Ellis and I have always lived beneath our means, but that wasn’t saying much when we lived in the city and both worked at lucrative jobs. Now that we live in the boonies and our income is only a fraction of what it once was, we’re trying to do a better job of tracking (and reducing!) our expenses.
I was hoping that by now I would be raising a significant chunk of our produce, but that hasn’t exactly panned out. My gardening skills are progressing on what is turning out to be a very flat curve, and the 4 munchkins’ appetites are progressing on a much steeper curve. I do my best to buy grocery items (especially non-perishables) when they’re on sale, and we do still hit Costco every few months.
When we lived in the city, we ate out probably 2-3 times a week. We did this out of convenience (we’d both come home from respective long days at work, look at each other blankly, and pack the kids in the car and go) as well as from boredom (just to “get out of the house”). When we made our big move, we consciously reduced our eating out to (usually) once a week. Sometimes we stick to this, sometimes we don’t, and sometimes we eat out even less than that. My creativity and inspiration in the kitchen is directly related to how busy things are in our household, so when things get hectic (at least, from my end), I do tend to suggest takeout. Just one more reason to slow things down.
Clothing isn’t as significant a part of our budget as I always thought it would be with 4 kids. There are, however, certain things we spend more money on than I’d like; for example, good shoes. We’re fortunate to have a few local thrift shops for clothes, and I can often find pretty good deals on shoes from Ebay. So many families over-purchase for their kids, and you can find shoes that have hardly been worn.
Moving to a small town has also been a positive move in the frugality department. I can get 6 weeks of swimming lessons now for what we once paid for 2 weeks of lessons in the city. Dance classes feature parent volunteer-made costumes, instead of $200 custom purchased creations. Trail systems abound, for no-cost (and safe) fitness options.
When we moved, we got a “great deal” on packaged internet/cable service. We need high-speed internet so that Ellis can work from home, but we eventually realized that we were only watching 1-2 hours of TV per week at most. So when our contract ran out, we canceled it. We currently download the occasional movie (or check out from the local library), and don’t miss 400 channels of NOTHING at all!
These are just some of the changes we’ve made in an effort to decrease our consumption in order to live beneath what currently seems like ever-dwindling means. Hopefully there are some tips you can use, or some food for thought at the least.