writ by Dawn
In Part One of this blog post, I explained how I started a freelance writing career in 2010 and was able to make it a success by systematically slashing my expenses so I had time to make my business a success and so I could live a real life and be a real Mom while I did so.
In Part One, I shared the cuts I made and the money I saved in the area of food – which came out to a little over $6500 per year. Now I’ll explain how I cut another $5500 a year on other expenses.
4. Ditching Cable
When I was working outside the home, we spent $165 for the cheapest cable option and internet service. That was $1980 per year. I would be working online, so I needed the internet, but I knew cable was going to have to go.
I cut back to just the internet (with another company to get a $35 deal) and we had nothing but Netflix ($9) for two years. As I started making good money, we switched to a Roku and now have Netflix and Amazon Prime. I paid $99 for the Roku, $99 a year for prime and $108 a year for Netflix.
Here’s where one of those bonuses comes in. We not only didn’t miss cable (the kids found plenty of stuff to watch and so did I) but we spent more time together playing games, going to the pool or just talking. MONEY SAVED $1872 per year the first two years and $1674 per year since then.
5. Changing cell phones and service
When I was about to start my freelancing career, I was paying for the “cool” phones for both myself and my then-thirteen-year-old daughter, plus contract service. It cost us $170 per month. I paid off our contract the month before I left my job (it was up anyway), let my daughter keep her phone but sold mine and used the money to get a less cool phone for me and Straight Talk monthly service for both of us. Our monthly cell phone expense dropped from $170 to $90. MONEY SAVED: $960 per year
(Since I was going to be working at home, I got rid of our landline and saved an additional $25 per month or $300 per year.)
6. Shop the Thrifts
I’ll give you a disclaimer right here: I’ve always loved thrift shops. But this one is just for you moms that are still using your credit cards or even what little extra cash you have to shop the mall and Target for yourselves and the kids.
I’m lucky in that I can wear what I want now and that tends to be jeans, yoga pants and Old Navy cargos. But when I was working outside the home, I had to dress nicely and I wore everything from Ralph Lauren to Tahari to Milly. But I got everything at the thrifts. (You can’t imagine the fun of finding last season’s Milly dress, in your size, for $7.)
Even now, I may wear jeans, but they’re 7 for All Mankind, Citizens for Humanity and Hudson. My now-16-year-old daughter wears nothing but American Eagle, Aeropostale, Journeys, Buckle, Roxy and Hollister. My 10-year old boy/girl twins wear mainly Gymboree. I spend about $600 per year for all of us, and that includes new wardrobes every spring and fall and periodic shopping here and there. Even if you spend $100 a month on clothing, you could save $600 per year.
7. Read for Free
I’m a read-a-holic and I’m not interested in a 12-step program. I love to read books and magazines (magazines were my weekend treat) and before I started freelancing, I spent about $100 per month on new books from Amazon, used books from the used book store or garage sales, and magazines from the grocery store.
A few months before quitting my job, I got us all library cards and limited my magazines to those I got for free or a quarter at the thrifts and garage sales. My monthly expenses for books went from $100 to about $5, for a savings of $1140 per year. Now I have a Kindle app on my phone, download tons of free books for the kids and me, and rarely spend a dime on reading.
8. DIY Yourself
When I was working in management, I spent about $40 per month on gel nails and about $60 per month (all told) on coloring and highlights.
Working from home gives me more freedom to look as bad as I need to and I get that. But I think I look just fine with my $12 home coloring every three months and my DIY mani/pedi treatment. Best of all, I save another $96 per month or a little over $1100 per year.
Between just these eight things I’ve shared with you, I managed to cut $12,000 a year from my expenses. That made all the difference between me going home to work and staying there and having to go out and get a job after three months or so. We’ve had tight months since I started freelancing, but we have always paid the bills from the get-go. But only because my bills were so small.
You have two choices: you can make more money or you can need less. To be honest, I like the freedom that comes with the latter.