Our family of four is living off a second-year teacher’s salary (and not a high paying one), so we’ve had to figure out ways to save money, cut costs, and figure out how to pay for things. Despite having to use a credit card all too often, we’ve come up with a list of things we have done to live in today’s economy that doesn’t involve plastic.
Paying Tithing FIRST
The most important thing we do with any money we earn is pay a 10% tithe to our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even when it seems we won’t have money to pay our credit card or electric bills, we still pay our tithing FIRST. When we do, the Lord blesses us somehow to be able to pay all of our bills and on time. It’s seriously amazing. As it says in Malachi 3:10 “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
Getting a Great Bank:
When we moved to Indianapolis the first thing we did was find a new bank, though mostly because our old bank did not have any branches in Indianapolis! We shopped around and decided to use a local credit union. We earn a 2% interest on both our checking and savings accounts! They also often run contests and promotions and have been great to work with. We automatically deposit $60/month into our savings account. It may not be much, and we may have had to dip into it from time to time, but having something in savings helps us on those “rainy days.” Josh has also taken advantage of employment benefits and has a 403(b) Retirement Account and HSA.
Taking advantage of government programs:
Medicaid for Alison and Lisa – pays all their medical bills at no cost to us.
Healthy Indiana Plan(HIP) gives Kate medical insurance with a $65 monthly payment.
Food Stamps – Provide us with about $220 for food each month.
WIC (Women Infants and Children) Provides food for the girls, saving us about $50-75 a month.
Car Seat Assistance Program – We received free car seats through our local fire department
Indiana Lifeline Assistance – We received $7 off per month on our phone bill
Energy Assistance Program (EAP) – They send money to the gas and/or electric companies to help cover winter heating costs and summer cooling costs.
Income Based Repayment Plans for our student loans – Means we don’t have to pay anything right now.
Use Tax Returns Wisely – We put it all towards debt.
Eliminating unnecessary expenses:
We got rid of our cell phones and only use a pay-as-go phone for emergencies/trips.
We do not have any type of TV service.
We only get 2 DVDs from netflix at a time, with no streaming.
We rarely go out to eat.
When we do go out to eat, we order water and sometimes split a meal.
We rarely buy junk food i.e. chips, candy, cookies, desserts.
We don’t buy bottled water – we just keep water bottles in the fridge and fill them with tap water.
We do not buy soda or other drinks except on special occasions.
We don’t buy many “extras.“
Saving around the house:
We combined our (unlimited) home phone and high-speed internet services together and pay only $60/month.
We got our monthly rent reduced $20 a month since we were not happy with the linoleum in our apartment when we first moved in!
We’ve mentioned things we need to family, friends, home and visiting teachers, and it’s amazing the gifts and generosity people have provided us! We’ve received so much from others’ goodwill.
We try to keep the blinds shut and the lights turned off during the day.
We wipe off the table cloth (under the girls table) and use it for a week or longer even though they cost $1.
We use AmazonMom and save a bunch of money on diapers, wipes, diaper pail refills, and more. We get the cheapest name brand diapers – Luvs size 3– for around 14 cents a diaper, and Pampers sensitive wipes for about 3 cents a wipe. Using AmazonMom also gives you FREE AmazonPrime shipping on millions of other items! It’s great!
We have recently been scouring the weekly Kroger ad to see what is on sale. We often surprised by the deals they are running!
We load coupons onto our Kroger card and cut coupons, but only for things we actually buy. So far it has been saving us money.
We have also in the past made weekly meal plans so we use up fresh produce and meats before they go bad (which saves money). It also helps us use things on our shelves, be more creative, and try new recipes/recycle old ones.
We also take advantage of Kroger’s fuel rewards program and save money on gas. We saved about $10 on our last fill-up.
When times have been really tight we used the Bishop’s Storehouse.
We know there are many ways we can still improve on saving, cutting costs, and living frugally. We may not be able to afford many toys, clothes, gadgets, and so on, but we are happy knowing that we have a roof over our head, food on the table, and clothes on our backs. We have the things we need, aren’t behind on our debts, and are healthy. Sure, life is hard, but the Lord provides when we do our best to support ourselves and our families. We are very grateful for a government that has so many programs designed to help those who are less fortunate. We are grateful for our church and its many wonderful programs and people. They both take care of the poor and needy.
*Note: We are not trying to “brag” about all the government assistant programs we are on or participate in. We are not trying to “live off the government” or take advantage of others. We have decided that having a mother in the home is of far more worth than a slightly higher income. We do not plan to be on government assistance for ever, but we hope that in honestly sharing what programs we use that perhaps we can help others find assistance if they need it.