How I saved my family $2500/month

Hemorrhaging Money?  Apply the tourniquet and stop the bleeding!

Have you ever taken a look at your T4 at the end of the year and ask yourself “where did it all go?”  You aren’t alone. I’m about to show you how we managed to start living on a single income and how I managed to make our current income go further without my part time job.  Now here is a little back story to what motivated us to make big changes:

I am a nurse and my husband is a journeyman carpenter.  We both make amazing wages as professionals, but we were living pay-check to pay-check, and couldn’t figure out how our line of credit just kept creeping up slowly over time.  I thought we were managing to pay off our bills each month, but in reality we were on a slowly sinking ship.

We needed a big change in our family (read about our debt confession here).  I felt like I was a hamster running around in circles and getting nowhere.   I was SO done feeling like we were living in chaos, like I never had enough patience for my kids or my husband, like I would never see the bottom of the laundry pile, like I couldn’t enjoy the little moments because I constantly had a running to do list in my head and I couldn’t keep up to it.  Working harder to pay off our debt was not solving any of those problems for us. My brain was fried, I was so burned out, and I couldn’t work any more hours and still manage our home well.

What our home desperately needed was a momma that had time to run it. I knew that if I could find a way to stream line and cut our expenses, I could get us thriving on one income.   So, I rolled up my sleeves and started evaluating where our money was seeping out every month, and how to patch up those holes so we were keeping more of what we earned.

This is how I made it happen:

Build a budget!

These might be helpful:

  • I used this free tool from Gail Vox Oxlade, it gave me percentages to be aiming for when I was dividing up the money and deciding how much money I should be spending in each area.
  • Once I had my goal amounts, I downloaded the Every Dollar App- It is a free monthly budget app where you give every dollar a name and a designation, and you can track if you are on budget in each category or not.  It can be linked to your bank account to make it easier, but I have chosen not too for now.
  • I have also heard really amazing feedback for Mint.com, which performs the same functions as every dollar.  I don’t personally use this one
  • For budgeting ideas, help, and motivation I find that the #debtfreecommunity on instagram is a must for me –  while they are not a budget tool per-se, they are an amazing community full of like minded, goal oriented, amazing budgeting gurus.  I check in on these people daily for motivation, just trust me on this.  You need these guys in your corner. While you are at it, follow me over there as well 😉
Develop a tight grocery budget and only shop once a week.

I challenged myself to a strict grocery budget of $150/person/month in our house – that meant cutting my current grocery budget in half. If you do not live in Northern Canada where groceries will not cost you your firstborn, then perhaps start at $100/person/month and see how this works out for you (I credit Jordan Page for this challenge)  If you want to know how I accomplished that click here.

Use cash and stop pulling out the credit card.

If I couldn’t use cash in that moment, I simply had to wait to buy it. This also meant reining in my husband who loves amazon prime.  This took our credit bill from $1000-1500/month down to between 0- $100/month.

Cancel your subscription and auto-ship services.

I LOVED getting those adorable little diaper bundles from the honest company, but when our dollar value tanked in Canada, I could no longer justify the cost for the cuteness.  The same went for my Shakelology auto-ship (coaches don’t kill me for saying this because I love the product, but it is way too expensive!).  Let’s get real here for a second, if you cannot manage to save a little each month, or have a growing credit problem, you are broke! Stop the madness, and stop the subscriptions.

Cancel cable.

This is outlandishly expensive and there are so many great entertainment options that are a fraction of the cost.  Netflix is $10.99 a month, instead of the $100/month we were paying for cable.

Decrease your cell phone bill.

Phone your cellular provider, explain politely that you are in a bind, that you have been a loyal customer for x – amount of years, and you want to know what they can do for you.  This is best done through customer retentions, and you will be amazed at what they will do to keep you.  If you are less than thrilled at the response, it’s time to start shopping for other service providers.  Some companies will pay you to make the switch.

  • Two things that we did were, bundle our accounts, and got our new contracts at Costco when it was time to renew.  Often they will have some form of “Costco-Cash” back offer and we got $500 worth of Costco gift cards last time we updated our phones.  It was awesome!

 

 

Evaluate where you make the most $5, $10, $15 purchases.

They are like death by a thousand cuts.  This one was HUGE for me.  You know you’ve said it too, “it’s only a cup of coffee and a bagel,” and “I’ll just be nice and buy the girls a cup of coffee today.”  I will tell you honestly these small purchases account for much more of your missing money that you will care to admit.  For example, I would buy coffee for the girls at work, each time it amounted to about $20 (I like to keep morale up with caffeine), but I also stopped for coffee and a bagel on my way to work at $7 a pop, times the three days I worked a week = 324 DOLLARS A MONTH! Just stop, I know you’re a nice person, but remember that line of credit that is slowly adding up?  You are too broke to be nice – for now.  When that credit bill is zero every month, then you can buy coffee for the world.

 Stop eating out.

I know every excuse for takeout on the planet, believe me, I’ve used them,  but also believe this, it feels good to have an extra $300-$400 in your account to play with each month.  I was working three days a week, dreading cooking dinner, and exhausted all the time.  We would eat take out at least 3 times a week for supper, not to mention the ease of just grabbing lunch at work every shift.  It adds up so fast.  We now have dinner out twice a month, and it is typically a Subway or Chopped Leaf kind of menu, and we are not breaking the bank to do it.

 Pack a lunch.

I HATE making lunch for myself, and buying lunch was so easy for me to justify to myself, but it added up so fast.  I don’t want to admit it to my husband, but he is probably reading this saying “I told you so!”  Honey, I am saving us so much money now I am trying to mend my take-out loving ways, xoxo.

Here is my delightful tip for this one, and it’s an idea I got from a friend (thanks Jody!), once a week plan one big pot of soup and voilà, cheap easy lunches through the week.  I use my instant pot for this (my love for this device could rival my affections for my husband… almost).

 I decreased the amount I was working.

I heard Dave Ramsey talking the other day about insuring a stay at home mom to the value of $30, 000 – $40, 000/year (see the values below to see that this is actually 100% true for us) because there is an “economic value of the stay at home mom,” he said.  When you think about it, it’s true, the parent at home does the grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, cooking ect… if you had to replace those things it would cost your household dearly. There is a cost to working when you have small children, and you have to ask yourself to examine if the sacrifice is paying off financially for your family or not.

Really take a good look at how much you are paying for insurance.

We’ve had A LOT of wild fires in the past two years in BC and Alberta, which drove our insurance rates up nearly $600 this year, which simply became WAY too expensive. The insurance company also reduced our coverage so that we were no longer covered for flooding from any source, which meant we could opt back in, but at an additional $300.

So, I started shopping around for better rates and better coverage, and I found it!  My jaw nearly hit the floor when I found a company that gave me exactly the coverage I wanted and needed for 50% less than what I was currently paying.  When we did this, I still made sure that I wasn’t under-insuring us for what we needed, and I didn’t cut any services to accomplish it. You never know what’s available if you don’t ask.

 

By making these changes we saved:

Category Monthly Savings
Groceries $600
Cell phone bills $180
Internet $30
Subscriptions $227
Coffees/Lunches $324
daycare $900
suppers out $300
House Insurance $75
Total Savings $2636

I was only bringing in $2600 – $2800 a month working 24 hours a week, and none of the things on that list were worth keeping me away from our kids. Even if staying home with your kids isn’t your goal, who wouldn’t want to bank more of your paycheck each month?!

It’s embarrassing to know we could have saved nearly $30, 000 extra dollars this year if we only would have made these changes sooner, and I am happy to prove to you it can be done! Even if you can’t make all of the changes in one month, each one helps, and it really starts to add up fast. I still have a hard time believing how much money this has saved us, its amazing!

How much money did you save your family this month?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments 🙂

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