Need help ideas on being frugal. I just took a 16k pay cut in salary. I

I was let go from my other job, and just landed a new one. I will be taking a 16k pay cut. Before taxes my wife and I make 100k. But, we need to change out lifestyle and cut back. We also have a four year old daughter. Any suggestions?

  • Buy used.

I buy used cars (dealerships often offer great warranties on certified used cars) and a car loses about 15% of it’s value when you drive it off the lot anyways, so why not go for a low mileage certified car?

I buy gently used anything. Its surprising what people will use briefly and then sell cheaply.

  • Take a hard look at expenses. Weed out things that aren’t being used or that you could do at home cheaper.

A common example is a gym membership. People pay hundreds of dollars over a few months to not actually go to the gym!

An example of some things you can do cheaper at home is making your own coffee, preparing your own lunch and taking that to work instead of buying fast food or cafeteria food. If you eat out, cut back to once or twice a month.

If you’re handy, do your own home repairs and maintenance. Instructional videos can easily be found online to help you learn. Also, try doing your yard work as a family rather than pay for a lawn care service, if you have one now.

  • Be energy efficient. Go over the house and appliances to see where you can make improvements to save on heating and cooling bills. Turn off lights and electronics that aren’t being used. Walk or ride a bike for close to home visiting and errands instead of driving when you can.

  • Go over entertainment expenses. Instead of paying for outings look for local events that are free or low cost to attend.

In my area we have Noel Night in the city every year. During the event all museums are free and there are ice sculptors and choir competitions.

The fire department hosts a Mud Day in the summer where they make a huge pit in the park and have races and such. Then they hose off the kids. In addition, there are games and bouncy houses etc.

We purchased a $10 yearly state park pass for our car. Normal fee is $10 per visit, so its a great deal. We can take the kids to different parks, go hiking, picnic, spend time with the dogs, participate in the parks events like guided bird watching etc.

  • If you don’t have a deep freeze, get one! Stock up when meats and other freezer items go on sale. Also, go over your storage area and organize it. Once you’ve made space you can buy other household products when they go on sale and store them until they are needed.

I could write a book on being frugal! We’re such good friends with Lady Poverty that we don’t even pay income tax. $100k is wealthy in my book.

I guess you don’t need pointers about using the food bank or dumpster diving, but there are several good books about living frugally and well - none by Catholics.

The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn
Living More with Less by Doris Janzen Longacre
More-with-Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre
Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin

Pay your:

Tithe
Rent / Mortgage
Utilities
Food
Blow money (at least $20)
Clothing

In that order.

Then prioritize the other things until you run out of income. When prioritized, then see if any of those things can be cut back on or sold (such as an extra car) until your budget zero’s out.

Good luck

In addition to the excellent advice already posted –
be very careful about the line between “want” and “need.” You need a roof over your head, but most likely not cable TV. You need transportation, but that doesn’t mean a brand-new car every few years. Etc.

This might sound strange - but consider this a blessing and an opportunity to discover just how many unnecessary “attachments” you have to things…ultimately unnecessary things.

I want to second the advice already given…
Eating in is a HUGE advantage. Cooking together is also a great and fun way to spend family time. Cook in bigger quantities and store the leftovers for later…You can even save some "TV dinner trays (bought on sale) to split up leftovers and make quick meals when needed.
A big pot of meat and veggie soup likewise can go a long way - easy to thaw and microwave - and frankly there is no “canned” soup that can match the flavor of homemade.
A nice soup-bone with some meat still on it…A bag or two of mixed veggies (not expensive) some taters and some tomatoes cut-up…That’s how I start anyway - then I start seasoning…

Baking too - especially at the holidays - is a great way to spend time…make memories…and cut costs. Give homemade cookies or other treats to friends and family.

And speaking of holidays…you have a small one and buying toys is expensive. Train her now to know that Christmas is not about huge piles of expensive gifts. Purchase just a couple of nice things for her - and maybe for each other. She’ll grow up with a much more balanced view of the Holiday and her memories will be of the family - not of the toys.

Don’t know if you own a home - or you mortgage situation, but if you haven’t already - look into refinancing. This might or might not be feasible…but it’s worth a phone call or two.

Build a budget and then stick to it.
Prioritize - Prioritize - Prioritize…And know this - - - - Putting money aside is a PRIORITY, even more important now that your income is reduced than it was before. So make a savings account a priority only slightly below shelter and food.

That’s all I can think of for now…

Peace
James

I have lived in big cities where life is expensive and small towns where 100k a year would buy you a mansion. 100k is easily enough money anywhere in the country. Your biggest problems are probably housing and transportation and maybe debt. I realize that 100k in coastal Mass is not exactly a ton of money but it is certainly adequate. While many have given excellent advice I think many things suggested are not even necessary. If you can get your housing and transportation under control you will have plenty of disposable income. Dave Ramsey has some excellent advice. You have to realize that you do not have to completely subscribe to his philosophy but rather take bits and pieces and tailor it to your family and how you want to live. What is your debt picture like? That can be the biggest obstacle to overcome!

Cut out your cable and use internet at the library for free or at any wireless spot.

Don’t buy ANY books, order everything for FREE from library.

Cut out your phone and use either a cell phone only or magicjack.com/plus-v05/(adapter) for wireless phone.

If you decide to keep your internet, you can cut down on long distance and just use google talk.

Sign up for coupons, don’t eat out as often as possible.

Buy at goodwill and/or consignment for cheap.

Sign up for freecycle.org when you need to shop for something and you can get all kinds of items/toys for free. People just give stuff away.

Now you’re my kind of people!

You are kidding, right? $84k income per year, and you wonder how you will manage? There are people out there with REAL financial problems. You are not one of them.

Did you notice where OP lives? Pretty sure 84K doesn’t go that far …

Eating out is a big expense for us. I find it hard to go without completely, but we find ways to make it cheaper.

  • share an app or two instead of a meal, or go for just dessert.
  • some places have half price apps after 9,
  • buy some really awesome ingredient that is normally not on your budget, that you’re excited about, and cook it at home. Still cheaper than eating out. For me it is salmon or steak.
  • get a “treat” instead of going out, I’ll splurge on berries or some craft beer.

Other things that have helped my budget:

  • netflix instead of cable
  • negotiate cell phone and internet plans
  • shopping at the farmers market
  • walking instead of driving when I can (easy where I live)
  • buy clothes on sale
  • make our own bread, soup, jam, smoothies, coffee, breakfast, lunch,
  • doing our own car maintenance when we can
  • rent movies instead of going to the theater,
  • go for a walk, instead of to the mall,

We also live in a small apartment, which forces us to cut down on purchases, as we simply don’t have the space.

We’ve done all of these, and don’t feel like we’ve sacrificed our standard of living at all. And we’re nowhere near $100k.

I didn’t read her to mean she had 84k income. I think she just meant that 100k would be wealthy.

What worked for me:

Drop landline. $50/month
Drop cell service: 160/month
Drop Cable: $100/month

Get an Ooma box for house Phone: $3.78/month
Magicjack has some privacy issues. Ooma has a cleaner sound than Verizon did and you can transfer your existing home number to it.

Get a Republic wireless phone. $20/month
This is a hybrid smart phone that dials through WiFi when available, and uses the cell network otherwise. You can transfer your existing number to it.

Went from $310 to $24/month doing this. $3400 annual savings.

My wife gets 3 major newspapers on Sunday and clips the coupons. Saves on average $120/week for food. Mind you, we are feeding 12 people. She has meals down to less than $4.50/person per meal. We have more than enough to go around. This also allows her to stock up on items for free. For example, she picked up a years supply of soap, shaving cream, deoderants, toothbrushes, granola bars, shampoo and more for free. Any excess we feel we won’t use by the expiration date we give to the church’s food pantry for the needy.

If your cars are paid off, drive them till they won’t move. Don’t ever buy a new car. Trying to save money by selling an older car that gets poor mileage almost never pays off getting a new one that gets better mileage. A car made in the last 10 years if maintained should run for close to 300k miles. If you are carrying a note and not upside down, sell the car. Our family van has aver 200K miles and just keeps running. Not the prettiest vehicle out there, but functional and not an eyesore. Maintain your vehicles properly with preventive maintenance. Grease is cheaper than steel.

You don’t need to be miserly, just be prudent and creative.

Part of the problem in the U.S. right now is that there are too many people who want to create a “class war” and call anyone who makes more money than them “rich fat cats.” Our President doesn’t help matters any, but rather, he encourages the class warfare.

We shouldn’t engage in class warfare. What seems like a lot to us may barely cover expenses for someone else.

We need to keep in mind that we don’t know anyone else’s financial situation and just how far their income goes.

E.g., in our city, we pay the 4th highest property taxes in the nation. Just to give you an idea–my daughter and son-in-law live in a house comparable to ours (newer) in a good neighborhood down near St. Louis–they pay around $800.00 a year property taxes. My husband and I, up in Northern Illinois–remember, same basic house as my daughter and SIL, decent neighborhood, etc.–but we pay $4000.00 (That’s four thousand) a year in property taxes. Takes a pretty big chunk out of our income. Eight hundred vs. four thousand–wowee wow wow.

Same for gas. We pay almost forty cents a gallon more than my daughter and her husband. It really mounts up to a sizeable chunk of cash, even with just driving around our city to work, church, etc.

And then there’s my other daughter who lives in Texas! They pretty much pay HER to live there! Money goes a long way in Texas.

So location in the U.S. can definitely make a difference. Even the climate can make life cheaper or dearer. Mass. is pretty cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Same for Northern Illinois.

A lot of people on this thread are encouraging the OP to “do it themselves.” Cook, can, clean, car repair, sewing, etc. I agree, if you can do this kind of stuff, it’s a definite cash saver. BUT…lots of us have absolutely no talent or ability or knowledge of how to do this kind of stuff! So we have to hire people. Those who are handy are aghast that others actually hire people to do certain things, but that’s the way it is. It makes no sense to try to do it yourself if you have no clue about what you’re doing and you just mess it all up and end up spending more money than if you had just hired it done to begin with.

My contribution to the suggestions for the OP–take a good hard look at all your “stuff,” and see if you can sell any of it to raise money. It’s fairly easy to sell nowadays if you go online. If you have a collection of something (Precious Moments, baseball cards, etc.), this might be a good “rainy day,” especially if you run into someone who is willing to pay top dollar. A lot of people keep their collection until it’s not valuable anymore. Be savvy. Don’t sell something that you cherish, but don’t keep anything that’s just taking up space.

Another suggestion is to do “odd jobs” to earn money. The man who mows our lawn started out just mowing a few neighbors’ lawns to earn a little extra cash. Then he got more and more business, and used some of the money to buy a bigger, better lawn mower. Now he mows 40 lawns a week, and has a huge mower and a trailer to haul it in. He paid for his sons’ college with his lawn mowing money. If there’s anything you can do that others can’t do, or don’t want do to, maybe you can sell “yourself.” :slight_smile:

:thumbsup::thumbsup:

A lot of people on this thread are encouraging the OP to “do it themselves.” Cook, can, clean, car repair, sewing, etc. I agree, if you can do this kind of stuff, it’s a definite cash saver. BUT…lots of us have absolutely no talent or ability or knowledge of how to do this kind of stuff! So we have to hire people. Those who are handy are aghast that others actually hire people to do certain things, but that’s the way it is. It makes no sense to try to do it yourself if you have no clue about what you’re doing and you just mess it all up and end up spending more money than if you had just hired it done to begin with.

A lot of this depends on what it is…you mention a number of things…Some require more skill than others. Anyone can clean…likewise anyone can cook - just start off simple and use a cookbook. Canning requires a little more planning and know-how, but in it’s basics it is a very simple process. Car repair is definitely something that requires more know-how…but on most vehicles changing the oil is pretty easy.
Sewing too is something that may or may not be “up one’s alley” so to speak, but darning a sock or a quick stitch or two on a shirt tail can help get more use out of something AND can start a person learning the ins and outs of a skill.

I think it is fair to assume that a couple who is able to pull down 100K between them are not ignorant people…but are able to learn if they want to…

My contribution to the suggestions for the OP–take a good hard look at all your “stuff,” and see if you can sell any of it to raise money. It’s fairly easy to sell nowadays if you go online. If you have a collection of something (Precious Moments, baseball cards, etc.), this might be a good “rainy day,” especially if you run into someone who is willing to pay top dollar. A lot of people keep their collection until it’s not valuable anymore. Be savvy. Don’t sell something that you cherish, but don’t keep anything that’s just taking up space.

Agree - this can be a good way to “pair down” clutter and get some cash.
However - this will only go so far whereas the other ideas are things that will continue to provide benefit.

Another suggestion is to do “odd jobs” to earn money. The man who mows our lawn started out just mowing a few neighbors’ lawns to earn a little extra cash. Then he got more and more business, and used some of the money to buy a bigger, better lawn mower. Now he mows 40 lawns a week, and has a huge mower and a trailer to haul it in. He paid for his sons’ college with his lawn mowing money. If there’s anything you can do that others can’t do, or don’t want do to, maybe you can sell “yourself.” :slight_smile:

Hee-Hee…This sounds kind of funny considering after lamenting about people without skill sets…:D…
But you are right…odd jobs can be a useful source of extra cash if one is able.

Peace
James

I would suggest if possible to adjust your deductions for tax purposes so that you take home more and not get a refund.

Also, bring lunch to work as often as possible.

Do not buy coffee in coffee shops.

For clothing, I often go online at the end of the season. Now is a great time to buy swimsuits and summer clothes for next year on clearance. Also a great time to get children’s clothes for next summer.

If you are not using it already, then buy some personal financial management software, like Quicken, and link it to your bank account.

If you are diligent in tracking and categorizing expenses, then you might be surprised at what you spend, and where. Such software will produce all sorts of reports for you to review, and you can generate automatic budgets. At any point in time, you can see where you are on budget to day, and where you are not.

Depending on where you live, thrift stores are your friend. I never buy new clothes. Plus, the proceeds go to charity.

I hope that you have medical coverage. If it is not an HMO, or you don’t have coverage, then check out the local community and public health resources. When I was stationed in San Diego, for example, there was a family health foundation right in my neighborhood. I was curious about them, and went in to see what they did. They provided dental and medical clinics, and they charged on a sliding scale, based on family income. I moonlighted when I could for them, and donated back what they paid me, back into their foundation. The medical care was very good, though patients sometimes had to wait for an appt, or wait to be seen on a walkin basis. However, they often received free or very low cost medical care.

If you have debt that you can pay off out of savings, pay it off to save on the wasted money that is paid out in interest.
Cut back on luxuries like golf, eating out, theater and concerts. Get movies from the library. If you want to see plays, go to the ones at a high school or community college. Brown bag your lunch. See if your community offers any days where admission is free or reduced for museums and other attractions.
Buy food and other items in bulk if you have place to store them. Go to the park - most children (you said your daughter is 4) like to go there.
Combine trips for errands so you’re not wasting gas. Consider taking public transportation, biking or walking if possible.
Learn to grow some of your own food - many plants can be grown in pots if you don’t have a good space for planting.
Go camping instead of using hotels.
Do an internet search for “frugal living” and you will find a number of websites with money-saving ideas.

I am assuming since your daughter is 4 that you are still needing to pay for child care at least part time. One thing that might help cut costs Tgere is to see if there are any child care co-ops in your area. Many times the YMCA will have information regarding that. Another thing to keep in mind is that most activities for kids such as sports and dance, music, art lessons and those kinds of things are quite expensive. You pay for the activity or lesson and then you must provide transportation (another cost), and then you are out at least an hour so meals on the go often happen (another cost) and all the hidden costs really add up quickly. I’m not saying to forgo all activities, but be choosy about them. My husband and I allow no more than one activity per child per season. They can pick or we can pick. We try to arrange them for one day/night per week to cut down on gas consumption, and we pack food to ward off hunger until we can get dinner cooked. Our kids have all decided on music lessons and we set up lessons for tge same night with their teacher so this year is working out great so far at least. We also allow free stuff like library trips, parks, many museums, etc.

We have been raising our eight kids on my husbands salary alone. He made $35,000 last year so I know how to be frugal. Taking such a big pay cut is very difficult. We have experienced that, to a lesser degree, and it REALLY throws you off! Redoing your budget will need take time and patience, but in the end it will work out. I realize many people see your salary and immediately start wondering why it’s so hard when so many of us wish we could make that much a year. They neglect to see that your income loss is $16,000! That’s a HUGE decrease. If you need more specific advice on cutting expenses specifically with children (needs vs wants, clothing costs, free stuff…) feel free to PM me. Kids really don’t take that much money, you just need to decide what is actually important and what we just want them to have and experience.

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