate!
I also make my coffee at home instead of buying it somewhere each morning. Driving through Starbucks on grocery day is a treat!
We don’t have cable. We have high speed internet and few streaming services, as well as a tv antenna that picks up local channels for sports. My parents let us login to their YouTubeTV but that’s just an extra luxury we use sometimes but don’t necessarily need.
I don’t shop super often but I buy most of my clothes from Old Navy or Target and very rarely full price. I can’t remember when I started only buying things if they’re discounted more than about 25% but now it’s engrained in my brain haha. Before the pandemic I shopped probably 90% second hand for Maddie’s clothes but now most of hers are clearance from Old Navy and/or Target. I also find things on Poshmark here and there when I want something expensive like a Patagonia sweater.
For household items, decor, etc. I usually shop at discount stores like TJMaxx and Marshalls or Target, Walmart, and of course Amazon. We also found a lot of great items at a local antique store for great prices when we moved into our house.
5. eating out
We rarely eat at restaurants. We do eat takeout or fast food about once a week but it’s also cheap and I use the restaurant’s app to earn rewards and get coupons and discounts.
Another thing we do literally once a year on our dating anniversary is go to a movie. We never see movies in theaters other than that and it makes it so special and exciting choosing the movie. And usually after the movie we decide it wasn’t even worth almost $50 to see it in the theater LOL.
6. credit card debt
I do have three credit cards. One is for business purchases so that I can keep them all in one place for tax purposes, and the other two are personal (one is a Target card). I think credit cards are great for the cash back and earning credit *if* you have self control. I don’t have any credit card debt and never have. I do not buy anything I can’t pay off that month.
I am also very blessed to not have any student loan payments, but my husband is currently making payments on two masters degrees so we do have some student loan debt.
7. car payment
My dad passed his old company car down to me when I was in college and I still drive it. It’s 12 years old and has 230,000 miles but I have no car payment, low taxes and insurance, and plan on driving it until it doesn’t drive anymore! At that point we will see what we can afford and what payment makes sense with our income, and it most likely won’t be brand new.
I’ve always worn drugstore brand makeup and am so blown away by the prices of other makeup… My mascara costs $7. Shampoo is the same way for me! I refuse to shovel out hundreds of dollars each month (that I don’t have) on these two things. Nope. Which leads me to…
9. being low maintenance
Ok I hesitate to use the term ‘low maintenance” because I don’t want to make it seem like being high maintenance is a bad thing. Both are fine, I just like to save money in certain areas so that I can do other things, like stay home with my daughter.
So I don’t get my nails or toenails done, I pluck my own eyebrows and shave my own lip. Click here for the face razors I use because they’re awesome LOL. There’s lots of videos on YouTube of people showing you how to use them. I get $50 highlights in my hair about once every 6 months. I have never been to a spa or had a facial. I don’t fake tan. I don’t get my eyelashes done. I don’t get hair extensions. I have one purse and one wallet, both from Old Navy, and I’ve been using them for 4 years (some of you are cringing now). Anyway, you get the idea.
The point is that these personal grooming luxuries save THOUSANDS of dollars each year. If you like them and they make you feel awesome then go for it! Just keep in mind this may be one unnecessary area that is continuously draining your bank account.
I feel like a lot could go into this category. We do have some subscriptions I mentioned like streaming services and meal kits but that’s mostly it.
My husband invested in gym equipment for the basement a couple years ago and I do free workouts on YouTube (click here for my fav channels) so we don’t have a gym membership and that saves a lot of money. We also have a prepaid phone plan that is about $60 a month. This does mean we have to buy new phones at full price upfront but that’s something I save for and then usually my husband gets my old one because he doesn’t care.
We just try to be mindful of things and whether the service is actually benefitting us, saving money in the long run, if we’re going to actually use it, etc. Definitely not perfect in this area because I love convenience but something to think about!
what was your favorite tip?
I hope you found at least one of these helpful! Comment and let me know what your favorite one was or what we have in common as far as saving money!
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