September 22, 2015

Little ways...

I know finances are usually a taboo subject, but I honestly think we need to talk about it more. It doesn't have to be details in numbers, but rather an awareness of how we spend our money and if we are being smart about it all.
Since October of last year, we have lived without credit cards or any kind of credit. We deal with cash only (or interact) and it has been so amazing and eye-opening.
You don't realize how much you rely on and abuse credit until you don't have to deal with it anymore. There has been some slight annoyances with going credit card less...such as booking a hotel and amazon shopping (why??? why do you not take paypal amazon???). Other than a couple of hassles though, it has been freeing.
Since October, we also made up a strict budget that we go by every month, which allows us to actually put money into our savings account every month....something we honestly have never been able to do much of at all. When we lived in Fredericton and we had our son, the whole postpartum depression really hit us hard all around....financially as well. Justin missed a lot of work taking care of us. Work was also hard to come by while we lived up there and did not pay well.
We are finally starting to hit a good stride financially again and it feels pretty damn good.
I thought I would share with you some of the things we do to save money in our household...

~ We make weekly meal plans (I just write one hot meal down for each day) and make a shopping list to support that list (checking our cupboards first to see what we have and can use up that week as well)

~ Try to make a few of those meals vegetarian to save on meat costs (spaghetti with just plain tomato sauce rather than meat sauce for example)

~ Keep your pantry, cupboards and fridge (anywhere food is kept) cleaned and organized. I wipe down and rearrange our fridge and cupboard every couple of weeks or when needed. This helps me see what we have when making up the meal plan and shopping list. It also helps to not waste food in the fridge that might get forgotten.

~ Old bread (we buy the baguette style or fresh loaves a lot) I turn them into croutons and keep them in a air tight jar. All I do is cut it up into bite size pieces, put in a bowl, drizzle some olive oil over it with some salt & pepper, garlic powder and other spices I feel like that day...spread out on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 until golden and crisp.

~ We make our own granola...the stuff at the store can be quite expensive....again, all I do is put some quick rolled oats in a bowl (about 2-3 cups), melt some butter and honey with some brown sugar in a pot on the stove can add nuts and seeds that you like to the oats....drizzle over the butter mixture....stir together.....spread on a parchment lined baking tray....bake at 350 until golden. Once it is cooled you can add dried fruits like raisins or cranberries etc... to it. Keep it stored in an air tight container.

~ School lunches for Felix are pretty much homemade things all around...I will buy the unsweetened fruit/veggie combo cups for him and yogurt...and I buy dark chocolate to put in as treats. Cookies and other treats I make homemade though, and I think that saves some money in the long run.

~ If bananas are nearing the end...I cut them up and freeze them for smoothies (I do this with other fruit as well).

Homemade granola bars (before being cut) for school lunches

~ We try really hard not to get take out, but also not deprive ourselves...we love's our entertainment ;) BUT it helps to keep track of these habits so you don't go crazy.

We do write down every single thing we buy in a month...even if it's a dollar stamp or a pop from the corner store...everything. Every dollar amount that comes in and goes out gets written down.

At the end of the month everything goes in it's certain category and gets totaled up (and then gets put into a spreadsheet on the computer where we can keep track month by month how we have improved etc). This just helps us become aware. I think being aware of where your money is actually being spent each month is HUGE....and a lot of people don't realize their spending habits.
We are guilty of it...I remember one month we were wanting to go out for food and we mentioned how good we've been this month with our take out budget, how we deserve this treat etc etc (this was near the end of the month). I quickly tallied our take out total for the month from our spending list and we saw that we had spent almost $200!!! that month already!!! (We didn't go out, needless to say) adds up so fast! We don't go to fancy places...but $25 here and $10 ice cream trip can add up so fast! (and can easily get forgotten!) So honestly, as annoying as it sounds, writing down everything helps so so so much!!! Trust me. Nothing makes you feel quite as ashamed as realizing that you spent $80 on family ice cream trips in one month (seriously).

I think I will end this post for now...but continue it another day with more ways I try to save money around the house and with our budget.

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