Last year my family cut costs and stocked our home with useful goods for promoting financial freedom. I finally realized that eliminating wasteful costs could open opportunities that would have taken us much longer to attain. We bought a home, paid for a home birth out of pocket, and completed a myriad of household repairs. This financial windfall would be difficult on any budget, but it was even harder to attack as a single-income family. We did it by leveraging responsible debt and substituting the biggest budget busters for sensible alternatives.
2. Paper towels
3. Ziplock bags
4. Food and Beverage Waste
5. Cleaning Supplies
By purchasing these items month after month, we were literally throwing out money. Although it may seem like disposable products save time through convenience, when you factor in the need to purchase them repeatedly and the time spent earning the money to pay for them, they are not nearly as great as they seem. Attacking these parts of your budget first can free up funds for entertainment and experiential rewards. As a new family, it’s easy to literally throw away TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS in the first two years of your baby’s life. Spending money on diapers, wipes, trash bags, and gasoline for trips to the store doesn’t make sense compared to the simple alternative of using cloth diapers and washing them at home.
I don’t mean to sound like I’m standing on a soapbox here, but I really think it is important to put this in perspective. For all the Moms I meet that are burnt out, that $2000 could easily be spent on a maid, a relaxing getaway, or multiple spa visits. I suggest spending this money directly on yourself as opposed to initiating a college fund or adding toys to the playroom. You deserve a reward for your hard (and downright dirty) work! Whether you use a disposable or reusable diaper, you will still be handling poop. I guarantee that a bright fluffy cloth diaper will soften the experience and open your eyes to a great green world of savings. Plus, when it is time for Baby #2 (no pun intended) you will relish the savings even more!
At first, establishing a family budget was an uphill battle with my husband. No matter how much we talked through plans, we would always go overboard and add unnecessary stress to our marriage. Ask Mr. Eco Incognito about the 3 months we spent without cable and he will tell you that it practically led to a divorce. Even though I would eagerly ditch cable again at a whim, I recognize the importance for him and have worked around that. Bending other budget lines to accomodate that made me realize that entertainment should be one of the first line items to fill, not cut! Why else should we work so hard?
Here’s my suggested breakdown for a well-rounded budget that will suit your needs and fulfill your wants at the same time no matter your income bracket:
25% – Home
15% – Food
15% – Auto
15% – Entertainment
10% – Outdoor Experience
12% – Clothing
5% – Garden
3% – Cleaning Supplies
Why Bother Being Resourceful?
Even more important than saving money for today is teaching our children how to be resourceful in the future. We are constantly hearing that our resources are dwindling, so we must all take the time to educate the next generation on how to live in an eco-conscious fashion. If you ever question the value of going green, look at a young child’s reaction to practices that aren’t green. Her fascination with trash isn’t merely intended to annoy you. In fact, she may just be searching for a way to repurpose those goods!
Which of the top 5 budget busters would you like to eliminate from your household?