February 12, 2012

How family cut their expenses in half (6 TIPS)

Not that long ago, finding crazy-unique ways to save money was never on my list of things to do. I was working as a celebrity impersonator in Las Vegas, and the dough kept rolling in. But suddenly, my husband and I received the greatest news of our lives - we were expecting a baby!

There comes a moment in every successful soon-to-be mom's pregnancy when she asks herself, "Do I keep working this job…or stay home to raise my child?" When I rolled this question around in my head, I knew my singing and traveling gypsy days were numbered. I loved performing, but being able to spend time with my daughter meant so much more. 

So, I hung up my rhinestones and feather headdresses, and immediately went into savings mode. We'd now be living on one income, a whopping 50% less than we were used to. Such a dramatic change in our finances would require both some creative thinking -- and some serious negotiations.
Some people like to use the word "budget" -- but I prefer "adjustment." Small, incremental changes that over time, add up to a lot of savings! We've "adjusted" in a bunch of ways: my salon visits and weekly mani-pedis are ancient history of course, and even my husband has found ways to "adjust." He's traded in an expensive hobby (drag racing) for a more affordable past-time (target practice - and instead of buying bullets… he makes his own!).
Here are some of my all-time favorite strategies for managing bills and saving money:

  • Call your service providers and ask if they're running specials: Over a period of several months I went from a cell phone bill of $175 to $85 using this method - and believe me, my plan has all the perks! The cable company? They said, "Sure, we can give you a $5 monthly credit." Why? Who knows. Probably because I asked. 

  • Switch car insurance companies: Do your research because you don't want inferior coverage -- but this one little tip is currently saving us about $150 a month.  

  • Refuse to pay credit card membership fees: Many times these fees go unnoticed but when I called my credit card company to tell them I didn't want to pay this monthly fee, they offered to remove it.  

  • Pay bills on time: Sometime we let bills slide out of laziness. I've done that. But I've also learned this one little "slip up" can cost a LOT in late fees: $35 here, $20 there. And who'd willingly burn up a 20 dollar bill?  

  • Use coupons that make sense for you: I can't hang with those moms on the Extreme Couponing shows, but when I find a coupon that works for my family, I use and use again! We found a coupon for our grocery store that gets us $20 off a $100 grocery bill -- each time we shop. My husband buys diapers at our local Baby Store instead of the grocery store because they offer a gift certificate with purchase. These are the expenses that add up quickly in our household, and so we go out of our way for the deal.  

  • Get creative: I knew that if I could combine my skills as a writer and businesswoman, I could share what I've learned with other moms! Last year I launched my blog, Mompreneur Mogul - and even started designing my own baby products. Not only are these projects incredibly rewarding for me as I raise my daughter, they're incrementally bringing additional income into the household, which is only going to help secure our future in years to come.
These simple strategies have helped my family adjust to living on half of what we did before, allowing me to stay home with Matilda -- and for that, we're grateful.

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