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Old 11-25-2013, 08:48 AM   #1
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Help me be thrifty!

Oh my..we went in the hole $600 this month..this can't keep happening. I feel like there hasn't even been any big unexpected circumstance, just a bunch of little ones. With Christmas coming, we really need to tighten the purse strings. Any tips? Particularly, I'd love to learn how to coupon. Also, any ideas on how to cut on electric costs, our bills have been over $100/month for electric alone. We have a safety net, but we've been dipping in way too much every month when we used to have some left over to put in.

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Old 11-25-2013, 11:23 AM   #2
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Re: Help me be thrifty!

IME, a little tightening up can go a long way. Find some homemade or cheap store bought convenience food so you're not tempted to eat out when life gets busy or when you're too tired to cook. Make sandwiches for lunch the night before so you can grab them to have in the car while you run errands and skip the drive thru. (Eating out is our weakness.) Line dry clothes and only wash full loads to cut back on electricity. Also, turn out lights, and lower your thermostat a degree or two. I leave my oven door open after baking so that the heat escapes to the rest of the house (and in the summer I try to avoid the oven).

Also, with a $600 deficit, consider those months where you have extra if its really extra or if it should go into a separate category for planned expenses (sinking fund).

Good luck!
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Old 11-25-2013, 11:59 AM   #3
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Re: Help me be thrifty!

I can help with couponing, what do you want to know and what do you already know?
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Old 11-25-2013, 12:15 PM   #4
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Re: Help me be thrifty!

Do you know what it was that made you go so far in the hole? Like did you buy a ton of groceries this month (groceries always get me ) I'd start with writing down where all your money went in October and see what you can cut back.
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Old 11-25-2013, 12:20 PM   #5
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Re: Help me be thrifty!

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Originally Posted by Mrs-Mama View Post
IME, a little tightening up can go a long way. Find some homemade or cheap store bought convenience food so you're not tempted to eat out when life gets busy or when you're too tired to cook. Make sandwiches for lunch the night before so you can grab them to have in the car while you run errands and skip the drive thru. (Eating out is our weakness.) Line dry clothes and only wash full loads to cut back on electricity. Also, turn out lights, and lower your thermostat a degree or two. I leave my oven door open after baking so that the heat escapes to the rest of the house (and in the summer I try to avoid the oven).

Also, with a $600 deficit, consider those months where you have extra if its really extra or if it should go into a separate category for planned expenses (sinking fund).
This is all such great advice. To some extent it just sounds like the normal ebb and flow of finances and not that you're living above your means. Maybe it's that you needed new tires - that's not exactly an unexpected emergency so that is what savings is for, you know? Track expenses for a while and find out where your leaks are - maybe it is eating in restaurants. Maybe it's buying stuff for the kids. Maybe it's just that groceries and gas and utilities continue to inflate, and you haven't had a raise, even a cost of living adjustment, in a year or two. I know it's highly variable but $100/mo in electricity seems totally reasonable to me; yeah,you can line dry or wash dishes by hand but you have to think of your time and sanity as well.
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Old 11-25-2013, 12:21 PM   #6
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Re: Help me be thrifty!

I would start by writing down in a notebook each and every thing that you spend $$ on. Meticulously. This works by being a spending deterrent (as in, do I really want to write that down in the notebook), it helps you see what percentage of your $$ is going to each part of your budget so you can see where you have room to cut back, and if you don't have a budget it will give you a foundation to make one. This especially works if you have a lot of little things that are causing you to spend more than you want.

Seriously, every tiny little thing, write it down. When I do this I just have three columns: date/store or item/$$. So simple yet helps me sooo much.
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