** updated 4/17/20

Like many, we are being forced to embrace a new normal right now and finding  the easiest ways to cut costs right now. We must admit as well that we are deeply thankful for our years of learning about frugal living and following a budget as those skills are practically essential today.

We also remembered this story on an unbelievable family (the Fatzingers) that had lots of kids, lived debt free, and could still afford college and retirement. They lived on a single income that was nice but certainly not outrageous. Talk about #goals!

We were duly impressed by this family’s commitment and budgeting skills,  and have been reminded of all the easiest places to cut costs each month. Paying attention to these tweaks can make a really big difference in times when we need the extra savings.

Food

Now: We talk about food all the time, but it really is the biggest place to save money every month and it’s one of our largest expenses. Time to do meal planning, only buy what’s on the list, maximize coupons and store specials. The extra savings each trip adds up, and we are thankful for any places to lower the budget.

Later: Same plan!  This is absolutely the BEST plan for saving money each month in an ongoing way. However, also consider how important a Starbucks treat is or if that dinner out is really worth it. A trip through fast food drive-thru can really do damage to the food costs each week if not considered carefully first.

Entertainment

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. How handy to have such a large built-in entertainment crew.

Now: Our entertainment budget has reduced dramatically these past couple of weeks as we have found new ways to stay engaged at home. Board games, books, and art projects have become treasured ways to fill time.

Later: For the future 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.

Exercise/Sports

Now:  Well, very little money spent here currently. We are getting creative with home workouts and using the coupons from these stores to buy just a couple of supplemental items to help.

Later: Sports are a big opportunity to save money for our family. We  already 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 also use online exercise videos, started running and used our local Rec Center to avoid paying for gym memberships.

Miscellaneous spending

Now: Again, with no places to go and not much to do it’s amazing how little is spent on miscellaneous spending. Every purchase has become a chance to weigh it’s value against it’s cost to be sure we really need it.

Later:  Now that we’ve reduced the entertainment budget, saved on monthly food costs,  and reevaluated those miscellaneous expenditures we hope to keep this practice for the future too. No more accidentally buying clothing that isn’t needed.  Turns out we can resist the new set of bedding for the kids room.

We can never control car repairs or medical emergencies that crop up unforeseen. But we’ve stopped the $5-$20 purchases that were happening without thought.

We have a whole new mindfulness around shopping and spending. In fact, before purchasing any item we ask 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 have already practiced 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 and this pandemic and we can use this to keep ourselves on track in the future too!

Hi, I'm Ayse! I am a mom of three wonderful children and originally began working as a librarian. Now, I love to write! I am an avid coupon finder, deal expert, and lover of anything that can save money without compromising on quality.