One of my goals for 2013 has to do with budgeting and being more frugal. I think its a skill to do more with less. And to become skilled, one needs to practice. I'll admit, before getting married I was very wasteful with my money. I had a good job, wasn't paying rent and so all that money went to whatever whim I had. While I do miss shopping every Friday after work, manicured nails, eating out whenever I wanted and spontaneous trips, I realize I needed to grow up. Luckily, I married my complete opposite in this category and I've learned a lot about saving and making different choices with my dollar.
We are reading Dave Ramsey's Money Makeover, which is really motivating. I love his theory of "living like no one else, so you can LIVE like no one else." I have also been scouring the web for frugal living blogs or tips. Lots of small, easy changes can have a big impact. I am not an expert at all, but I want to share things that work for us as I learn along the way.
-Be a planner. Plan your budget. Plan for your big expenses and save ahead. Plan your menu/grocery list in advance, then stick to it. Plan your errands to save gas. Stay out of debt and pay bills on time. Interest and late fees are just a waste....you are giving your hard earned money away for nothing!!
-Buying secondhand- Bet you couldn't tell that 90% of our furniture etc came from Craigslist or thrift stores.
-Eat at home as much as possible. That means brown bagging it! If you spend $5-10 on lunch every work day....that adds up $25-50/WEEK!! Sometimes this one gets tough because who wants to make dinner every night? Especially if you are a tired, pregnant lady trying to get through nursing school! But I've found that if you have something easy in your freezer, its harder to rationalize going out.
-Drink water when you go out to eat. (This is still a work in progress because I count soda as my main food group, but consider paying $2-3 per person for a soda at a restaurant. Guess what guys...you can get a 2L bottle for $1.69 or even $1 if its on sale.) Also skip appetizers and desserts. No one needs that much food in one sitting.
-If you are hankering for a sweet treat or want to go out for ice cream, let me tell you about the McDonald's cone or Costco frozen yogurt. Deliciousness for less than $1.50. You can't go to Coldstone for that.
-Entertainment: This is one of my goals for for a few reasons. We have been stuck in a dinner/movie date night rut. I'd like to be more creative in this department and shake things up. There is nothing wrong with dinner and a movie, but toss in a few "free dates" per month and you will start seeing the dollars add up. So far in 2013, we had a free date to Costco. We ate samples, sat in their furniture, people watched, browsed through books and baby clothes...it ended up being pretty fun. We didn't take in a cart and we walked out spending $0. We also made hot chocolate, put it in travel mugs and went to Barnes & Noble. Luke quizzed me out of some of the NCLEX study aid books and it was fun getting out of the house. Again, $0. Other ideas: free movie check out from the library or plan a pot luck and invite your friends over.
I'm definitely not looking to be an extreme couponer or to cut spending and make life miserable, but I am having fun trying to be more creative to do more with less. Smarter spending, if you will. Any ideas, blog links or budget friendly recipes are welcome!!