A Penny Saved (Or not)

Good morning, Dear Reader! This probably goes without saying…but it is hot AF here. I can’t even begin to describe how incredibly miserable I am in this heat. Recent news reports indicate that 20 states are under a heat advisory, so watch those pets, stay hydrated, and check on the elderly. And put those pint glasses in the freezer. Beer tastes better in a glass. (He’s cute, huh?)

What’s on my brain today, kids? Money. I don’t know if it’s because this week was fraught with many unexpected expenses. My keyboard of four years kicked the bucket. The price of school supplies for PUBLIC FREAKING SCHOOL almost makes me faint, or it’s the fact that my internet – that I pay a lot for – goes down Every. Damn. Day. All of that has got me thinking about money. Where I can earn more, save more, spend conservatively, etc. Groceries are incredibly high right now, so I’m scaling back on recipes – going back to many with rice and beans and reducing the amount of meat I consume or opting for homemade treats. I made cookies last week instead of buying pre-made ones. (I like cookies. Every time I see “Do you accept these cookies?” I’m like, “Damn right I do!”)

I’m not complaining. (Okay, I might be complaining.) I make a good living; I save 10% of what I make in various ways (PM for advice) and support good causes when I feel led. But, still. As a single parent, I worry about money. Are you even an American if you don’t worry about money right now???

I learned that talking about money is taboo, and while I don’t bring it up at the dinner table among strangers, I share thoughts with my closest confidants. I also feel like we should talk about it sometimes, and that’s exactly what I intend to do today.

So, grab a drink. Settle in. 

I’m going to start by pissing y’all off and including a quote from Josh Becker:

You would have more money for the things you want if you stopped foolishly wasting it on other things.

Now. That said, I get that if you make less than a living wage, you genuinely are strapped for cash. Rent (even owning a home) is very expensive. Add to that the rising cost of food, personal services, and gasoline, and you probably don’t have two nickels to rub together. Hell, even I am looking for resources for free school supplies. But, if you make MORE than what is considered a ‘living wage’ in the United States, then you do have an opportunity to conserve funds.

And…Newsflash: We often assume that our financial lives are entirely outside of our control. Wrong. This IS your circus, and this IS your monkey.

I’ve made a list of some things that most of us can do to reign in our spending. I’m not telling you what you should or should not do with your money. I’m just saying that if you constantly say, “I’d like to, but I can’t afford that.” there are things within your control to fix that.

First, change your story. Stop saying “I can’t afford this” and replace it with “I can afford it, I’m just making choices that prevent me from having it.” That’s a start and forces you to take responsibility. Maybe that hit a nerve (Good!). Sorry, not sorry. Only you can consider whether or not to make different choices.

My choices? Read on.

1) Dining out. I’ve cut back but haven’t completely stopped. But even two cheeseburgers, fries, and a drink round up to nearly $7 at McDonald’s. I don’t need to go into much detail on how expensive eating out can be. BUT…avoiding McDonald’s is not going to work in my home – so I use the McD’s app religiously. I save 20% on most of my orders and earn rewards. And trust me, I use those rewards. For example, I had enough rewards to earn a free Happy Meal. So instead of ordering the #7 for my kiddo, I used my rewards for the free Happy Meal and then ordered an additional cheeseburger. My kid didn’t even notice that his sweet tea was smaller. He cares only that his cheeseburgers are plain. My point? Get creative. You can save money, but you are impatient. (PS…save your Groupon for the second date. Don’t be a douche.)

2) Streaming services. In this house, we forego cable but I’m not sure our choices are much better. We have Netflix, Hulu, Peacock, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and HBO Max. So. Many. Services. However, I come and go from some of these to justify our fetish. It’s a bit uncomfortable but I get over it. My Hulu and Peacock are not the ad-free versions (frustrating but not worth the extra money). I would LOVE to watch Yellowstone on Paramount Network during a regular season. But, {sigh} I wait for the full season release, then resubscribe to Peacock – with ads- binge the season, then cancel it when I don’t need it anymore. (Lather, rinse, repeat, inserting most subscriptions). 

3) Restaurant Booze. I like going out and trying new drinks, so I still do if that’s the entire point of where I’m going. Like, I’m not going to go to Bub’s Distillery, Vino Cellars, or Wire Road Brewing Company only to order water (Don’t buy the t-shirt!). But I’ve stopped ordering wine by the glass at dinner if it’s ‘normal people wine.’ Here’s a hint: The cost of a glass of wine at a restaurant is close to what you’ll pay for the entire bottle at a retailer. You’re welcome. Speaking of retail booze: If you like trying new wines, beers, or whiskey, check out Sam’s or Costco before hitting the liquor stores. Also, if you have sixty bottles of whiskey – you might not need more for a tad bit. Just sayin’. (You know who you are.)

4) Clothing. Research shows that we wear 20% of what we own 80% of the time. If it’s torn – can you fix it? I recently tore a shirt while camping. I pulled out a needle and thread and fixed it myself. No one has said a word. Also, I’ve started buying higher-quality items, but I’m buying less of them. I’m no fashionista, but my clothes are nice and comfortable. I don’t want or need much to be happy at my age.

Finally, if you really want to make a dent in your finances, let me be brutally honest with you. Cutting down on the items above, reducing the number of lattes you buy at places like Starbucks, and switching to generic items will help. But those are only band-aids and won’t stop the bleeding.

Housing, vehicles, and ‘toys’ (extra vehicles, motorcycles, boats, campers) are your most significant areas of financial drain. If you can reduce or eliminate these things, even for a bit, I recommend it. Sometimes one expensive toy begets another. A home that is larger than you need requires more energy to heat/cool/maintain/furnish. A camper requires a tow vehicle. A swimming pool requires expensive chemicals, and running a filter all summer is costly. A wine cellar requires…well, you know. Catch my drift? For more tips, read here.

What about you, Dear Reader? How do you save money, or what are you letting go of to have what you want? Comment below.

Despite the state of the world, I still think we will be okay. So, I leave you with this song to kickstart your weekend. These guys still have the luxury of being upbeat – they are from Canada. Who doesn’t like Canada?

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