Posted by wendiwendy
Our finances have waxed and waned over the recent years (more waning than waxing, lately) and with each financial contraction, we’ve made adjustments. It’s the nature of owning your own business, I guess. After nearly 13 years, it’s not as fretful as it was in the beginning; I’m used to having a fluctuating source of income and have learned some ways to deal with the lean times.
We started with small adjustments, like increasing the deductibles on insurance (car, house, medical). Just a little something to save a few bucks here and there. This past year, though, has really been hardcore. All the suggestions I’ve read in articles on budgeting, saving money and being frugal have always seemed just a bit too difficult to me. Cancel cable? Don’t eat out? I couldn’t even imagine giving up the premium channels we had (HBO, Showtime).
But things happen, and you adjust. Things you never thought you could do suddenly become not only possible, but … actually not that hard. It’s like slowly immersing yourself into a cold pool; you dip in your toe and pull it out thinking, “No way.” Then you try again. You leave your toe in the water, and then your whole foot. Little by little, until you’re up to your neck and thinking, “Hey, this isn’t so bad.”
We started by canceling the Costco membership. We mainly had it for the credit card processing merchant account for our business; you had to be a Costco member to get the best rate. We had both kids living at home and buying in bulk seemed to be a good move financially, so we didn’t hesitate to join. But now we have a different merchant account (lower fees, since we process less orders) and the kids are out on their own. There was no real need for us to buy anything in bulk, and canceling the membership saved us $100 per year.
There were some things we were used to buying from Costco, but switching to other brands hasn’t been that bad. I’ve only missed our membership a couple of times so far.
We got rid of the premium channels, and boom, there’s another $32 more per month. After a few months of getting used to that, we stepped further into that cold water and canceled our cable TV entirely. It’s a little more work to find shows that have captions, but it’s much easier than it used to be. It’s been months now and I like having that extra $70 more per month more than I liked having cable.
We haven’t had to suffer food-wise either. We switched to Aldi for the majority of our grocery shopping. We have a store we love with all our hearts, a local store that focuses on a wide variety of fresh produce (Valli Produce – big thumbs up) and has good prices. The prices at Valli are great, but the problem I have is that there’s SO MUCH to choose from. I end up overspending because it’s hard to pass up all the delicious, low-priced options even though I use a shopping list. Aldi’s choices are minute in comparison, so it keeps me in check. There’s so much I can’t get at Aldi though, and the produce prices are high compared to Valli, so I compromise. We’ll shop at Aldi for two weeks in a row, and then Valli. I usually come in under budget on the weeks I go to Aldi, so that leaves extra for my ‘splurge’ week at Valli. Between that and keeping careful track of what I’ve bought so I can utilize everything in the freezer and fridge for recipes, we still eat like kings at a fraction of the price.
Yes, we don’t go out to eat much anymore. We might order a pizza once a month but that’s all we can really afford. It doesn’t feel like such a sacrifice when we’re making really delicious home-cooked meals on the other nights – we really prefer eating our own food, and it’s cheaper.
Our most recent cut was the phone, which we were getting through our cable service. I really fought Dave on this one, because I just didn’t understand what he was proposing. He had been reading about how people were using something along with Google Voice and doing their phone calls that way. He insisted it would work with our two captioned telephones, and we’d save the $40/month we were spending on the phone service through the cable company. I just couldn’t believe what he was saying would really work, and I was resistant to getting rid of our phone number which was really easy to remember. I did a little reading on my own to try to comprehend how it all worked, and although I still don’t understand it well enough to explain it (hence the fuzzy description here), I did read enough comments from other people to believe that it really would do what Dave said it would. I use the phone so little anyway that I finally gave my blessing. I walked into that cold water all the way up to my shoulders.
Now the only thing our cable company provides is our internet service (and no, I’m not getting rid of that). When we move to Michigan, we can take this new phone number with us (if I understand correctly). It was a big adjustment, but the water feels warmer now.
Inch by inch, a quarter here and a dollar there, we’re doing it. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible.