The road to Financial Freedom really hasn't been peppered with big changes. We've done a lot of little things, most importantly, becoming purposeful in our spending and saving. Writing things down on paper gives you so much more accountability. For instance, when I write down how many milkbones I'm going to eat in one day, that always keeps me from overeating....I mean, usually...well, er, um...maybe that was a bad example.
Keeping track of every dime spent lets us know where we're spending our money, where we can afford to tighten things up, and where we can let loose a little bit. It also makes it quite easy to identify where we can save money each month if there's something special we want to buy or want to do.
In addition, we've been able to stretch our budget through things like Ebates, ShopatHome, MyPoints, Swagbucks (sign up using the link on the right side of the blog!), etc. These have been super easy ways to earn a few gift cards here and there. And honestly, if you're using a gift card to buy a birthday gift, that's $15-$20 that you can use towards a family vacation or something special for yourself. The key is, as the Duggars always say, to "save the difference".
That's where being purposeful comes in. When you save money on groceries, or utilities, or anything really, you need to have a "destination" for that saved money. Otherwise it gets absorbed, and will likely get spent. We've written down goals for each month and for the year to help keep us focused. When we come into some extra money, we always know where it's going to go. We're in this game for the long haul and are excited about some great forward progress--hopefully by leaps and bounds now that we're debt free except for our house!
If you're looking to get started, here are some great free budget templates. I'm a little bit of an Excel addict and I love how most of these already have the formulas plugged in so that they calculate everything for you.
What are some of the small things you've done to save money or shave money off your budget?