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Cutting Back Where It Doesn’t Hurt

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Seeing as that we’ve spent buttloads of money in the last 3 weeks for home renovations and the earnest money for a new house, we have decided that we do want to cut back a bit to get prepared for the 20% downpayment we’ll be expected to hand over sometime in August or September.

Instead of going on a complete spending freeze though, we are going to concentrate on things that will make the most impact financially without making us give up what we like the most.  Our first two attacks will be on our big annual vacation and our food budget.


Mr. BFS and I have an ongoing tradition of taking a one week vacation every summer.  We either hit Las Vegas or take a Caribbean cruise.  This summer was going to be a Vegas summer, but buying a house trumps a week long Vegas trip.  So we are now planning to save most of that $2000-$2500 instead.

BUT, we aren’t cancelling the vacation idea completely.  We will hopefully be substituting it with a different fun outing either by ourselves or with our friends, but we’ll keep it to $500 or less.  We are thinking of either a trip to a Louisiana casino or heading to San Antonio like we did in college.  I know we could skip the vacation altogether, but we do truly enjoy our tradition and need the time out for our sanity.  So we are living up to the blog’s name and budgeting in the fun stuff.  The $1500 saved will help cover a few of the upgrades we are choosing for our new home.

Food Budget

We splurge alot in our daily lives.  We have a biweekly housekeeper that we adore, Jacqui.  We have a great lawn guy.  I am even a personal finance blogger that does indeed love having cable with a DVR.  But, as I’ve written about before, our biggest splurge every month is on food.  We spend a ton on our cravings.  So we are now going to suck it up and start keeping to a stricter budget.

I’ll detail this more after we are at it for a little bit, but the general plan is to keep an running tally of what we’ve spent and keep the totals to $300 or less for eating out per month and $300 or less for groceries each month (that’s $600 total a month for the two of us).  That is still excessive for 2 people (yeah, I know), but since we have been splurging so much lately on nice restaurants (at least two $40-$70 meals a month), it will be an initial improvement to just cut back a bit.  We can hit it harder once we are back in the habit of not being crazy.  Baby steps people…baby steps.  🙂

Are you cutting back anywhere right now for achieving a different goal?  Or what areas do you think you can cut back in without effecting your lifestyle much?

FYI:  I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year.  I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home.  If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!).  Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!
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27 thoughts on “Cutting Back Where It Doesn’t Hurt

  1. I think it’s good that you’re not depriving yourself totally of a vacation this year. It sounds like you guys really look forward to a yearly vacation, but it’s great that you’re looking at cutting back a little this year to save for the down payment. We do this at times when we’re saving up for something. Instead of going all-out on a big vacation we’ll stay closer to home and do a weekend trip instead of a full week one.

  2. I don’t think that that’s too much for groceries but then again I can’t keep ours (for two people as well) to $300 so that might be me being biased!

  3. I like that you’re cutting back and not eliminating things entirely. There has to be some give, and some way to allow yourself the fun.

    It’s amazing how big of a difference cutting back on food expenses can make. When my fiance went back to school last September one of the biggest cost-of-living savings we were able to make was with food costs. We ended up switching to a cheaper grocery store and shopping much more strictly (sticking to a list, and shopping the flyers). We also cut way back on eating out. Huuuuge difference. I was shocked.

  4. If you think about $300 is not that bad actually for two. That’s what we are trying to do but so far I think we constantly go over the budget. 🙂 Damn that food! 🙂 I can’t lose weight and I can stay on the budget because of it.

  5. Sounds like a good plan Crystal. Food has always been my weakness in my budget too. It’s just so enjoyable to eat good food, both at home and at restaurants. I recently wrote a post along the same lines that focused on establishing spending priorities. While you’d obviously save more money in the short term by drastically cutting back in all areas, you do need to leave room for the fun stuff.

  6. @Ryan, thanks for the support. Yeah, we’ll probably do a 3 day weekend trip of some sort. 🙂

    @Michelle, what’s on your wish list? 🙂 We’ve started one for the new house and will not buy anything on it until at least November so that we aren’t splurging without a purpose…I think I just got an idea for my next post, lol.

    @This Aggie, thanks!

    @bogofdebt, the $300 in groceries isn’t the problem – it’s the other $300 in eating out that should probably be cut down, lol.

    @Sheryl, food is a shocking expense. I am looking forward to being able to give you all a good update for April. 🙂

    @Aloysa, $300 was just for groceries. We spend another $300 on restaurants and fast food…damn food tastes good, lol.

    @Modest Money, that’s my motto. 🙂

  7. Cutting back either of these would be a struggle for myself. I love to try new food at nice restaurants and traveling is a huge passion for my wife and I.

    If the need arose these are the best ways to cut back though.

  8. We just bought a house too and decided to eliminate our massage membership (I am really going to miss our monthly massages). We are also hoping that since we won’t be living next door to a bar/eatery that we will also cut down on restaurant portion of our budget. The hardest thing with buying a new house is not buying new shiney things (outside of the nessecary frig, W/D, and blinds). It is hard for me to watch my husband go by a lawnmower and things for yard maintainance and I cant go by pretty decorations 🙁

  9. the hubs & I have a pretty simple lifestyle right now, so I’d say instead of cutting back we are avoiding ADDING things. As much as we’d love a smart phone, a TV, an apartment with it’s own washer/dryer, and more clothes, we’re holding off. My sister made fun of me when I checked Google Maps to look up directions to a place. She waited until I finish writing it all down to tell me we can just use the GPS on her phone…it’s all good though, I’ll save the additional $30/month by writing down directions.

  10. I loved the post response. Again congrats. You really are amazing for acting on your dream. I wish the husband luck on becoming a professional ref, my 1st cousin is a head coach for a division 2 school. It was her dream. They really are achievable.

    PS: Why give up food… that is so enjoyable.LOL! I have cut back on electricity first, when budgets need to be pruned. I found you can still eat in the dark. LOL!

    However this does NOT apply in the Summer. We TEXANS need our AC.

  11. Have you considered a cruise out of Galveston? Those are running around $500 or less, and that’s right down the road from you. Or just spend your 3 day weekend there – lots of fun cheap things to do.

  12. @Frugal Portland, good idea. 🙂

    @Sean, it won’t be easy for us either but I keep saying stuff like “$1500 saved not going to Vegas this year will pay for the island counter upgrade and a little part of the covered patio.” 😉

    @Michelle, I suck at decorations, but I get your point. The hardest thing for me will be not getting the media room all set up right off the bat unless we can find amazing deals…it would just be too expensive to buy all of the seating and the huge screen projector immediately…

    @Jenna, good idea.

    @Jessica, wow, you have my respect! Good luck holding out while you put the money towards your biggest priorities!

    @Steve, well, our electricity bills are already under $100 a month usually (except during those awesomely hot Texas summers of course…then it is $150-$180), so food and travel seem to be the next on the chopping block. 🙂

    @eemusings, good luck with wedding savings!!! Yay! My normal clothing/grooming expenses every year is already pretty paltry (maybe $300 a year if I really go nuts – I sort of suck as a girl sometimes), so food has got to go, hahaha.

    @Cari, that’s how we cruise all of the time. 🙂 But we can only find them at about $800-$1000 for tickets for the two of us total and we always spend $200-$500 on the boat and excursions. BUT, a weekend trip to Galveston is a fantastic idea for us, thanks!

    @Dannielle, thanks!

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