We are now on day #23 of our Be Intentional Challenges! We hope it has been wonderful, productive and life-changing so far.
And if you don’t know what we are talking about….. read on!
The 30 Be Intentional challenges this month are designed to get you on the right foot, the right track and give you energy, efficiency and organization which will propel you into a life that is able to develop an overall financially smart, happy and frugal home. We are going to have different themes each month this year (and we have very exciting stuff planned) and this month is your foundation!
We encourage couples and families to do these challenges together so the whole house can function well!
As the 30 days go along, we will be focusing on 5 areas for the Be Intentional Month:
Here’s the previous 22 challenges in case you missed them and want to get your life on the right track:
- Set and Be Strict About Bedtime
- Work Towards Waking Up At The Same Time Everyday
- Making Your Bed Everyday
- Get Dressed To Shoes Everyday
- Hydrate Yourself
- 5 Minute Stretching and Breathing Exercise
- Implement a 20 Minute Quick Clean with You and Your Family
- Menu Planning
- Dinner by 10
- Take Your Vitamins
- Have A Family Meeting To Review, Discuss and Figure Out How To Solve Obstacles Preventing You From Doing Challenges #1-#10. Plus read about the results of our family meeting and our solutions so far HERE.
- Develop a Nighttime Routine
- Write Out Daily Schedule
- Complete the Financial Summary Questionnaire
- Clean Off and Scrub the Bathroom Counters and Then Do A Daily Wipe Down
- Complete the Home Map for Complete Clean-out and Organization
- Find and Fix The Second Thing Sabotaging Your Day
- Create your weekly, monthly and annual budget (with free download)
- Create Your Regular Shopping List with Price Comparisons
- Re-evaluate Daily Schedule and Make Realistic and Necessary Changes
- Create Your Debt Overview and Calculate Annual Interest and More
- Complete the Debt Payoff and Goal Planner
After our 2 challenges regarding debts, this next challenge applies to everyone, not just those in debt because it will help everyone reach their financial goals – whether to be debt-free, pay for college, fund retirement…anything!
So…. Be Intentional Challenge #23 :
Find Your First 2% Cut From Your Budget
What are we talking about? Well, we have mentioned the 2% cut a few times in various blog posts here, but for the most clear perspective, we suggest you read about our 2×2 plan HERE. In addition, our How To Set an Effective and Successful Budget post gave a bit more clarification.
After reading those posts (no need to restate them here) come on back here and let’s talk about some ideas! Share in the comments some ways that you found to cut 2% from your budget.
We will also give some examples here on what is going to be some easy ways to cut initially. We are going to encourage you to start finding a 2% cut each month until you do reach your rock bottom budget (again, for full context, read the links above).
So for some examples from us…. Here’s some areas that you may be able to find that next 2% cut!
We are going to use $3,000 as the example. Let’s say your budget is $3,000 in total between the bills and living expenses (you don’t need to include debts as you can’t cut them, except by paying them off). l
2% of $3,000 is $60 to cut this first month. Now you can cut $60 from one entire category if it will not be too much of a life-changing stretch for your family! Or you can cut $60 in total by shaving some off in each category.
Here’s some things to consider!
Under your bills section
- Are you paying a membership fee, a ongoing monthly fee or something that you are not really using that you can cancel and stop paying?
- Can you replace a gym membership with a cheaper option or perhaps do things at home?
- Can you cut your cable and find alternatives through Roku, Hulu and other options (read more HERE)
- Can you get new insurance quotes to find out if you can cut in this area by switching or changing your coverages/company?
- Can you reconsider your cell phone services and shop around. If your contract is not up, then you can still look at this option. One time we paid the cancellation fee as it was ultimately cheaper than going with that carrier for the next several months – look at it from all angles.
- Have you considered refinancing (right now is a good time with the average interest rates around 4%)? This one needs to require a lot of thought. It is not worth refinancing unless you will be in your home for at least 4-5 more years.
- Can you install a programmable thermostat that regulates temperatures in winter/summer, day/night, home/away? This alone can possibly be your first 2% cut! We talked about this and other ways to save on heating HERE.
- Are there any other services that you are paying for that you don’t really use?
- Look into paperless billing and online bill pay – you might be paying extra fees to have your bills mailed to you and for you to mail payments back.
- Finally, don’t cut your tithe or giving. This is one area that we would say to not cut back on. We will be talking more about this later as well as some personal experiences with this, but this one is a do not touch 😉
Under your living expenses section – this one has a lot of flexibility
- Your grocery bill could possibly be the fastest and easiest cut. Using coupons with sales, saving money on produce, saving money on chicken, beef and other proteins, making things from scratch like SOS Mix to replace many foods, etc. Go meatless 1 or 2 nights per week, prepare freezer meals, and even grow your own food to save a little more. This is a VERY big category and one with thousands of ideas. But it is a good place to start. Often times, you can cut your grocery budget to under $100 very easily with a few smart tricks (using the links provided for some ideas) for a family of 7 or less. Over the last few years, we have shared MANY ideas, and we will continue to do so to help you save here.
- Cut travel back temporarily until you reach your goals. Either look at Staycation options or close to home vacations or none at all.
- Find alternatives to Salon services, like doing it at home or using a beauty college.
- Find alternatives for babysitting like swapping, or date nights in at home.
- If you have babies in diapers, can you switch from disposable to cloth part time (like while at home) or even full time?
- Or if you use disposable diapers, are you utilizing our CHEAP diaper deals HERE to help you get savings of 50% of or more just on diapers and wipes?
- Cut back eating out. Be committed to using coupons every time as it is easy to find restaurant discounts and free food.
- Have simpler celebrations, birthdays and Christmas. Not only does this save money, it also is good for children 🙂
- Don’t be as picky about clothing and cut back big time in clothing by shopping only during the rock bottom sales that we talk about (like at Kohls and Children’s Place), buy second hand in your local area or even online at places like ThredUp, have swaps with church members and friends.
- Find alternative entertainment options such as family game night in (board games are the most fun and classic way to enjoy family entertainment).
It might also be something just as simple this first month as eating out 1x less this month and keeping a short stack of cash to prevent careless spending (you know the spending of $2 here, $4 there, $1.50 over there that adds up to $60 or more by the end of the month!).
Finding the 2% is actually going to be quite simple, especially the first time.
It will start to get more and more challenging as the months go on, but for now, you will probably find it easy. Don’t be overly ambitious and cut 4% or 6% this first month. We are teaching you to EASE into it which will create a lifetime of frugality, not just temporary. 😉
One final thing….. we also have a Facebook Group where you can engage in discussions, receive encouragement and talk to others that are participating in the challenges too for more ideas! Head to the Be Intentional with The Thrifty Couple Facebook Page HERE and ask to join us there! You can also invite friends and spouses too!