Eliminate the Top 5 Budget Busters for Financial Freedom

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.

budget busterWhat are the Top 5 Budget Busters?

1. Diapers

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?

18 comments on “Eliminate the Top 5 Budget Busters for Financial Freedom

  1. You make some really solid points, especially to splurge on YOU with the savings you create by living a more eco-friendly lifestyle. I’m waaaay past the diaper stage, but paper towels and ziplock baggies!? OH MY! We go through SO many of both of those. I could see living without paper towels… but not sure I could ditch my ziplocks. What do you use instead? (I”m dead serious. I have tried the glass bowls and I just can’t buy and store enough to make up for those handy plastic baggies.

  2. I think I could be better about our ziplock bag use and making more of my own cleaners. What kind of containers do you freeze things in instead of ziplock freezer bags?

    • ecoincognito says:

      Glass! Pyrex is great and wide-mouth mason jars work for everything. I freeze fruit and veggies in sauce jars and defrost one portion at a time for Hannah. It’s an easy way to make sure I can always put veggies on her plate and save leftovers.

      On Tue, Jan 22, 2013 at 8:38 AM, Eco Incognito

      • K in Philly says:

        I love mason jars! They’re so useful for everything from giving a $10 bouquet of grocery store flowers for a birthday to storing snacks to storing leftover soup …

  3. ecoincognito says:

    Great question! My first recommendation is always to use what you already have. After that, there are a lot of options for reusable snack storage. Check AbesMarket.com for sandwich wraps, lunch containers, or snack bags. For freezer storage, I keep everything in glass. I bought some pyrex, but also use my sauce (or Rose Romano’s pepper jars) over and over. 🙂

  4. K in Philly says:

    Have you done a breakdown of how much money is really saved on cloth diapers versus disposable, especially bought on sale or with Amazone mom 20% off cases of LUVs? Factoring in the water/energy/laundry detergent cost? and NOT factoring in wipes, unless you really aren’t going to use them anymore (most friends I have that do cloth diapers still use disposable wipes). I also have had friends that have had to replace cost diapers even by the second kid, and always by the third. (you’d have to factor in the cost of ziplocs too, as many people seem to use them to tote home the wet diapers …)

    I’ve yet to see a breakdown from someone who wasn’t already leaning strongly one way or the other …

    I’ve definitely been cutting down on our consumption of paper towels (with a stack of about 20 washable cleaning cloths plus washcloths on hand in the kitchen) and using Tupperware in packed lunches instead of baggies.

    • ecoincognito says:

      I use cloth wipes, but I have a second baby in the same diapers so the savings are huge. You can buy all the diapers you need for less than $100 or you can splurge and buy a colorful stash for $1000. It’s not always about saving money, but there are ways to do it that are VERY cost effective. I started cloth diapering for the savings, but now the environmental factors are really important to me. Taking out the trash is my least favorite thing to do, so that alone is worth it for me!

      Reusable wet bags, wipes and diapers are the way to go. Also, diaper laundry requires minimal detergent. (Crazy-I know??) http://www.theclothdiaperwhisperer.com or the book Changing Diapers are two of my favorite resources.

      On Tue, Jan 22, 2013 at 8:44 AM, Eco Incognito

  5. Heather says:

    Would love to hear about some of your cleaning supply recipes!

  6. Shannon @ GrowingSlower says:

    Great points! I think we have already removed all of these from our budget. I am surprised more people don’t cloth diaper for the cost savings alone. $2000 is a good dent in an awesome family vacation or paying off debt.

    • ecoincognito says:

      A lot of people want to change, they’re just not sure how. I sat on the fence from going green for a long time because I thought that it was all a scam. It’s not easy to sort through the marketing hogwash about ‘natural’ products. I finally put my blinders on and started looking at things from a pioneer’s perspective. The grass really is greener on this side!

  7. Great list! A penny saved is actually much more than a penny earned. With a 47% tax bracket plus a 13% tax on most purchases where we live… I always tell my hubby that a penny saved is actually 1.6 cents earned 😉

  8. jaimeweis says:

    I love it! We’ve made these changes, too, and they’re awesome!

  9. We’ve made these changes too, except for the paper towels. We still hang on to those for backup. Making changes like these helped us to afford to have me stay home too.

    • ecoincognito says:

      Last year I tried to quit paper towels cold turkey and learned the hard way that there is no substitute when it comes to bacon grease. Other than grease, though, towels work for pretty much anything. I actually love white towels, too because you can bleach them in the sun.

  10. […] Bezinque, a lifestyle blogger at Eco Incognito, is dedicated to an eco-friendly lifestyle.  She suggests taking a look at the things that lead to […]

  11. susan says:

    My family actually washes and reuses our ziplocks many times over. We go months on one box, and then buy another one from the dollar store.

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