Saturday, February 8, 2014

Spending less

The hubs and I have decided to make 2014 the year of spending less and saving more.  Like most people, we have a budget but don't always stick to it and every month we seem to have "emergencies" pop up that require extra money we hadn't planned on spending.  A friend motivated me to take a hard look at our finances after she and her husband went through the Dave Ramsey program and it's pretty eye-opening.  This will be an on-going process, obviously, but my goal is both to lower our monthly expenses while also "reclaiming" some money from items we have sitting around our house collecting dust.  For anyone else interested in doing something similar, here's what I did -

Sorted all receipts for the past 60 days

- The purpose of this was to see what I had purchased over the last 60 days that was a "want" rather than a "need."  Anything that was still returnable went back.  In my case this was some clothes for the kids, some expensive shower gel I have a weakness for, and a handbag I had found on clearance and had to buy because of course it was an awesome deal (I am a sucker for "deals.").  Savings = $225

Reviewed all monthly subscriptions/bills

- By doing this I discovered that we're paying for an extra cable box we don't use, a cable package that's higher than we need, and a gym membership my husband started when he was training for the Mud Run last year.  Monthly savings = $75

Cleaned out the garage

- Since we don't have a basement our garage tends to be the dumping ground for random items we aren't using.  Why not try to get some money back for these things?  I found an old stroller, a few kids' accessories, and a coffee table, put them all up for sale on Craigslist and there you go - $150.

Cleaned out the closets

- This has been the biggest job.  I cleaned out everyone's closet and sorted unused items into 3 piles - trash, donation and eBay.  Trash is obviously the broken, stained, unusable stuff.  Donation is the gently used but not-worth-selling stuff and then eBay is anything with the tags still on or brand name stuff in good condition.  Think clothes, shoes, handbags, unused health/beauty stuff.  This is an on-going process but so far my cash intake = $500.

Looked up value of old savings bonds

- I don't know about you guys but my grandparents always gave us savings bonds growing up.  My parents socked them away and then gave them to us when we went to college.  I cashed a few in as needed while I was single but then stuck them in a lock box and pretty much forgot about them.  Thing is, once they mature they stop accruing interest so it makes sense to cash them out at that point and put them in another interest-bearing account.  So, I checked my remaining bonds online and what do you know 2 of them had matured.  Savings = $425.

Obviously this process takes work and I've been doing it slowly over the past 6 weeks when my kids are actually both asleep for 20 minutes at the same time.  But it's motivating to "find" almost $1,500 just from doing the things I listed above.  My next experiment will be grocery shopping exclusively at WalMart for one month to see if I save anything compared to what I'm currently spending at Kroger.  Stay tuned!

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