The biggest discussion in our house at the moment is definitely the topic of my student loans. It’s a struggle I don’t even want to think about, but here I am, pouring out my heart and soul on the internet. Go figure.
You see, when I went to school, no one ever told me that student loans were not a good idea for me to get involved with. The only thing we were ever warned about in school were credit cards and bounced cheques, so I always made sure to stay on top of those. However, no one ever showed me math or gave me any reason to be wary of student loans. There are definitely some cases in which these types of loans are beneficial, but in my case, they were not. If I could do it over, I would do things differently, but all I can do now is buckle down and conquer these loans and become debt-free as soon as possible. We have come up with a long-term plan for getting rid of them which requires a bit of sacrifice now but will benefit us in the future.
I do use the word sacrifice loosely. We are not starving or wearing clothes ridden with holes. We are, however, very mindful of what we spend money on, and cut costs when we can. Here are 12 things we are intentional about when it comes to spending money
Save money by meal planning and reduce the amount you eat out. I went a long time without ever eating out, and even though it cost me socially, my bank account was thankful. I’m okay with eating out once in a while now but avoid it when possible. Pack a lunch for work. Make your own bread and other staples. Find a cheaper grocery store. Use Ibotta or other rebate and coupon apps. There are many ways to save on groceries.
Be mindful about the utilities you use. Do you really need every light in the house on when you’re only in one room? Should you really keep the tap going as you’re brushing your teeth? Are 20 minutes in the shower completely necessary? When is washing just one shirt in the washing machine a good idea? Can clothes be hung to dry? Think about these things and be creative when saving on utilities. We make it a game every month to see if we can get utility bills lower!
I have so much to say about this topic but I’ll leave you just with ideas to save like I promised! While basic clothing is a definite necessity, I found myself with much more than I needed (or could wear!). Now that I've purged and have what I need and love wearing, I don't feel the urge to buy more. Try selling newer clothes in good condition that you no longer wear or look at. When you have an event or a theme party to go to, before shelling out extra cash for items you’ll likely only wear once, try being creative with what you already have. You could also borrow something from a friend! I’ve been known to wear things until they have holes...you do you. If you get totally bored with the clothes you have, why not try having a clothing swap with some friends? Chances are they have some great pieces to exchange.
Since learning about the harmful substances in toothpaste and many other toiletry items, I have taken to making a lot of our products. This has not only reduced the chemicals in our home, it has also proven to be much more affordable! Check out some of my natural living posts here.
Carpool, combine trips and get a fuel-saving car. This has drastically saved our fuel costs and the extra money goes right into loan repayments.
Reevaluate your phone bill and find a cheaper one that works. Research pays off - especially when you're brutally honest with yourself about your phone usage. You would be surprised what kinds of deals are out there!
Do not to spend what you don’t have. Many credit cards have interest rates of 18% or higher, which is a lot! Pay your credit card off in full every month, or don’t use it at all. Because we get cash back on our credit card, we primarily use it. However, after over one year of use, we have never paid interest because we pay it in full every month. Free money? Yes, please! Do what works for you, but avoid credit card interest like the plague.
Check and balance your bank statements monthly to make sure that every purchase was made by you or whoever has access to your account. Unfortunately, fraudulent purchases occur. This has happened to me; foreign purchases were made with my credit or debit card and I was able to get money back that I never spent in the first place. I would have never noticed, had I not been checking my account regularly.
Don’t ever pay for these. Just, please don’t. Not necessary.
A fresh paint of coat or removable decals go a long way in making your home feel new. Instead of buying expensive furniture or decorations to add to your dusting pile, DIY some projects or put out some fresh flowers and candles. There are inexpensive ways to decorate your house to your liking and personally, I think less is more!
I know it's weird I consider hobbies as a necessity...but, everyone has their thing. It’s hard when one has expensive hobbies. I sure do. If your hobby requires supplies, try using everything in your stockpile before getting something new. The best is when your hobby can make you money. Sell handcrafted goods or stock photography. You could even create a course or blog to teach others. Your hobby can serve you!
Re-evaluate what is important to you; this is a huge part of living intentionally. We choose not to have a TV in our house, so naturally, we do not have cable or satellite to pay for. Since we are also very particular with what we choose to spend our time watching, renting a movie on iTunes every once in a while is much cheaper for us than paying for a Netflix or Hulu subscription.
What are some of the ways you save money on necessities? We would LOVE to read about them! Leave a comment with your tips - we read every single one!