Ways To Cut Expenses Living Paycheck To Paycheck

In my adult life I have become an advid budgeter. I have varied between a beans and rice budget, a YOLO budget racking up debt, and now living debt free on what I will refer to as a more laxed budget. Of course, I didn’t learn everything at one time to get where I am now. But, wouldn’t it be nice if we all shared our secrets so we can all have a chance? I think yes! With that, I give you the ways I have cut expenses!

I should really preface this just incase someone reading this is only here for this one post. I am a 30 year old stay at home mom of 3 [7, 3, and 1]. We are a one income family with my husband’s job as a sanitation worker. I have always been the finance nerd in our relationship. One of my main duties is budgeting and paying bills.

1. Obviously you can’t be in control of your finances if you aren’t dedicated to them. You should have knowledge of every penny that comes in and goes out. I find it beneficial to check the bank once per day.

2. Chances are you know how much money you get paid (or your households income) and how often. Once you have that noted you then write out your budget. What I have found that works for us is making my own spreadsheet that lists each bill we have, its due date, the amount due, and then a checkmark box to mark once its been paid and a second one for when it has cleared your account. Writing it out helps to make sure you pay everything on time. You don’t want to have to pay late fees just simply because you forgot! Plus, if you are like my family and get paid every 2 weeks, keeping track of everything makes life much easier from one pay day to the next.

3. One of the biggest expenses is groceries. Back when we first started budgeting we stuck to really cheap carb heavy meals (spaghetti, hot dogs and mac n cheese, and frozen pizza). At the time we were okay with it, but now we are a mostly keto family as I am working hard to improve my health. You can still find cheap meals to make, in any diet lifestyle. You just need to make a plan. First you have your alotted budget (even if it varies weekly), then you plan your week based on that budget. Plan your portions appropriately! Leftovers also make great lunches. We personally go grocery shopping weekly. Typically we do one bigger trip a month for the bulkier items (hygeine sort of things and pet supplies) and then we go weekly for our meals. To eliminate impulse shopping; meal plan and then do an online pickup order. I can elaborate on this more if there is an interest for it, just let me know!

4. Say no to cable/satellite! We have been cable free for over 5 years now. We do pay for Netflix now that we are in a good place financially, but when we weren’t we didn’t have it either. We do pay for internet so we are able to stream and save on our phone bill with a lower data plan. It’s not impossible to live without internet, but for us it just makes sense to have it.

5. Get on the level payment plan for your utilities. Having bills that are consistent helps you plan ahead. There is nothing more annoying than paying $63 one month and $257 the next for electricity. Ask your utility companies if they offer a level payment plan. That way each month is the same amount and you can better plan your finances.

6. Credit cards should be considered the devil. Especially if you tend to shop a lot and use them all of the time without paying them off. If you have debt, stop yourself from making more and work on paying it down. We really like the Dave Ramsey method with the snowball effect. If you don’t have the money in your account or budget, then don’t be spending money you don’t have.

7. Use what you have! Before going out and buying new things, use what you already have; get creative! This can even be said for clothing. A dress can become a skirt, pair it with a shirt and you can make many outfits! Whoever taught us that an event or holiday warrants us to buy new clothes should be karate chopped. I have also been applying this to home decor. I like change, especially in my home. I can find things around the house and use them in different ways than which I originally bought them. It makes it feel new again and changes the scenery.

8. Shop around before you make a purchase! Say your microwave took a crap. I could tell you that you can certainly live without a microwave, but if you feel strongly about having one, shop around first. Check buy sell trade sites first. If you can’t find it there, check the thrift stores. If you cannot find a used one and have to buy new, shop around online first. Look for deals, coupons, and which store has the best price before buying something new.

9. Cancel any subscriptions you can live without. I challenge you to really try to live without them. Pretty self explanatory.

10. Your budget should automatically include some amount of savings. Whether it is $5 a paycheck or a million dollars a paycheck. Start establishing the habit of saving consistently.

11. Use your resources! We have friends and family that have been so willing to help us along the way. For instance, my sister in law added me to her Costco membership (it is free for her already paid membership). While we do not go there very often, we do know some of the better deals they have there than anywhere else; like their deals on toilet paper. Sharing subscriptions can also be beneficial and lowering costs of things.

12. If you need clothes, buy used! Ever since I have started shopping resale stores for my kids we have saved so much money! We went from spending about $300 per season on 2 kids, to about $100 twice a year on 3 kids. Thrift stores, goodwill, resale kids stores, buy sell trade on Facebook or nextdoor app, and poshmark are great ways to save a lot of money on clothing!

13. Learn how to do things yourself. Home repairs, car repairs, car maintenance, hair cuts, and things of that nature can get costly. Youtube is a great resource to learn how to do things yourself to save you money. Be sure to include any known upcoming expenses in your budget!

14. Limiting fast food and restaurant spending is a huge way to save money. It may not always seem convenient, but if you are financially ill then you can make that sacrifice until you are financially well again. IF this is absolutely not doable for your lifestyle, set a budget, and stick to it! Absolutely do not spend credit! If you don’t have the money, then you don’t need to eat out.

15. Don’t be afraid to say no to others. I remember back during a time we were in so much debt and we were embarrassed to tell people we didn’t have the extra money to do things. We would rack up more debt just because we were too embarrassed to say no. You aren’t obligated to say yes to anyone when it involves spending money. If you don’t have the money, then say “no thanks”.

16. Going off of #15, don’t buy gifts for others if you don’t have the money. You can try to make something with what you have at home. If you can afford a few dollars you can make something inexpensive or shop the dollar tree. Don’t feel guilty for not giving gifts.

17. Find ways to make extra money. Chances are you have stuff around your house that you can sell. Maybe you have a hobby that you can use to make some money. Get a part time job if you are able. You can sign up to uber, lyft, or door dash. You can donate plasma to earn some extra money. Offer to clean or garden people’s homes for some extra money. Sign up on care.com to babysit or dogwalk.

18. Find free entertainment! If you are itching to get out and do something, look up free things to do in your city. Chances are there is at least 10 things you can do, maybe something you haven’t done before or even thought of. Something we enjoy is geocaching. It is free and fun for the whole family.

I am a firm believer in mindset. If there is a will, there is a way. You can only get as far as your excuses will let you. I challenge you to be critical of your habits; are they serving your finances well?

Something to help maintain financial motivation is watching YouTube videos on saving money and minimalistic living. You can also watch Dave Ramsey for free on YouTube. If you have the ability to listen to podcasts or audible books, those can help keep you going too.

I hope you found something useful here!

-jenn (a wife, mom, and woman who has been there, done that)

Kid’s Tshirt Pillow DIY

Does anyone else have children that can’t seem to keep their clothes free from holes and tears? My oldest son is seven years old. He tends to run his clothes through the mill! I swear we buy him clothes and a week later they are ripped up. That is one reason I love resale stores! He goes through clothes so fast that spending money on brand new ones just seems ridiculous. I try to save the decent items for our younger 2 kids as our oldest outgrows them. But, it never fails that I have a pile of clothes that are torn up.

I have really been striving to repurpose things to help spare the Earth, even if only just a little bit. I have started saving these clothing items to try and do something else with them. It was during a 1am mental breakdown (my 7 year old) that this one came to me.

A tshirt pillow!

Ok, I am sure I am not the first person to think of this project. But, my son was so excited about it that I had to share.

Of course it started with a tshirt that acquired some holes (mostly in the armpit). I had it set aside for a couple of weeks before I knew what to do with it. We had a pillow to our bed that recently ripped open. Hello free pillow stuffing! Like I said though, this project occurred to me at 1am when my son was having a breakdown because he didn’t want to be alone in his bed.

As for the how-to..

I flipped the tshirt inside out and sewed along the sleeves, head hole, and along the bottom. I left one sleeve open to be able to stuff it with pillow fluff. I had considered cutting the shirt and making a square pillow, but I thought #1 there would be fabric to throw away and #2 maybe he would feel like he is cuddling someone if he needs to. So I left it in tshirt form!

My youngest son had a blast filling the shirt with stuffing.And then I just sewed the sleeve shut. You could hand stitch it if you’d rather. I wasn’t really worried about the thread showing.

I called my oldest son upstairs to surprise him. He thought it was so cool! He had to go show it off to everyone in the house.
I am not a seamstress, but he isn’t worried about perfection. I am grateful for that! I heard it through the grapevine that my nephew now wants one of his own.

What else can you make from a tshirt?
-jenn

My Home [Part One]

I thought my first post, outside of the introduction, would have been the redo of our youngest son’s bedroom. However, it is not 100% done yet, so I decided it needs to wait a tad-bit longer. One of the wall pieces is coming from overseas and is considered one of the main elements of the room. Instead I decided to do a what my house looks like post/series! We currently live in what is considered a tri-level house. Meaning, we have enough stairs to keep our cardio in check! Our house has 4 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. It is somewhere around 2100 square feet. While I do love our house, there are some things I would like to change in time.

Today was a rainy morning, but I had been feeling like taking the kids out of the house. I got them all ready to go and we headed to Dunkin Donuts. I would have gone to Panera for my free coffee if they had donuts there. They were having a special on their coffee anyway, so my whole order cost me about $8; coffee, 4 donuts, and a breakfast sandwich (I removed the bagel,yay keto).

We got home and I felt the urge to deep clean the house. Normally coffee doesn’t affect me much, but I was ‘zing zing-ing’. I started cleaning in the entry way. I totally spaced taking any before pictures. So here is afterwards.

The wall I did with a sharpie. The bench was part of our dining set, but we decided we liked having chairs better. So, I painted the bottom rusty orange. The bins and rug are from five below. The macrame hangers are from Michael’s. The pillows are from the At Home store.

This use to be, what I consider, a typical Nebraska entryway coat closet. I will have to check for a before picture and add it if I do. It use to have carpet, a rod and shelf, and a door. It also was white and completely marked up inside. I had really struggled to find inspiration of these sort of closets on Pinterest. I decided to take the door off because I figured we might actually use it if we saw it everyday instead of just a door. But it had nasty old carpet inside of it and I couldn’t stand it. I ripped it out and underneath was just simple plywood. This closet does go over the stairs so I could not take it out, but we did have some wood planks left from the previous owners. So Chris, my amazing husband started to figure out how to use them to make ot look look better. I did paint the bottom, stain the wood, sharpied the “always”, and added coat hooks. I think it turned out so good and instead of a junk collector we now actually use it.

Of course, you cannot have an entry way without the front door.

I did make the yarn piece myself. All you need is a wooden dowel and some yarn.

Inside the entryway is also what we call the airplane bathroom. I do have plans to redo it it soon, but for now here you go. The color is more blue in person.

See why we call it the airplane bathroom?

On this same level is one of the bedrooms, but I am planning to do the bedrooms in a separate post. Plus, I am going to be redoing that bedroom entirely, so lookout for that one!

Lastly on this same level is our den. This den has already been changed so many times. It has been a family room, a dog room, a storage area, a gym, an art/craft room, and now is currently a play room. I have a seriously difficult time with the den because while I have tried very hard to keep it pretty, it just doesn’t stay that way. The dogs necessities are in there, our extra freezer is in there, and then I have a large cabinet of crafting things in there.

I have many inspo pictures for the den, but that would entail getting rid of everything in there. Which, I am contemplating since the kids hardly play with toys anymore [they are usually playing video games, tablets, watching YouTube, or being outside]. I really would like to keep it as a cozy craft space for myself or maybe a game room. But, that is too much on the budget right now. So, here it sits in all it’s cluster glory.

I am still working on tidying up the other levels of the house, so those will come as other posts relatively soon, too!

My to-do list before the month is over is:

1. Repainting the bathrooms upstairs and then redecorating (I did order the kid’s bathroom stuff today).

2. Painting and decorating our oldest son’s bedroom.

3. Makeover the dining table

Do you have a to-do list? Let me know!

-Jenn

All pictures taken by me with the “food” setting on my cell phone.

An Introduction To My New Blog

I suppose it is best to start with an introduction! I am Jenn, a stay at home mom of 3 (7, 3, and 1). Married to the love of my life, Chris, since 2012. I do have another blog at http://www.reclaimingmysanity.com however I felt like I needed to separate parts of it, which lead me here. Pickles and Lollipops was originally the name I had for my etsy shop, so I decided to continue with that!

I have always loved fashion, home decor, party planning and crafting.

Fashion has always been an interest of mine. I use to draw my own designs as a preteen, but realizing things cost money was a hard lesson to learn. I have a sort of diverse style, somedays are “plain jane” and other days are quirky. Now that I have my own kids, I have a love for kid’s fashion. I have a hard time, sometimes, buying new things. I am all for reduce, reuse, and recycling; including kid’s clothes. They just grow too fast to keep up! Though I use smaller budgets, I don’t feel it limits their choices.

Interior design has also always been a love of mine. I am constantly redecorating my house. I often get asked by friends and family for advice on their decor and craft projects. I am always happy to oblige. I am always spending time window shopping online and pinteresting ideas. I recently have been requested in the making of decor lists for my family members. I took that as inspiration to start a new endeavor. Sharing the pretty things and where to buy them. I especially love a good deal, as a one income household I can’t live on a millionaire’s budget. I enjoy thrift shopping and creating looks for less.

My plan is to share to inspire. For people who love pretty things, but don’t have a whole lot to spend.
I am excited for this new chapter for myself. I hope you will follow along.

Xoxo,
Jenn

P.s. Checkout my “About Me” page to get to know me and my family better.

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