The Plan – How to Control Spending in a Year

Last week I came clean with the fact that I’ve been overspending – quite a bit.  It started with more money coming in.  Somehow, our busy lives took precedence over our savings account, and our lack of attention to our spending became justified.  It ended at the start of May 2012.  No more waste.

Using the following methods, I will be reducing that $1,850 a month to less than $400 a month over the following year.  Each month, I have $100 less than the total spent the prior month.  These are the methods I will be implementing over the following year to reduce our spending.piggy bank

Pay Attention
It’s amazing how much money you can save simply by keeping track of your expenses! Already this month, because I am actually paying attention to our spending, it is less. Much less.  Hold yourself accountable and pay attention to the money slipping through your fingers.

Get a Plan
Planning out meals in advance is a huge way to save some real money, and I’ll take you through my weekly planning process as we go along.  And it’s not just food. Planning out entertainment, gifts, and other expenses goes a long way as well.

Cook Smarter
Implementing freezer cooking days and budget friendly meals can really save some money.  I’ll be showing you how to stretch a chicken into multiple meals, how to cook with inexpensive seasonal produce, and how to plan your meals around store specials.

Use Coupons
Coupons can be an excellent way to get free toiletries and food.  Plus, you can usually handle most of your gift giving needs using coupons (or coupon concepts) as well! Many couponers even sell part of their stash for extra cash.  Since we started traveling, it has been harder for me to coupon.  Well, I’m back!

This is my absolute favorite step in reducing spending.  I love to barter, that is, to trade items and services with others.  I will take you through my negotiations as I make them, and show you how you can find locals to barter with on your own.

Think Outside the Box
This will be particularly useful for our entertainment, dining out, clothing, and gifts.  One of the biggest things I will be doing is utilizing online resources such as Groupon and Listia.  Not only can you get things at a huge discount, but you can also earn credits for referring others.  More on this as we go along.

This first month, May, I’m only going to be working consistently on step 1: Pay Attention.  The other steps will follow as the challenge progresses.  I’m taking this journey slow so you can not only follow along with me, but so that you can participate as well.  If I can do it, you can too.

Things that don’t count towards our goal:

Business Expenses
We run a business.  Sometimes we travel to conventions or have a local meeting with colleagues.  Our business pays for our travel, hotel accommodations, and food.  Since it is the business that pays, I will not be including those expenses in this journey.  This amounts to a trip or two a year, and a business meeting every month or two.

Surrogacy Related Expenses
Also, I travel for medical procedures for surrogacy.  I’ve been a surrogate mother three times and am about to do it a fourth time.  The intended parents pay for my travel to their clinic, as well as my hotel and food expenses.  Those expenses (since  I do not pay them) will not be counted here either.

What Does Saving Money Mean?

What does reducing $1850 a month to $400 a month really mean?  Well, that’s $1,450 a month in savings, or $17,400 a year.  Over 10 years’ time, that’s $174,000! Literally a house.  Think about that.  By practicing frugal money saving tips.  No, by living frugal, over a decade you can save enough money to buy a house with cash.  It sort of makes me sick looking at it.

So that’s the plan.  I’d love you to join me!

What would you do with an extra $15k+ a year?

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