I thought I would share how we survive on so little compared to most. We don’t go without, we just have re-thought our way of living is all.
Here are 10 ways that we have cut cash flow which leads to less hours needed living at work.
1. We canceled Cable TV (some time ago) as anything that is found on Cable can be found on the Internet. Why pay for 2 services when only 1 is needed? We pay for no movies out nor NetFlix at home, as there are plenty of free sites to watch movies from. Doing this we save an easy $100 a month but still have TV, Internet and Movies.
2. We canceled our cell phones (waited until contract ended) and have gone back to the old fashioned home phone (corded, not wireless). This helps in multiple areas from health care (no more radiation), to peace of mind (no one can track nor listen in), to our wallet (money saved). Doing this we saved an easy $75 a month but we still have a Phone.
3. We got rid of all Credit Cards and only buy with cash. This is easier than one thinks as we all did it as kids. When you want something, save up for it. It will help teach self control as well. Doing this we save an undetermined amount of money from no interest on the Cards to no on the spot, whim buying. To take a guess, savings of $200+ a month over the average home.
4. We stopped eating out all together. As it is just a waste of money coming and going not to mention most of it is not actual food anymore. Do you really think you are eating a “hamburger” when you go to McDonald’s? When you are eating “non foods” as food, your body will only desire to eat more being it is lacking nutrients. In turn driving your cost of food higher and higher along with your waistline.
5. We shrank down to a 1 car family with no car payments. And we started to walk and ride bikes more often, especially for short, local trips. This summer we are taking this a step farther and moving to a town where 95% of everything is able to be biked or walked too. We also have set our jobs to be similar hours to carpool for work together. This not only saves money, but allows us as a couple to spend more time together by starting and ending our work days together.
6. We went to bulk food buying and then canning or vacuum sealing the excess. There was up front costs of Mason Jars, Vacuum Machine, Bags. But this was off set some by the lower cost of food due to bulk. Now that we are a year into the process. The savings are showing up constantly. For example, last week we went to the grocery and only spent $75. And this was the first time going in 2 months. Doing this we save anything from $100 – $500 a month in food over the average family. As we pay $1.99 lb for ground beef in bulk where most pay $3.99 lb or higher in small packages. We then spend a day making jarred meatloaf, jarred ground beef, spaghetti sauce, etc. to can up all the meat. When time to cook, one only has to warm up, not make an actual meal. This saves time during the course of a month in meal preparation, not to mention savings in electric, clean up, cooking. And not falling for the TV Dinner due to being tired from work. We cook less than 1/2 as much now, but eat 100% more healthy and at least 50% cheaper than we did before.
7. When we shop, we shop used. The only items we buy new are socks, underwear and shoes. Everything is used from Craigslist, Thrift Stores, Salvation Army, etc. I myself can get an entire outfit (pants, shirt, sweater) for less than 1 China made T-Shirt from Wal-Mart this way. Having a house of 3 (2 adults, 1 teenager) this becomes a huge savings in cloths alone. Cars, furniture, gardening items, just about anything you can think of can be found used. It will be used after you buy it new, so why pay new prices to make something used? It is about impossible to figure out the savings from this but it is at least a weeks worth of pay if not more.
8. Controlling one’s habits can be a big savings area. We both smoke cigarettes, and the state we live in has the tax per pack at the cost of the pack. Meaning if you want store bought cigarettes you pay around $10 per pack. Instead of giving them up, and to go a more healthy route. We now buy our cigarettes from a local Reservation for about $1.70 per pack. Not only is the savings great, and assisting the locals great. But its awesome that we can now smoke clean, chemical free tobacco as it was originally meant to be. And not inhale the 1000+ chemicals store bought cigarettes have. Besides being healthy, we saved about $400 a month. Apply the same to other habits. If you drink, make your own home beer. If you smoke other items, grow your own. Once we get to our land we plan on growing some tobacco to cut this cost out in the future.
9. Instead of Play Stations, Wii’s, Cellphone Games or any other “high tech device” that is made to occupy your time. We ride our bikes, play board games, sit and talk as a family. Not having all the “modern junk” around us saves countless paychecks. Not to mention makes for a healthier home on multiple levels.
10. We don’t buy what we don’t need, it is that simple. All we buy has a practical use, even if it seems to be only a decoration. For example, we have an old fashioned meat and grain hand mills. They sit around the house, along with the coffee bean grinder, as decorations. Yet all are fully functional. Our buttons and thread spools are in Mason Jars as decoration in the sewing area. Plus its nice to stash extra Mason Jars around the house without actually storing them in a closet. Our drinking glasses are Mason Jars as well. Why buy glasses to drink out of to only later break one from the set? And our indoor garden fills a wall as decoration.
As one can see, we do not go without internet, phone, good/healthy food, habits or even wants and needs. We just have applied a new type of thinking to it all. And in doing so we have gone from making about $150k a year combined and both working 45+ hours a week barely scraping by. To now we live, easily survive and live more free with happiness for under $30k a year and both average 30 hours a week. And those numbers are still being whittled away as time goes by. Our goal is only 1 of us to be working outside the home for 20 hours a week to pay for it all.
Many ask us about our retirement savings. This is our retirement savings, as we are setting ourselves up to be comfortable through our old age yet able to survive on very little. Even the little they call Social Security (which we don’t expect to see).
These are some of our methods of saving, as we apply this type of thinking to all aspects of our lives. And by doing so, we have begun to live again.