In order to stay on a budget, there are some things we just don’t spend money on. At the same time, there are a few things we won’t scrimp on.
NO satellite or cable TV. Sure, we saved up for a roof antenna, but that’s a one-time cost. At this point, we’re not willing to shell out $30 a month for television. I admit, it would be nice to always get a good picture, and having DVR would be great, but we get an over-the-air movie channel and a sports channel in addition to regular network stuff, and our library has an okay selection of movies.
YES to Netflix. It’s less than $10 a month, and we can get lots of movies and TV series that way. I think having Netflix helps keep us from going to the movie theater, which is far more expensive.
NO high heating bills. We have our thermostat set at 50F right now. When we supplement with our fireplace, the house doesn’t feel too bad. We still wear our long johns and snuggle up under blankets, but we can’t see our breath or anything. If we run out of wood, or when the temps get really cold out, we may need to bump the thermostat up a little. Last year we kept it at 60, and I don’t think we’ll have to go higher than that this year.
NO fancy groceries. We love food for sure. But we try to shop carefully. Our Dollar General has a lot of the basics (flour, milk, eggs, cheese, ground beef — and coconut milk for a dollar a can!) for pretty low prices. Aldi has low prices, too.
YES to real butter. When we were really broke when we were first married, we bought cheap margarine to save money. It was so terrible, we ended up throwing away the whole tub. We decided then that we’d never be so broke that we’d buy margarine instead of butter. Real, unsalted butter.
NO books. Why buy books when we have a town library and interlibrary loan? Sometimes we do buy books for each other for Christmas or birthdays, but even then we look for used ones. I always check out the used books on Amazon.com when I’m in the market to buy.
NO paper napkins. Okay, this one sounds silly, but did you ever think about how much money you go through buying paper napkins? Maybe in the grand scheme it isn’t much, but I think that by using cloth napkins, we save. People who have meals with us think we’re being “all fancy” but really we’re being frugal. If I use a paper napkin, I have to throw it away when I’m done. If I use a cloth napkin, I just throw it in the laundry. And even if I have twenty napkins in the laundry, it’s not enough for a whole load, so I wash them when I do all my other laundry. I’m not increasing my laundry costs. Plus, I think cloth napkins feel nicer on my face and hands than paper ones. And it does give the feeling of being a little bit fancy… if you can ignore the stains that are on them.
NO expensive entertainment. We miss going out dancing, but there’s no room in the budget for it. So we mostly stay home, play games, or watch Colts football together.
NO fancy dog food. Just having dogs is an expense, but we’re not going to increase that by buying pricy dog food like Iams or Purina. Gryffon and Gracie do just fine on store brand. I mean, our dogs eat sticks. And goose poop. They’re not too picky.
NO lawn care or house cleaning. Sometimes in the summer our grass gets long. And sometimes the dustbunnies threaten to form a league and take over the house. But I’ll get to it when I get to it. Paying someone else to do it just isn’t in the budget.
NO professional haircuts. For Chef, anyway. His mom bought us a clippers one year for Christmas, and I’ve been cutting his hair ever since. And I haven’t had a professional haircut in a year. That’s not saying I don’t need one, though.
Now that I think about it, I probably really do need a haircut.
Don’t look too closely.