I know the struggles of going from two incomes to one are not unique to our family, but it is all very new to us and has certainly has presented its challenges. What I’ve discovered, though, is that it has brought out the problem-solver in me and I’m just amazed at the ways we’ve found to keep costs down. Just in case any of these are useful to anyone else out there, I’d thought I’d share some of our strategies.

1. Most obviously, we cut out as many monthly expenses as we could and removed all automatic payments (no longer enough “float” money in the account). Although, as much as I tried to convince myself, I just could not bring myself to consider high-speed Internet an unnecessary expense:) I was amazed at some of the bills we were paying that we were able to decrease. Examples: We were still paying PMI=$75 a month because we weren’t able to put 20% down when we bought our house. After a little investigation and a home appraisal, we discovered that our home had appreciated so much over the past 5 years that were able to get PMI removed. Also, I realized that if we paid our car insurance up-front every 6 months instead of paying monthly, we saved $100! Who knew?

2. I started shopping at Aldi. I would have NEVER done this a few years ago…I remember being so embarrassed when my Mom would bring home Aldi brand food. Why? I don’t know – snobbery, I guess. Anyway, going a week and a half with $17 in your checking account and a family to feed will get you to do almost anything. I have to admit that Aldi has some awesome deals and most of their food tastes just as good, if not better, than some name brands. Brownie mix for $.99? That’s my kind of store! Not to mention that Audrey LOVES putting the quarter in the carts! Now, if I could just remember to bring my own bags:)

3. I try to do everything for free that I can. We get videos from the library, entertainment from free local activities and I’ve even found a few treasures from my neighbors’ trash..Shhh! Also, I now cut Justin’s hair and Jack’s hair (our dog). I must say that I’ve become quite adept with an electric razor!

4. We do not eat out without coupons! Restaurant visits are few and far between for us anymore and I hoard the restaurant coupons like a mad woman!

5. Dish soap is the miracle cleaner. Justin’s mom told me that she uses a few drops of dish soap in a spray bottle to clean her windows. I tried it and it’s better than any Windex or vinegar solution I’ve ever used – no streaks! PLUS, I’ve discovered that it’s awesome for cleaning counters, mirrors and floors. No more buying 10 different cleaning products for me! I’ll take one giant bottle of anti-bacterial dish soap from Sam’s and clean my house for a year (or more)! AND, the best thing is that I figured out how to refill the Swiffer Wet Jet bottle with a dish soap solution for my floors! I love the Wet Jet, but cringe at having to pay $3-something once a week for the solution. So, last week I cut a small slit in the rubber at the top of the bottle and funneled water and a few small drops of dish soap in there and it worked perfectly. Yippee! Small things make me happy these days!

6. I have become a Craigslist junkie. Need some extra money? What can I sell, now? I’m constantly thinking about what I can hock next to bring in a little extra cash. Justin loves that I’m cleaning out our house and making money at the same time!

7. Consider making money from strange sources. My mind has been reeling thinking of ways that I can bring in extra money without committing to a regular job. I’m doing motivation speaking very part-time for a non-profit group and also doing make-up application for weddings/school dances, etc. I have a few more ideas up my sleeve, but nothing else, yet.

So, you get the picture. Justin and I have been so blessed with great jobs and great salaries all of our married life. I have been so used to buying whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it with absolutely no second thought. It’s been a challenge to say the least, but is so totally worth it that I just don’t really even mind the financial struggles. Being with my girls all day, every day is worth far more to me than a closet full of new clothes ever could. I’m just so thankful that we are able to do what it takes to make this work.