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A Guide to Living Cheaply - 3 Things You Can Change Now

By Edited Dec 6, 2015 0 0

Recently my wife and I have decided to make a concerted effort to start living cheaply. I will emphasize that this is a choice we are making. We are not doing this out of necessity at the moment. The only debt we have is the mortgage on our house and we do have a little cash in the bank.

Over the course of our marriage, brief as it may be, we've realized that we are paying for a number of goods and/or services that we simply don't need, don't use, or can trim down in some way.

Haircuts

When I was single and living on my own I started getting my hair cut at a local barber shop. I am not one for long hair and unfortunately my hair grows a bit faster than the average person. Therefore I made regular appointments to get my hair cut every four weeks.

Now I don't do anything too fancy with my hair, but I am a little picky about where I get it cut. So for the past five years or so I've been paying about $20 every four weeks to get my hair cut. Add that up and over the course of the year I'm paying $260 just to keep my hair short.

When we decided to make some budget cuts this was obviously something that needed to be addressed. I could have found a cheaper place to get my hair cut for about $8, but I decided to take it even further.

Being married I was presented with another great option. My wife mentioned that she would be willing to cut my hair for me. I never really considered this before because I've never had someone living with me. It sounded like a good idea so I jumped online and researched hair clippers.

I found a great haircutting kit from Wahl on Amazon. At the time I bought it, it only cost $20 and it had nothing but stellar user reviews. So for the price of one of my haircuts, I was willing to give it a chance.

It is now six months later and we're still using the haircutting kit and my hair looks great. In six months I've already saved $110 and the savings will only increase from here on out.

Television

Let me start off by saying that if you subscribe to cable TV you have an even greater opportunity to save here than I did.

When we bought our house and set up our TV, I tried to access the local stations. I did not have an external antenna and I wasn't sure what was built into our TV. Unfortunately, I could not access of the local stations. So when we set up our internet connection we also opted for the basic television package as well.

This package is not basic cable. I was actually paying just to get access to the local channels (plus 3-4 others) through the cable company. It was only an extra $12 per month so I didn't think much of it at the time. In my mind I needed these channels because we were coming up on (American) football season and I will never miss a Packer game.

As the months went on I realized the only time I watched TV was for football. My wife was well aware of this so naturally it was at the top of her list of services to cut off. (She's not really a football fan.)

I was still not willing to give up watching football on my TV, so I had to look for alternatives. Once again I found myself on Amazon, but this time I was looking at indoor antennas. After reading dozens of reviews I decided to go with the top-rated antenna, the Mohu Leaf.

Within minutes of hooking up the Leaf I was able to view all my local channels in HD with no cable. It worked just as advertised. I was happy.

With a $40 price tag it will take a few months to make up the difference, but in the long run it's worth it.

Groceries

My mother has always been an avid bargain shopper. She rarely buys something that isn't on sale and she is always looking for crazy sale/coupon combinations to get items as cheaply as possible.

When I moved out I never really gave much thought to it. I knew how my mother shopped and it just seemed like more of a hassle. I liked to walk down the grocery store aisles and throw whatever I felt like eating that week in the cart. If there were two very similar products near each other, I might do a little comparison shopping, but sometimes I just like to get the name brand items.

I had my method, but I knew there was a more economical method out there. So I thought I would give my mother's method a try. Let's take a closer look.

Old Method

I would go to the store every Saturday. I did not look at the ads or clip coupons. I would pick up just enough food to get me through the week because I knew I would be back next Saturday. Our average bill was $47 for the two of us.

New Method

When the ads come in the mail each week I sit down for 10 minutes and look through them. I make a list of the items that we eat that have a good sale price and I clip out any necessary coupons.

Then I will jump on to my SwagBucks account for 5 minutes to check out their coupon selection.

That's it. A simple 15 minutes of preparation and I'm good to go. I no longer worry about what food I need for the week, I just shop the sales regularly. This method provides me with great variety and our fridge and cupboards are always full.

Using this method our average weekly bill is now at $35. We are saving $12 per week ($48 per month or $624 per year) and I think we have even more food in the house than before. I think this is worth the 15 minutes of prep time.

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