Guest post by Anita of Traveling Along
2013 was a rough year financially.
Just the year before we were out of debt, put 20% down on a house and had finished paying off the last of our student loans. Then 2013 met us with a change of job, a lower salary, various expensive car repairs, remodeling, and a costly hospital stay for our sweet girl with Kawasakis disease.
At the end of the year we were worse off than when we started, with just over $3000 in debt and no remaining emergency fund, let alone savings. Blast!
So this year, we are switching things around and prioritizing savings.
The breakdown of the budget was a little bleak, the amount of waste was already super low… but, somehow we have managed to cut back. Every line item that we cut back is an actual dollar amount that we are putting into our savings account.
Here is how we went from saving $0 to $136 a month.
- We started by deleting our Christmas savings of $40 per month. Christmas 2014 will include homemade gifts of wood, pottery, food, photography, and fun! I will also set out to earn at least one $5 gift card from Swagbucks every month. I do this primarily by using them as my search engine and watching cooking videos while I’m in the kitchen or folding laundry. Any Ebates cash back checks will also go in this fund.
- We don’t have cable, but we did have Netflix for $7.99 per month. Not anymore!
- I am making our own dog food. Having a large breed livestock guardian dog means at least $25 per month in dog food. We are now making it with leftover vegetable peelings, free organ meats, and rice. This costs only about $5-7 a month.
- My husband got a very modest raise for 2014 and $40 of that will go directly into savings.
- One goal for 2013 was to teach our kids how to manage their money. We will still continue on this route in 2014, but instead of allowances, we will allow them to do extra jobs for money if they desire. This means a savings of $20 per month.
- Cut back on milk by half… or right around $10 per month. This needed to happen for some health issues, but it represents a savings so I am including it on our list.
- Our next goal = POTTY TRAIN THE TWO-YEAR-OLD! This will save another $20-40 a month!
I’ve always “wished” I had a smoking or soda-drinking habit… then I could quit and save money! Well, I don’t. So, I’ll do what I can and find cash where I can.
Here’s a quick summary:
$40 = no Christmas fund
$8 = no Netflix
$18 = homemade dog food
$20 = no allowances
$40 = small raise
$10 = milk reduction
$136 monthly to restart an emergency fund!
One more thing — take your small amounts, add them up, and put your savings on automatic monthly transfer for that amount. Money that isn’t allocated in a budget can be easily lost or used for other things!
Where can you cut back? How many little things can you add up to make something BIG?
Anita lives in Virginia with her husband and kids on a hopeful micro farm in the city. When she is not fine-tuning the budget, she can be found canning, cooking with spare parts, helping with math, praying the garden will grow, attending to a sick chicken or covered in mud at the potters wheel. She blogs at Traveling Along.