Here's what my 'money tree' should look like...
And here's what it really looks like....
I'm a mom of 2 kids under 3 years old. Recently I took a job that came with a $4/hr pay cut. (I didn't realize what a huge price.. I had put on my sanity.) So now I'm just scraping by to keep us a float.
The day I started my new job, was a Monday and at 8AM that morning I got a text from my hubby before he drove home... "I got laid off.."
Here we are with 2 kids. A new (larger) car payment. A Newish Mortgage. A $4/hr pay cut to the main household salary. What the hell are we gonna do? I cried on my first day of work....
To make matters worse... My car insurance went up slightly, electric went up, and my mortgage went up.
We have friends who complain about not having any money... but they continue smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day.. (that's like $15!!), the ones that stop at the liquor store (daily), the shop-a-holics, the over spenders, the keeping up with the Joneses...
And here we are living paycheck to paycheck. By this point I had already lowered my bills as much as I could. I can't find lower car insurance anywhere. I shopped for weeks for home owners. I don't have any frills. We only have internet and use Netflix. No Cable. No home phone. So what the hell else could I possibly do?
Here's what I've been doing!
I took a look at my credit cards and transferred everything I could from a hire interest rate to my Citi ThankYou Rewards card, with a 0% APR! While I'll never be sure HOW much money this has saved me... I'm glad I did it! As I pay more and more off on this card I'm continuing to transfer balances from my high interest cards to this one!
Stop using credit
I paid off my Boscovs which had the smallest balance. Now that's one less bill I have to pay each month! I've taken all of my credit cards OUT of my wallet and placed them in my safe. Literally out of sight out of mind!
At one point I think I had 5 checking accounts opened. Used 1 to pay bills. 1 for spending money. 1 as a sweep. 1 for whatever. This was causing me to feel as though I had more money then I really did. The fact was that while over a thousand dollars showed up in one account.. It was waiting for my mortgage payment to clear. I consolidated all of my accounts and only have one. And get this! I use a checkbook. Yes. Remember them? Now i have an accurate figure of what I REALLY have.. it's not pretty, but its honest! Not to mention I was spending $3 per account monthly!
Unsubscribing to Temptations
I was subscribed to every store I shop at's mailing list. Including sales and deals of the day. Which was GREAT! I got my stuff half off! But did I really need a brand new laptop with 2 PC's (that my hubby built for both of us), a tablet, and two smart phones ? The answer was no! So I've unsubscribed from any email list where I have to spend money to actually care what the emails talking about.
Every time I hear the Boost Mobile jingle or see the commercials... I still always see their 'Ghetto Fab' commercials from years ago. The fact is, I switched from a Verizon Pre-Paid plan (still cheaper then a contract) to Boost Mobile's Shrinkage Plan. I originally paid $60/mth. For every 6 on time payments your bill goes down $5. Well in June my bill switched from $45 to $40. By December it should be down to $35!!! This year alone will save me $110 on my phone bill! Now a days you basically pay a la carte for your cellphone, text, data and blah blah blah. I get unlimited, talk/text/msg and I believe 2G of internet. (Which I never meet) I leave my mobile data off and run off of wi-fi!
Ok. Ok. So Wal-Mart is supposed to have these 'super dooper' prices and omg they're unbeatable.
Wal-Mart is nothing compared to Target! My hubby still works 1 day a week at +Target. So we not only has his employee discount, but the Target Red Card (5% off),Cartwheel (%varies), Target coupons and they stack with manufacturer's coupon's and checks! You can walk out of Target with a cart of groceries, a pair of jeans, and a video game for $70! I know because we just did it last night.
I know. Your thinking.. Huh? I collect coke caps from just about everyone I know. (My mother being the worst offender) But you know what. I've been able to get myself things with it! I love +Bon Appétit magazine. How do I pay for the $15 subscription? Coke Caps. My mom used to make fun of me... Until I ordered her +Family Circle Magazine and saved her the $6 subscription fee. I've also gotten +Country Living , which is a $12 subscription fee. And that was just THIS year! So I saved a total of $33. And get a new 'gift' each month.
This has to be my most favorite of all. I've been a member since 2005. I've gotten countless gift cards, a tennis bracelet, and a ton of stuff. One year I cashed my points in for gift cards for Christmas presents. Christmas time I shop online A LOT, certain websites you shop at like +Groupon you get points per $1 spent. Do searches-Get points. Print Coupons-Get Points. Redeem Coupons- Get points. Read emails-Get points. Do Surveys-Get Points. Now -> Listen to Radio-Get points! I have the radio playing all day and get 5 points for every 1/2 hour of listening. If you'd like more info... Click Here to go to the Mypoints Site.
I joined freecycle a while ago. I've gotten an old commodor computer for my hubby. Toys, clothes & books for my kids. Clothes for me.. all FREE. People have a lot of junk that most of them don't want and joining these communities you can find a ton of awesome stuff! I just recently got cloth napkins...like frickin' brand new. Now I don't have to spend $2 every 2 weeks for napkins. Just throw them in with a load of wash!
Haven't paid for music.... in a long time!
Grant it.. I have bought 1 or 2 cds last year, but now I get my digital music FREE. While rummaging through my old papers I found a flyer from my old GPX MP3 player for emusic.com. It was $25 in free music to try. So I signed up. Wrote down which day my card would be billed. Downloaded $25 in music before that date and then easily cancelled my subscription! Google Play also offers a free song of the week and many new artists. Which is awesome because most of them are up and comers. So I was listening to some of today's 'hits' before they were on the radio! Plus I also got some good oldies & throwbacks. My Google Library (which CAN be downloaded) consists of 1,289 songs.
-Another neat tip. If you have a sprite cap. Go To www.sprite.com/utc and you can enter the code for a free music download!
I sign up for any freebies I can find of stuff that I like. When they're subscription based I write on my calendar when I need to cancel my subscription before getting charged. You can get all kinds of stuff like this.
I'm signed up for Kellog's rewards, My PawPoints (fresh step), Earth's best, basically any that I can find. While some of the stuff on there I may not need. Getting a free bowl for one of my kids or a free box of kitty litter can be an awesome thing!
Eating out is now a delicacy
We don't eat at restaurants or fast food unless we have a coupon or its a kids eat free night!
Making Stuff from scratch & Left overs
It cost closed to $2 in store for a loaf of bread. I was given a bread machine from a fellow Freecycler. And it costs less then $1 to make a loaf of bread. Plus I still have flour to bake cookies, a cake, or cupcakes. Plus I don't have to worry about all those preservatives.
I'm not a big fan of leftovers. But at this point.. I can't afford to be picky. One night a week (at least) Is leftover night. Whatever is left from that point either gets frozen (for stews, chili, soups) or then gets thrown out. Having leftover nights has cut my wasted food by more then half.
Brown bananas? No problem. Banana bread will be in the oven in 5 minutes! (using the flour I have stocked in the pantry!) I make my own apple chips with my dehydrator, cinnamon, and a touch of brown sugar (Here's my recipe)
Bringing myCoffee/Tea, Breakfast & Lunch
Last week I looked in my bank account and realized I spent well over $35 for lunch and breakfast. And thats not including the cash (that I actually had!) that I spent. It's so hard not to want to eat at the deli next door (my mom works there) So I know the food is awesome! This week I bought bagels for breakfast ($1.15 at target), already had cream cheese and brought left overs for lunch! I've been making my own 'Frappacinos' that don't cost anywhere near the $5.60 some cents at Starbucks + the gas to drive out of my way to get there! I usually bring a big 24 ounce cup of iced tea that I've brewed at home.. which saves me the .99 cents+ tax. I will admit. I haven't been super faithful not going next door this week..(But its my PMS week, so no amount of food is enough!)
No more Brand Name clothes for me
While I know my hubby isn't big on thrift store clothes for him or the kids, I'll only be buying my clothes from a thrift store from now on. I went to the local thrift store one day last week during my lunch and walked out with a $6 out fit. I found a BRAND NEW WITH TAGS pair of Sag Harbor dress slacks for work, for $4. I paid less then 10% of the MSRP. Which read $46. and got a nice shirt to wear over my tank tops for $2 (looked brand new) Best part, no one can even tell they're from the thrift store. I saved over $60 and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
And of course.. there's always couponing.
I'm not saying my methods will work for everyone. This is what I've done that's worked for me. It's helped me feel like I can afford to buy a pool raft on sale, with a coupon, discount, and cartwheel.. while I slowly drift out into the 'Getting Poorer Sea'
Who knows maybe one day I'll be able to afford that boat to put all my $$ in!