MyFarmer and I have deemed 2017 The Year of No Fun. As the #littlehouseontheranch build moves closer and closer to fruition, we have decided that getting our savings account as packed as possible is of the utmost importance. We are giving ourselves $100 a month for anything “extra” we want. Going out to dinner with friends, coffee shop stops(ughhhh!), new tops just because they are cute, etc.
We sat down one Sunday night and budgeted for hours. While not thrilling, it was a great way to find out where all of our money goes and where we can make cuts. We were also able to see what our finances would look like once the new house was built. Mortgage vs rent, renters insurance vs home insurance, gas vs electric, etc. MyFarmer and I have looked through this budget before, but Sunday was the first time we truly did it with purpose and that really changed our way of looking at it. Before it was just “we want to be able to put X amount in savings every month.” This time it was, “we want to put as much as humanly possible into savings every month!” And you would be surprised how having that mentality allows you to find places to save.
It always becomes devastatingly obvious that our (my) animals take up the vast majority of our money. There is a reason I spent the first year of our marriage “transitioning” into sharing one bank account. I didn’t want to give MyFarmer a stroke with the sudden onset of money hemorrhage that is horse ownership. But luckily I’m married to a very understanding farmer that will never say, “It’s me or the horses!” Because, well, I’ve had Theodore and Alvin longer than MyFarmer… I’ll let you draw your own conclusions there.
Besides the animals, the other area that we are throwing hundo’s at like we makin’ it rain in da club is eating out and groceries. And no, the irony of farmers spending too much money on food is not lost on me.
Growing up mom always packed a cooler for any road trip or for weekends at horse shows. We never ate out at home or on the road. (Unless dad was with us… ha!) Mom, I totally get you and your egg salad now. Eating out is ridiculous! Whether fast food or a fancy sit down restaurant like the Cracker Barrel, it’s a rip off… Side note – can anyone in the world spell restaurant on the first try? I sure can’t. Or the second or third for that matter.
It’s wasn’t just eating out costs that were nutso – the grocery total was also seriously disturbing. Two average sized human beings do not need that much food! I knew that buying in bulk is more cost effective, but once I really started looking I was shocked by how much cheaper things like meat are when you buy the larger amounts. For example: ground beef. Our local WalMart’s sells 1 pound of ground chuck for $3.96. The 4.5 pound tray of ground chuck is $12.83, which equates to $2.85 per pound. That’s a $1.11 per pound difference between the 1 pound and 4.5 pound sizes! The average american eats around 50 pounds of beef a year, so our house of 2 consumes around 100 pounds of beef per year. Just by buying beef in bigger packaging we can save somewhere around $111.00 per year!
So the next day I bought this giant package of beef and I had to figure out what to do with it. I wanted to go ahead and get it all cooked at once because I didn’t want to risk it spoiling in the fridge if I didn’t use it. (I’m really bad at remembering to set out meat the day before for dinner, so I prefer not to freeze raw meat.) I ended up browning 3.5 pounds of it, adding a large jar of spaghetti sauce and putting it in 3 freezer bags. 2 bags went to the freezer and 1 bag in the fridge for another dinner that week. The remaining 1.5 pounds I made taco’s for dinner that night. There was enough leftover beef for me to have two quinoa/black bean/beef burrito bowls for lunch this week AND for MyFarmer for dinner on a night that I’m not home. With 4.5 pounds of beef and one hour I made 7 meals. Cheaper, time saving, and convenient. That’s what I’m talking about!
I’m still in need of cheap eating ideas… and that’s where you all come in! Although this is the year of no fun I don’t want it to be the year of ramen noodles. Give me your dinner money saving hacks!
Have a great weekend friends!
Laney “No Fun Allowed” Snider