This past weekend, we engaged in our first (and hopefully next-to-last) decluttering session for 2016! 😀 While The Minimalists may not be fond of the word “declutter,” it’s the simplest way to describe the intentional act of removing from our lives that which no longer has value to us.
In 2016, we’re also decluttering our expenses. Spending X dollars today takes away the potential to pay off debt (then invest when we’re debt free), so the decluttering process has extended far beyond the critical eye we’ve put to our stuff. Our new progress bars (on the left for desktop, in the hamburger menu for mobile) show the progress we make to declutter our debt in 2016; Balancing the Scales gives you exact figures and a month-by-month breakdown of our payments in 2015. Our hope is to be both debt free and free of clutter by the end of this year.
To begin decluttering our expenses, we took a hard look at our spending for 2015.
Excluding debt payments, we spent $39,385 on everything else in life, or about $3,282 per month. In the course of 2015, we had to get the big house ready for sale and prep for the move to the small house, so these non-recurring expenses won’t carry over into 2016. And since we didn’t start our personal finance journey until April 2015, this spending total includes three very spendy months from the beginning of 2015.
Much-Needed Improvement in the “Food” Category
When we started this journey, we knew we needed help with prepping and budgeting for “food.”
too tired –> go to restaurants –> eat unhealthy food –> still too tired –> sleep –> wake up tired –> drink coffee –> go to restaurants –> too tired
You get the picture. We lived a cycle of madness for far too many years.
What the Frugalwoods espoused about food, particularly cutting unnecessary meals at restaurants in favor of cooking at home, was what we wanted to achieve. The Frugalwoods shared their lunch plans, so we copied them. 🙂 Rice-and-beans and salad greens (organic, of course) became our staple meal plan–double bonus, it’s a healthy, wheat-free, dairy-free meal that helped us cut our spending drastically.
Related Post: What We Spent in July YOY
Gary over at Super Saving Tips provided an all-inclusive list of ways to cut one’s grocery bill. These are tips we’re carefully considering in 2016 in order to cut the amount we spend on food. While we spend only a fraction of what we had in the past, there are areas we can do better. Do we really need corn chips for guac? What value is there in corn? Can we eat a cleaner diet and still save money? We think we can.
Much-Needed Improvement in the “Phones” Category
While we were able to change our data plan from 3GB to 2GB and save $20, our Verizon bill still seems out of control to me; currently, it sits at $130 and some change. Ouch. Garrett’s company pays for his phone and iPad, so we’re left with trying to reduce my cell bill or convince my company to pay for my phone (slim-to-no chance of that happening).
Frankly, I don’t even want a cell phone. I grew up in the 80s and 90s when phones were mounted to the wall of kitchens–crazy, right?! Maybe you had a car phone, if your family was uber-wealthy.
If I could sell my iPhone 6 and never get another phone again, I would be ecstatic. I’m locked in a contract until September, so unless someone will pay me to switch without putting me in another contract, I think I might be stuck.
Update: I switched to a new carrier and we’ve saved hundreds of $; read my Ting Mobile review.
Much-Needed Improvement in the “Fun” Category
In our months of uber-frugalness, we didn’t travel and we really didn’t have much of a vacation last year, with the exception of some long weekends. I lamented that it wasn’t worth it since we were trying to eliminate about $10k in interest-free credit card debt before the interest came due in October; ICYMI, we did pay off this debt!
Rather than cut “fun” spending, we moved some of what we cut from other areas into the “Travel” category. If anything, I hope we spend more time camping and hiking this year than ever before (more action verbs, please). We work hard every single day, so I think we can take a couple of days off here and there to have fun, too!