I'm no longer living with the high levels of financial anxiety I felt during the Great Recession. However, I'm having a hard time shaking my frugal financial habits now that the recession is over. That's clearly a good thing. One of the greatest lessons I learned is that I don't have to make major changes to improve my financial situation. It's really the small things that matter the most. The plus side is I don't have to pay the price in terms of my lifestyle. I found several painless ways to save money without sacrificing my happiness and lifestyle.
Revisiting our cable bill
My husband and I just paid our $200 cable and phone bill every month without questioning it. We saw an advertisement that offered new customers the same service for half as much. I told my husband I'd call and tell the cable company I was thinking about switching and wondered what kind of deals they could offer us to stay. We found out that they offered new packages that would better suit our needs and cost us less money. We ended up slashing $60 a month from our bill for a total savings of $720.
Having a stay-vacation
I didn't want to give up a vacation this year, but travelling can be extremely expensive with the high cost of gasoline. We saved $600 on our family vacation this year simply by vacationing close to home. We stayed at our own home instead of booking a hotel since the beach is less than an hour away. I got creative by printing out "room service" menus under their doors that included their favorite meals. My kids ended up having a blast.
Cutting back on entertainment
During the recession, I took a more extreme approach. I told my husband we could no longer to the movie theater. Going out to eat was out of the question. After the recession, we went a little crazy and started eating out several times a week. I think of that as our "spending rebellion" phase. Now I just make small tweaks to our entertainment budget. Instead of going out three times a week, we go out just once a week. We go to the movie once a month instead of twice a month.
Adopting a DIY approach
I am not a handy person, but I am committed to saving money with a DIY approach. Instead of taking on major projects, I've started small. My father-in-law is mentoring me when it comes to fixing minor things around the home. It's embarrassing to stay that I used to pay someone to change the batteries in our smoke detectors. Since he started mentoring me, I've learned to cut down palm tree branches, replace air filters, paint, hang lighting fixtures, install ceiling fans and drape hardware as well as fix minor plumbing problems. I could save thousands of dollars in my lifetime by knowing how to maintain my own home.
Although it was tough to live through the Great Recession, I'm glad I was able to change my financial life for the better. I found out that I actually like to fix things around the home. When it comes to cutting back on our spending, I found I appreciate going out to eat more when I do it less often.
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