I spent MLK weekend on Dauphin Island with my best girl friends. Its a small island near my hometown of Mobile, Ala., that has miraculously – and thankfully – managed to escape the commercialized tourist attractions many beautiful coastal beaches have become.
With not much to do, we spent the weekend talking about life’s gifts, challenges and opportunities. A few of us have worked, or are currently working, Dave Ramsey’s plan.
My girls read the blog, so we began talking about my journey and how Alan and I paid off $52,000 in 2016.
I shared that a major player was that we cut so much from our budget…and I was asked, “What did y’all cut?”
Truth be told, I don’t even remember what all we cut. But that just goes to show that we clearly do not miss those things.
To satisfy my curiosity, and to help you see where you can trim your budget, I looked back at our spending before we started our debt snowball. Here’s what we though we couldn’t live without…
Sirius XM Radio – Savings: $12/ month and $144/ year. – Instead we listen to Pandora, podcasts or the old fashioned radio.
DirectTV – Savings: $75/ month and $900/ year. – We have an HD antenna and a Apple TV (which was gifted to us), so we are pretty set.
Gym Membership – Savings: $29/ month and $348/ year. Alan kept his. But, I had to be honest and admit that I am not going to go to the gym…no mater how much or how little my membership is! We do upgrade to a family membership for June – August ONLY so we can go to the pool on the weekends.
Food – Savings: $360/ month and $4,320/ year. Over the past year, we have gradually cut our food and toiletries budget from $850 to $490 per month. Honestly, I didn’t even realize how low it was until I did the math for this post! The key to this is choosing a grocery store that is known for having great prices, shopping very intentionally and only buying things you absolutely need for the upcoming week. I’ll save the rest of my grocery wisdom for another post.
Clothing – Savings: $250/ month and $3,000/ year. This is another one of those things that involves a lot of intention. We only buy what we need when we need it. And we plan for it a month ahead. We shop around, use coupons and purchase an item that will get the job done for the best possible price.
Cell Phone – Savings: $78/ month and $936/ year. Are you financing your phone? Many of today’s contracts have you paying for your phone as you go…and you may not even realize it! We paid off our phones early and it lowered our bill significantly.
Miscellaneous – Savings: $100/ month and $1,200 per year. For a while we had this catchall fund for things that came up we forgot to budget for. Well, it ended up just getting squandered on who-knows-what throughout the month. Now, if something comes up that is a need we must pay for – and its not a big tickets emergency – we will make a conscious and intentional decision to pull from another envelope.
For us, our budget is a work in progress. Just yesterday, we were discussing switching internet providers to see about getting a better price. It becomes a fun little game to see where you can save and look for opportunities not to spend money. I challenge you to look at your budget, see where you can cut and what you can save on. Are there “wants” you are calling “needs?” Yes, this process is challenging…but you can do it. Romans 8: 28.