August 23, 2011

10 Small Ways I'm Cutting Costs

Now that we're currently living on just my income, we need to identify areas where we can cut back on our spending. It's a great opportunity to refocus on what necessities really are and how we can save money on those things we do have to buy.

These are a few small actions I've taken (or plan on taking) to help us live on as little as possible. Even if this season of one income is very short, some of these changes will hopefully become permanent and help us reach our financial goals.

1. Not getting my hair cut
This may sound extreme to some, but for me it was an easy decision to make. I've only been getting regular haircuts for the past year, so going without one for a while won't bother me. Of course I'm hoping Nathan will find a new job before I'm due for a haircut anyway.

2. Stepping up my couponing game.
I have no desire to look through recycle bins for coupons, but I need to make better use of the ones I have. I've gotten a little lazy lately and let some good ones expire.

3. Buying cheaper razors
I'm normally not a brand loyal person, but I've been using Schick Quatro razors for years. I decided to switch to two-blade razors that were 75% cheaper. This has turned out to be a painful decision (literally), but I think I can handle it for a while.

4. Only grocery shopping every two weeks
It's too early to know if this change will actually save us money, but I think it will. If nothing else, I'll be spending less time shopping and less money on gas than I was when I shopped once a week.

5. Temporarily stopping HSA contributions
Right now, part of each of my paychecks goes directly into our Health Savings Account. If the unemployment continues for another month or so, I'll stop making that contribution. We already have enough money between out HSA and emergency fund to cover our out of pocket maximum.

6. Only buying 1% milk
For a year I've been buying skim for me and 1% for Nathan. I finally decided that I'm not going to become obese from drinking 1% milk, so I've stopped buying skim. With the two of us sharing one gallon, we're much less likely to waste any because it's gone bad. The extra refrigerator space is a nice bonus too.

7. Severely limited eating out
I know some people seem to think you should never eat out, but it's nice to be able to go out for dinner as a couple or have lunch with coworkers at least a couple times a month. I don't think we'll be able to completely give it up, but we're going to have a very small number in this budget category. Thankfully, I have several unused Groupons we can use for a date.

8. Not buying new makeup
I've run out of both my foundation and mineral veil, so I'm looking very natural right now.

9. Shopping for a lower car and renter's insurance.
We're spending a huge chunk of our income on insurance. The company Nathan chose several years ago had the best rate at the time, but now that he's added another driver, a second car, and renter's insurance to his policy, it's time to look again.

10. Deleting all daily deal e-mails immediately
Groupons are great for saving money on restaurants, entertainment, and even clothing, but when you don't have a budget for these categories, it's brutal looking at all the deals you have to pass up. Heartsy was really rough. It's better to just delete the e-mails before I can read what they're offering.

What small or big changes have you made to save money?

More Top Ten Tuesday from Oh Amanda.
More Frugal Friday on Life as Mom.


  1. LOVE this! We're looking for ways to cut back right now too, as we'll be looking for at a single income for a few months, too. I'm going to host a series on my blog about thrifty living. I trim my own hair and cut my husband's hair. We also are becoming diligent about cutting off lights and other electronics when we aren't using them to saving money on the electric bill!

  2. Turning off electronics is definitely a good idea. We've gotten into the habit of shutting down our computers every night, and I think that's really helped.

    Nathan cuts his own hair. I figure if worst comes to worst, he could probably manage to trim mine too.

  3. I have most of the stuff around the house to make homemade cleaners (personal hygiene and household) but have sort of slipped with it. There's something official looking about dish soap with tons of bubbles in it or toothpaste in a little squeeze tube. Anyway, I'm trying to slowly wean off of conventional cleaners. That;s a big savings for us since I like to buy the more natural stuff and don't really coupon.

  4. I would love to start making homemade cleaners. If my dog has a sneeze attack every time I spray something, is it really that good for the rest of us? I'm just waiting until I use up our current supply, which will take awhile since Nathan and I both had some when we got married.

  5. that is really good! i use coupons religiously, my mother in law even saves them for me. And I swear, I've cut my grocery and household items list by like half. I would check out for some tips, that's how i got started. I also recently received coupons good for 5 free freschetta pizzas by the slice : )
    our eating out budget is usually around $100 a month. we don't eat out a lot but we thoroughly enjoy it when we do : )

  6. Good for you for making the best of a tough situation!

  7. Newlyweds - Yeah, it's not so much that I don't know how to use coupons, just that I'm not doing it.

    Jessica - Thanks! I try to stay positive, and sometimes I mange to succeed.

  8. I liked your number 10 way to save money. I've learned, albeit the hard way, that a deal isn't a deal if I don't need it.

  9. Great ideas! I've always had trouble finding a razor that works will for me. I've found that a sugar/oil scrub before I shave helps get rid of bumps that make shaving painful.

    Also, we recently switched from skim to whole milk because I had read about the health benefits. We haven't experienced weight gain as a result, and have found that it fills us up and curbs our cravings. So, you might even find your milk switch helpful.

    The daily deals thing--I totally get it. I don't look at them most days definitely can get in the way of paying off debt, too!

  10. Malisa - Yep, when you're truly focusing on needs, it's best to just say no.

    Tettelestai - Glad you liked them!

    mrsdexter - I've also read about people switching to whole milk, which is part of why I decided 1% would be okay, if not better for me.

  11. I like how you admit that you like to eat out every once in a while. My husband and I are saving for a home and living on a tight budget as well, but we enjoy the occasional (budgeted) dinner out. In fact, since we out so rarely, even Panera is a treat and we don't have to spend a lot of money!

  12. @Hannah Yeah, I understand making sacrifices, but if you start sacrificing everything, what's the point of living? And I agree that Panera is great. :)

  13. I think #7 comes down to one thing: Can you afford it? If you have to go into debt to eat out, then it's not worth it. And it's still worth living even if you can't afford to eat out :)

    My family has had a 68% decrease in income since January 2007 (in 2007 we went 8 months with no income, and what we've made since then isn't much). Most of the time, we can't afford to buy food. We make what we have stretch as far as possible; I feed my family of 8 for under $1 to $3 a meal (for all of us, not per person). And it's good food!

    After a year of waiting to have my hair cut, I had my husband cut it. He did a fine job! The next time he did even better! He has had 3 haircuts since we were married, and then I started to cut his hair. I've been cutting his for years, but it took me longer to have him cut mine. I love that he can cut it more often, too!

    Consequently, we have cut a lot, out of neccesity. I throw out the grocery ads when they come, since I'm not shopping. I grow lots of my own food. I make needed and wanted things for our family (for example, I am making all of my daughter's birthday presents).

    Here's our lists for saving money (both big and small).

  14. Love the list! The small ways can add up over time. I always delete my groupon and living social emails. If they're not there, I'm not tempted to think about them.

    I've been staying out of the stores to save time, money, and gas. It's amazing what I can get done just by staying home!

  15. One new thing we've done recently is extending our milk. I'm always hesitant to use milk in recipes because of how expensive it is. I'd rather drink it than put it in something I'm making. And then I remembered a money-saving strategy I read on MoneySavingMom a while back about buying whole milk and watering it down. This worked fabulously for us when milk wasn't on sale. (Paid $2.99 for a gallon of whole, split it into another gallon container, watered both down to about 3/4 full, and it tastes fine. That was 2 weeks ago when we bought the $2.99 gallon. And we just finished up the 2nd of the two yesterday.) We will be doing this more often (when we don't find it on sale at ALDI for cheeeeap). Something to consider!


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