Shaving (Saving) 4K

In a previous post I worked out that our family spent around $84,000 in 2021. I also reviewed spending and theorized that we could be saving around $4k without too much hardship (I.e. maybe I could do it sneakily so my family wouldn’t even notice!)

That said, I want to get them in on the action on how we can manage saving 4k this year. Or at least, the last 3/4 of this year. HOW IS IT ALREADY MID-APRIL? For one thing, Hubs indicated he wanted to be more involved in finances 1.34 years ago. This is a step I can take in that general direciton. Two, I want to teach M some skills about saving money, budgeting, and managing finances sooner rather than later.

Before I dive too deep into where we can save cash, I think I will propose the idea to the family and get them to give me ideas. A brainstorming session, if you will. I feel like they will think of things that I won’t. Since I like to ramble on via the internet though, here are my initial musings on our most “spendy” catergories. Hopefully some of these will provoke thoughts on how you can save some $ this year too! 

Home Costs

Home costs made up 36.8% of the budget last year. This includes:

    • mortgage & related payments
    • home maintenance & improvements
    • furniture
    • utilities such as electricity, water, heat, and internet bundle

I’m very happy with our mortgage right now as recently negoiated a really good rate that is locked in for 5 years.  That said, I think there are savings to be had in the areas of home improvement and internet bundle costs. 

Without moving to a smaller home, there isn’t too much more I can do in terms of optimization. I don’t really want to lower mortgage payments, although there is room for that if we want to invest more to take advantage of our current low interest rate on the mortgage. Hubs is generally against the idea of moving at all times, so I’m not considering this.

“Family” Costs

This catergory makes up 18.3% of our budget. The top spend in this area is childcare, which makes up almost 20% of that. Then, we have:

    • “Health” related costs. This was especially high in 2021 due to the fact that I purchased a hearing aid
    • Fitness and sports
    • Pet-related costs
    • Clothing
    • Education
    • Tech repair and replacement
    • Grooming and toiletries

Honestly I don’t see us saving a ton of money in this area. Maybe we could save a couple hundred on clothing? It is already FAIRLY lean. If anything, I think we should be spending more on fitness and education!

GROCERIES / Household Supplies / Dining Out

This is where we have the most opportunity – 16.9% of our total spend in 2021. About 10% of that is dining out. The other 90% includes food at the grocery store, and anything else we buy at the same time, such as paper products, some toiletries, and cleaning supplies. What can we do  to reduce these costs?

I really don’t have time to become a coupon clipper, but perhaps there can be some savings with even the smallest amount of effort. We have a chest freezer which has been GREAT at helping us buy in bulk and avoiding food waste, however it is almost always full. This indicates  that we could possibly save by actually eating what we have in stock. Ideas for incereased savings include:

    • “Shop the pantry” to see what we can create with existing inventory
    • Put more effort into meal planning to better use our fresh food and avoid waste
    • Eat more plant based meals. Meatless Mondays are often a thing for us, but then I also try to make a batch of a vegan/vegetarian dish on the regular. The problem is, not all of my family members seem to want to eat what I make. Most of the time, I end up eating the entire pot of (DELICIOUS) vegetable soup myself. *Eyeroll*. Perhaps I need to try to find more hearty meals that are pallatable to a picky 8 year old / meat-loving 50 year old.
      A cucumber, lettuce and cherry tomatoes
      Small harvest from Pandemic Garden 2020
    • Reinstate the backyard garden. I’m not sure if I’m ready to take on this extra responsibility. We started the garden in pandemic year 1 because I was laid off for a few months and had time. Last year, the garden was sorely neglected and basically had very little yield because it didn’t get much love. Anyway, it’s an idea. Perhaps we can work on ways to make it lower maintenance and managable, somehow.
    • Intentionally make more budget recipes / meal plans from Budget Bytes. I love this site!
    • Use the Flipp app to find the best price, especially on expensive things like meat. This app is super easy to use – just search for the grocery item you want, and Flipp will check all of the flyers from stores in your area. I have downloaded it onto my phone already, but I need to make it part of my strategy when planning meals. This post is not sponsored by the Flipp app. I just really like it! Note: I am unsure if Flipp is a Canada-only thing, but if you are not in Canada, maybe check to see if you have a similar app in your country.
Fun Money

In the fun money area, we have many cateogries, including vacations, allowances, and family entertainment. One could argue that vacations are family entertainment, but I have it broken out in it’s own catergory. Fun money made up 11.7% of our total spending for the year. Our allowances are pretty lean…at least I think so? We each get around $152 per month per grownup and around $22 a month ($5 per week) for M.  There is sometimes a BIT of overspending by some people. But generally, I feel like Fun Money isn’t out of control. Sometimes, I even think we need to put more towards vacations. I do think some hard core, frugal, Mustachian-style FI people will find 11.7% fun money to be extravagant. What do you think?

Transportation

Transportation makes up 8.5% of our total spend in 2021. I sure wish there was some way to be saving more. The biggest challenges we have in suburban small city life are:

    1. Lack of public transport. There is none to/from my home to our respective workplaces. Or, to anywhere. Yes, we live in the sticks.
    2. The need for 2 vehicles. I wish we could cut back to one. An option we have discussed is one of us getting a work-from-home job so we could ditch a vehicle, but that just hasn’t happened yet. Commuting together isn’t an option due to our workplaces being in opposite directions, school drop off times, and work start times. I have strongly considered biking to work in the warmer months, however the route is both long (a 25 minute drive) and on a dangerous highway. So…I have scrapped that idea. Maybe if I someday get a job closer to home where the route is less fear-inducing, I would consider this.
    3. Reliance on gasoline. Both of our vehicles are gas-powered, although one is a hybrid. Obviously the hybrid is a move in the right direction, but I’d like to go with a nice, used electric vehicle on our next purchase.
    4. Parking downtown is something we have to pay for and it’s not in plentiful supply. So far, we’ve not found free parking anywhere close enough. I have seriously considered buying a parking lot in this town to captialize on the opportunities! And also, park in it.

People, what else do I need to think about here? Please give me your ideas.  Car Pooling? A scooter?

The Rest

The rest of the spendy spends are much smaller amounts. Giving and Holidays is about 6% of our total, then the rest is random stuff like cell phones (should this be a utility?) and work expenses. And things like this blog. There might be SOME room for improvement in the giving and holidays, but we have been splurging more during the pandemic since life became way more boring generally.

Giving & Holidays made up 6% of our spending in 2021.

I think using these top spending catergories would be a good way to start the discussion at a high level with the family. What areas could we improve upon, even a little? I’ll be sure to let you know how the discussion goes in a future post. In the meantime, please do share in the comments how you will be saving money this year. Thanks for stopping by!

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