When we became a single income family, we didn’t expect to stay that way for long. My husband and I decided it would be best for him to leave his current job and find a new one but we didn’t anticipate that it would take awhile to find a job we would be happy with. I thought we could go a few weeks on my paycheck alone and we didn’t have to worry about money because he would find something soon. And we don’t spend that much money anyway, right? Uh- WRONG.
Turns out that while we could live comfortably on two incomes we had developed some seriously bad spending habits. Now with less cash coming in, we were gonna be in real big trouble if we didn’t figure something out quick. After some heart to heart discussions-and some worryingly close weeks- we came up with these solutions that have paid off BIG TIME. Here is what we came up with:
Cooking from Home
Eating out was our #1 worst money wasting habit. I’m so embarrassed to admit that we bought ready-to-eat food at least once a day. It was just so much easier! Most days, my hubby would come pick me up on my break so we could have lunch together and with a handful of fast food places around the corner we could go eat and make it back in just 30 minutes. Or when I was at work all day, the last thing I wanted to do when I came home was cook dinner. So… pizza or Chinese tonight?
I’ll admit this is not an easy habit to break, but here is how we did it;
We committed to change. We decided that whoever was home was responsible for dinner. This meant if I was working until 9pm, he would have dinner under way before I got home. Or if I got home by 4:00 that day, I could cook. No more “I’m too tired” or “It’s too late” pizza orders.
We planned out meals ahead of time. My hubby came up with an idea to take the guess work out of choosing dinner. On the weekend we pick out 7 dinners for the next week (Mon-Sun) by rolling a dice. Can you tell he’s a gamer? We wrote down a list of all the dinners we could think of, all different price ranges and involvement, and gave them each a number. He rolls the dice and whatever it lands on is what we make that week. This way we don’t have to play the ‘what do you want?’ game everyday. We can also shop for only the meals we are going to make that week which means we don’t throw out anything! I’ve modified this a little bit- we have different lists for chicken, beef, pork, vegetarian, seafood, and quick meals. This way we don’t end up eating ground beef every night. We also have a leftover night once a week (or a ‘fend for yourself’ night). When we get bored, we swap out recipes.
We pack our lunches. I’m not afraid to say it-I love some good ol’ leftovers. Lunch that I just have to microwave that actually tastes good? Yes please! Most of the recipes we make are enough for four anyway so why not throw it in a Tupperware and take it to work? This saved us at least $5 a day and my lunch breaks seem to last longer now that I’m not going out to eat.
We give ourselves a break. We still like to eat out, but now we plan for it. Once a day has become once every other week, which means we really make it count!
Once upon a time, Ian and I took a math class together in college. (We actually met in this class but that’s a story for another day ♡ ) The only other good thing that seemed to come out of this class was the mother of all budgeting spreadsheets. It has a page for car or home loans, 401ks, APR projections-the works. We still use it to budget our income and spending. It has helped us so much!
For more info on budgeting (including the spreadsheet) check out this post!
Get rid of them! We both had a handful of online shopping apps on our phones that we would waste time on everyday. There are always the ‘Daily Deals’ or ‘Special’ coupons that really aren’t so special. We weren’t looking for anything specifically, we were just bored, but there was undoubtedly a gizmo or gadget that we ended up buying. It was usually not something pricey but that’s what made it worse! It is so much easier to turn down one $20 purchase instead of twenty $1 items. Now that those apps are gone altogether we avoid looking at all the shiny new toys and we spend our time better too! (Ok maybe not better, but Instagram dog memes are free :D)
Paying it Forward
I don’t care what religion (if any) you belong to, it is hard to deny that what goes around comes around. I firmly believe that when we give to help others we are blessed in return. This doesn’t have to be money, your time can be just as valuable. I know it seems counterproductive to give away what you have worked so hard to save, but when you give freely with a real intent to help others you will be blown away with the blessings you receive. We have committed to dedicate a portion of our income to helping others. Ian and I do this through our church, but there are many charities and organizations that can direct your donations to those who need a little help. Here are a few that I love: