Now that we’re completely settled in New York, visitors have visited and summertime is just about over with, Josh and I are cracking down on our family’s spending. We’ve reevaluated our budget and beginning in September we’re putting a pretty big chunk towards debt and savings. We’re focusing on creating a big safety net because Josh is seriously considering getting out of the Coast Guard in 2015 and we don’t want to enter a new chapter with anything hanging over us from the last.
With savings in mind, and after reading Young House Love’s skip it list, I thought it would be fun to make our own list of things we typically skip out on in an effort to safe a little money. A lot of these are the same things that John and Sherry skip out on too. I promise I’m not copying. I guess some things are just easier to skip for everyone.
- Meat. During a normal week our family of five only eats 2 to 3 pounds of meat.
- Most cleaning supplies. Over two years ago, I bought a Shaklee cleaning set and it is still going strong. I’ve talked before about how our Shaklee cleaning products allow me to skip out on buying window cleaner, multipurpose cleaner, any sort of cleaning wipe, degreaser, etc. We also skip fabric softener and dryer sheets and floor cleaner thanks to our Shark.
- Bottled Water. We all have our own reusable water bottles that we fill on our own.
- Most prepackaged foods.
- Beauty Products. Besides the occasional splurge, I don’t use any sort of hair products, perfumes, facial creams or lotions. Instead I use essential and coconut oils. I also don’t get mani/pedis, dye my hair, get massages, etc.
- Diapers. We’ve used cloth since Ruby was born. Though we don’t cloth at night or during long outings, I only buy disposables once every 2-3 months.
- A landline. Josh and I both have cell phones that are always with us so there is no reason to have a “home phone” too. I don’t know how much money we save by not having one though because we haven’t had one since 2007.
- A second car. For most of our adult lives Josh and I have shared one car. It works for us and unless Josh gets a job far from where we live (something we’ll try to avoid at all costs), we’ll never get a second car. When we lived in a Houston suburb and Josh worked in the city, we had to buy a second car and it drove me nuts. Selling that car when we moved to New York saved us nearly $300 a month between the payment, insurance and gas.
- Gas. Aside from choosing to drive a minivan over an SUV due to much better gas mileage (and automatic doors!), we actually hardly ever drive. We have always walked, biked, carpooled or used public transportation as a means to save money on gas. Of course, our outings to the beach and different cities requires more gas than usual, but day to day driving is generally no more than 3 -5 miles, if at all.
- Breakfasts/lunches/drinks out. We go out to dinner or order in frequently but we try to make up for it by never eating other meals or getting drinks outside of the house. Something like skipping a soda ($6 per meal) or a beer ($10 per meal) saves us lot over the course of a month so Josh and I (and the kids unless it’s included in the kid’s meals) just drink water.
- Paper/plastic products. We use washable and reusable paper napkins, towels, baggies, etc. and aside from birthday parties, never buy paper plates or cups.
- Most baby/kid toiletries. The same as Josh and I , the kids use the minimum when it comes toiletries. All three of them actually use “Everyone Soap” which is natural soap/shampoo/bubble bath all in one. The bottle is a little costly at $10 but it lasts us about three to four months. We also don’t buy any sort of lotion for them but instead stick to coconut oil.
- Subscriptions. Two months ago we subscribed to Sirius Radio, Netflix and a credit score monitoring program. We decided that none of it was necessary so we cancelled all and save about $40 a month now. Though I desperately missed satellite radio at first, now it’s a nonissue.
- Cable television(!!!!!!!). We finally did it. I’ve tried a few times before and couldn’t bring myself to cut the luxury but our bill this month was $177 (for cable and internet) and that’s ridiculous. We bought Apple TV and a local channel antenna so it’s not cold turkey this time.
- New things. The joke in our house is that Theo even gets Parker’s hand me down undies (he doesn’t) because nearly his whole wardrobe is Parker’s old stuff. I can’t bring myself to buy new when the two of them are so close in age and can share. I also bought most of Ruby’s baby stuff on Craigslist or local swapping pages and have been known to hit up yard sales and the trash (yes I’ve picked before).
- Full priced admission. We do A LOT but 90% of the time, we get a military discount or free admission. The Yankees game, the Mets game, the All Star Fan Fest, Monticello, Liberty Science Center, the Museum of Natural History, all free because of free military admission and a great USO here in NY. Of course a lot of the time we end up spending money at these places, we do get a break on the cost of getting in.
While I’m proud of our “skip it list” there are still ways that we can cut back so I’ve also made a “cut back” list.
- Alcohol. Josh and I like to drink. We like beer, wine, tequila, etc. and typically spend around $75 a month on alcohol. We usually don’t drink outside of our house so at least we’re not paying $5 for a beer but 12 packs and bottles add up and we’ve just been spending far too much money (and calories!) on drinking.
- Eating out/ordering in. This has always been our downfall. Our waistlines and our wallets will thank us once we figure this one out.
- Bridge tolls. This will definitely get better once summer is over and we’re not driving to the beach anymore but living on an island is hard. We’ve spent somewhere around $120 over the past month on bridge and parkway tolls. Cray cray.