As we near out first pay check in over two months (times have been tough but God provided) we are set to implement some money saving procedures and a much improved budget.   What have we done?  Well I will share with you three tips today to shrink your expenses and saved lots of money

First, perhaps the biggest change for us, we are limiting our grocery/all things Wal-Mart budget (excluding dog food) to $250 per month.  We are going to enforce this budget limit by taking out $250 cash at the beginning of the month and placing said cash in an envelope to be used each time we shop.  When the money runs out, no more groceries.  As an incentive to save more, 50% of the money left over at the end of the month can be used for ANYTHING we want.

Estimated Savings: $200-400/month

Second, we are going automatic.  We are signing up as many bills as possible for automatic bill pay.  We have been paying anywhere from $5 to $25 dollars in late fees each month.  The main offender is our water bill.  It is the only bill that comes without a return envelope and is therefore easy to forget about.  To make matters worse the local water department are known in our house as the water Nazi’s- if you are two weeks late with your bill they shut off the water and charge $20 bucks (plus late fee) to reconnect.  As if they weren’t selling the most abundant resource that only cost about $30 a month, and we were somehow going to run off without paying that hefty $35 dollar water bill….geesh.

Estimated Savings: $5-$25 dollars

Third, we will be paying down our lowest balance credit card in a month or two and using that card for gasoline- NOTHING else!  Well okay, emergencies, but only real emergencies.  The card will be paid off before the end of each month.  It will help us budget our gas money and allow for quick and easy gas purchases.  Tried buying gas without a credit card lately?  It isn’t fun.

Estimated Savings$10-$25/month on interest

OVERALL estimated servings:  $215-$450 dollars

  1. Angel says:

    sounds so optimistic..woohoo!

  2. Matthew says:

    I took a trip to Italy, on my cards. It was worth the money, but I should have planned better, I had time to save up, but I didn’t.
    Anyways, I’m working on that paying off the cards now, and it does take discipline. I have an extra impetus now though, I have to save money to spend on the girl I’m courting now 🙂
    Amazing how that makes you work harder to get stuff right.

    All the best as you get all this set up.

  3. Randy says:

    Congratulations and good luck.

    If you need more ideas, visit, but he agrees with most of what you’ve said. His one point of difference would be the suggestion to use debit cards for gas instead of credit (I don’t completely agree with him though).

    One question about the water bill, is it a fixed bill? Be careful to write down how much is taken out or you’ll be paying bounce charges due to unexpected increases..

  4. Debbie says:

    You are tackling this problem the right way. Pay off the smallest bills first, get rid of them. Cut back on everything possible. Try to use a debit card, if possible, (or check or cash), rather than a credit card. Absolutely pay off the total balance each month, and don’t have any interest. Another thought, start a Christmas fund at your local bank. Decide on a Christmas budget (including birthdays, anniversaries). Put a small amount into that each month, it will draw a little interest. Use that AND ONLY THAT for presents at Christmas and during the next year. Make a “presents” budget for everybody in the family and USE it. Let folks know that you will be “doing” something for them as a gift, rather than spending money and buying something.

  5. Tammi says:

    Good luck John. You guys can do it. We have had to tighten our budgets since sending Tieki Rae off to college. I would sure like to have all the money we have to spend on airfare to pay off some other bills. Oh well, slowly but surely we’ll crawl out of debt too!

  6. jarvis says:

    Go for it! 🙂 !

    Blessings In Christ Bro

  7. “His one point of difference would be the suggestion to use debit cards for gas instead of credit.”

    I wouldn’t use debit cards because if your information is stolen your liability is much greater using a debit card than a credit card. Plus we will be paying it off before the end of the month so we won’t pay interest on the card.

  8. Ann says:

    I love automatic bill pay!!

    Good Luck. Sounds like you have some good plans in place.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  9. Kristee says:

    Good for you! My husband started us on the Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover in Jan. We are almost debt-free. It’s fun watching the balances go down! Not to mention it saved our marriage 😉

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  10. Jules says:

    Kudos to you!!!

    Getting out of debt was the biggest challenge of my life. In December 2001, I was over $50,000 in debt. The biggest thing I did was start using MS Excel to ammortize all of my debts, the Internet for paying most of my bills, and Microsoft Money for managing my bank account. I spent a lot of money on a computer once, and I finally found a reason to use it. I became intimately acquainted with all of that debt, and how it was ruining my life. I then systematically went after it with a vengeance!

    MS Money has these nifty little reminders that I set up to tell me when my bills were due. Then instead of writing checks – I used electronic pay. I’d sit in front of the computer every pay day.

    I built a neat little spreadsheet that listed what money came in each month, the minimum payments due on all my debts and the estimates for all of my utilities. I budgeted every single dime of my paychecks.

    Since I had a cell phone, I shut off my land line and got the best cell phone deal I could. I dropped everything but basic cable. I cut out everything I could and got more physically active – as a way to use up more of my spare time (so I wasn’t spending money on anything but the essentials). I put all of my credit cards in a locked box so I wouldn’t be tempted to use them, and started using only my debit card – taking out budgeted amounts each pay day.

    I then started paying off credit cards. I started with the smallest one. After I paid the minimums on everything else I owed, I would pay a hefty amount on that small credit card debt until I paid it off – at which time I cut it up. I then took that money and went after the next credt card.

    I built these amortization schedules, which showed my credit card debt, how much I was paying in interest, my projected payments and the soonest I could pay them off. Funny, but I never noticed how much I was actually paying in interest until I built those little schedules – highway robbery, there’s no other word for it. I stuck to those little schedules of mine as rigidly as I could. It almost became a game to beat my projections.

    Using my Type A Personality and dog-headed persistence (did I mention I was a Scorpio?), I micro-managed myself out of debt.

    Here I sit today, 5 1/2 years later, in the exact opposite position. I have no debt. If I use a credit card, I pay off the balance each month. I kept two cards, for the good they can do for my credit rating. I have a savings account, with enough to carry me for three months if I were to (God help me!) somehow lose my job. I bought a brand new car – and paid it off. And, I went to school and got another degree.

    It is possible! It was hard as heck, but I never gave up. I wish you much luck and success – both in getting out of debt, and losing that weight. My prayers are with you!!

    Love your blog, by the way!

  11. Thanks for the inspiring story Jules. I might ask you for a guest post (or just repost that comment as a guest post) someday.

  12. Jules says:

    🙂 No problem. I got out of the debt cycle by sheer force of will. I had a horrible addiction to credit cards and, well immediate gratification – if I wanted it, I just bought it, whether I could afford it or not. Putting all those numbers on paper, and watching my paychecks disappear really opened my eyes to how my habits were really digging a bigger and bigger hole for myself.

    Your story right now is pretty inspiring. Although only a little overweight, I am completely out of shape. I have a job that is very time consuming – and have been using it as an excuse to stop working out. In May of 1999, I ran a marathon. I was in great physical shape. Unfortunately, I let it all go. About two weeks ago I started running again – for the first time in about four years. OUCH! I’ll be reading your blog, to find some motivation to keep going, when right now all I want to do is go back to bed. Thx!

  13. “In May of 1999, I ran a marathon. I was in great physical shape.”

    That must make it even harder. I know where you are though. When I was a firefighter I had a six-pack, 6.5% bodyfat, and could do over 100 push-ups without breaking a sweat. I used to turn heads at the beach. But step by step, little by little I added on to my 155 lb frame.

    First, 5 lbs from moving out of the fire station and being less active. Abnother 5-7 lbs from eating poorly. I had an appendectomy in my senior year and gained 10 pounds from not moving around much for a month (doctor’s orders). Then I got to law school, stressed out, and gained 15 lbs. Then I got married and happy and cooked a lot of food and gain another 15 lbs.

    It took 10 years to put this weight on. I am glad to see most of it go in 5 months.

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