Friday, May 20, 2011

living smart

I said yesterday that I don't think money should drive any decisions. I whole heartedly believe this. I accepted a job making less than other positions I had been offered out of school. I've walked away from positions that paid great. And I don't regret a single choice. Preston and I joke that in college we could make $200 stretch for weeks so we have nothing to complain about now. Here are some of our budgeting tips that help us stretch, save and enjoy our earnings. It isn't rocket science - but it helps us!

*Make a savings plan. We opened up a joint account and set our long term goal for our honeymoon savings and then set mini goals along the way that we need to meet to make sure we are on track. By motivating each other, and keeping track of our saving, we are able to stay on track with our plan.

*Love the leftovers. Most meals that I cook aren't intended for just two people. Often I make enough for 4-6 servings. Instead of eating a (often flavorless) Lean Cusine for lunch or grabbing take out, I bring the leftovers. If I don't think I will want it for the next few days I freeze it and save it for a few weeks down the road. Chili, lasagna and enchiladas work great for this! While you're at it, cut some of the processed food. Fresh, seasonal produce from a farmer's market is typically more fresh (lasts longer) and less expensive than from the grocery store.

*Find an apartment/ townhouse with utilities included in the rent!! I know this is not possible to find everywhere - but it is worth trying! This is SUCH an incredible money saver and allows you to accurately budget your expenses without any surprises (anybody who has had a $400 energy bill during a Vegas summer knows what I am talking about...) After 4 months of living in our apartment P and I still talk about how much we love all-inclusive rent! 

*Find your go-to places. Preston and I love date nights. And eating out. We plan this into our budget and love our nights together! We have found some great local spots that allow us to have a fabulous night without spending tons. Our favorite neighborhood sushi place has 50% off rolls when you dine in - which means we can get 5 fresh, delicious rolls for $20!

*DIY/ Craigslist - It's no secret that I love Craig and his list. I also love antique markets, thrift stores, nearly everything on Etsy and anything that can be done with spray paint. If you make it or alter it yourself, rather than buying things that make your heart go pitter patter at Pottery Barn, you will save moolah. And, if you're like me, you will probably like it more because you found it/ made it yourself. Remember our head board?

Welp, that California King sized beauty cost me all of $20 at our Carlsbad thrift store. Seriously. I bought it a month before we moved (when we were visiting) and luckily the sweet store emloyees let me keep it there until we moved to California.

*Annual Passes - These bad boys can be a great money saver - if you're smart about it! We purchased our Sea World passes for $76 each (thanks to the Fun Card - what a deal!) and have been 3 times so far this year. That's about $25 a visit for a day full of fun! We also just purchased our San Diego Zoo annual passes. It was $96 for a two person annual pass (thanks to a great local deal and the sweet lady at the ticket counter who gave ys $10 off) and includes annual passes for the SD Zoo AND the Safari Wild Animal Park. We also get two free guest passes, 10% off food and drinks and many other perks! We know this may seem nerdy - but when you have one family full of littles (mine) and one family who loves theme parks (Preston's) and a really geeky couple (us) - these annual passes are fantastic!

Our zoo passes also includes free SkyRides!

*Ditch the car. Alright, just kidding. I so wish that I could do this and bike everywhere. I hate you California gas prices!

*Don't focus so much on saving money that you forget to have fun! We love to eat out, experience new things and enjoy every second - we just try to be smart when doing so!

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