I tend to prioritize saving over earning more money. It’s worth noting *why* I do this. Obviously, if you have a big mountain of debt to move, the best way to move the needle is to make more money. However, we don’t have an income problem so much as a spending problem. Or at least, we didn’t and we did.
When this blog was born, we were two teachers at the start of our careers with a $200,000+ mortgage and two car loans. That’s some serious debt, especially when your incomes don’t combine for six figures. And spoiler alert? That debt doesn’t pay itself.
Back in the day, we thought nothing of dropping $100 on sushi dinners or $200 at the bars on weekends. Finally, we realized the simple truth: we needed to stop spending everything we were making. As a result, that’s why I always tend to prioritize savings, no matter how small. It truly was the antidote to excessive spending that I so desperately needed!
But saving isn’t everything. As much as I love to be frugal, I have to be quick to admit that earning more really matters. That’s why I thought it would be worthwhile for us to start keeping tabs on ways that we are saving more and how we are earning extra.
Here’s what a week in February looked like.
5 Ways to Save
It should surprise no one that a lot of our savings are focused on two of our biggest expenses: food…and our kid. Here’s how we saved last week:
Borrow, don’t buy
HP is obsessed with snow. Truthfully, he’s obsessed with the outdoors. All winter, he’s been a dedicated snow shoveler. The catch is that he’s been using the toddler garden spade he got last spring to shovel
the driveway the front lawn. We almost bought him a kid snow shovel at Home Depot when my parents offered me theirs. More accurately, it’s my shovel from when I was a kid! I know they let him play with it when they rake and scoop leaves, so I didn’t want to take it. But then my dad suggested we just return it after the last snow of the season. I didn’t even hesitate. $Free.99 AND clutter that won’t stay in my house permanently? Done and done.
Roast your veggies!
Ever since I wrote a post wondering if we should up our grocery budget, I’ve been keeping a careful eye on what’s in our fridge. Specifically, what’s languishing in our fridge. We don’t have a pantry, and we don’t have a gourmet fridge (because your girl is NOT a gourmet anything!). That means that there isn’t a lot of space for food to hide.
But I did notice that we were starting to have some food waste, which is terrible for the planet and is also throwing money away. So I decided to add extra veggies to our sheet pan meals and slow cooker recipes this past week. Doesn’t matter if the zucchini is squishy or the sweet potato is getting soft when you roast them!
Visit the library
We hit the library at least once a week, and it’s especially helpful for me when I start to feel the itch to buy my kid things. The longer I’m a parent, the more I realize that I am probably always going to be at odds with myself over (not) buying HP all the things. We grabbed three new (to us) puzzles and three PAW Patrol DVDs. My library receipt estimates this saved us about $72. I’ll take it!
Early last week was cold but not sub-zero. Even though I was tempted to get some steps inside Target or another store, we threw on some extra layers and ventured outside instead. We had way more fun, and we weren’t tempted to spend even a dime.
Shop your closet
A wonderful Twitter friend shipped us a box of toddler clothes the other week. Yet when we learned that we had a wake and funeral to go to for an in-law, it was practically instinct to add toddler clothes to my online shopping cart. Thankfully, I realized that in the box of adorable clothes were several sweaters and pants that were formal and totally comfortable. We saved probably $25+, and we were able to give a bigger memorial gift to St. Jude’s as a result!
5 Ways to Earn
My husband and I both side hustle, but we wanted to look at earnings that actually cleared for this count. That’s why you won’t see his coaching or my writing club stipend. We put in the work last week (and so many other weeks!), but that payout comes later. Here’s how we earned last week:
Work that 9-5, baby!
OK. Fine. I don’t have a 9-5, but I pulled my regular income from teaching. Most days I work from 6:45 until 4 and then put in another hour or so from home. My sweet, sweet paycheck might not push me past six figures anytime soon, but it’s double where I started and provides fantastic medical care for me and my family. I’ll take it!
Say yes to extras
I subbed one day during my plan period because our district is having a major substitute teacher shortage, and I couldn’t say no to our amazing office staff who asked for help! I also do lunch supervision 3-4 days a week. It’s only maybe $40 after taxes if I’m lucky, but I’ll take it!
Cashed in with Achievement
This is the most low-maintenance app on my phone. It’s connected to my FitBit (mining data for Big Brother, I am sure), and a few times a year, I cash out for $10 via PayPal. I cashed out and sent the money straight to our Christmas fund.
RELATED POST: Why My Financially Stress Free Christmas Starts Now
Opened a Christmas Savers Account with SoFi
Before the kind folks at SoFi think I’ve found a product they didn’t realize they offer, it’s actually a plain ol’ high-interest savings account. However, I wanted somewhere entirely out of sight and out of mind to stash our cash for Christmas. I opened with a referral link from my dear friend Josh, and the $25 bonus hit my account this week. It might not seem like much, but it’s actually enough to cover a Christmas present! Awesome!
Cashed in with Ibotta, too!
This app is not low maintenance. You can use it in a few different ways:
- Link rewards cards
- Snap photos of your receipts
- Shop via your mobile device
It does require a little bit of clicking and little bit of thought, but I think it’s plenty worth it. I claimed $40 via PayPal and–you guessed it!–sent it over to our Christmas fund, too!
Final Thoughts on How I Saved & How I Earned Last Week
I’m most excited about the savings that netted us more time as a family. In the past, winter was always pretty magical at first but come February, I would be dreaming of summertime Chicago. Now? I cross my fingers that the snow lasts a little longer simply because it’s so fun. The fact that it seems to save us money doesn’t hurt either. We’ll see what next week brings!
So Tell Me…How did you save last week? Are you trying anything out to grow your earnings?