As most of you know, Justin and his brother started a heavy truck parts and chrome accessory business some 6 years ago, or so. From that moment forward, we've been under constant fire; receiving criticism from "well meaning" friends and family on everything from how to better manage our money to why we should have closed up shop loooooong ago. Most know that we live paycheck-to-paycheck and cannot seem to wrap their brains around the idea of "strapping ourselves" (in their words) each month. And while it is indeed true that Justin and I bring home, collectively, far less than most couples our age, we've chosen to live a full, complete, and happy life in spite of it.
You see, we have a philosophy...one that will not allow us to say NO to things that will ultimately bring us joy. If the recent events in this country and worldwide shed any light on the matter, we know that tomorrow is never guaranteed.
So how do we do it? Vacations, home remodeling, bills. Let's talk about what works for us...
Divide Your Money
This is a relatively new money savings philosophy for us, but one that has Changed.Our.Lives.
Between Justin and I, we have 7 different accounts.
1- Joint Checking (Bills get paid out of this. Groceries, gas, etc)
2- House Emergency Savings (to pay for bills in the event of job loss)
3- House Project Savings (paint, furniture, sheets, towels, trim, lighting etc)
4- Vacation Savings
5- Medical Savings (we're looking to start a family soon, and co-pays get expensive)
6- Wife Checking (Fun money for whims, gifts, and necessities like clothes, underwear etc)
7- Husband Checking
Each Friday our paychecks are deposited into the joint checking account and all bills coming out of that check are paid. We choose to pay double the minimum payment on our credit cards as well, in an effort to pay down some of the debt accumulated during the particularly rough years at the shop. And from the wedding.
Next, we determine the amount of "buffer money" to leave in our checking account for gas and groceries (we'll say $250 for the purposes of math). Anything over $250 will be divided between the other various accounts as you see fit.
Most weeks, we're left with $100 or less to divide up. But EVERY little bit counts. This is how we choose to divide ours:
House emergency- 20%
House project- 10%
Then, whatever is left in the joint account on Friday, before paychecks, goes through the equation to be divided as well.
This way, we can easily see what funds are available for a trip away, to paint the dining room, or buy a new outfit. No more guilt. No more overspending.
1)Impulse buying was nearly the death of us after purchasing our new home back in 2010. Justin and I quickly became trapped in the "we NEED this for our home" cycle and spent a small fortune on....well, I honestly have no idea. But things add up quickly, and before long full blown panic had set in. Things had to change and we began hitting up our local Goodwills and Thrift stores. FACT #1- 90% of the decor items in our home were purchased from Goodwill. FACT #2- Most people have NO IDEA when walking into our home that this is the case.
Patience is indeed a virtue when shopping in this manner, however. It's taken 2.5 years for us to get our house to the point it's at now. And trust me, she's far from complete. That's not to say we dont splurge on big ticket items we fall in love with. Just save, save, save, and always pay with cash.
2) Another area of we like to save money on is at the grocery store. It is no small secret that I despise couponing. It just doesnt work for me. In fact, Ive found that we spend LESS by shopping for sales than saving that $1 on an item I wouldnt have normally purchased anyway. And lets be real for a sec, homey aint extreme couponing.
What we do instead, is shop the weekly grocery sales. Rarely will I place a food item in my cart that is not marked down. Meat, veggies, can goods....you name it. And when I see a crazy good deal on meat, I'll snatch it up and pop it in the freezer. We've saved hundreds and hundreds of dollars.
Save For the Future
I cannot stress enough, that no matter how young you are, you NEED to start saving for your future. I set up my 401k at the age of 19 and had a measly 1% deducted from my paychecks each week. At the age of 28, Ive only worked up to a 5% deduction. But it's something. Remember, something is better than nothing.
If 401k's arent your style though, there are plenty of other options out there. But as nervous as I was/still am over setting one up, they are our preferred savings method. Tons of companies will match your employee contributions, and you cant turn down free money. And while Im not here to advocate debt, most 401k loan interest rates are FAR lower than your credit cards currently are. And you're paying your self back. Just a thought.