My friend Amy recently shared ways her and her husband have found to save money while he is in seminary. Brad and I both have jobs now, but we essentially survived on only his salary while I was in school for the last two years. We never went without anything important, but we definitely had to find ways to make our money stretch. I got some great ideas from Amy, so I thought I’d share some of our own strategies.
1. Plans meals for the week, make a grocery list, and stick to it. If I don’t plan our meals, we end up going out to eat. And if I don’t make a list, I end up buying things we don’t need. We go shopping on Sunday evenings, so each Sunday afternoon I set aside some time to evaluate what we’ve got going on that week, what meals I’ll make on what days, and plan out my shopping trip. Once I get to the store, I really try to stick to the list! It’s tempting to buy something because it’s on sale, but I have to remind myself that just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean that I need it.
2. Virgin Mobile. Brad and I had Verizon for two years and were happy with it, but we were not happy with the price. We had some friends that recommended Virgin Mobile, so when our Verizon contract was up we decided to give it a try. Virgin Mobile is pay-as-you-go, so you can cancel it at any time. I pay $40 a month for 1200 minutes, unlimited text, and unlimited data. It uses Sprint towers and my service has been pretty good in KC. You have to pay full price for your phone up front, but it paid for itself after just a few months of only paying $40 compared to almost $200 a month. Disclaimer: they advertise as unlimited data, but once you reach a certain limit your speed slows down. This hasn’t been much of a problem for me because I don’t use my phone much while I’m at work and I’m on wifi when I’m at home, so I don’t use that much data.
3. No cable. There have been times that we’ve wished we had cable (like for watching Royals games!), but in general we feel like we haven’t missed out at all. We pay for wifi and use a Roku to watch Netflix and YouTube, and we listen to music through Pandora and Spotify. It’s kept us from watching mindless TV and kept our entertainment costs down!
4. Making your coffee at home. Brad and I love our coffee, and while we do buy plenty of coffee outside of our home, we try to at least get our morning coffee at home. Even spending a dollar on coffee every morning can really add up over time! We fill a travel mug on our way out the door and can drink it on the way to work so we are awake by the time we get there!
5. Go to free things. There are tons of free things to do out there, sometimes it just takes a little bit of work to find them. Ask your friends what they like to do for free. Google free things to do in your city. Brad and I enjoyed a lot of things when we lived in Springfield without spending a lot of money!
6. Tithe faithfully. For people who aren’t familiar, tithing is giving 10% of your earnings to your local church. It may seem a little counter-productive for saving money, but I’ve learned over and over again that God is faithful to provide when you are faithful to Him with your finances.
We’re not experts on finances. Sometimes we buy things on impulse. I don’t keep my receipts like I should. But we try to make wise choices and find the small ways to save money, so we can be good stewards of what we have. How do you save money??