Having made up our minds about a month ago to make some serious changes in our lives, it’s fun to watch the little things add up. On our journey to living a debt-free life and traveling/living abroad, here is what we’ve done so far:
- Reduced our monthly spending by $400 – this means: more eating at home, packing & bringing lunches to work, limiting weekend activities to 1 or 2 things (instead of constantly spending money on entertainment), when we DO go out we’re much more conscientious about how much we spend and the elimination of buying any excess materials (no more buying clothes, shoes, unnessary goods, etc.)
- Started paying an extra $100/month towards my high interest Sallie Mae loan – just a month ago this loan was over $3,000 and to see it dwindle down has been SO rewarding. The minimum payment alone was $120/month so throwing the extra $100/month has been very rewarding. We’ve also been breaking down the $100 by paying $50 every two weeks. Since interest is accruing daily, paying every 2 weeks helps eliminate the extra payment toward interest and instead it’s put toward principal. Yay!
- Getting rid of crap we don’t need – we participated in a multi-family garage sale to help us get rid of extra stuff in our 2-bedroom apartment in preparation to move into a studio/1-bedroom by the fall. Lots of clothes, knick knacks and other things that play no role in helping us get to our year and a half goal.
Although there’s a huge part of me that wants to hurry up and just be in Mexico (or Italy or Thailand or wherever) already, I know this giant life change will take time and patience. As I mentioned, it does feel extremely rewarding to see the little changes as time progresses. I get all giddy when I think about how we’ll feel and where we’ll be next month! Or the month after that! Or 6 months from now!
I mentioned that we’ve been more frugal when it comes to going out on the weekends or for entertainment in general. At first, I was dragging my feet a little bit when I thought about giving up fun things like going out to dinner or going bar-hopping or having yummy brunches with my girlfriends. But, it actually hasn’t been too terrible! There are great deals everywhere that allow us to participate in the things we love but only cheaper! Groupons, LivingSocial deals, etc. are always great places to look for deals on food/drinks and entertainment. When we want to go out for a beer? There’s $2 Tuesdays or happy hours! Movie? $5 deals on Tuesday at Living Room Theaters! The point is, there are tons of opportunities and ways to save money if you just look for them.
Summer is also a great season to be on the “cheap” side of things. Kile and I love camping and luckily, if done right, it can be done very inexpensively. Fortunately we own all of our camping gear and my car gets great gas mileage which helps a lot. But when it comes to bringing food, this is where you can really watch your dough. Meal plan! Sit down and write out what you’ll be having for each meal. If you can combine ingredients for two meals that’s even better; for example, bringing spinach for a salad at dinner can be used in your eggs the next morning. This past weekend while camping we brought leftover chicken sausages from our dinner the prior evening to throw in our eggs the next morning. Yum! Otherwise, it was cheap yet healthy food: sandwiches, hummus, etc. Pinterest is ALWAYS a great place to get ideas for camping on a budget as well.
Another great way to save money during the summer is having BBQs and gatherings with friends. It eliminates expensive food prices when you dine out as well as any beverages you might have. Our group of friends generally decide on a meal and then everyone brings one thing to contribute along with a beverage of choice. These gatherings are great because you’re surrounded by people you love and you’re not wasting money at a restaurant or bar!
My little sister (16 years old) is coming into town next week for 4th of July and I look forward to getting creative about having fun on a budget. Luckily, we live in a great city/state to do that! Here’s to a great next couple weeks of making strides!