Thursday, November 6, 2014

Newly Wed Saving Tips (That Anyone Could Use)

So I'm not some money saving expert (I'm sure there's a lot more I could learn in this department) but I can honestly say that along with my husband, we have some good money saving/spending habits. We've had quite a few people ask us how we're able to maintain our not so modern (any more) life style. Here are some of the questions we've been asked over the past year +:

How are you able to be a stay at home mom?

How can you be young parents and not be on any government assistance?

How were you able to live off your savings when Jesse's job wasn't making ends meet?

How are you able to save money even at all?

All of these questions really tie into one long winded answer: We've been smart with our money, we've worked hard for what we have, we made extra sure to save more than we spend, and took help when it was offered (like whenever family members would offer us to take some food from their food storage, or the month we got free groceries from our church--but that might be something I go into in another post.)

"But what is being smart with your money? What is working hard? How do you save more than you spend?" I'm not going to tell you any of these things are necessarily easy to accomplish. Nothing worth it ever comes easy, right? And truly, good spending habits come from just that, turning it into a habit. If you want to be smart with your money, if you want to save more than you spend, then it means working towards and learning ways to spend (and not spend) your money. I thought that it might be fun to make part of my blog have some helpful tips every month or so on how you can save money, or learn to use it more wisely. So in honor of my first offical money saving post I wanted to discuss some tips for being newly married. The awesome part though (as I mentioned in the title) is that these are tips that really, anyone wanting to save money can use. Here are some of the things that have worked for us that you might consider trying in your life:

Don't buy bottled water

This may be an odd one to start off with but you'd be surprised by how much you can spend in this one category. When I first moved to Utah I hated the water from the tap. But I'm also a cheap person and wasn't willing to buy bottle water either. Thus, I drank the tap water. And guess what? I got used to it. Now I don't even notice it. Bottled water, in my opinion, is such a waste of money. Unless I'm traveling (and even then I just fill up my giant water bottle) there isn't really much use in buying it.

Don't buy cable

What!? No cable!? What will I do with my life?? I know what you'll do. You'll spend more time with your spouse and enjoy each other's company more. Our first 2 years of marriage we didn't have cable. By choice. Now we happen to live in a basement apartment and we get it for free. But guess what? We lived. And we liked it! Not only did we spend more time together, but our time together was better quality. We talked, we goofed off. We went out for walks, and played card games all night long. And even now that we have cable, we find that we still do a lot of things we used to do before we had it. Not to mention, now that we have a child, we're glad we won't need to worry about her becoming addicted to television. Start breaking the habit now and you'll find that you have a lot more time to get stuff done (and be more creative on having fun!)

But, if you really can't live without any TV, a better alternative would be to use a service such as Netflix or Hulu. They're less than $10 a month and you can still watch a great selection of shows and movies. And again, if you have a child, you can pick and choose what they watch which is much better than letting them watch just whatever comes on.

Buy cheap phones

Now this one...this is going out on a limb. I know how people these days are about their phones. I get it. They are super useful if you need to find a store while out and about, or need directions to get somewhere. And if anything else the games you can play on them kills some time at the doctors office and such. But really? It's worth 100+ a month? Jesse's phone is a free phone from the AT&T store and I was still sporting my beautiful ENVI 2 until a few months ago when it finally took it's last breath. But my replacement? It's one of my dad's old phone (an ENVI 3 so an upgrade, wahoo!) Jesse and I are still on our parent's plans simply out of convenience. My phone cost $5 a month (though, my Dad is super nice and doesn't make me pay for it. Thanks, Dad!) And Jesse's plan costs him something like $20 a month. Maybe this is just us but, I much rather have a $100 buck saved in my account or used to do something fun as a family (or a trip to NH...hint, hint Jesse ;). 

Keep it simple with electronics

Still keeping with the newest trends of technology? News flash: You really don't need to have the newest and best of every gadget out there. If you have a smart phone, a tablet, and a laptop, I'm talking to you. I understand that all 3 of these devices have different purposes but they all do basically the same things. You can go on the internet with all of them. You can type a paper with two of them. Really, having all of them is unnecessary.

Stop thinking everything needs to be new

You want to know something that really annoys me? Whenever someone comments on how old my laptop is. Really, society? Do we really think we need to get an update on our electronics whenever something new comes out? My laptop was bought in 2010. That is not even old! Also, spending money on new electronics when your current electronic still works...I mean, do I even need to say how much of a waste of money that is? You can save a bunch of money by just using what you have. 

Keep eating out to a minimum

This is something you should probably practice whether you have money or not, but I personally think you should keep going out to eat to a minimum of once a month. Twice if you really can't handle it. On average you pay three times more for the food you eat at a restaurant. Plus, it's not likely to be healthy. Eating out is fun, but I've had more fun cooking in the kitchen with the hubby. Turn on some tunes and you'll find cooking can be fun when it's with people you love.

Make your own food

As I've stressed many times before, make your own food! Boxed goods are so unhealthy and not as yummy as home made. It will majorly save you in the money department and is worth the extra time it takes! 

Looked used before buying new

You can get some pretty good deals on sites like craigslist, ebay, and ksl. We got a pretty decent couch from on of these sites for an incredible deal. In fact, almost all of our furniture is used and in pretty decent condition. 

Take advantage of free activities

There are a lot of fun free things you can do that you might not have given thought to before. One thing Jesse and I liked to do is Geo Catching. We also used to go for runs together, check out places in town we've never been before, and go to free concerts. And since winter is coming up, you can take it old school and build snow forts, go sledding, and have a snowball fight.

Nip those bad habits

I'm talking about actual bad habits. Consider cutting back (or quitting) smoking and drinking. I've never bought either of those things so I can't pretend I'm some expert, but I've seen the cost of a pack of cigarettes. I've walked by the beer at the grocery store. It is expensive. And they're not healthy. So not only will you get a better quality of life but also some extra dough in your wallet. Sounds like you get two great things at once!

Cut back on expensive "hobbies"

If you're in the habit of buying clothes every month you either need to make sure you have the extra funds for it, or be like us and only buy clothes when you need to. You will be surprised how cute of an outfit you can put together using the items you already have. Or here's another costly hobby: being a gamer. Buy used or borrow from friends. Or just plain out cut back. Luckily for us we are neither trendy or gamers but I will admit I have a hobby of buying decorations (is that a hobby? I could probably start a Target unanimous group. I love that place too much...) I've learned sometimes the only way to cut back in this area is to simply resist temptation. Find a friend or family member that can hold you accountable, that way it'll give you extra motivation to not spend.

Cheaper Rent/Location

When you're first married (and really anytime you're married without a kid) you don't need a whole of of space. You probably don't have a lot of furniture and you're together all the time anyway. A big apartment is really such a waste of money at this point in time. When Jesse and I first got married we lived in a 550 square foot apartment and honestly, we loved it! We were just excited to have our own place.

Also, it's smart to chose a location close to your work and school. Jesse and I only had (and still do) one car and so it was essential that we were able to live somewhere I could walk to all the places I needed to go.

Create a budget

Right after you're back from your honeymoon (or maybe even before you get married, really) create a budget. As you can tell I'm pretty old school and as you can imagine, I decided to budget in our "budget notebook" and eventually tried using an Excel worksheet. It took a lot of time and I did it because it was worth it, but I was so excited when I learned about from this awesome blogger right here. And let me tell you, this site is incredible! It saves me the time and hassle of doing it by hand or in Excel and it even goes more in depth than I did with my own. Also, the best part about Mint is that it's completely free! You can even get a credit report!

Don't go into debt

Seriously, do whatever you can to be debt free. We blissfully spend our first 2 years of marriage without any debt until we lost our car in an accident and Jesse got laid off. We didn't know how long this would be our circumstances (and we also wanted to get more credit) so we took out our very first loan for a car. Now that Jesse has a pretty great job, we are thinking that we'll pay off our car after Christmas so we can again be debt free. Some things we did in order to accomplish this: paid for our schooling in cash, spent within our means, used our credit cards solely to build credit (and even then we used it for little things like gas, so we could easily pay it from our checking right before the end of the month), and worked overtime or extra hours to make a little extra cash.

I guarantee you will never look back on the early years of marriage and go, "Man, I wish we spent more money!" but you will look back and wish you saved more. The best part about these tips that almost anyone in any stage can use them. Whether your trying to save for a house, or just trying to save for those rainy days (and yes those days will come), give some of these a try. You're bound to notice a difference (in a good way!) Let me know how they work for you or if you have any money saving tips yourself. I'm always looking for ways to improve!

As always,


  1. have you ever been on WIC?

  2. Nope. The only thing we ever used was Medicaid and that was when Jesse and I were both unemployed. Once he qualified for benefits at his new job we put Penelope on his insurance. It was tough, we certainly could have qualified to stay on it (or even wic for that matter) but we didn't need it. I personally think too many people use government assistance in order to maintain their lifestyle.