Saving Saturday: Saving Money For A House, Mortgage Payment… Or Anything Really.

After 8.5 years of marriage my wife and I, in many ways, are just getting started. However, one of the things we have done quite a bit of is navigate budgets and sliming down on our spending. Sometimes it has been to meet a specific goal and sometimes just for sport, none-the-less we have learned a few tricks along the way.

Of course, this list is not comprehensive, and nothing here is rocket science. Like any cost cutting advice, most of these require some form of compromise, however, some of these suggestions will not only pay you back financially, but will come with additional fringe benefits.

So here are the Storm Family 5, our top five ways to slim down on your spending and boost your savings, pay off debt, or finance a neglected passion. OH, and by the way, just because this is called “Saving Saturday” doesn’t mean you should come back next Saturday looking for more fiscal ‘brilliance’. It just sounded catchy in the moment!

  1.  Rent only what you need: This is obviously not relevant to those who already own a home, but is generally a simple concept. The rental market has increasingly become more competitive and more selective, with renters looking for the same things many buyers are looking for such as granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. Forgo these luxuries you will not actually own and keep some money in your pocket. Also, some apartment complexes offer incentives like 1-2 months rent free, and condo quality amenities for a much less than the cost of renting other similarly sized spaces. Finally, if  you are single, living communally can save you a ton.
  2. Buy Used: I think there is one piece of furniture we own that we bought new. All else we purchased as retired floor models at the store, or through Craigslist. We have actually enjoyed the hunt so much that I think we could win the lottery and we would probably still shop this way. But this is not just for furniture. I buy most of my technology refurbished when I can, and I use it as long as possible. For instance, I bought the refurbished MacBook Pro I am writing this on in 2008. Cloud computing, an external hard drive, and memory upgrades every couple years have me feeling just fine about its performance. Oh, and did I mention these practices can be more environmentally friendly too?!
  3. Sharing is Caring: Use your network! When it comes to kids hands down the easiest way to save money is to develop a trade network. We have had a circle of sharing clothes, toys, and other items for the last 3 years. We also benefited BEYOND MEASURE from a few folks who were a bit ahead of us on the kids front and generously handed down many of the big ticket items such as cribs, shoes, etc. There are clothes for which our youngest is easily the 5th or 6th child to wear them. We also get many of our toys via consignment, and consign what we no longer use and don’t have someone to hand down to. The sharing works for any number of other things too, such as household/landscaping projects for which you need a tool you don’t have in order to complete.
  4. Groceries Once a Week, period!: This tactic is 100% my wife’s brain child, and it has been brilliant. She hits the grocery store 1 time during the week, and outside of trips to replenish the milk supply for our 2 kids, that’s it. We both work, so we do a combination of easy prep dinners that she has perfected, and big pots of either chili, or soup that can be used several times during the week either for dinners or lunches. The menu for that week is dictated largely by what’s on sale, which has led to some genius creations on her part! So, this tactic saves money by avoiding take out, saves time during the week because the recipes are easy OR it’s already cooked, AND it can be adventurous. Yet again this tends to be environmentally friendly as well because you don’t have the packaging from takeout, nor the fuel miles used to go back and forth to the grocery store several times a week. Ah, and I almost forgot, we eat WAY more healthy this way too.
  5. Cars: Here is the thing about cars; We have learned there is no cookie cutter answer here. Sure, buying used can save you thousands up front, but buying new these days easily gets you 5-7 years of warrantied, carefree driving. We benefited from having a car paid off for several years before we dug it a grave, and we also went car-less for part of our time in Boston, just renting when we needed to. Now we are reaping the benefits of buying for fuel economy via a hybrid vehicle and a diesel vehicle, which each grant us close to, and sometimes more than, an extra 100 miles per tank (smaller tank mind you). Though we have the fixed costs of car payments, we have now built a hedge against the unpredictable costs of repairs and fuel prices. So, pick your poison, but our advice here is to know your tendencies and pick wisely, and most importantly, humbly.

These are our top five spending cuts, they are certainly not alone in our arsenal. What are some of yours??

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