Okay, so here are the things we are trying over the next few months, keeping in mind that we will probably not do things perfectly but these are some of the things that I've tried before that have worked really well, and a few new things. All of which were in the book I mentioned in the other post.
1. Meal Plan: I think this is the biggest and hardest change for me because it means that I have to actually cook every night (or close to it). I know, how the heck has my family survived? See #2. Along with that, the plan is based on what's "on sale" in the flyers. It might sound crazy but it works, today I bought 2wks worth of groceries for $105, which is a far cry from the usual. Also, I gave myself a time limit to be in the store and get the heck out so I literally only went in for what I needed and didn't even glance at anything else. This also means I needed to make a detailed list. I did but I forgot it at home, so I am sure I forgot something and I am sure I could've done it for a bit cheaper if I had gone to multiple stores, but I didn't have the time, so I went to the store that had the most things I needed on sale. Make sense? I will do way better next time.
2. No Fast Food: I know it sounds pretty simple, but if you're anything like us, you do really good for a few months and then you look at your bank statement and add up what you spent on fast food lately, and it makes you sick. Sometimes fast food is cheaper, like a Little Caesars hot'n'ready pizza is $7, but the cheese alone for my homemade pizza is $9, so we've justified take-out. But we have never felt sick after eating homemade pizza, so sometimes the expense of homemade is worth the extra $$ and a settled tummy.
3. Grow Your Own: We got a garden plot at the community center so that we can plant some vegetables. It's going to take some effort to go and actually tend to it, but the fact that I can spend a few dollars on seeds and have yummy garden veggies through the summer makes me happy. That means I'll be saving money at the grocery store, but it also means that we'll be spending some of our free time teaching the kids some pretty cool stuff- not that it will sink in quite yet, but they'll be excited about it next year we hope.
4. Less TV: Through the summer I usually cut our cable, it saves us a bit of money and TV in the summer is usually not that great anyways. Actually, it's not ever that great, it may not get hooked back up. This would probably mean that I would never watch "The Bachelor" ever again, I guess that's one way to kick the habit, haha.
5. Clean Out the House: It's good to know what you actually already have before you go buy multiples of it. Case in point, last summer I bought the kids a bunch of sunscreen on sale, then mysteriously it vanished. So instead of cleaning out the hall closet and finding it, I went out and spent another $10 on sunscreen. We found the original sunscreen two days later, we now have 3 different kids' sunscreen. Also, when you clean things out you find stuff that you can sell or give away/donate to a good cause, etc... We got an awesome gift for Christmas called "box-office". It's basically an external hard-drive that you can put all your movies on and then you don't really need to keep the dvds you have. This means we can sell them and make some cash, it also means we don't have to worry about the kids getting into them anymore. In the book it talks about how people with less cluttered spaces usually earn more/stay out of debt, etc... kind of interesting. Once you clean things out you're left with what you need/use and that helps calm your mind, blah blah blah. True, Steve is much better at this than me, he tends not to get emotionally attached to things, I have attachments to the weirdest things.
6. Fill-up on Cheap Days: Our local gas stations have cheap days during the week, I'm betting yours do too. Steve and I try to only fill-up on the cheap days ONLY. At Centex our cheap days are Wed/Sat/Sun and we just found that at the Domo down the street cheap days are Mon/Tues. This means that most days of the week we can get gas 3-4 cents off/litre which is great. There's always the Superstore gas station if we miss it where we can fill up and get superbucks too, and Costco is usually cheaper as well, it's just a bit more of a drive to get there.
So those are my 6 big/little things that are going to help us in the next few months. The trick is any money we save goes towards "the debt". This is a trick, if you think it's not, you haven't been in debt. Other months when we've done really good, we've just used the extra money to get a few more groceries or grab a burger. The book says to put it aside in an account that you can't access and then every month make an extra payment on one of your debts (the one with the biggest interest rate) with the money that you saved on everything else. Scary, in a good way, but it takes a lot of discipline and will be the biggest challenge.