I am writing this in the midst of feeling extremely crummy. It’s that time of year – protect yourselves & your kiddos!
As many of you know, hubby & I are expecting!
As some of you may not know, we have been surviving much of the year on one income – hubby’s missionary income.
So, with debts to pay off, and a baby coming (y’all know babies cost a lot of money, right?), we had to really start to think about how we were going to prepare for the life changes ahead.
So, I really sat down and took a look at why we kept struggling each month, and really began to plan. It has come down to 9 areas that we are beginning to work better at, and begin to pay down debt & save.
Why are we doing this?
We have a baby coming, will eventually need to move into a larger tiny space (don’t worry, we aren’t giving up tiny), need to pay off debt, we are trying to improve communication around finances, and now that we have a family forming, we are really wanting to eat at home & healthier.
So, without further ado, let me share with you how we are altering our money mindset, to begin to prepare for these major life changes.
Here are 9 things we are doing to fix our money mindset & prepare for the future:
- Know what’s going in and what’s going out. This is something we have not been very good at. Neither of us was amazing at it while single, and we have definitely slipped since getting together. So, the first step, is to be really, crystal clear about what you have coming in, and what you have going out. If you are not clear about what is coming in and what is going out, you will get lost quickly. Debt will get out of control. You will overspend on eating out & even at the grocery store. This is the number one step to getting everything back in order.
- Plan a budget. This is very closely tied to number one. You have to have a budget in order to have a visual idea of what’s going out (and allows you to determine some of the following). This helps you know what is happening and what should be happening.
- Walmart & other bargain stores. My favorite grocery store around here is not a bargain store, but we do shop there occasionally for good deals on produce & to save on gas (more on that later…). So, a bulk of our groceries come from Walmart. Walmart really does have great prices. In every city, there are also discount or low price stores (Save mart, Food Lion, Dollar Stores, Grocery Outlet, etc…). Utilize these. Check their prices, their circulars, and get some better priced groceries. You can also find good prices on other consumables at these stores – you know, the toilet paper, paper towels, toiletries, medicines – everything you use/buy often.
- Sales, circulars, coupons, coupon apps. Those that know me know I am not in favor of extreme couponing & mega stockpiles…Guys, I’m a minimal, tiny house dweller, of course I don’t like the extreme. That said, I will clip coupons for things we need if they come my way. I will also look at a store’s circular & look for their sales for things we need. I’ve also grabbed some coupons for foods we might be tempted to eat out (I’m pregnant, so forgive me…the cravings are real!). This is where you find savings. Not paying full price helps you stay within your grocery budget.
- Cash back/ rebate apps / loyalty cards: What is better than getting a reward for your purchase? Sometimes those rewards come in the form of coupons at the register. Others, it comes in the form of cash back or other loyalty rewards. This is where that gas savings I came in for my favorite store. For every certain amount we spend, we get 3 cents off per gallon, and it just builds until we spend it. Once we hit 9, 12, or 15 cents off per gallon, hubby takes it and fills his tank. Walmart has the savings catcher feature. It is changing (they just sent an email), but it will still exist to an extent. Ibotta tells you items it will give cash back on, and once you reach an amount, you cash out for paypal cash or other rewards. There are other apps like this as well. This is a good way to get a return on your spending.
- Swagbucks or other survey apps: I’m a Swagbucks girl, as is my mom (who shares the love with me sometimes). I love it, because I can usually earn some Walmart money each month. I could go with Paypal, but since we shop at Walmart so much, that’s usually what I have my eye on. There are other survey apps that work the same: a little extra income gained for completing surveys and other small tasks. It’s a good time filler/waster that can bring in savings through gift cards.
- Cut expenses: This is another big one. I looked at our “what was going out” and began chopping things we simply don’t need. Things that are just draining us but not adding to our goals. This didn’t make a big dent, but it made a dent. As we move forward, we will see if there is anything else we can do. But, this is a big key. Cut your expenses. What are you paying for that is not necessary. Do you need both Hulu and Netflix? Do you need to eat out for 10 meals a week? Cut down where you can. Cut until you can’t cut anymore (you can build it back in later).
- Free/cheap dates/outings. We don’t want to miss out on experiences and life just because we are trying to cut down. We live tiny so we can experience life. So, find things in your area that you can do for free (or really cheap). For example, we have the free AMC membership, so every Tuesday movie tickets are only $5 each. So, every so often, we go on a movie date – on Tuesday. Probably once every couple months. We’re due for a couple coming up that we absolutely want to see. But, we will go to our favorite local AMC and only pay $5/ticket. Also, there are great parks, a river, and some low-cost museums in the area. Pretty soon, there will be lots of Christmas light displays out. Perfect. Find these cheap/free outings and dates to do. Don’t sacrifice date night, just do it on the cheap.
- Increase income.This one is often easier said than done. That said, there are ways it can happen. If you haven’t checked out the Pennyhoarder blog yet, they have awesome tips, and are a great place to start. Some ideas that we have utilized/are utilizing is: selling items we don’t need (we’re preparing for a baby, y’all). Find things around your home that you want to get rid of that may sell, and list them. On facebook, on an app, at a garage sale, etc. Here’s a hint: larger items often sell better online via facebook or apps. Another way to increase income is a side hustle. Hubby has begun to Uber (and loves it), and I have begun teaching English online (& I LOVE it). These have already increased our incomes by a couple hundred a month, and will grow in the coming months, to help us pay down debt and prepare for baby. Finding a side hustle can really help you meet money goals and change money mindset. (We have boundaries and rules about our side hustles to protect our family time and our primary roles that I’ll discuss in a future blog post).
These are the 9 areas we have begun to change in order to prepare for the future, and fix our money mindset. While we began the last couple of months to move these directions, we are cracking down for November and December (and the years to come).
Final side note for marital bliss in finances: Getting on the same page with this is crucial. Marriage is tough enough without fighting about finances, or communication about finances (yes, you can fight about communication…).
This process must be done together, so that no one is surprised by bills that come out, or extra money spent. Your communication has to be open, honest, and full of grace for each others. We do hit hiccups as we are figuring this out, but the open communication makes a huge difference. This will save your relationship during times of frugality, I promise.
Okay, let me know below how you save or pay down debt. How do you fix or correct your money mindset? Do you have financial communication advice for newlyweds or couples who need the help in this area?
Comment, like, and share!