I’ve been thinking alot about where we spend our $$$ and don’t spend our $$$.  What is a necessity and what are luxuries?  Little things certainly add up though and can make life in between paychecks a little tight. 

Aside from groceries, here are few budget trimming ideas that we have done.

-We don’t have cable tv.  John built an antennae for us.  22 channels come in clearly and that is far more than we need (as we really haven’t regularly watched tv since the olympics got over).

-We don’t have a car payment.  Neither of our vehicles are the newest, latest or greatest.  But, they are reliable and they get us where we need to go.

-Because our cars aren’t new, the insurance on them is less expensive.

-If old reliable breaks down (our cars), John fixes them himself rather than go to a mechanic.  Amazing what a little Haynes manual can allow you to do yourself.

-If something breaks in the house, John fixes it.  Our vacuum is going on year 6–hoping for a Dyson someday but as long as our hoover still manuevers we’re good to go.

-We don’t have internet on our phones.  This is I’m sure a great feature but it’s nice to not be tied to my e-mail outside of home.  John is around computers all day and can check e-mail if needed.  Our cell plans are very basic.  We do have mobile internet-to help us have a life when John is on call.  He can look at x-rays when we are out and about.  So, if I really wanted to look @ my e-mail, I could throw in the laptop.

-I use google voice for my texting needs (they aren’t very great) but it saves me $5/mo.  John doesn’t like that necessarily because I have to access to my e-mail to check my texts.

-We use magic jack for a home line.  I paid $60 for 5 years of service.  I get free long distance/local calls.  There are a few drawbacks but it justifies our cell phone bill and gives me a calling alternative. 

-We don’t belong to a gym.  I know this is a necessity for a lot of people.  If I lived in Riverside, I could part with $20/mo it cost to belong to the Y.  But, not living in Riverside-it’s a little more (around $50 with financial aid adjustment).  We’ve gotten pretty creative in how we fit a workout in.  I have mixed feelings about joining a gym including wondering if I’d really use it enough to justify the $50/mo it costs.  But for now, the weather is beautiful.  There is biking trail nearby.  There are plenty of sidewalks and I have an elyptical in my basement.

-I teach our oldest two kids piano so we don’t have to pay someone else to do so. 

-The kids aren’t in a lot of extracurricular sports teams etc.  I think it is great to offer the kids a lot of activities and find their nitch.  But, it does add up to be paying $40-$50 each season for soccer/baseball whatever.  My kids are still little and I feel like team sports are still optional for them.  Instead, we play baseball often in our backyard.  The neighborhood kids get together and play kickball.  My good friend who has taken ballet for years has given Lydia a few ballet steps to practice which she loves.  Someday I’ll enroll her in a dance class.  I know she’d love it more than anything.  This year, I might even do something through the school district–it’s probably similarly priced but only for 6-7 weeks so it’s not an ongoing expense.  But, right now, it’s an expense that adds up and we are working our way around it.

-We do cheap preschool.  Rachel is in possibly the least expensive preschool available.  It’s through the highschool and it’s $100/semester rather than $100/mo.  I know some parents shudder at the thought of having their preschooler being exposed to highschoolers.  (Who knows what they will hear?)  So far, the highschoolers have behaved themselves and I haven’t had a problem.  Our goal in preschool is more social and providing something to look forward to then it is academic.  Rachel knows her letters and numbers and writes them quite well and is on the verge of reading.  I just want to give her something to look forward to.

-I use the library as my netflix.  I definitely keep them in business.  I put a ton of movies in my “cue” and we go pick them up when I get my e-mail saying that the movies on reserve have arrived.

-We buy things on Craig’s list.  We’ve checked craig’s list while buying needed furniture or even a nice bike.  We even found our new sectional there because a furniture company advertised on craig’s list.  It cost almost the same as a  used one but didn’t have cat hair etc on it. 

-We buy things at the thrift store or at yard sales.  Amazing what you can find in these places.  I found a toy @ the thrift store nearly identical to the one @ Target but $14 cheaper that I bought for Ben a while back. 

-We graciously accept hand me down clothes and then turn around and hand down our kids clothes.

-Our home decor is simple–mostly because I don’t have a flair for decorating.  But, most of the new things I’ve purchased-I’ve gotten from Kirkland’s Home with a coupon or Joanns with a coupon.  I know a lot of people refurbish things from goodwill.  This isn’t my talent but it’s a great idea.

-Our home improvement projects we’ve done ourselves.  There are so many resources to help teach one how to do things.  Lowe’s and home depot accept competitor’s coupons.  Sometimes on the back of grocery receipts, one can find a 10-or 15% off purchase for Sutherlands so we’ll either buy things for home improvement @ Sutherlands or use the coupon @ Lowe’s and home depot.

-We use coupons/groupons when we eat out.  I know I don’t do well on weekends with cooking.  Sometimes I’ll pre-purchase groupons and use them when I don’t want to cook (usually on Saturdays).

-We keep our thermostat high in the summer and low in the winter.  We keep our thermostat on 80 in the summer and I think we keep it around 68 (I can’t remember) in the winter.  Our a/c bill is still high but not as high as it could be.

-I buy clearance and use coupons for clothes.  Kohl’s and Target are probably my 2 favorite stores.

There are so many other things to do to save.  What have you done to cut back the cost of living?