Money-Saving Monday: The little stuff

My husband and I signed up for Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University at our church about a year ago. We were doing fine financially so we originally weren't planning to join the video-based course. But when a family member asked if we'd sign up to go with her, we said sure. We figured it would probably benefit us. And it did more than we imagined!

I highly recommend the course. It is a common-sense, plain-English approach to smart money management. It's helpful whether your finances are in line or you're completely disorganized and lost in an ocean of debt. Dave is funny, engaging, and has a lot of practical tips (and paid me to say none of this, I promise).

With a baby on the way, we might have been extra motivated to save, but the course was a little extra push to get us to save the amount Dave suggests. And maybe the biggest benefit was learning the importance of budgeting.

We've never been crazy with our money, but we hadn't kept track of every dollar either. So when we started a more disciplined process of budgeting (which still isn't in any danger of perfection), it really opened our eyes to ways we could save. Just cutting out little things here and there can make a huge difference.

Some people, for example, don't realize how much they spend at Starbucks. Those little cups of fancy-schmancy coffee are super expensive! We don't have this particular issue because we both hate coffee. However, we found that we could cut some other things.
  • We ate out way too much, and some of that had to go. We still enjoy eating out plenty, but now we have a limit that we try to stick to, instead of just going out whenever we feel like it. 
  • We also decided to cut cable (and not just for financial reasons). It's not much a month, but after 12 months, we could use our savings to purchase a plane ticket.  
  • We limited what Dave likes to call "blow money." A trip to the craft store here, and a book on Amazon.com there adds up, so now we just try to stick to some stricter limits. (OK, I admit that my trips to the craft store were probably more frequent than my husband's book purchases.)
How do you save on the little stuff?


Heidi said...

Would the Dave Ramsey course be good even though we don't have a steady income? I have been wanting to do it, but my husband thinks we make good enough decisions and our real problem is that we don't make enough. :) (Do we ever make enough? tee hee!) Anyway, glad to hear your personal experience and eager to hear what you think.

Alison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alison said...

Heidi, he does addresse that, and we learned how we could budget even though my husband's business makes our income fairly unpredictable. Dave was in business for himself, too (and wasn't always a multimillionaire), so he's able to speak from experience.

He may have talked about other methods, but the one we took hold of was the idea of setting a certain amount of "income" for the month---whether you make that much that month or not---and then budgeting from that. So we put money in our savings account when we get it and then use the allotted amount in the budget each month, drawing from our savings as we need it.

Heidi said...

Thanks Alison!

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