Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Save

With a husband in college, two sweet babies to feed, and a sinking economy, this Vasquez family has learned to stretch a dollar!  We have found ways to cut corners and put extra earnings aside as much as possible while still living a full and happy life.  I thought I would share a few strategies we've learned that work for our family.  We could all use a little help these days, right?
1.  Have you heard of Dave Ramsey?  If not, click here and do a little reading.  He has super practical advice on how to climb out of debt, prepare for your future, and live within a practical budget.  We have been using his "snowball plan" and in only 3 months have paid off FIVE accounts.  So empowering!  
2.  One of my coworkers referred me to a fabulous website called emealz.com (also recommended by Dave).  For a very small membership fee, this site provides you with weekly menus to the store of your choice.  There are a variety of menus available including vegetarian, portion control, and low carb fare.  The menus allow you to specify whether you are shopping for a family, a couple, or your fabulous single self.  You are then given a grocery list to stock up on exactly what you will need to make the meals on your list.  It's genius!!  Planning ahead for meals saves me time AND money.  It keeps me from going to the store more than necessary and takes the guess work out for my sweet hubby on the nights I get home late from work.  
3.  Buy in bulk when possible.  I hit up Sam's Club about every six weeks.  I buy most of our household products, dry goods, and meat there.  And by buying in bulk I don't mean hoarding.  You don't need 20 packs of toilet paper.  Buying in bulk keeps us stocked for a longer period of time which prevents me from having to go shopping more than needed.  We all know that if you go into a store for 4 items, you usually walk out with 10.  And those extra 6 were probably not even necessary.  
4.  Avoid buying too many snacks, sodas, and ready made food.  Stick to single ingredient items that are versatile and can make several meals.  It's amazing how many different meals you can make with chicken, pasta, and vegetables rather than buying several frozen pasta dishes.  Plus, it's so much better for your health and well-being.
 5.  Cut back on dining out.  ALOT.  Get creative and have dinner on the porch under a twinkly set of lights, a candlelit dining room, a picnic in the backyard.  When you do decide to treat yourself to a meal out (which we all should), check out sites like Groupon and Living Social for really spectacular deals at some of your local hot spots.
{The girls enjoying an afternoon peanut butter and jelly picnic in the front yard}
6. Cut down on energy costs, both for your budget and the planet.  Turn lights off when you're not using them, unplug your chargers, and set your thermostat at a reasonable level.  We bought energy saving light bulbs for our entire house when we moved in two years ago and have not had to change a SINGLE one yet.  Being more conscious of our energy spending in our home reduces our monthly budget significantly.  
7.  Think before you act.  Make smart purchases and question how much you really love something before you buy it.  Use sites like Zulily to find great deals and redeem coupons when possible.
8.  Most importantly, stick together and remember your goals as a family.  What means the most to you, what is your agenda?  Come together and set some house rules for what you are willing to spend money on and what is just not worth it.  As long as you are all on the same page, saving money and reducing debt becomes a lot easier.  And remember, living more conscientiously and productively sets a good example for your children and prepares them to make smart decisions themselves. 
 
{The girls and I on one of our monthly stock-ups}

~Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important then clothes?
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?~
Matthew 6:25-26

2 comments:

kristance ann said...

LOVE financial peace! these are some really awesome tips! my husband loves to eat out (and he always gets cheeseburgers [doesnt matter where we go!] what's up with that?!) so in an effort to save money i've been doing fun meals at home or picnics (which he surprisingly LOVES) we went out to lunch today for the first time in a long time, and it made it all the more special. abscence makes the heart grow fonder, right? (:
love this post! (and love your blog!)

Olivia Grace said...

THANK YOU!!! And you totally deserve to go out to lunch with your hubby, we all need a break to unwind and catch up without the chaos of everyday life.