York Swirls

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Little Things and The Big Debt

There has been some developments since my last post.  I started getting that writing resume out, just like I said I would.  Unfortunately, I haven't found anything that has been a good fit yet.  I actually got offered a job, but the writing would have cost me so many hours in research that I would have been making less than minimum wage.  I'll keep looking, but it's slow going.  Thinking ahead, I'd like to write some articles for family magazines, maybe work on that novel.  Slow, but rewarding, work.
What I have come to realize, is that I can do a lot more to help our budget from home than away from home.  Already, I know with a freelance income, I'm going to lose around 40% to taxes.  It might be even more than that because of the tax bracket we are in.  So, while I'm not giving up the writing, I'm not giving it the same amount of time that I was a few weeks ago. 
So, here we come to my next venture.  I have been working to reduce the household budget.  All those changes that look like little things really add up.  Here's a few examples:

Finally getting the twins out of nighttime disposable diapers: $135.41/year ($0.186 each diaper)

Dropping Netflix and using Redbox and Library Movies: about $240/year (Netflix $25.93/mo)

Making bread at home: about $174.72/year (2 loaves at Sams/wk = $3.86; 2 homemade loaves/wk = about $0.50)

Making homemade cleaners: at least $116/year ($10.47/mo vs. $0.75/mo)  That's a fairly conservative guess at how much I spend in cleaners monthly, so I'm sure the savings will be higher. 

Just those few things give me $666.13 each year to tackle my debts.   That still leaves a lot of work for me. 

Worth Every Saved Penny!

Here's some of the other things I've done to drop our expenses:
1.  Make a budget.  Know what my limits are and discover how creative I can be.
2.  Get the kids to hang up the towels and only wash them once a week.
3.  Pajamas get worn 2-3 times before washing.
4.  Turn down the thermostat to 62 degrees during the day and 68 degrees at night.  Lots of cuddling going on around here!
5.  Research vegetarian meals and work towards 3 vegetarian suppers each week.
6.  Starting a ebay or half account to resell homeschool books.  Must get more books somehow!
7.  Selling baby gear at the Second Hand Kids store.
8.  Stockpiling.  I'm big into couponing now.  I use http://www.couponmom.com/ and http://www.moneysavingmom.com/.  I'm getting lots of free and super cheap deals using coupons, coupon clipping services and free/cheap deal alerts.
9.  Switching to ink cartridge refills. 
10.  Try to get showers (for Mom) at the gym (which also means I have to go 5-6 days/week.  See how I'm tricking myself into being good!).  I'm paying them well enough that I'm pretty sure they can take the hit to their water bill!
11.  Switching to digital scrapbooking once my paper pile/supplies are exhausted.  Not the easiest change for me, but I know I'll save on paper, glue, photo printing, etc.  I can get a 12x12 printed for $1.99 and it's great quality printing.  There's lots of digital freebies for the takers.
12.  Set a food budget ceiling of $500 for our family of 7.  I'm hoping to drop it lower than that.  Yes, we still eat fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc. in abundance! 

We're writing off this sugar as a purely educational expense!

Things we cut out of our budget:
1.  Store oatmeal packets
2.  Fruit Snacks (Not REALLY food people!  LOL)
3.  Bacon  (sniffle, sniffle)
4.  Meat over $1.68/lb.
5.  Store pizza
6.  Store bread
7.  Store granola bars
8.  Drawing paper (Backs of computer paper mis-prints and the backs of junk mail work great for coloring!)
9.  Cereal over $1.50/box.  I've been finding ways to get it at $1/box with coupons. 

Things I'm learning how to make or am already making:
1.  cloth diaper liners
2.  re-usable Swiffer pads (I'm not giving up my Swiffer.  You'll have to pry it from my dead broke hands.)
3.  Floor cleaner that I can put into a spray bottle to mimic my $$$ Swiffer cleaner.  (Sad, I know.)
4.  Fruits and Veggies from my own backyard.
5.  Water for my garden with rain collection and bath water repurposing.
6.  Bread, granola bars, healthy pizza pockets, healthy pop tarts, homemade oatmeal packets, etc.
7.  Anything that we can wash to reuse: table napkins, baby wipes, hankies, etc.

That's just a few of the things we are trying out.  I hope it inspires you in your homemaking budget.  I hope to get some of those budget friendly/health friendly recipes posted for you soon.  I'm off to the gym for an awesome workout and a long, hot shower.


  1. On a sad note, I don't think we are allowed to collect our rainwater. Its some sort of water rights thing.
    Everything sounds good. I love getting school stuff, so cutting out books is a tough one. I know I need to stay away from Target in order to keep my money.
    Good post. Reminds me I need to update our budget to reflect the husband's $0.67 raise.

  2. Yea!

    If you haven't already, you should get Dave Ramsey's book, Total Money Makeover from the library. So inspiring, and lots of great ideas!

    One thing that has REALLY helped me the last few months is a cash system for groceries/Target/fast food (not that there's a lot of that last one though). It really has helped me to stay IN budget (if not under) so that I stick to it and don't go over and "fudge" in other areas. Good luck, you'll never regret it!

  3. Rachel - That's so sad about the rainwater! Hooray on the raise, though. My hubby got a 2% this year. Just barely covers inflation, but we'll take it! On the homeschool books, I wouldn't sell anything I use, have used or just totally love. There's a stack of new/used curriculum around here that never quite worked for my kiddos. There's probably a few more that I can purge, but it takes time to let go of the "maybe it would work" feelings.
    RaeLyn - I LOVE that book! I check it out of the library once or twice a year for a good pep talk. I do wish my hubby's work hours would allow me to work a part-time evening/weekend gig, but he works a lot of overtime and weekend hours when the big projects hit. Too much unpredictability to count on having any hours away from home. Sigh. I did just decide on going to the cash system for our household budget. I was going to pull my February $ in the next few days. I'm sure it will keep me on track. We'll see how February goes. Chandler needs new shoes and the hundreds of pounds of wheat in the basement are looking awfully yummy. Must put together my manual grinder. I can feel my biceps toning as we speak!