Are You Cutting Back to Save More?

posted by Andrea | 03/26/2012

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The other day, I mentioned a handful of things we’re willing to splurge on… it’s kind of a crazy list, but at this point in our life, those are our splurges!

However, after talking about splurging, I received a few emails and comments asking if we had cut back on anything in an effort to save more {and because we’re right in the middle of a recession}.

My answer is Yes!

Yes, we are cutting back on some things… and yes, we are still splurging on others.  I’m assuming many of you could say the same thing. I guess it’s a matter of where our priorities are!

Here’s a short list of things we’ve been cutting back on:

Hair Cuts/Color:

Dave gets his hair cut every 2 weeks {give or take} and for several years now, I’ve been cutting his hair — both to save time and money. However,a couple of months ago, he decided that he can now cut his own hair! And while I’m thrilled to have one less thing on my to-do lists {and he really does do a great job} I have to admit that the whole process is pretty comical to watch!

When it comes to my hair, I should be a lot more “proactive” in my upkeep — but I’m not. Since I have short hair, I should probably get it cut every 4 weeks, but I always stretch it out to 6 weeks {sometimes 8!} It usually looks a little shaggy by that point, but I don’t get out much these day, so I really don’t care :)

I do like to get my hair highlighted occasionally, but I always make sure to go “natural” so it doesn’t look completely awful when it grows out {which means I can go several months before I get the next set of highlights}.

Groceries / Meat:

Earlier this year, I talked about how our grocery bill had almost doubled {for good reason}.  And while I knew it would be completely unrealistic to get our bill back down to $20 per week, that didn’t stop me from consistantly trying to get that number to go down a little!

Over the past few months, I’ve managed to whittle it down {from $50} to around $35 per week — which I think is pretty good for our family of 3 adults and 1 baby, especially since we all pack our own lunches and eat pretty much every meal at home.

I’ve been meal planning with less meat, stretching the meat I do buy further, and incorporating many frugal family-friendly meals into our weekly menu. We haven’t suffered a bit — and I’ve actually enjoyed the “challenge” of creating more frugal meals. Of course, the extra savings is nice too!

Utilities:

We are always very conscious about turning the lights off, turning the water off, and turning the heat down — all in an effort to conserve energy, “go green”, and of course… save on our utility bills.

We keep our house quite cool in the winter {60-62 when we’re home, 55 when we’re sleeping} and quite warm in the summer {the AC doesn’t come on until it’s at least 80 in the house}. We also turn off {and often unplug} appliances when we’re not using them, and we try to limit our water use as well.

We do pay for internet {which is obviously a must for my business} and along with our internet, we can get the most basic cable for an extra $10 per month… which Dave feels is 100% worth the cost!

Travel / Entertainment:

Dave and I have never done a ton of traveling {except to visit family and friends} and for the most part, we don’t spend much money on eating out, movies, or other forms of entertainment.

Add a fussy 4-month old baby into the mix, and the travel / entertainment portion of our budget is pretty much unnecessary!  Yes, we have occasional “date nights” but that could be something as simple as going out for ice-cream, renting a movie, or making a trip to the Apple store for a new computer :)

It’s definitely not fun to go anywhere with a crying baby, and thankfully, Dave and I are both pretty content to just stay home — which saves money on entertainment AND a babysitter!

Yard Work:

In the past, I’ve purchased several flats of annuals, hanging baskets, potted arrangements, and other beautiful plants to spruce up our yard. However, I don’t think I’ll be doing any of that this year – partially to save money and partially to save time {planting and maintenance}.

I think we’ll have plenty of things to keep us busy this summer {kitchen renovation, 2 family weddings, family vacation, crawling baby, etc!} and I’m fine with all the lovely perennials we have already. I don’t want to spend any more time/money on our yard than I have to this year.

Gasoline:

I’m sure that no matter where you live, you’ve seen the price of gas skyrocket these past several months! Obviously, we can’t just stop driving, but Dave and I have significantly cut back on quick trips here and there. We try to “plan out” our driving a little better to eliminate wasted gas and wasted time backtracking and making multiple trips.

These are just a few of the non-necessities that we have been cutting back on in an effort to save more and live simply. Even though it takes a little more conscious effort of our part, I’m confident that the savings really ARE worth it.

Also, after writing this post, I noticed that in almost every instance, we’re saving BOTH time and money… interesting!

Have you cut back on anything?

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24 comments

  1. deborah

    03/26/2012

    We try very hard to turn off lights every time we leave a room or when we aren’t using them or don’t need them.

    Now that the weather is getting nicer, I am using my clothesline to dry clothes and letting the dryer sit quietly while NOT using electricity!!

    I have been following a couple couponing blogs for over a year now and I have seen a difference in our grocery bill. Yay!

    Last year I hardly bought any annuals at all. I always enjoy them, but decided to forego the expense. I ended up buying just a few petunias at the end of June that were marked way down.

    Gasoline is one area we need to be cutting back on. We are working on a house project and it seems like we have ended up needing to run here or there for things much more than normal. Hopefully that will change as the project gets closer to completion.

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  2. Crystal @ Blissful Homemaking

    03/26/2012

    We’ve cut back on cable. We only have an antenna, Netflix, and now Hulu Plus. So we pay about $16 a month to watch TV. Our bill use to be like $50-$60. We are bad about going out to eat, so I am trying to cut back on that. I don’t get my hair done like I use to…honestly…since I’ve had kids I usually get it highlighted once a year (definitely not enough!). My husband cuts his hair at home, including my son’s hair.

    We also don’t have home phone lines, we use our cells only. I shop on sales. I research almost all big purchases before we buy…looking for the best deal. We buy clothes on sale also. The one thing we have not been able to save money on are shoes. Both kids have wide feet, so we buy at Stride Rite. Again, on sale or clearance only. It’s just the way I shop now. I could go on and on with how we try to save money LOL.

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    Robin Reply:

    I forgot to add – I now highlight my hair at home with Salon products and a cap. Turned out great and the cost was less than $20! I have about $40 invested since I picked up a dark color to add back in. Now have enough product to do my own hair, at home, for about 12 months!

    Thanks for mentioning hair….Crystal @ Blissful Homemaking

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    Need A Nap2 Reply:

    We buy Stride Rite wide for our son. We went to a local store but they didn’t have the size up we wanted in one shoe then I searched online and found it cheaper. There are all kinds of sales on Stride Rite but harder to find wide or the exact size in a style that will work but helps to look around. I think I bought his last pair from ShoeBuy.com, they smelled funny when we got them but have worked just fine.

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  3. cmbhbg

    03/26/2012

    As newly retired couple, our priorities have definately taken a shift.
    I continually put a smile on hubby’s face as I stand in the grocery aisle debating whether we really need an item that has dramatically risen to $3 or $4… or .. would I prefer to save toward the gallon of gas that takes us on new adventures??
    No surprise..the gas wins out everytime and we are losing some extra pounds to boot : )
    Life is good..just stop and think before tossing things in your cart : )

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    LorieR Reply:

    I love this! So great you make adventures a priority. I used to look at my baby (now teen) in my cart and think being a stay at home mom is more important than any item I could buy.

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  4. Robin

    03/26/2012

    Yes, we have been cutting back for a while especially since we now have a child in college living away from home and we’re a typical middle class family who doesn’t qualify for any FA.

    It makes a HUGE difference if you can unplug any electronics you’re not using. In fact, I recently read an article that talked about cell phone chargers and leaving them plugged into a socket without the phone attached actually uses 60% more electricity then with the phone plugged into it.

    I’ve been looking into LED bulbs and want to switch all our bulbs over – but their so expensive I’m waiting for a clearance sale or high dollar value coupons! Years ago we switched to all fluorescent and it dropped our bill a ton back then.

    Think about putting a timer on your hot water heater. You’ll save the cost of the timer in your first month. We purchased extra clips, so we have it set on and off in the am and then on and off in the pm. I’m take showers in the am and dh in the pm. By doing so, we’re not paying for usage throughout the entire day.

    We live in the country and I make one trip into town to run errands, grocery shop, etc. per week or maybe every two weeks. With fuel prices rising it’s a must in our household especially since my husband drive over an hour one-way to work. We are trying extremely hard to shop local which also reduces our gas expenses. Sometimes it pays to shop local and pay a little more then the cost of fuel.

    When we have nice weather, we use a clothesline to dry clothes as well. When we do use a dryer I tear my dryer sheets in half {and many times reuse those as well}. Half a sheet is more than enough.

    We Coupon too! Make a few products @ home if I can’t obtain the items cheap with a coupon such as dish washer detergent and fabric softener.

    Rarely eating out – maybe for lunch on our one day trip to run errands {almost like a date night only during the day}. Make coffee daily @ home and husband takes a thermos to work with him.

    We use Netflix now for movies and so does our college son (he has no cable). We’re looking at OTA (Over the Air) and how we can get rid of our Dish service! It’s on the top of our list. We purchased a used indoor antenna for our son and the quality is EXCELLENT! That’s our next project to work on for our home. We have an antenna we obtained for FREE we just need to figure out how to DVR items and aren’t sure if we want to obtain TVIO or an aftermarket item into a computer tower.

    We have a garden each year and plan on expanding certain items this year to stock up for the winter. I grow my own basil, mints, etc. and make our own homemade Ranch dressing that delicious! We freeze a lot more than canning and raise our own beef and every couple years pork.

    I trade paperback books online, resale all college books and purchase used ones for the next semester for our son {which saves a ton!}.

    We heat with a wood stove and don’t turn on the AC until it’s pretty warm, but do keep the shades closed which does help to keep the home cooler.

    We shop 2nd hand first before purchasing new and outfitted our son’s studio with all donated or 2nd hand items. It’s adorable and was very cost effective. In fact, we made curtains from drop cloths. The windows were extremely tall since it’s an old Victorian home and curtains were going to cost a fortune! Found several blogs showing how to make these “mock” Pottery Barn curtains which turned out great and less than a quarter of the cost. Dh made the curtain rods {which are expensive now too!} from pipe at the hardware store. They look great!

    Can’t think of anything else right now….and welcome seeing what other post. :)

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    Stacy Reply:

    Robin- I was wondering if you have looked into renting textbooks for your son. It is not always cheaper than buying used but it has been for all but 1 of my books. on average a semester of boos for me is about $100- $120. I can’t complain as you know 1 book brand new can cost that much.

    I have come to love it, free shipping to return the books, you can still highlight and write in books and you don’t have to worry about getting them sold when the semester is over.

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  5. Grace

    03/26/2012

    You may be able to have your utility bills reduced by just calling. I called our phone company after receiving a solicitation for cable TV, and telling the phone company that I was considering switching, and the phone company reduced our phone bill by $15/month. Then I called the cable company, because during this promotion, the cost of adding a phone to our account, would reduce the total cost of our cable bill to less than what we pay now for cable and internet, and they reduced the cost by $7/month – not much, but every little bit helps.

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  6. Martina

    03/26/2012

    We stopped using our Dryer, and went to Hang drying only. We also stopped using our Dishwasher, with 2 Adults and 2 Kids there aren’t many dishes anyways. We went this month Paper towel free, and went to rags only. Right now i am looking into making my own dish detergent

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  7. Janice

    03/26/2012

    We’ve always tried to live as frugally as possible (37 yrs. of marriage), but last year after we both took a cut in benefits (which amounted to pay cuts on top of a 5% pay cut I took 3 years ago), we needed to free up some money, so we decided to get rid of a few last holdouts:
    landline (we had that phone number 30 years!)
    satellite tv (especially difficult for me)
    cell phone data plan

    I also started:
    getting my hair cuts at a $15 chain (I’ve always cut hubby’s hair at home)
    hunting for (and finding) great thrifted clothes (never considered it previously for myself, not sure why)

    We’ve also decided to wait another year or two before purchasing a newer model Camry (we drive 14 and 17 year old vehicles).

    We still drive every few months to see our grandbaby in another state (1,000 miles each way). I agree – some things are not worth giving up!

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  8. JD

    03/27/2012

    There have been a lot of things we have either cut back on or eliminated. Some were harder to do than others. We stopped eating out entirely (sigh), any and everything that can be made at home now is. We stopped our satellite tv connection and reduced our driving to save dollars. We pay all of our bills on line. I purchase more food items in bulk and divide them at home. All of this does add up and so far it is helping us try to keep up with the crazy price increases.

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  9. Beth

    03/27/2012

    We’ve been trying to find places to cut back. My friend has started cutting my husband and son’s hair since they just need simple clipper cuts. And since I have long hair, I can easily stretch my haircuts to every 12 or even more weeks! We also switched our satellite tv and internet providers to take advantage of new customer deals and promotions. (I can’t get my hubby to completely give up the tv service!) And both my husband and I have been working harder at taking our lunches to work instead of running out and grabbing something. We also have cut back on picking up food for dinner and have stocked up on some easy meals for those nights when we’re too busy or tired to really cook. I figure frozen pizza can’t be any more unhealthy than drive-thru food and is a lot cheaper when you can stock up on sales!

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  10. JoDi

    03/27/2012

    We haven’t really started any new cost cutting recently. I thought we kept our house cold in the winter at 68 day/65 night! You guys have us beat by a mile! LOL We do keep it set at 78 during the summer so we’re close on that one. :)

    I must have missed a post. I thought you had 2 international students living with you. Did one leave already?

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes Jodi one of our international students moved out after the first semester… So things are a little less busy and my grocery budget is a little smaller!

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  11. Amy

    03/27/2012

    Since becoming a stay ay home mom, we have had to cut back alot! Alot more lately since what I was doing (or not doing!) before did not seem to be working! I did not want to dissapoint my daughter, so I really cut back on groceries and got super dilligent with meal planning. We hardly ever go out to eat, which to us really is not a sacrifice at all. I love to cook fresh meals at home! I am making alot of homemade staples now like granola bars and almond butter. (Thanks Andrea for the granola bar idea and to Heather at Heather Eats Almond Butter for the homemade nut butter idea!) My husband cuts his own hair…….he just does a buzz cut…..it looks great! I do use coupons and get some great deals and shop at various grocery stores. (they are all close by so I am not wasting gas money!) Those are just a few things that my family has been doing to save $$$! :)

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  12. Amy

    03/27/2012

    One more thing……we have not had cable for over a year and do not even miss it! Can’t live without the internet, though! :)

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  13. Ann

    03/28/2012

    Just wondering if your friends and family complain about the temperature of your house in the winter. I’m all for lowering the temperature and adding a sweater but it is embarrassing when guests hand me money and ask me to turn up the heat! (And we keep ours set at 68!) We frequently have overnight guests so lowering the temp more isn’t an option. (Every time we raise the temp, we have to acclimate to a lower temp all over again when they leave.) I can’t believe how many people still like it set at 70 or more!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Haha– I figured someone would mention our heat (or lack of)! We do turn it up a bit if we have people over… But because of our huge yard, we do most of our entertaining in the warmer months… and we rarely ever have over-night guests.

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  14. Chris

    03/28/2012

    I just love your blog but I don’t see how you can stay home and not travel when you live in Michigan. We went there and it was my favorite vacation ever (the west side and also to the UP). You probably live close to all the places I loved! However, I realize we are all different LOL

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  15. Carol

    03/29/2012

    Great Job !!
    We are also trying to pinch every dollar. I am currently unemployed after working for nearly 23 yrs. My husband is making 35,000 a yr. & I am getting unemployment. I was in management ,and my husband has been at the same job for over 25 yrs. and 2 years ago took a pay cut of ten percent, which hasn’t been reversed yet. He also had not gotten a pay increase for 4 yrs. before that.
    I started to really coupon big last September. And it has been a snow ball effect on all the other aspects of my life. I decided if we can really help with out grocery bill, then we can possibly make a difference in our other utilities and so on. Before September, I occasionally would use coupons. I knew what stores had the best deals on the groceries we bought .I would buy generics and shopped at thrift stores and things to save money . I was working lots of hours and couldn’t find the time to look at or for coupons. In the 1990′s I was really into rebates. But when they started cutting allot of them out I pretty much stopped looking at coupons.
    We have also turned our thermostat down or off completely. Our water heater is gas and we have turned it down also. I have done most of the same things you have done to save money and I will be trying to do the same as you with the air conditioner this summer ( I have to build up the muster for that, and I have great respect for you on that!!). My husband I have decided to put in a clothes line outside (we hang much of our clothes in the basement right now) and put in a garden this year also.
    We have had to make those cuts. About 2 yrs. ago we had gone through the Dave Ramsey course, and before I lost my job we had paid off almost all of our debt . We had put our thousand into our emergency fund , and had also put money back for our daughters wedding. In April of last year my daughter graduated from college. That same weekend we had her Wedding shower. I was terminated from my job 2 weeks later. We still had the bulk of the wedding to pay for. She was married in June. And I was so glad we had that money put back for it, because we used every bit of it. In September my son was married and we had our share to pay of it. We had Christmas and birthdays in December, and my mother- in- law passed away in December. Our cars, which are 2002 and 2004 , both needed worked on in Feb. and March and cost us almost 1,000.00 . We have had a very stressful year so far and I look back and think where did that money come from. We haven’t touched our 1,000.00 in savings through this, nor have we accrued any debt.( We did mange to finish paying off the rest of our debt since then also, so we only have our house we owe for). Then our electric company raised there rates 30% in January and our insurance company raised there rates, and our health insurance went up nearly $150.00 a month also. If we had not been as diligent, what would have happened? We have also continued to honor God with our tithes, through it all. I look at our budget every month and think this is really going to be a tight one . But somehow it all gets paid. I do get depressed, and feel overwhelmed and mad at times, because it seems every time I save on something, another thing goes up and I feel I cannot win. But we are never the only one’s feeling this way and there is always someone in a worse situation than we are !!
    I just want you to know that I have learned allot in a short time and am always looking for ways to cut back on our utilities and other areas of our life. I look for ideas to make money and save money. I, like allot of your readers have to be creative and conserve where I can. I do appreciate your website and the blogs from yourself and your readers .

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  16. Jenny

    04/04/2012

    Andrea, someone might have mentioned this. But since you do have a little one, It thought I would mention that with a newborn in the house, they don’t recommend you set your thermostat lower than 68. I know she is not technically a new born anymore, nor is it very cold. Just fyi.

    I love your blog and check it every morning for new posts!

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  17. Lyn

    04/08/2012

    We had cut back on a lot the last few years living on one smaller income. However, my husband was just laid off this week, so “cutting back” will be taken to an even higher level. It doesn’t seem like we can do much more, but we’ll do our very best. Unfortunately I’m not able to work outside of the home due to health.

    I would love to know if you could share more info on your grocery shopping strategies and if you would be willing to share more on your own frugal practices. Keeping our food costs even lower would be a real help. I used to buy my natural cleaners with coupons but now am leaning towards making my own cleaners as I know they will cost even less that way. Every penny counts right now. Thanks for a great blog. :)

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  18. Sandy

    04/08/2012

    I have switched to weekly shopping as I found I was running to the shops, which are just around the corner, when I had run out and ended up buying more than I needed. Also shopping in the evening as they tend to discount bread and meat for the end of the day – I have saved up 70% on them. We use fans in Summer rather than the air con as they are much cheaper per hour. I think the main thing is being aware and watching what you spend money on – you will be surprised of the little things add up.

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