When my coach and I first decided I was going to stay home, he didn't even have a job yet. He had just graduated from college, and I had been our sole provider for two years. But we were determined to stay debt-free on a single income, so we began trying to figure out how we could financially make that possible.
Here we are many years later. We're still looking for every way possible to cut costs. So I thought I'd offer you a few creative, but practical, ways we have saved money on his coaching salary.
Let's start by having a heart-to-heart. I had to come to grips with a few things early on in our marriage (and pretty much every day since), some of which are really hard and some very relieving.
a Few Truths That Make Cutting Costs Easier
- I will not have the cutest _______. Fill in the blank. Clothes. House. Kids' clothes. Decor. Hairstyle. When I feel myself "needing" something that I can't afford, I have to remind myself, "In this season, I will not have the cutest _____. And that's okay." Sometimes it feels really important (because Pinterest) but if staying out of debt is more important, some of those things just can't be.
- I am going to have to make some sacrifices. Not just me, but everyone. I am going to have to cook a lot, paint my own nails, buy fewer presents for Christmas, and cut out some "major wants" from our budget. Everyone will still survive. And, dare I say, learn a few valuable lessons along the way.
- In the grand scheme, I am pretty rich. It's really, really easy to look around and think, EVERYONE HAS SO MUCH MORE THAN US. And lament over all the things we are sacrificing. I mean, let's be honest. This post could probably be renamed "First World Problems" because the things we are giving up, are usually not, say, food.
- This is (most likely) the poorest we will ever be. Barring outliers, most people make more money the older and more experienced they become. You might have to make a few sacrifices right now but it won't be like this forever.
So now that we've covered the basics, let's get to it. I'm giving you all the ways I've cut costs over the years and I'm including a few from other coaches' wives as well.
15 Tips to Cut Costs on Coach's Salary
Don't buy juice, coke, wine, beer, lemonade, tea. I know, I know. It sounds crazy, but this is one of the biggest ways I have saved at the grocery store. Drink water. Not only is it healthy, but it's also cheap. (Coffee is a non-negotiable, however. Or everyone dies.)
Buy in bulk.
I use Amazon Prime Subscribe and Save. I buy all my non-perishables through them -- diapers, wipes, Ziplocs, trash bags, toothbrushes, face wash, shampoo, soap, detergent, etc. -- and have them shipped to me whenever I need more. You get 15% off your entire order if you order 5+ items (20% off diapers and wipes). Yes, there is a Prime yearly subscription, but if I cut out cable (we'll get to that in a minute), the Prime shows and movies and more than make it worth it. Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial
Use Grocery Store Apps for the Rest of Your Food Purchases.
Ibotta, Fetch Rewards, Coupons.com, and individual grocery store apps all offer opportunities to use coupons without actually clipping a coupon. Use those store apps y'all! If you need products and you can use a coupon that stretches your budget. Plus, take a few minutes after you complete your purchases to scan your receipt with Fetch Rewards and you'll have a gift card to buy Christmas presents with by the end of the year.
Use cashback for holidays.
I know Dave Ramsey would not approve, but we buy everything on credit cards that have rewards programs. Two years ago, I didn't pay for a single Christmas present. We had accrued enough points to cover all of them. Last year, we used them to go on a trip for our anniversary. BUT, that being said...
NEVER pay interest (if at all possible).
We pay cash for everything. Pay your credit cards in full every month. When we remodeled our home, we paid cash. When we bought our cars, we paid cash. When we bought a new couch, we paid cash. If you don't have enough money to buy something, don't buy it.
Buy necessities for holidays.
At Christmas, use stocking stuffers to buy things your kids already need -- socks, underwear, pacifiers, sippy cups -- things you would have bought them anyway. Wam, bam. Two birds. One stone. Merry Christmas.
Create Amazon Wishlists
When you don't live near family you won't always see them for holidays and birthdays. It never fails that your mind will go blank when someone calls and asks what the kids want for their birthdays. Keep a running list of wants AND needs of various price ranges. That way whenever someone feels like sending the kids a gift they can ship directly and you know it's something helpful.
Use gifted money for splurges.
This is my chance to splurge on myself. Two years ago, I used my Christmas money to restock my closet. Last year, I used it to redecorate my daughters' room. This way, nobody questions how much money I am spending and whether or not we can afford it. It's basically free, right?
Do hair care on the cheap.
MasterCuts and Family Cuts, y'all. Haters gonna hate, but they do good work. Also, box color. In 5 years, you can spend $150 on a haircut & color. But today is not that day. I promise you will look stunning with your $15 'do. And for the kids, if you feel confident, do it yourself.
Cut the cord.
It didn't take us long to realize CABLE IS FREAKING EXPENSIVE. Here's our solution:
- get a streaming device (we have used AppleTV and FireTV and loved both)
- subscribe to Amazon Prime and/or Netflix and/or Hulu and/or SlingTV (we do Prime and Netflix)
- get an antenna for local channels
Get rid of stuff.
I am always amazed at HOW. MUCH. STUFF we have. Every time we move (once a year, duh), I end up with boxes and boxes of giveaway items. I've made some pretty good #cashmoney at places like Swap.com, Craigslist, and Facebook, but there are also the VarageSale and LetGo apps where I have bought stuff... and speaking of....
Second-hand shops (specifically the ones mentioned above) are a great place to find home decor. And did you know, a can of spray paint can work WONDERS.
Find a Friend to Swap Kids Clothes With.
You know there is a mom in your MOPS group or Bible study who has kids growing out of clothes just as your kids are needing them. Find a few friends who can trade clothes around and don't even bother with setting aside time to shop second-hand. If you're lucky you'll even avoid shopping for Halloween costumes and Easter dresses.
Keep a budget.
Budget is not a dirty word. It's actually very freeing. Bought a new shirt? Don't worry hubs! I have a $25 clothing budget this month so I'm actually UNDER BUDGET. No arguing. No accusing. Everybody wins. AND GUESS WHAT? There's an app for that. Mint.com is awesome. This website/app will allow you to import all credit cards and bank accounts so that you can see all your expenses in one place. You can then create budgets and categorize each expense so you know how much you are spending on each category each month. It's also super convenient during tax season to have everything categorized and searchable. If not for any other reason, make a budget so you can see what you spend most of your money on.
Don't stop giving.
Budget tithing and giving first. There's no better way to be reminded of how MUCH we actually have and how faithful God is than by giving sacrificially. Buy gifts for needy children before your own for Christmas. Sponsor a Compassion child. It's amazing how much further your money goes when you steward it well. There is no better way to live by faith, than by trusting that God will take care of you if you take care of his people.
I am by no means an expert. I still spend an exorbitant amount on groceries, and I have JUST GIVEN UP. I don't understand coupons. They make me feel stupid and angry.
However, I hope these are somewhat helpful. AND PLEASE if you have ways that you save money, I would love to hear them! I am always interested in how other people cut costs!