Money may be a somewhat taboo topic in today's society, but one thing we can all agree we like to talk about is how to save money! My husband and I are fans of the Dave Ramsey plan of getting out of debt. If you don't know about the baby steps, check them out below.
In early 2017 we paid off all of our credit card debt, for the last time! We have vowed not to have credit card debt anymore. Now, we will put things on a card when the situation warrants. (Like when it earns us points towards that 10th-anniversary trip, we are still trying to figure out a time to take, 18 months later.)
We are still on Baby Step 2, which is paying off all debt aside from a mortgage. We're working to pay off the minivan we upgraded to when we had our third child. And we are working hard. We're not as "gazelle intense" as we could be, but we have our moments. Some months we can throw a lot of money at that debt, and others it's not as much.
But as we have settled into a Georgia budget, and the realization that if we push a little harder, we could pay off the van by the end of 2018, we are focusing back on our goal. I'll be the first to admit that it is hard to do things like, cancel Netflix to pay more off on the car. I mean, what is that $10 going to do in the grand scheme of things? Maybe not much, but if you could find an extra $100 this month, how would that help? Or an additional $500?
No, I'm not crazy. Nor am I suggesting you spend your time looking for spare change in the couch. Especially since you probably just moved and saw all the cheerios and Legos fall out of it. But I do have a few ideas.
Save each day.
There are several ways to save each day. You could take a dollar each day and put it aside. Or, do it all at once. Boom, $30. (Or do $5 a day.) Or you could save $1 on the 1st, $2 on the 2nd, etc. if you do that you'll end up with $466.
The smart way to eat out.
Ideally, we would cut our eating out, or ordering in, completely and save all the money, but that isn't something we want to do. So I have some ideas on how you (and us!) can smartly do this. Start by establishing a reasonable budget for your eating out. Then pull that money out in cash. When it's gone, it's gone.
Or put that money on a gift card to the restaurant you want to eat at. Again, when it's gone, it's gone. I like to get a Dunkin Donuts coffee once a week. So if I put that on a gift card, I would be much more cautious with overspending.
Pack lunches. Just do it.
Last weekend, my dear husband grilled six pounds of chicken while I made the sides and I prepared ten lunches for the week. No reason to eat out, no excuse for not having something in the fridge. We saved so much money this week. There's no reason not to do this. Try it for a month and see what happens.
Spring Break without breaking the bank.
This first week of April my kids are on Spring Break. We're not vacationing as a family this year like we did last year, but we still want to have a little extra fun. So I've been stalking Groupon for some great, local ideas. We can save 50% at the local trampoline park. We can even save money on restaurants. It's worth a little extra time to check that website.
Set a goal, and make it visual.
I love crossing things off a list, and so whenever I can find a way to make a challenge visually appealing, I take it. There are several ways to keep your family inspired to save extra money this month. You could make a simple thermometer that people can color in when they've added a dollar to the save jar. You could do the same with the words "Debt Free" and color in a portion each time you get closer. I once saw someone draw a detailed picture of their pickup truck and section of $500 blocks!
So what are we going to do in April? I've got a big goal, so we're doing all of these things. I'd like to save enough cash to pay for our hotel in May. (My sister's getting married!) So I'm going to:
- Stick to our $100 entertainment budget in April, including Spring Break
- Save $5 a day, one for each of us.
- Have my very creative daughter make a goal chart for us (and a countdown to our trip).
- Keep packing lunches for my everyone, while giving each person one day a week to "eat out."
- Use gift cards, coupon cards, and Groupon before deciding if we will eat out as a family.
I'm excited to see what our number can be, what are you going to do to save money this month?