I would imagine many are feeling a bit of a financial pinch right about now. Post holiday credit card bills are rolling in, the cold snap has sent heating bills soaring, and ENSTAR is raising rates – ouch!
It took me five months to make the decision to leave the work force and finances were a major factor in the decision. In fact, that financial fear was a major motivation to stay with my job (and the fact that I truly enjoyed going into the office every day). My heart was with my daughter, but my practical side was loyal to that steady paycheck. My heart won. I decided to acknowledge the fear and go for it.
Going down to one income was scary, especially during these times of economic uncertainty. In addition to duties as a full-time Mom, I took over the family finances. That’s when the ax came out and a lot of monthly expenses went on the chopping block. Below is a list of things I cut from our budget to save money. These moves made it doable to live off of one income. In addition, here is a a link for families to get on track financially for the New Year:
1. Bye-Bye Cable! My husband loves The Green Channel; I like to watch Snoop Dog Fatherhood and Bringing Home Baby (a sign of my random personality). Both are gone. We downgraded to basic cable saving $70 a month.
2. Predictability is Key. I knew that the heating bill was going to drive me crazy. I need predictability in my life. So, I called ENSTAR and got onto their level pay program. They average the amount of gas you use and come up with a monthly average. I’m really glad I did it, so I don’t have to deal with a huge January bill.
3. The Year of Replacements. We decided to go into savings and invest in a new roof, new windows, blown insulation in the attic and a new boiler in 2008. The hope is that the improvements cut down on monthly energy costs in the long run. We entered the AHFC Home Energy Improvement Program in hopes of recouping some of the costs.
4. Two Trips Every Two Weeks. Prior to quitting my job, I never planned meals. I would stop by the grocery store many times a week to grab something for dinner. I quickly realized this is an expensive habit. Seems every trip to the grocery store is at least $50. Now, I limit grocery store visits to twice every two weeks. One is to Costco, the other to the grocery store. I plan every meal and get ONLY the things I need for those meals.
5. Plan Ahead. Super bowl Sunday is coming up and we will likely have people over or go somewhere. Knowing this, I am already stashing money aside for groceries now. Otherwise the hot wings will have to go on the credit card and that is a dangerous scenario. This practice really helped us to stay on budget during the holidays when I was hosting or going to other events.
6. Going Out, What’s That? This is the biggest change. When I worked, I made daily trips to New Sagaya for lunch and lattes. That doesn’t happen anymore. We go out to eat every once in awhile, but it’s not a standard practice.
7. Shoeless and Sober. I like shoes and I like red wine, I don’t buy either on a regular basis anymore. Well, I don’t buy red wine because I’m pregnant, but after baby comes, the red wine will become an “every once in awhile” purchase.
8. Embrace the Gray. I love to color my hair and I like to change the color often, but the old grays have popped out. I’ve been saving to treat myself to color after the baby is born, but the trips to the salon have cut down considerably.