How to Cut Spending and Start Saving for our children
Editor’s Note: We are happy to have Donna Fitzgerald on the blog today. She has some very valuable tips on how to cut spending and start saving for our children while still having fun as a family.
As a mother, I’ve lost many of my “own” things. I rarely have alone time in the bathroom (I’ve been known to wake up at 4 am just to take a shower that lasts longer than five minutes), my food, my beverages, my lotion, even my sunglasses aren’t really mine anymore, but that’s okay, it’s kind of the unwritten rule in parenthood.
My husband and I had years together with our own things. We’d happily and selfishly eat sandwiches without having to share the cheese. I’d drink a full glass of juice without worrying about crumby backwash and we would spend our money as we chose. I’d buy expensive sunglasses and never had to wipe smudgy fingerprints from the lenses. If we wanted to drop $15 on good cheese and $20 on a bottle of wine, we did and we enjoyed every moment of it.
Flash forward a decade and we’re raising a family of two children in a not-so-great economy. We no longer splurge on blocks of Brie nor do we have enough time to enjoy a full glass of wine with dinner. Instead of buying concert tickets or booking long weekends to the East Coast, we wearily eyeball big stacks of unpaid bills after the children are asleep. My dreams are now laced with the anxiety of our financial future rather than sandy beaches.
The other night, in a rare moment of alone time, my husband and I decided to sit down and figure out how big of a financial mess really exists. I broke down and explained that I didn’t want to worry about our children’s academic future (although they won’t be in college for over a decade). He said he was just really tired of opening the mailbox each day and finding another bill.
[bctt tweet=”Get rid of excess spending & #save money. #moneysavingtips”]
Monthly Expenses & Creating a Budget
My husband and I have always been good at spending money, but we’ve never been good at talking about it. We usually take turns tackling the bills and try not to point the finger at one another if a credit card gets used for something that one of us thinks is “dumb”.
We used online monthly budget calculators as a starting tool and we wrote down all of our expenses from our mortgage, student loans, and credit card bills to vet bills, clothing expenses, and groceries. As our list added up, we almost instantly started to start a “ditch” list of unnecessary expenses. Here are a few things we got rid of to start saving hundreds a month:
● Cable Television: As a family, we use our streaming services more than cable tv. This was an easy expense to get rid of.
● Landline: In an age of cellphones, my husband and I forgot that we still had a landline (except for when we got solicitation calls during dinner time).
● Our Gym Membership: As a family, we spend a lot of time outside so we rarely get to the gym. Since we have a treadmill and some free weights, we decided to cancel our gym membership for awhile.
In addition to cutting some unnecessary expenses, we but back on gas costs and started to carpool more often. We had a small yard sale and got rid our some furniture, a gaming system that never gets played, a bicycle that’s too small, and our snowblower (shoveling is good exercise). When we tackled our grocery expenses, we signed up for in-store rewards programs, started using coupons, and stopped buying all brand name items. With all the money we began to save, we decided to put aside half of our savings and start a savings account just for our children. As we begin to save more, we will essentially be putting more in their shared account.
More Quality Family Time
We spend a lot of time together as a family, but sometimes it’s not as “quality” as it could be. We engage in too much screen time, we annoy each other, we argue about doing chores, and we rarely try new things. In addition to “budget cuts,” we decided to try one new thing a week as a family and the challenge is that it had to be free or less than $20 for all of us to do. Here are some things we came up with:
● We visited the local museum on “Kids Get in For Free” Day.
● We started volunteering at our local animal shelter.
● We started doing backyard yoga.
● We hosted a family movie night with friends. We get the movie and provide the popcorn, our friends bring other treats.
Although we’ve got a long way to go, more cuts to make, and we miss indulging in delicious blocks of gourmet cheese, my husband and I know that we are securing a financial future for our children.
Donna Fitzgerald is a guest blogger who enjoys composing various works around health and family wellness subjects. She is an avid reader and writer. In her spare time, you can find Donna enjoying the calm ocean waters, while she relaxes on the beach. Generally, she is accompanied by a novel. Donna has two daughters and is an advocate for helping other families remain healthy- through health, wellness, and finances.