The Times, They Are A-Changin' Part II

Last week I shared some ways that our Spartan family is trying to make better use of our time.  This week, I'd like to share some changes that we've made to our budget over the last year and new ones that we are now implementing.  Again, after some discussion, we have decided that I'll no longer work from home.  Here are some of our basic budget changes:

1.  Phone/Mobile. We have no home phone and a very basic cell phone package.  Not having a home phone line saves us about $25 monthly.  We take advantage of the fact that most of our family members use the same mobile network so the majority of our cell phone usage is free mobile-to-mobile minutes.  We forgo expensive data plans and smart phones.  They may be cool and convenient, but for us they're not worth the extra money.  We pay about $60 monthly for our very basic cellular phone plan, and adding a basic data plan for each of us would more than double the monthly cost--not to mention we would have to purchase expensive phones rather than choosing from the freebies that our provider offers.

2. Cable.  We just got rid of cable.  It saves over $80 a month.  Let's just say we listen to a lot more music now. 

3.  Grocery Budget.  I am in the process of going back through our bank statements and determining exactly how much we have spent on groceries over the last three months.  Then, I am going to take the average of the months, and cut it by 20%.  And voila, that will be our new grocery budget--I'll let you know when I have a concrete number.  Oh, and I'm going to use only cash for groceries so that I really stick to my budget.  You may be seeing a lot more beans on our menu soon...   (Couponing is of course a great way to make your dollar stretch--this week my best coupon deal was two packages of feta cheese for FREE!  Greek salad, here we come!)  Of course, we're not allowing food to go to waste either.  No food left behind, right?!

4. Cars.  Because my car is no longer a primary car since I no longer work outside of the home, we made some changes.  Believe it or not, the changes we made allowed me to get my dream car--an old Volvo wagon.  Seriously, this is the car I have wanted for years!  A few years ago I was driving a brand-new SUV that cost over $400 a month and was not fuel efficient--when we bought it we lived in Washington, DC, we were both working and needed only one vehicle--and our SUV suited us perfectly.  Times change, my friend.  My Volvo is not exactly fuel efficient, but it packs a heck of a punch and we paid a little over $2,000 cash for it.  Yep, folks, we even have the pink slip!  Having a reliable but paid-in-full car makes a big difference in our budget.

5. Dining out.  While I love to cook, I also love to dine out.  Well, let me just say it like it is--I love to eat!  But dining out really adds up--even a few cheap meals out here and there can easily turn into a few hundred bucks a month.  Have you ever perused your bank statements and added up your dining out expenses?  It can be shocking!   We're taking more opportunities to entertain inexpensively from our home when we want to gather with friends.  Truthfully, the time spent together is even better in a home versus at a restaurant.  (Why not check out a few of my budget entertaining ideas?)  I also have a well-stocked freezer in my arsenal, so the excuse  "there's no food in the house" has become a moot point. 

These are just a few of the budget changes we have implemented.  Sometimes it's easy to look at our finances and say "we can't possibly cut back more".  But the truth is, we need very little to truly sustain us--the rest is just extras that we're not entitled to. 

We're not broke.  We don't live paycheck to paycheck.  We are still choosing to cut back though, for the greater good of our family.  We have goals we want to accomplish.  And I don't want to have to retire later than we desire because we spent frivolously on things that really don't matter


  1. You are so right about eating out. That's why we don't go out after church most times, to cut back on our spending habits. Leftovers are our friends!

  2. Agreed Laura, we should all have leftover Sundays! :) Tristin, wanna host????? Just kidding, actually Josh and I have talked a lot about cooking every Sunday and just inviting people over. We hardly ever eat out, but even that one Sunday meal can get super expensive if you're not careful... Good thoughts!


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