In the process of working hard to save money, Daniel and I also began to gain a clearer understanding of where we were spending it. It soon became apparent that it was time to focus on how we could spend less. Through our new app – Dollarbird, we were able to learn the scary truth of exactly how our monthly expenditure was divided and distributed. Suffice it to say, we are hoping to spend a lot less when traveling.
Some of the ways in which we initially hoped to reduce our spending, involved cutting out some non-essentials. Here is a copy of the first list we (I) put together:
- No more cable t.v.! I wish that this were not as ridiculously difficult for me to do. As we go out less, television has become my main form of entertainment. I do read a lot, but spend a fair share of my evenings in front of the “boob-tube”. I KNOW it would be better for my entire family if we could kick this habit. Maybe I need intervention? Update – we never gave up cable. I can count the amount of times we had a babysitter on one hand. Since we almost never went out, t.v. remained our main form of nightly entertainment.
- Gym membership. Sad, but true. I officially quit, as I hadn’t been in months, but Dan is still living the pipe dream that he’s going to “find the time”. I am hoping that time in a gym can be replaced with running outdoors. Update – Dan gave up his gym membership shortly after me. He did later join an indoor futsal team, which cost slightly less than the gym, but kept him dedicated to exercise. I eventually splurged on a yoga pass, but felt better about paying for specific class, as opposed to paying a monthly fee for a gym and never going.
- Eat out less. I am first trying to get a handle on IF this is really a big expense. Groceries in Portland are already very high, and sometimes it seems that I spend as much to cook at home, as we do at a more affordable eatery. ***Perhaps, if we can develop some better meal plans, we can also find a way to spend less on groceries? Update – I honestly don’t know if we changed our eating patterns very much. I just felt more guilt every time we ate out.
- Drink less. Alcohol is not cheap, but eliminating beer and wine from my lifestyle is NOT an option. Cutting back is, drinking out less is, and buying cheaper alcoholic beverages is absolutely doable. Update – we had more awareness of our alcohol intake and tried to spend less, but this effort ebbed and flowed.
- Use coupons. Use Chinook. Buy only things on sale and or used. Update – we made an effort, but attempts to be frugal were erratic.
- Review our credit and study our credit card options. We currently get miles with Alaska Airlines on our credit card, but does this make sense for our future flight needs? Are their other rewards cards that would offer general travel rewards for a variety of airlines. We definitely will need a new credit card for our travels that will not charge fees for currency conversions and has a “chip”. Update – this is the best change we made! We switched to a Barclay credit card which offered high rewards, and ultimately saved over $1000 off of airfare purchases with our points.
The next question we asked ourselves was, “How can we EARN more money?”. The obvious answer was to work more, and/or get a second job. We already worked a lot, more than made me happy, and there was simply no way either of us could take on the responsibility of a second job, without stealing very valuable time from our children. “No way”, said Dan.
Our final step was to take a hard look at all the stuff/junk that had accumulated in our shed (and in our home!) and start letting go. Sell, sell, sell! We had quick success with Craigslist and the local consignment store, and continued to purge our belongings every couple of months.