After taking Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University (FPU) in the fall of 2009, much has changed in our lives. We took the class and then we personally were rocked when the economy bottomed out and we found ourselves making HALF of what we had been just a month prior.
Thankfully, we knew how to do our budget, and stick to it, after FPU so, we got to it! Here are some ways we cut costs:
~ Know your priorities and take care of them first. For us, it was 1) our home 2) our car 3) our children's private education and at the top was, tithing. If something needed paid and those 4 things hadn't been taken care of, the answer was simply, "No." Notice I didn't say easily, "no."
~ If you had debts, like us, don't be afraid to ask for a hardship relief situation. After explaining our financial shortfalls, many were willing to work with us.
~ Keep your word. If you tell a debtor that you will pay $10 each month, DO IT! The worse thing in this situation is to not pay the amount you promised. If you can not keep your word, don't give it. Simply say, "I am not able to committ to a monthly amount at this time."
~ Cut optional expenses. These include eating out, want versus need purchases, phone packages, cell phones, data plans, texting plans, internet, cable, netflix, redbox, gym memberships... We looked at and cut MOST of these options since 2009.
~ Cook from scratch.
~ Eat at home.
~ NEVER waste food! Eat leftovers - freeze them if needed and then eat them in a week so they don't seem like "leftovers" if that is an issue for your family.
~ Cook once - eat twice! This saves money!!! Cook a larger quantity of meat up and then use that meat for the weeks meals.
~ Go meatless AT LEAST once a week. Use eggs or lentils as your protein.
~ Learn how to say, "No." No to kids fundraisers, No to girls nights, boys nights, No to cool home shows that are selling wants and not needs... you get the idea.
~ Stop buying gifts. Make them or give gift certificates for services you can provide - babysitting, cleaning their home, raking leaves, washing windows, breakfast in bed, dishes for a week... the ideas are endless!
~ Ask your family what they enjoy doing. You will be surprised at their answers. Ours ranged from playing outside, family game night to just hanging out together.
~ Monitor your utilities! Work with your utility companies to see how you can cut costs. This was HUGE for us.
~ Have a garden. Learn to preserve the bounty.
~ Stock up on staples so you know you always have food to eat.
~ Menu Plan.
~ Grocery shop once a month.
~ Stay healthy... be willing to treat yourself for minor things to save on medical costs. This does not mean don't go to the doctor if you need to. Sometimes we go (or take our children) for minor things like colds. Be willing to see if intervention is needed. Our experience has been rest, OTC meds and hydration took care of their ailments.
~ Last but not least: DO NOT SPEND MORE THAN YOU MAKE. PEROID.