Our combined expenses each month, totals approximately $1550.00. That includes bills, SGI, campground rent and loan payments. That is before food, entertainment, fuel, dog treats, etc. I make about $800 a month at my part time job, so Zach is expected to bring home the rest at this point, and he does. All of my Etsy earnings are going in to savings because at this point, our goal is to save, save, save...and everyone knows that can be difficult on basically one income. It's not always easy, so we have had to change a lot about the way we live. However, we make it work, and I am proud of us for finding ways to save, be frugal, and still have fun.
Here are some of the things we have been doing to try and keep our expenses down on the road.
1. We make our coffee at home. I am a coffee addict, and even though I have always made coffee at home, I don't even know how many hundreds of dollars I spent in the past year buying coffee at gas stations, Tim Horton's, etc. We have cut back immensely on this one expense by using our re-usable cups, and taking coffee with us. We have also found that most places will give you a discount if you bring your own mug.
2. Whenever possible we get gas at Superstore or one of it's affiliates. Not only is it usually a couple cents cheaper than other places, but you get Super Bucks with every fuel purchase. When you drive a big truck like we do, those Super Bucks add up to free groceries fast. They definitely have come in handy this winter when we were between paychecks, but needed coffee, bread, margarine, etc.
It's no secret that a truck like ours is a gas guzzler. We live right between Victoria and Mill Bay, so nothing is that far away. However, we have learned to only make necessary trips, and try to combine errands as often as possible. If I have to work, that will be a day when we get our errands done, for instance. We like to save our gas for things like visiting family and friends and going on adventures.
We also like to use our Canadian Tire card to purchase big things when we can, because we get Canadian Tire money back, which comes in handy!
3. Not only have we quit smoking, but we do not go to bars or restaurants. I can actually count on one hand the amount of times we have gone out to eat or drink in the past four months. However, the times we have gone out have felt super special and fun because we don't do it all the time. We have also only ever bought alcohol to drink at home twice.
4. Learning to be smart grocery shoppers has helped immensely in saving money. Not only do we do common sense things like stay away from brand names, use coupons and only buy what we need, we compare prices between stores, and hold off on purchases if we know we can get something cheaper somewhere else.
Most stores in Victoria do not have plastic bags available to use, and if they do, you are paying for them. Instead of buying the reusable grocery bags, I have made my own, using some of Zach's old T-shirts.
We try our best to plan our meals in advance and get to the stores early ( meat from the day before is usually very cheap in the mornings!). When purchasing meat, I want it to get us through at least 2 meals. ( making broth for soup from a chicken, for example.) All potatoes, onions and dry goods are bought in bulk.
5. We reuse everything that we can. All plastic containers are kept to use for storage ( food and otherwise.) Any and all plastic bags are reused in some way. So many things come wrapped in a plastic bag ( bread, rice, pre-packaged meat is usually bagged again at checkout, all bulk bins and produce sections have plastic bags to use, etc.) All small bags are kept and used to pick up dog poo on walks. All larger bags are used for garbage bags. Paper and cardboard packaging is also kept, because we need it to start campfires. We have also started saving our egg cartons, so I can return them to be reused when we buy farm eggs.
6. Everyone knows that Zach has an affinity for websites that sell used products, and that I have a thing for places like Old Navy and Walmart that always have awesome sales. We are trying to curb these impulse shopping habits, and also use them to our advantage. If we need something, we check online used sites first, before just heading to a box store to get it. When I do buy clothes or craft supplies, I am waiting for deals, and really am only buying things that I need. I signed up for the Old Navy newsletter, so I don't have to drive in to the city "just to see what they have."
Other things we have been doing is using only rechargeable batteries, buying dog food and treats in bulk, going to barber shops instead of salons, fixing and refurbishing things if possible before throwing them out and we are always looking for free activities to do around the island and beyond.
What do you do to save money? Do you have any tips of your own?