So, finances have been a struggle this month. My rent went up, and overtime has not been offered at the day job. Another revenue source went down by about $50.
We had already been discussing moving, but we’ve been having trouble finding another house to rent.
Then we thought it might be a good idea to buy a house instead. Really, it won’t be much more expensive than renting. So we’re looking into it. And the sequel to Broken Patterns is coming out soon. That means lots of production costs on my part.
All of this combined means I’ve been devoting a lot of time to tightening our budget. I started where I always start, Pinterest.
Now that I’ve crawled out of the giant rabbit hole I went down, I have knowledge for you. I tried a lot of suggestions, with varying degrees of success. Here’s what I learned.
What didn’t work.
Ibotta doesn’t work on tablets. Funny story about that. I really thought that this was going to be something I was going to like. Maybe I’ll like it better if they ever get their act together and put their damn app on tablets!
Saving change and small bills doesn’t work if you don’t use cash. I’ve found if I keep cash in my wallet, I’ll spend it. This is a great example of how important it is to know yourself before taking money advice.
Some things I tried to replace with cheaper alternatives didn’t work out for me. Maybe I’m just spoiled, but I don’t like anything but felt tip pens. And the best pens I’ve found are Le Pens. (Not a sponsored post. But if Marvy wants to send me some free pens, my favorite colors are oriental blue, royal blue and black.) Likewise, I really like Starbucks coffee. I don’t go to the shops, but I do purchase the grounds to enjoy at home. Maybe I’m selfish, but I don’t think I should have to compromise on everything.
No spend times, I’ve found don’t work for me at all. If I try to do it for a whole month, I’ll never make it. Then, once I’ve spent money on one thing I might as well keep going. Already broke the seal, right? If the time is too short, it doesn’t work because most days I don’t spend money. I go to work and come home.
One suggestion that continues to piss me off is cutting out take-out coffees. It’s a great example of an expensive luxury that helpful money articles suggest cutting out. Things like buying expensive clothes, eating out all the time and purchasing new furniture. I’m not doing any of that shit anyway! I don’t have the money to be getting a cup of coffee every morning on the way to work, are you kidding me? We might eat out twice a month. And when we do it’s fast food, unless it’s someone’s birthday.
Coupons are my enemy. Here’s the thing, most coupons are for things that I don’t buy anyway. Usually, the name brand is still more expensive than the generic even with the damn coupon anyway. Or you’ve got to buy a stupid amount to use the coupon. Really, I save more money just buying the store brand to start with.
What is working.
Dollar Tree has become my best friend. I actually found some decent shampoo there, and body washes that everyone in the house likes. I was amazed at how many good things I found there, saving me a ton of money. Also, if you keep an eye out you can sometimes find some legit makeup there. I probably won’t be buying foundation, but I got some decent lipsticks. I’m officially only shopping there for toiletries from this point on. In fact, I’ve started shopping there first, and only going to other stores for things I can’t find.
I’ve started making more stuff at home. The biggest thing that’s been helping me out here is dry shampoo. It’s a simple blend of corn starch and a little chocolate baking powder. You need more or less chocolate powder, depending on the color of your hair. I also started making these awesome cheap cookies. They are delightful, take next to no time to make, and are super cheap! I’ve also made homemade therapy putty and pancake mix.
I really am sitting down and making a budget at the start of the month. There are lots of different methods for doing this. Find one that works for you and stick with it.
We are using some coupons if it’s something I would buy anyway. The ones that save us the most money are usually for fast food places.
Dave Ramsey is amazing if I’ve never mentioned this before. I started on his baby steps, focusing on building that $1,000 emergency fund right now.
Again not a sponsored post, but the darling husband and I started using the Dollar Shave Club. (#fuckthepinktax.) It’s three bucks a month, and we get four razors. He doesn’t shave that much and I only kill two blades a month, so it’s great for us. That is so much cheaper than buying razors anywhere else.
Finally, I think I finally messed up enough that God stepped in. No lie! I’ve been looking for an online Unitarian service for awhile now since there isn’t a real life service near me. I finally found one that has a different theme every month. Here’s a link to the website. The theme for May? Being more mindful about how we spend our money. I don’t think that timing is coincidental.
So that’s how I’m taking better care of my income. What are some ways you manage your money?