Monday, July 25, 2011

How to Save Money When You Think You've Maxed Out

I've talking before about our family's desire to pay off our student loans and get out of debt. After a year and a half of trekking along, we've managed to lower our balance by almost half as well as pay cash for the birth of Peanut (no maternity coverage). After some recent examination, we figured we could cut back even more. With the light at the end of the tunnel, it's makes us want to try and really see if we can do it by our goal date, July 2012! Here are some ways we are cutting back to save us an additional $4,000 throughout the next year:
  • Lower our grocery bill - I recently discovered The Grocery Shrink, and after reading a few of her posts, I decided to buy her eBook and see if I could glisten anything new from it. I am so glad I got that eBook, because not only did I learn a whole new approach to grocery shopping, but I can see that it is going to save us approximately $125 a month!! I thought I was a frugal person before, but Angela has shown me ways in which we can cut back even more to get to our goals without sacrificing healthy foods.
  • Cut back on phones - We have a house phone as well as 2 cell phones. I recently was gifted a blackberry, and so we also had a data plan and messaging on my phone. We hardly use our house phone, so cutting this out will be easy and save us $24 a month. By switching back to a basic phone, I will also save an additional $20 a month on our cell phone bill.
  • Eliminate Entertainment - Although we did not spend much on entertainment to begin with (only $25 a month), we realized that there are plenty of things we can do that are free and save this money instead.
  • Cut back on Babysitting- This is one area we really hadn't even implemented yet, so it will be easy to cut back on it. We had originally planned for 2 dates a month, but now we are going to shorten that to just 1. We will also do something free instead of using entertainment money to go out somewhere. Savings on this is $20 a month.
  • Eliminate Lawn Sprays - Last month we started getting our lawn regularly sprayed to help with the weed encroachment. If we hadn't done something there probably would not be any grass left in our backyard, and that would have been an expense to start over. However, our lawn looks fabulous now, and I doubt we need the rest of the season's sprays to keep it looking decent. We may still get it sprayed once in the fall, but will be canceling the rest. Monthly savings on this is $50.
  • Increase our Health Insurance Deductible - Since we moved, our premiums went up by about $60. By increasing our deductible, we can potentially save that $60 increase and more. Since we are saving all the money we will be using to pay off debt until after the baby is born, we will be able to meet the deductible if complications do occur. But since I am low risk and already had a complication free birth, the risk of that happening is slim.
  • Cut Back on Driving - Since Rob is a worship minister at a church 30 minutes away, we had been driving separately to church on Sundays. He has to be there early and stays late, so it made sense to do it this way. However, if I get up early and ride with him instead, we could save $40 a month on gas. Since that was the only time we really used our second car anyway, we will also be able to save on maintenance for the car - about $25 a month.
Total Yearly Savings: $4,620.00!

This plan will allow us to be able to pay off our student loans a whole 2 months earlier than anticipated, making the sacrifice just less than a year! We are so excited we finally added up all those expenses and saw just how much money we really did have to save to allow us to reach our goals. So, just when you think you can't cut back anymore, make every dollar count and re-examine every piece until you find that one thing that can be saved instead. It really makes a difference!

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