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Budgeting for our First Home and KILLING IT!!!

Hi everybody!  I’m Lindsey from This is How I Roll, which is a lifestyle blog that has a little bit of everything on it. I write anything from reviews to personal stories about my unique lifestyle of being an active and spunky girl in a pink wheelchair. Crystal has graciously allowed me to guest post today to help expand my readers because I’m a fairly new blogger. I hope you visit me soon! Okay, on with today’s post…

Crystal’s Long Sidenote:  I haven’t “known” Lindsey long, but I can tell you that she is persistent, stubborn, and is looking to blog long-term despite that crappy period in the beginning when you don’t have many readers and even fewer commenters.  This woman has been coping with Cerebral Palsy her whole life, but the rigors of blogging is what she gets super worked up about.  That is woman you should visit and read.  Her blog isn’t all about CP- it’s a little of everything with a healthy dose of personal finance (like mine, lol).  But you can tell that her regular ways to deal with hardship make her a lady worth getting to know better.

Our First Home

I have some exciting news to share with you – my husband and I have recently been approved for our home loan!!! We are beyond excited because it is our first home, and we are finally going to be able to stop throwing our money away on overpriced rent. Most importantly, I’ll have a home that is completely accessible for my needs, which is something I’ve never had.

We are moving in the spring, when our lease is up, in order to save money before we move.  As you probably already know, saving money is not an easy feat.  I have to give my husband and I props, though, because we have done a really outstanding job with our budget. How? My husband and I basically live like minimalists and are squirreling away every penny possible! No, here is how we actually have been able to reduce our monthly spending to prepare for our new home.

Budgeting LIKE A BOSS (and yes, this is Crystal picking these sub-headers, lol)

When we first started budgeting, we determined what the absolute necessities were. For example, the rent, renter’s insurance, electricity, car insurance/car maintenance, gas, and so on. Then we determined the things we needed, but were also variable in cost. Let’s take gas, for instance: we can’t control the price of gas, but we can control how much we use the car on the weekends.

After that, we looked at our utility bills and minimized all of those plans as much as possible. To be honest, the only bill that we were able to whittle down was the cable bill–everything else was already at the most minimal price. The only variable utility bill that we have is the electric bill, which we minimize by only having things, like lights, on when they are being used. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all we can do to lower the electric bill. We haven’t become so desperate to use candles for lighting yet, but ask me again in a few months!  :-)

After determining the cost of our monthly necessities, we figured out that the bulk of our savings would come from lessening our spending on groceries and gas.

Using Credit Cards to Keep Track (we cc users need to stick together, hehehe)

One thing that helps us keep track of our budget is using our credit cards for much of our monthly expenses because the site has a pie chart showing where we’re spending our money.  Also, we get rewards back from using a credit card for our utility bills. By the way, we never carry a balance on our credit cards–there’s nothing that bugs me more than having to pay interest!

With that being said, we use my husband’s credit card to pay for gas, groceries, all other car expenses, electricity, and any other expenses that come up throughout the month. With my credit card we pay for the cable/internet, security alarm, both of our phones, and Netflix. All of these are fixed-rate bills, and combined is around $300.00/month.  Since the expenses we pay for with my credit card are pretty much at a fixed rate, our main mission was to lower my husband’s monthly credit card balance.

His credit card balance would fluctuate anywhere between $1,200.00 and $1,800.00 a month. We were determined to get his statement balance under a thousand dollars, so we could put that money towards savings each month.

Showing My Hubby the Light…

I am thrilled to say that his statement balance was $700.00 last month!!!  We were so excited that our hard work and sacrifices paid off in the end. More than that, however, we should be able to keep the balance this low as long as we keep our budget the same, but we’re expecting some fluctuation.

Our biggest savings came from doing away with eating out and eating fast-food. I have to tell you that this was a big source of conflict between my husband and I because I don’t see the logic in spending so much money on fast-food when the enjoyment of eating it is, at most, ten minutes then you poop it out the next day.

Bearing this in mind, against all of my protests, my husband ate fast-food every day for lunch. His lunches averaged $9.00 a day, so let’s do the math. There’s five days in a work-week, so on average, he spent $45.00 a week on lunch. There’s 52 weeks in a year, so that’s averaging $2,340.00 a year. If he retires when he’s 65 and continued to buy his lunch every day, he would have spent $56,160.00! However, it would probably be a lot more than this because the cost of food will only increase with time.

After seeing this and realizing that he was spending $200.00 a month on lunch, he has seen the “error of his ways” as he puts it. I’m happy to tell you that we have resolved this conflict, and he promises that he will never be so foolish with money again. Like I said, this was a very sensitive subject between us, and I was willing to go to the mat with him on this issue.

Please don’t misunderstand me, though, I think eating fast-food in moderation is fine, but every day, c’mon! With everything said and done, I’m extremely proud of my husband for taking his lunch with him to work every day.

It Can Be Fun

I know this may seem odd, but scaling down the grocery bill has been kind of fun. Maybe it’s because we stay home so much now in order to save money. Whatever the reason, it’s fun because we play “How Low Can We Go” at the grocery store, which is a game we made up where each week, we try to lower the grocery bill more than last week’s balance! Maybe we’re dorks, but it’s actually quite fun and liberating.

Before we started saving for our house, we would spend close to $200 a week on groceries for two people and two cats. Since we have tightened our belts so snugly, our weekly grocery bill has been: $46.05, $70.56, $75.57, $77.68, $67.63! We feel like such champions when we’re in the check-out line every week.

We have been able to lower our bill so drastically by planning our meals out for the week, only buying what we absolutely need instead of buying what we’re running low on, buying the generic brands or less expensive brands, and using in-store coupons. Our two cats are even sacrificing by eating a cheaper brand cat food! Hey, they’re getting a new house, too, so they have to suffer right along with us in the meantime!

Pausing on the Extras

Other than all of that, we don’t do any extraneous spending, we only eat at home, and we minimize our fuel consumption by being home bodies on the weekends. One other thing that’s kind of extreme is that we’ve decided not to exchange gifts for Christmas, our anniversary, and birthdays until we get the house. We feel as though the house will be our belated gift for all of those things this spring!

To everyone on a similar extreme budget, just remember to keep focused on the end result. All of the hard work and sacrifices will be worth it in the end! If you have any other suggestions on how to save money, please let me know. I love hearing from you, and I will take all the help I can get right now!  :-)

I will be doing some more detailed posts on how I’m saving money on food and personal care items on my blog soon.  I hope to see you over on This is How I Roll; thanks again for letting me guest post, Crystal!

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10 comments to Budgeting for our First Home and KILLING IT!!!

  • Nice going Lindsey! All great points.
    My wife and I are in a similar place and each have family who do NOT like to even consider curbing their spending. So we’re the odd balls in our families and are loving it.

  • Thanks! I have to say, this extreme budgeting is rather liberating! It’s nice to know we’re in the same boat! :-)

  • That’s awesome!!! I think those are great tactics to reach your goal of buying a house. We did similar things when deciding to decrease our spend in order to buy a house by the end of the year. It really helped boost our spending. Since we had one common goal, we were both motivated!

  • Saving money is always fun. I love being a little creative and seeing how I can do something fun without blowing a fortune.

  • Congratulations on getting ready for a new home. I think it is much easier to cut and expense when you look at the long term cost. A few dollars a day doesn’t seem like much, but when you look at yearly or longer cost, it really adds up.

  • Michelle

    Wow great job Lindsey. You have come so far. I am so excited and proud for you and Steven.

  • Thank you, everyone! All of this is overwhelmingly sweet!

    @Martin, I agree that it is fun saving money, and it makes you more creative in a lot of different aspects.

    @Kim, you’re right that most see the short-term expense rather than the big picture! It’s very frustrating at times. :)

    @Savvy, it does make a world of difference when you have the same goal, and are part of a team!

    @Michelle, you are so dear to me, and it makes me tear up when I think of all the ways we have grown in the course of our friendship.

    All of you have made me smile ear-to-ear today, and that’s saying a lot for a Monday!

  • It is amazing how much having a goal (like buying a home) can put our wants and needs in perspective. Way to be persistent with your husband and bring him into the budgeting light. I’m incredibly impressed by your story and your commitment to blogging.

  • retired

    Way to go. Getting spouses to bag lunch is difficult as their co-workers may use eating out to socialize. First couple of years I had my husband taking frozen dinners to work at 2 bucks each, with 2 l of his favorite beverage, but that had to go as he was promoted. The management types insist on being taken out for lunch.
    We did without cable then and now. We get over 24 channels over the air with rabbit ears. Amazon prime, hulu, and even crackle, supplement antenna tv. RED Box also gets a couple of bucks a month. We use pre-paid phones with 1 unlimited and other pay as u go.
    You are so right about preparing your own food. You already pay for the refrig, stove, utilities, and real estate. You are maximizing what you own and controlling your health better.
    Good luck. Do remember to get out with the camera and capture some memories. There are a lot of free photo worthy experiences that could help you fill empty wall space or keep your dreams on track. Enjoy the journey to independence!

  • Thank you for all of the sweet and helpful comments, everybody! All of you have put a smile on my face all week! :)