Wow. Where has this month flown? A “short” recap of what has been going on: We started the first of January with $0 for our Emergency Fund– we had used it all up in previous months due to, well, emergencies! Our space heater broke, and we need one for the bathroom especially in winter time (it gets 20F in there while you need to take a shower, COLD). Hubby informed me that the van needs an oil change, timing belt, and brakes– it still needs all of those. We’ve had several things break, things that we couldn’t put off replacing, a flat tire within the past week, and two days ago a huge elm tree blew down on my laundry shed. Thankfully it didn’t damage the washer and dyer that I am using but smashed the one that needed a replacement part. So, with all that swirling around, how did we manage our finances this month?
I was able to set aside about $700 for our emergency fund. To put that in perspective, That is almost half of my husband’s monthly paycheck. This month was unique, it won’t happen every month but it was a huge encouragement and a needed boost.
Things I did to accomplish this:
– Offered to recycle. We have the CRV tax in CA which is rough 5-10cents per recyclable container. Not a whole lot of people like doing this because its a sticky, messy, stinky, job. Family and friends kindly donated their bags of recyclables that we were able to cash in. Along with that was copper and other metals that were also donated. Paper, cardboard, and glass is another way every little bit counts. I earned about $50 here.
– Yard sale. Putting the word out that I was having a yard sale brought in some donations. I didn’t make the most cash out of this yard sale. I didn’t have a lot. There was an emergency that week and I didn’t get to advertise the yard sale in our local paper but with lots of bright signs, facebook advertisements, and word of mouth, we did rake in almost $100.00 just from 25 and 50 cent items.
-Consignment sales. Now, we don’t have an actual consignment shop. However, Facebook is a great way to sell some used items and earn some cash. When I say consignment, I have a few friends that I sell items for and keep 20% of the proceeds. Again, a lot of $5 and $10 items turned into almost $50 in profit for me.
– Cut the grocery budget. Now, if you are like me and you have nowhere else to cut, the budget is already tight and small, the last thing you want to do is cut the grocery budget! BUT–using what I had in the freezer, pantry, and fridge, I was able to save almost $200 on our groceries this week. Because a few family members knew of our struggles this month (no, we don’t go an advertise for all to know but just family chit chat shared enough) we were also gifted another $150 in gift cards for our grocery budget. I used that $150 that would have normally been in the grocery envelope, and stuck it in the bank. I am not suggesting you go to family and ask for gift cards, but maybe a little creativity can help you out here as well! Can you cash in your credit card points for gift cards? What about bartering for some food staples with friends or neighbors? In a pinch, local food banks sometime leave leftover food out for a certain time period. Eat simply that month! Beans and rice can be your friend. Get creative and Pinterest has many creative ways to eat the frugal foods that we normally cringe at. $350 saved
-Babysitting, housecleaning, and teaching opportunities. Have a skill that you can teach? Have time you can babysit for others? Housecleaning? I was able to earn about $75 (rounding) doing some extra things this month.
Things that I didn’t do to earn extra this month:
-Monetary gifts. I’ll be honest, despite all that I did to save money, I did have to use what I brought in and help replace items that broke, needed replacing, and more. I would not have been able to set aside the amount we did, had it not been for Christmas and other monetary gifts we received. I will say, very often I see these received gifts be used for personal enjoyment. While I am not opposed to that, I knew that for our family it was much more important to focus on building that emergency fund back up. As Dave Ramsey says, “the rainy day will come, but it will affect you more if you are not ready for it” (paraphrased).
-God’s mercy and graciousness. Seriously! All the little things that add up and you try and figure out “how did this work out at all?!?!?” God! He says that “every good and perfect thing is from above”. Life brings us hardships in some shape or form–sin has done that to the world, but God is faithful to those who remain faithful and put their trust in Him. I know that this doesn’t mean that every month is going to be like this one, I know! But it does promise that He will guide us when we seek His counsel, He will watch over us, and He will remain the Lord of all creation forever despite it all.
Lastly! I promise a new series! 365 ways to save money this year! Later today I will get the first one up. It’ll be short and easy things we all can do and lets watch our bank accounts grow this year! Stay tuned.