Tuesday, January 31, 2012

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3 Ways to Cut Costs Around the House

See these three children? They may be cute, but they each cost a lot of money to raise. Although I have not focused on it, I have shared a bit about how tough the past few years have been for my family financially. To sum it up, before we could fully recover from my husband losing his job two years prior, my husband lost his job again nearly 3 years ago, took out a student loan to go back to school to change his career path, and eventually found a job in the right field. However, it was not quite enough to cover our household expenses when combined with the income I make working from home. That is probably a story that you have heard too many times in recent years.

One of the steps we have taken to better our situation is get a home loan modification.  It took us a year and a half to actually get our mortgage company to help us, but eventually they did.  Although we do not generate any new credit card debts, we do have some very old ones that we had to stop paying on because of our circumstances.  We also have a lot of medical bills hanging over our heads, and need to put together a plan to pay off debt once we are in a more stable financial situation.  To help us feel like we are being proactive in the present, there are a few household expenses we are trying to reduce.

3 Ways to Cut Household Spending . . .

1.  Drink filtered water - Our family of 5 was accustomed to drinking spring water that we purchased by the case and by the gallon.  Although it took us a little while to get use to it, I have to say 85% of the water we drink now is from our countertop water filtration system.  Our children have sets of reusable bottles that I keep filled for them.  We are lucky that our tap water is safe and tastes just fine.  I would say we save around $300/year by doing this.

2.  Switch from cable to streaming video - We have not done this yet, but are seriously considering replacing our cable service with streaming video on each television in the house.  Each box would allow that television to access video from services like Netflix and Hulu Plus.  My husband estimates that we would save about $840/year if we do this.

3.  Bringing lunches from home - My husband can buy lunch for just over $5 from the cafeteria at work, but he could bring lunch and cut that cost by quite a bit.  Even if he picked out some quality frozen entrees on sale instead of taking leftovers, the cost would be about half.  It costs my son $2.50 to buy lunch from school.  Packing a lunch for him from home would also cost about half of that.  Taking lunches from home is something  my husband and 2nd grader already do, but only about 50% of the time.  We can certainly do better.  Between the two of them, even if they only saved $10 a week, that would be $520/year.

I know that saving $1500 in one year is not going to significantly help us pay off bills faster, but it is the difference between our children being able to take part in playing soccer and taking a dance class or not.  I think those experiences are worth a lot more than the amount of effort it takes to make those few changes.

If you have other ideas about how to cut costs around the house, I would love to hear them.