hi there pretty people :)
I think I’ll ramble about money today. Between finishing our basement, caring for the yard, and you know, wedding planning… we’ve been living on a tight budget. We both do very well for ourselves, but we’re still both pretty frugal when it comes to spending. I’ve always been a saver, and I have my parents to thank for that – they taught me well very early on and it has (literally) paid off.
So it seems like all we do is dish out money here and there these days, but I’m happy to say that the savings keep on growing, and we live a very full and happy life. We are not rich by any means, but figuratively… I’d say so. We’re so lucky to have what we have and be able to do the things we do. Blessed blessed blessed. How do we do it? There’s no magic formula and I am certainly not an expert, but I wanted to share some of our habits and tips. Who knows, they may inspire you to make subtle changes that add up. Either way, these are the things that make me feel like we live like a king and queen – no matter how small.
Stick to a weekly food budget.
Or bi-weekly, or monthly… as long as you stick to it. Joe and I stick to $30-$40 per person for the week, which usually comes out to about $60-$80 in food a week. This is what we are comfortable with. This is extra great for us, because we do not eat out during the week and pack our own lunches for work. $30 for the whole week, eating whole, fresh foods? I’d say that is a win. I also find that writing my grocery list in my phone helps keep me accountable. I stick to what is on the list, and try not to stray. Oh, and remember to avoid processed/packaged foods. They are expensive as hell, and will do no favors for your health.
Cook in bulk and freeze what you can’t eat.
How does this save you money? It will just help when you come home after a long day – starving – and you have nothing prepared. You’ll feel tempted to order out or buy something prepared. You won’t have to do that when you have options available ;)
Grow your own food.
I am totally still working on this (I wish I had a green thumb) but I have loved ones who swear by this. I grew tomato and zucchini last year, and they did okay. While it didn’t provide me with food weekly, I did get to pass on tomatoes a few weekends! Plus… the gratification and satisfaction of growing your own food is a treat in itself.
Visit your local farmer’s market.
We’ve found that visiting our local farmer’s market is actually cheaper than the grocery store in the summer. We didn’t initially think it would be – who knew! The ingredients are fresher, gmo-free, and you are supporting local business. It’s a really beautiful thing. Oh, and visiting the farmer’s market in general is a fun weekend activity for the family.
Treat yo self [on the weekends!]
After eating home all week, we reeeeeaalllyyyy look forward to grabbing dinner or brunch come Saturday and Sunday. It’s not only a nice treat and makes it special, but it gives us something to look forward to and plan all week long. Going out to eat as a tip may not make sense, but this is what I mean when I say “live rich on a budget.” This definitely makes us feel like we are living large. Watch out, weekends ;)
Go on an adventure.
There’s always something going on, no matter where you live. From a walk or bike ride in your local park to exploring a new part of the city, you can definitely have a good time by adventuring (and unless you are walking through shops, this is typically free!) Even taking a stroll through a local greenhouse can be an exciting, inspiring activity. Heck, laying on the grass in your backyard with a picnic basket and some food can be a totally fun and spontaneous day activity. These are simple pleasures that will make a lasting memory.
My motto when clothes shopping – leave it behind.
Okay, this doesn’t happen every single time (because sometimes you are on a mission!) but when I go shopping for the sake of browsing, I stop and take a good hard look at what I have in my hand. Do I have anything that resembles this? How often will I wear this? Is it good quality? Will this end up in the basement in a few months? Is this too trendy? Then, I leave it behind and go home. Chances are, I will forget about it completely by tomorrow. If it is still on my mind after a few days, I may go back and grab it. After I adopted this way of thinking, you have no idea how many items I have forgotten about and saved myself the agony when the credit card statement comes in.
Oh, and keep it classic.
I know what looks good on my body and what doesn’t. I know that I prefer to wear jeans and casual tees and vans. I’d rather steer clear of an expensive trendy item that I may only wear for one season and invest in a high-quality plain black v-neck. If you buy the things you know will stick around for a while, you’ll shop much less often.
Quit it with the paper products.
Plates, utensils, paper towel… so much waste. Buy your own set of plates, bowls, silverware, dish towels, and rags. Instead of dish rags, my mom crochets little one for me. They are amazing. I asked for Fiestaware during the holidays and now I have a whole set (amazing quality – I swear, they never break no matter how hard I hit them against the counter). My next feat is to stop buying napkins and make my own cloth ones. I have all the fabric ready to roll… now I just need the time to do them. I’ll definitely be sharing them on here once I do! But seriously, say goodbye to paper and hello to a greener (read: cheaper) way of life.
Thrifting is your friend.
Who do you think is tossing their items to the thrift store? People who spent good money on their stuff! One of my favorite things to go thrifting for is pots and pans. I think I bought 2-3 pots and pans myself and then the rest are just from Salvation Army. They are of great quality, and just needed a good scrub and wash. I’m obsessed! They cost anywhere between $3-$6. Yeah, that’s it.
This is coming from a girl who loves binging television. We had cable for 2 years, and Joe finally put his foot down. So yeah, I like watching Chopped on the Food Network and Friends reruns on TBS… but that is why we have Netflix. With so many other options, there really is no point. I’ve come to terms with it. Joe promised me that he will figure out a way for us to watch The Walking Dead in real-time come October, and he’d better stick to his word! But really, this saves us a ton of money each month. And now I am watching less tv, which has really improved my quality of life, so we’re winning all around.
Make coffee a treat.
This may be hard for some (trust me, I get it) but buying coffee every morning adds up quick. Make your own at home (we invested in a Kuerig) and save the coffee dates for the weekend. Our Saturday and Sunday morning ritual is to hit up our favorite local coffee shop. Again, we really look forward to this every weekend and enjoy walking and chatting with our coffee. It’s a little pleasure, but it’s our thing. And this is another example of why we feel rich :)
You know, I don’t recommend going and picking flowers out of anyone’s yard or anything, but in your own backyard or somewhere local and magical. Pick and put them in a mason jar with some water. Even if they last for a day or two, it’s a free and beautiful centerpiece that can add positive energy to your home. Like these lilacs that I picked in our backyard. They made my day!
Do it yourself.
Some things may not be as easy to DIY, but for example – painting your nails and toenails. I’m all about treating yourself, which is why I will get my nails done maybe 4 times a year. Once at the beginning of each season, so that after they clean them up, I can maintain. It’s expensive to go to the professionals! I promise, you’ll get better at doing it as you keep it up :) Oh, and while we’re talking spa-type things, treat yo self to an at-home spa day instead of dishing out money to go to the professionals. You can make your own natural face masks and more. There are a ton of recipes Pinterest! You’ll feel pampered, rich, and glow.
Pay bills in full.
This may not be easy for everyone, but I worked hard to get to a place to be able to pay my bills in full – credit cards and insurance especially. It is such a relief to be able to live without debt (aside from house and car), and without any added interest or fees. It took a bit to get here, but if you work at it each day, you can make it happen. It saves money and a headache.
Put money into savings each week.
I automatically have X amount of dollars go straight into my savings account from my paycheck each week. I never touch that account, either. Just forget it’s there! I know not everyone will have this luxury, but even $10 a week will save up to $520 a year. It’s a start and it’s an effort that should be made. Another big opportunity to save is with your tax refund since, for most people, it is “found” money. If you use a free efile program, most are equipped with tools and calculators that can give you a pretty accurate estimate on what you can expect back on your refund. I’m a huge fan of TurboTax – my husband and I both use it!
Turn down the heat.
We keep our home pretty cool, because that is what sweaters, sweatshirts, and blankets are for. We also use a timer for heat so that it only goes on first thing in the morning while we get ready, shuts off while we are out, and comes on again when we get home. I’ve noticed an improvement in our bill. Plus… I like being cozy in blankets :)
Invest in things that will improve life’s experience rather than material things.
Joe and I love going to shows – we’re both huge music fans. We go often, and it may seem expensive (and yes, it can be) but we save in other areas. We know that these are the moments and memories we want to remember when we look back on our lives, so we invest in them. The same goes for weekend getaways and vacations. I’d much rather pass on the expense of a trend necklace and go away to NH for a couple days. Pick and choose what you invest in wisely!
Live small, while living large.
When I say live small, I mean there is nothing wrong with a small space. Our house is snug, but we absolutely love it. It takes me 2 hours to clean the house from top to bottom. Less time cleaning = more time to do fun things on the weekends! We’ve filled our house (gradually) with pieces and decor that brightens up the rooms and chose a light, mascarpone-colored paint for the walls to open the space. We’re absolutely in love with our home, there is no doubt about it. Three years in, and we still will look at each other and say, “wow, I really love how this living room has evolved.” The keyword here is evolved. We didn’t do it overnight – so there is no need to rush and buy everything you lay eyes on. Pick statement pieces wisely, and create a place that you can be happy to call home. You spend your time here… you should absolutely love it.
So, I hope these tips inspire you to make a few small changes in your own life. If you have anything else to add, I hope you’ll share on the comments… I am always interested!
I think the first thing we all need to do is take a step back and really assess life – what makes you happy, and what you need vs want. When you start to see the magic in the small things, that’s when you can really save on material things. Less clutter and excess = a happy home and state of living. That’s when you will truly feel rich and whole. <3 xx bianca