The big word in this home recently has been SAVING. With a wedding in 4 months, student loans, and the hope of buying a house, the more money we can put to these three things the better. How do we save?
For those of you who know me, I am a couponer. I love to coupon and at this point I only spend about 30 minutes to an hour to coupon. Since I started in October, we have saved at least $500 by couponing. I will admit that when I started, it did take me a lot longer. I always start by making a meal plan with LD. Making a meal plan makes it so that all of the ingredients you get, especially the fresh stuff, can be carried over between meals. If one recipe calls for about half of an onion, make sure you have another meal that uses the other half. To be honest, we rarely throw away any of our fresh foods because they go bad.
We also try to buy fresh foods in winter that last a lot longer such as onions, sweet potatoes, potatoes or apples. Produce in Wisconsin winters don’t always look the best and if it looks like it will only last a day, we adapt our plans or use frozen produce. Although produce doesn’t usually have coupons, we then look up all other items in a coupon database. If you just take the 10 minutes to do that, you can usually save about 30% on the total of the non-fresh items on your list. We also use the weekly ads from the newspaper as inspiration for the meals for the week. An average grocery week for us including supplies, like toothpaste, paper towels, cleaning supplies, etc., costs us about $40 a week.
We have a budget. In fact, we re-analyze our budget every three months to make sure it is still reasonable. We include our savings goals in the budget as well. Also, our expenses that happen every couple of months, like car insurance, or car repairs, we make sure that money is put into an account every month in order to not cause a sudden expensive month. We also try to aim a little high on all of the categories in the budget so that we can make sure to stay within the budget. We also write down on our budget each month what we have spent in that category. We also make sure not to live paycheck to paycheck.
By using these methods, we are able to put away over $1000 each month to the wedding/house funds and pay about $1000 to the student loans. We are still trying to figure out how to cut spending though. Anyone have any ideas?