We recently stumbled across this story on an unbelievable family (the Fatzingers) that has lots of kids, lives debt free, and can still afford college and retirement. Oh, and they live on a single income that is quite nice but certainly not outrageous. Talk about #goals! While we are duly impressed by this family’s commitment and budgeting skills, we admit our struggle with consistency prevents us from ever being exactly like them. Still, in reading the article we were reminded of all the easiest places to cut costs each month. Paying attention to these tweaks can take those financial plans from out of reach to completely manageable within a short period of time.
We talk about food all the time, but it really is the biggest place to save money every month. Start by meal planning, only buy what’s on your list, maximize coupons and store specials, and shop around. It can be time consuming at first, but seeing how much money you can save each month is highly motivating.
Also – skip eating out, skip the temptation to buy Starbucks, or swing through a drive through. That doesn’t mean never indulge; just do it occasionally and work it into your budget. It should feel like a treat, not an every week occurrence.
Granted, the Fatzinger family has 13 kids. That’s basically enough people to never be bored for any reason, without the need for any additional stimuli. For the rest of us though – do you really need cable? Why not stream favorite shows and important sports games? As for cell phones and internet service, it may be time to take a long hard look at your plan and how much data you really need. We are increasingly our time on devices at younger and younger ages. Maybe declaring a few “technology-free” nights at home can save some money while building family bonds again.
This one is huge for our family. We do everything we can to cut costs on sports. We’ve had kids help pay for sports, shopped second hand for used gear, acted as coaches to help cut the registration fees, etc. We’ve also tried online exercise videos, started running and used our local Rec Center to avoid paying for gym memberships.
Once you reduce your entertainment budget and save on monthly food costs, it’s time to look at those miscellaneous expenditures. Did you accidentally buy clothing you didn’t need? Perhaps you couldn’t resist the new set of bedding for your kids room. Of course, you can’t control car repairs or medical emergencies that crop up unforeseen. But you can get a handle on the $5-$20 purchases you might be making. It’s time to adopt a whole new mindfulness around shopping and spending. In fact, before purchasing any item ask yourself these questions:
- Do we really need this? Is there something similar already available that we own?
- Is it possible to find this at a thrift store/consignment shop?
- Will this last?
In all truthfulness, people with modest incomes already practice this approach to each of these categories based on necessity. The discipline of frugality comes with keeping that intentional financial savvy, even when incomes increase. That’s the true inspiration of the Fatzinger family!