Hello, gang! I’ve got another treat for you today. I’m sharing the mic with my blogging bud Erika, of Newlyweds on a Budget. I don’t even remember how I landed on Erika’s blog, but it was right around the time I started going back to school and our pennies were getting pinched. What perfect timing! Erika shares her family’s challenge of getting out of debt and balancing a healthy budget. Today, she’s sharing her tips for saving money when money is tight. Take it away, Erika!
Hi, my name is Erika and I blog over at Newlyweds on a Budget. Here is my post on How to save BIG on a Shoestring Budget. I am a big believer of saving money. There is always something that money can be saved for, rather than relying on credit cards to bail you out during emergencies.
This year, Eric and I had 8 months to prepare to become a one-income family while Eric attended a training academy for four months. We decided that in order to cover all of his school expenses, and also have an emergency fund, we needed to save about $8,000 from January to August, or roughly $1,000 a month.
So how did we accomplish this?
We had to move. Luckily, our lease was up, but we ended up moving from a swanky one-bedroom apartment to a shack that was located in someone’s backyard. I’m not joking. We literally live in someone’s guesthouse that doesn’t even have a bedroom, but rather a loft. We found it on Craigslist.
I often hear all these excuses about how you can’t move and other areas aren’t safe, and how it’s just too expensive where you live, and I’m here to say that unless you have a mortgage, you can move when your lease is up. We live in southern California, less than a mile from the beach in one of the notoriously known expensive areas–and we managed to decrease our rent and utilities by 14% simply by moving down the street.
It sucks living in this situation and we can’t wait to move (one day), but for now, we make these sacrifices so that we can afford Eric’s schooling.
Eliminate the extras
In these past two months of living on one income, we have brought down our monthly expenses for all those “extra” categories, such as dining out, entertainment, gifts, etc., from an average of about $800+ to about $550. We always assumed we just couldn’t squeeze anything else out of our budget, but it turns out we can! No more clothes shopping, no more dining out (or if we do, it’s usually less than $50 a month), we take our lunch to work every single day, we are even eliminating our internet this month and using our phones for wireless.
I clip coupons and keep our food budget to about $250 per month.
Find extra sources of income
We’ve held three garage sales in the past year. I babysit on weekends, I market my blog, I mystery shop and I fill out surveys. If there’s an extra way to make money and it doesn’t involve taking my clothes off, I’ve done it! I’ve taken every single overtime opportunity available at my job, and I’ve even held side jobs as a social media specilist for other companies, and as a check-in person at a local gym. Yes, working so much has its downside, but these are sacrifices we have to make. You can even get side jobs online through ODesk.
Keep your eye on the prize
Sometimes, I get really upset. It is hard to be putting in so much effort and hard work, and still be living in a shack. There are moments I get fed up and want to just splurge. But I have to keep my eye on the prize–which is eventually to own our own home. This year was all about saving up for Eric’s schooling. Next year, it’s all about saving for a down payment. I always look at the newspaper real estate section every Sunday to remind myself that one day we will have our own home.
Find more tips on frugality, and simple living at Newlyweds on a Budget.
Erika lives in a shack in Orange County, California with her husband of a year, Eric, and their eight-year-old Wheaten Terrier, Bentley. They are paying off debt, and saving up money to purchase their first home. You can read all about how they try to manage finances, pay off debt and live a big life on a small budget at Newlyweds on a Budget.
Thanks so much, Erika, for your tips on saving on a shoestring budget! Make sure to check out Erika’s blog for other money and budget goodies! As a one-income family right now, we are always looking for tips to save and cut back. I can also say that it NEVER hurts to be prepared. A lost job, an accident, a sickness, a downsize, we are all really just one step away from being one income families. It’s always good to plan for the unexpected!
Have a blessed Wednesday!