With my wife staying home with the baby now, I'm provide the primary source of income for our family. As such we have had to make a lot of changes to the way we spend our money, here are the things that have made the biggest difference in the amount of money we have available.
1) Get rid of the services that you don't need. In one of my previous posts I talked about ditching the cable company and how much money it can save. I will also be turning off our regular land-line phone number and gotten rid of our TiVo service and several smaller online services in favor of local systems. This is saving us over $1300 per year
2) Grow your own vegetables. They taste better and you can't beat 'free' veggies. The best thing we did in this regard is to get an automatic watering timer. Once we did this, we no longer had to think about the watering schedule and the plants grew like crazy. We are currently growing squash, peppers, green onion, jalapenos, tomatoes, beans, bazil, and will soon add garlic and cilantro. I hope to make my own home-grown salsa before the end of the season.
3) The free list on craigslist is our friend. When you need something, check this list first. Even if you don't find it in the free list, you will probably find it at a much discounted rate. I have collected many wooden pallets for free and purchased lumber at a significantly reduced rate. We are also getting a chicken coop for a great rate. It is one of the greatest resources that we have available to us.
4) Raise your own chickens. We are about to start this in the next month, and we are very excited about this. The advantages to raising your own chickens are numerous, but as far as money goes you get chicken meat and eggs. We are planning on starting with 25 baby chicks, keeping about half of them as laying hens, and using the rest for meat. Store bought chickens cost $8-9 per chicken, raising your own will end up costing you about $4 per bird, which an easily be earned back by selling eggs. The average price of eggs on craigslist is $3 per dozen, so with 12 chickens laying 4 eggs per day earning the money back for raising the chickens won't take long.
5) Change your shopping list. Instead of buying a box of cereal for $5 that last maybe three days, buy the big box of oatmeal from Costco for $10 and have oatmeal for a month. Instead of the fresh berries, dry the dried fruit. If you have fruit trees in the back yard like we do, get a dehydrator and dry your own - they last a lot longer.
We are still discovering new ways to reduce our bills, I'm probably going to have to take up fishing again. I am also interested in getting an electric vehicle of some kind and we are looking at solar panels. The effort goes on and on, eventually we will find new sources of income and other ways to reduce our expenses. Happy 4th of July everyone!