One of my goals for this year was to get us back on track towards paying off the very last of debt which is our house. We decided we would take a little break and ease up after we had paid off our vehicles and credit card debt. While I was still focusing on making the most of our hard-earned money and always looking for the best prices and deals we did allow ourselves a few luxuries that we had been wanting. Perhaps a little reward for going without for so long?
I have to be honest that when we were on a strict budget and watching our pennies very closely, things were ironically more fun. I know, most of you are like, “Did she just say that?” But after time, you come to realize that stuff is just stuff and family is the core of happiness. We started looking for creative ways to still go out and do things but to spend as little as possible. And by continually asking ourselves if our purchases were truly needs and not more of a want our house became less cluttered and easier to maintain.
So what did we do go “Get Back on Track” in January? Here’s a few of the things:
1) Beginning January 1, we started to keep receipts so we could validate that our current budget wasn’t outdated–or perhaps inflated to a point where we could make more cutbacks.
2) In our spare time over the holidays, we each went through our current stock of DVDs, CDs, Games, etc. and loaded up what we didn’t want and sold them to a local store that will give you cash for them. I also sold a piece of exercise equipment that was just collecting dust. What did we make? $150. We still have some to try to sell at a later date as they were pretty fully-stocked at the time. Crazy to think that we got that much just for stuff we weren’t using.
3) Despite knowing how to run an immense number of deals with my coupons, I dialed back my shopping and worked my current stockpile into more meal plans. I always try to do this during the cold months as I hate to take two kids out into the weather elements just for a deal. You honestly almost have to do this every now and then or your stockpile will begin to take over causing you unnecessary stress.
4) We did have one restaurant outing. I had found an Olive Garden gift card that I had earned through Surveys about 4 years ago (yes…four years!) and I paired it with a current coupon to get our meal for four of us, including tip, for under $30. It was my son’s choice to go there for his birthday so it worked out great. There are several companies that offer surveys for gift cards and it’s a great way to still be able to go out without breaking the bank. I’ll share more on these later.
5) For a girl’s day outing with my friends, we took advantage of a Groupon and a free coupon we had received in a catalog to make for a very inexpensive outing. We were able to enjoy a relaxing morning session in a salt cave, picked up some spices we needed at my favorite spice store called Penzey’s and had lunch for about $25. I strongly recommend Groupon to my readers to help you plan some fun and inexpensive outings. For those of you with a Penzey’s nearby, you may want to sign up for their catalog. I was able to get a Free Bottle of Minced Garlic with a coupon from it. They randomly offer these kinds of deals.
6) For our family days, we stayed home this month. I had watched for deals on board games and some kids’ DVDs over the holidays so we took advantage of those. My kids had a blast playing Cookin’ Cookies Lunchbox Game and The Ladybug Game. Who says you need to leave home to have fun?
7) One of the big things that we did in January was that we both sat down and individually made our own lists of both what we wanted to do this year and the purchases that we’d like to make. It was kind of fun to see that our lists were very similar. It’s good to have a plan in place for larger purchases that you need to save up for, whether it’s home furnishings, vacations, etc.
So these are just a few of the things we’ve done this month to watch our spending and keep ourselves on track with our money. I’d love to hear how your month went and what you’ve been doing, as well.