After our fun with the kids at The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, I spent some time last weekend looking at our finances. This is usually Jon’s domain, but we made an agreement that I would look at our expenses if he could spend that time working. So my role is to cut spending and his role is to bring in more bacon, and we should, by the logic of math, save more. I’m confident in Jon earning more, but would not bet on myself to lessen my spending. I mean, I just went to Paper Source for a few goodies for Liv’s teachers and $200 later. On paper. Honestly. I have a problem.
I was shocked. Like legit shocked at our monthly expenses. The past few years, since having kids, we have not really sat down and done a budget, just aiming to live within our means. Seriously, the last budget I see in our files is from November 2014, 2 months before Olivia was born. Since then, for the most part, no matter how much I try to plan, we have been playing whack-a-mole. Between fixed and variable expenses + discretionary spending (those adorable hunter boots for Liv? Yes please!), we need to get a grip.
These changes will not yield a ton on their own, but when factored together can save you enough for a new pair of shoes 🙂 Here’s what I have done or am planning to do within the next month (I like deadlines). Warning – these tips are hardcore #adulting, less “give up your latte every day for year.” (although I do mention that in tip #9)
- Renegotiate your cable bill – especially after the initial year promotion has expired. Or give it up all together as a few friends do and look at Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Fire Stick.
- Smart Home DIY – turn off lights when you leave the room, time/zone your HVAC if you have a dual zone (ie downstairs cooler at night since you’re sleeping upstairs), HVAC tune up, and more here.
- Insurance bundle quotes – reassess every 2 years or during major life changes (move, new car)
- Mortgage – term vs. interest rates; depending on your housing situation, you might get better interest rates on an adjustable 7 year arm vs. a 15 or 30 year fixed. All depends on what you want to do. If you plan to be in your house forever, by all means, don’t get cute with a short term mortgage thinking you can just refi.
- FSA – Dependent Care pre-tax dollars – if you are able, put your kids accredited day care dollars away pre-tax. These do not roll over every year and need to be spent by March 15th and filed for reimbursement by April 15th.
- HSA – Health Savings pre tax; again, anything pretax saves you $$. These funds do roll over every year. Try to use it for anything health related – prescriptions, chiropractor, etc. Full list here. And apparently this can be invested, but I’m not sure of that.
- Groceries – I use instacart for grocery deliveries on a weekly basis and was reluctant to sign up for their $150 annual fee…however, add up their $5.99 delivery fee (plus a BS 10% service charge – THAT YOU CAN WAIVE! This is optional) and I will save $161 per year!
- Set up auto-bill pay so you never get a late fee again. With my various bills either coming in the mail or my email, I inevitably miss a bill now and then and have to waste time with their customer service rep begging to waive the late fee and interest charge. Jon, if you’re reading this, there is no truth to this statement!! 🙂
- Drink the Office Coffee (vs going out every day)
- Workout at home via the Sweat app (vs. a gym membership; I’m not talking about Planet Fitness, which is dirt cheap).
Let me know other random tips you have to save …and what you do with that extra $$!