Although my income is secure (self employed in a recession-protected industry and VA surviving spouse pension), I have made some cuts because the current economic situation really made me think about how I was spending the money I do bring in. Recent changes I've made:
1. I stopped my housekeeping service. I really only had one out of laziness anyway (lol). Now I spend about 3 hours on Friday morning and clean the house myself.
2. I stopped buying potato chips (price went up to 3.50 to 4.00 per bag!) and junk like hostess bakery stuff - now I buy snacks like bananas and I bake my own healthier goodies now. I probably save about $20 off my grocery bill each week just cutting out the pre-packaged junk food. And I've lost 3 pounds.
3. I look for 2-for-1 and buy one meal get one free coupons in mailers and the Pennysaver when deciding which restaurants to visit. I've cut my eating out bill way down by actually using these offers, rather than just throwing the ads in a drawer and never using them.
4. I bought a little electric heater fan thing at Home Depot and use it to heat my bedroom at night. Using the central heating in my 2 story house all night long was costing me a fortune in my Gas Co. bill. February's bill was $105 and March's was $31 just because I turned the central heating off at night and used the little portable heater fan next to my bed instead. Of course, I'm sure in other parts of the country this isn't possible, but I live in So Calif so our nights don't get THAT cold.
5. I just stopped buying junk I don't really need - new purses at Target, new lipsticks just because....Now I make a list of what I need and I don't go to Target and the mall just to "browse."
6. I order all needed books (for my business and for my masters degree program) from Amazon.com and save on the sales tax. In California, our lovely Governator just raised our sales tax another 1% (now my county is 8.75% and Los Angeles county is almost 10%!), so anything I can purchase tax-free, I do. Amazon doesn't charge tax and delivers for free if I spend $50.
Hope this gives others some ideas. They don't make a huge difference - maybe a couple of hundred dollars per month, but hey, every little bit is more you can save.
: ) tj
The last post reminded me of a few other things we do.
I only buy clothes from the discount racks. Usually a 70% discount type of savingsand only buy what I need. I may need to stop in the stores a few extra times but I don't make special trips.I have walked out of the store with over $600.00 worth of cloths and spend less than $75.00.
Next item is a major investment but it has proven to be quite a savings already. We invested in a geo-thermal heating and cooling system last October. We live on an acreage and had LP heat. Two years ago the LP price in the area was about $1.50 per gallon. This last year it went up to $2.54 a gallon! Two years ago our LP bill alone was $2000. This last year we projected it would have been over $3000. WHen we did the payback comptations we used the $1.50 a gallon price and there was a 6 year payback. We now have less than a 4 year payback at the current prices. It will only get better as the price of LP continues to rise faster than the price of electricity.
There were some financial incentives from the utility company as well as discounts from the installer. Additionally, we received some tax breaks this year ($2000) ALl of that helped to take some of the sting out of the upfront costs.
IowaBob, I need to learn to shop with you!! : ) $600 worth of clothes for $75 sounds terrific. I sorta do that, too, by going online at Chadwicks.com (for women) - they have a clearance tab you can click on and they have really cute stuff for great prices. I saw a suede skirt in the regular online catalog about 8 months ago for around $100 - now it's in the clearance catalog section for $39! Of course, the sizes are limited due to the phase out, but sometimes you can find steals.
Also, I know what you mean about the propane - Some of my friends just moved from the suburbs (tract house, regular electric and gas utilities) to a more rural area which is really beautiful, but their heating is propane. My friend complains at how much more they spend for the propane. They thought they would be saving all kinds of money by moving from the suburbs. The projects you've installed at your house sound green and very nice. I'm sure they will pay off in the long run.
1. I now color my own hair. I use a semi-professional brand called Ion, and custom mix color with developer, saving about $100 per month. It looks better than it did when I had it done at the salon.
2. I switched my cell phone service to prepaid, saving about $50 a month.
3. I changed jobs almost a year ago for the sole purpose of increasing my salary ($10,000 increase).
4. I dropped the caller id package on the land-line phone (about $6 a month).
5. I started buying my pet food at Petsmart instead of the grocery store (With 4 cats, that saves $20-$30 a month)
6. I have been THINKING about reducing my cable services, but that is a last resort.
7. I am considering refinancing my house, which is fixed at 6.5 percent and on which I own about 50 percent equity.
8. I have been using my credit cards less, and will transfer balances as soon as there is an opportunity.
Last year we started "shopping" at the local food bank. They have surplus food that they sell with different package prices starting around $20.00. Of course you can't pick what you want with a few exceptions and every week is something different. We used to go every week, but now it's a bit less often. My wife started clipping coupons extensively and switched to store brands at the grocery store - that saves nearly 50% off the label price. Plus we started using the Fry's Mastercard for some additional savings at the grocery store.
We live in an apartment, but another couple along with my wife and I have started a co-op type garden on their property. We haven't harvested anything yet, but we've ended up spending plenty of time at their place which has changed our socializing to be more "homey".
I also ride my bicycle to work one to two days a week during the summer.
Cooking at home more often & bringing my lunch to work.
Waiting until movies show at the dollar theater ($1.00 or $1.50 as opposed to $8.00 - $10.00).
Using coupons, looking through the weekly grocery store circulars so I can buy things on sale, and buying generic / store brands.
Buying less expensive gifts for birthdays and Christmas (after all, it's the thought that counts anyway, right?)