Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Real Talk | Budgeting


Ahh. The "B" word.


Doesn't it just send chills up and down your spine?
(And not in a good way)

Considering that I quit my full-time job last September to start my own company, we've had to be extra careful with our pennies this year (and will continue to be for the foreseeable future).  While Levi and I aren't anal organized enough to input every single purchase into a spreadsheet with categories like "groceries", "gas", and "parking tickets" (yes, that last category would be completely necessary in our household), we do make a very conscious effort to pay attention to how and when we are spending to make sure it's done responsibly.  Over the past few months, we've implemented a few new habits that really make a difference to our bottom line.

I know what y'all are thinking.

"Didn't that hoochie just get back from two weeks in Europe?  Doesn't sound like she is the best person to be doling out budgeting advice."

You're right.  But don't you want to know HOW we had the money to take that very expensive trip?
 Read on.

Cancel Cable
When Levi first suggested this, I threw my hands in the air and yelled "I would rather die!".  Hm, dramatic much?  In reality, canceling cable has been the easiest and most effective way to cut back on our budget.  We signed up for a Netflix subscription for $8 a month, thus saving us $72 every single month (and $864 a year*).  Honestly?  We watch just as much TV as we did when we had cable, except now we're enjoying more quality programming.  Think less Real Housewives, more House of Cards.  Sure we miss some live events, but all in all, this was the best decision we made for our wallets (and our minds).

No "Extra" Groceries
Simply put, we** don't buy any snack food.  No chips, cookies, no soda.   We buy what we need for meals and that's about it.  Not only does this fatten our wallets, but it also shrinks our waistline.  Levi has lost almost 20lbs since we stopped buying snacks! I haven't been so lucky, but not having junk in the house helps me stay on track.  It also prevents mindless eating -- before I eat leftovers "just because", I think about the costs and how that could easily equate to another meal.  Granted, there are just two of us and I could see this being much more difficult for those of you with little mouths to feed.  We also don't eat out very often -- maybe twice a month or so on average (and upscale restaurants are few and far between). 

 Essentials Only
Beauty products are my weakness.  I'm always looking for the next best thing, which can lead to some unnecessary expenditures.  Lately, I've been focusing on using up what items I already own.  Hopefully, this also results in some more space in my bathroom drawers!  I only buy something new if I'm replacing an essential item that I've used up.  I just recently replaced a lot of my essentials at the Sephora F&F sale in the fall, so I should be set for quite a while.

If we leave the room, we turn out the light.  Our house always a little uncomfortable, temperature-wise***.  It may not be much, but it adds up.

Clothes & Decor
Ugh, shopping.  This is the hardest area for me, no doubt.  I like to shop when I'm happy, shop when I'm sad, or just shop when I'm bored.  This goes for both clothing and home decor.  I don't have a good answer on how to cut back.  Honestly, I'm trying to just cut it out all together for the time being.  I already own some wonderful pieces, so it's all about working with what I've got.  When I do make a purchase, it's almost always an item already on sale (or with a discount code), and I never forget to check Ebates for extra savings.  Paying full price is for the birds! I do plan on allowing myself one or two small purchases a month.   This blog is an amazing resource for edited, conscientious shopping.  It's really changed the way I mentally approach my wardrobe!

Get Moving
One thing that I have not cut out of the budget is my gym membership.  While it does cost me quite a bit every month, I see it as a money saver.  Why?  Well, let me explain -- rather than taking an hour a day wandering through Target (almost always resulting in a loss of $100), I can take that hour and go to the gym.  It gets me out of the house and keeps me busy at a place where I'm not tempted to spend a dime.  Oh yeah, there's all of those physical and mental health benefits too.  Hooray for me.  Of course, you could save even more money by forgoing a membership and running outside/working out at home too.  I just know myself, and if I don't have my spin instructor yelling at me to turn up that dial, I'm just going to be lazy.  If my couch is within eyesight, a workout just isn't going to happen!

I know that everyone's situation is different, but we've had great luck with some of the methods discussed above.  However, I know we can continue to improve and be even more financially responsible, so I'd love to hear how you all make your budgets work for you.

What are your best money saving tips?  I'd love to implement a few of them!

*Yes, I had to use a calculator to get that figure. Shuddup.

**You like how I said "we" like Levi steps foot in a grocery store, ever?

*** I use throw blankets when it's cold, lounge in my underwear when I'm hot.  I would recommend investing in window coverings if you adopt this approach.


  1. Oh budgeting - luckily my husband is really good about this and we track what we spend - like you said not down to the penny - but almost!! We do the same thing with our lights (but go a step further) I can email you about it and it cut our electric bill in half!! meal planning has also been helpful in keeping some extra money in the accounts but cable- well I will never part with cable lol!! We did change providers and that saved us a ton of money!!

  2. Lover all these tips! Great list. XO

  3. I feel you! Something we obsess over is Mint.com - it will link to your debit and credit cards and automatically "file" things away for you. You can see exactly how much you spend on groceries, parking tickets, etc. without needing to obsess over receipts. And we kept our apartment at 66 this winter - layers are the key! :) We keep a tight budget, too, but allow for a $100 allowance each per month - it helps me get my shopping bug out of the way without breaking the bank. Or you can hoard it, like my husband, and save it for a very rainy day. Good luck with everything!
    - Catherine, cgspringer.blogspot.com

  4. I can't give up a gym membership either. I'd rather cut all other corners before getting rid of a great stress reliever and something that makes me feel so good. It's amazing what cutting out snack food can do for the wallet too!

  5. I'd rather give up cable than my gym membership! I can't not go to the gym, it's such a nice release after a stressful day. And it's way too hot here to go do anything outside! These are definitely great tips!

    <3, Pamela

  6. Great tips! Living on a budget is a definite struggle! My hardest is the shopping!! I usually just try to stick to the sale racks! I very rarely buy anything full price anymore!

    <3 Shannon

  7. I'm in major need of learning how to budget and I'm trying very hard to do so! My fiance is super good about it and our house is ALWAYS uncomfortable...It used to make me so angry, but as I realize the importance of saving a buck or two I've come to accept it.

    Clothes & Quotes

  8. I loath paying our cable/internet bill (which runs us $160/month). Been seriously considering getting rid of it but the thought of being home with a newborn and no television makes me think I will just wind up at the mall!

  9. good for you! keeping track of every single $ you spend is really the only way to know HOW much you are spending! that's awesome that you have prioritized the things that really make you happy (gym + travel are high on my list too). xo jillian - cornflake dreams

  10. These are great tips! I don't have a budget worked out on paper-- mainly just in my head, but I try to be conservative with how I spend. Cable is definitely the kicker over here, and cell phone bill but we did manage to bring that one down by getting on a shared plan together. I just don't thin kI'm ready to let go of Bravo, HGTV and Food Network just yet :P

  11. I saw you put that cute clutch purse back on the shelf last week while I spent several hundred dollars. You're my hero!

  12. Loving these little tips! And you are right though, there are some things that we don't have to cut, like our gym memberships. Especially when they bring health and happiness to our lives :)
    xo TJ


  13. Love this!! So helpful!! We just submitted an offer on our first home (which was accepted) ...gulp. So let the penny pinching begin. Loving these tips! :)