There’s nothing tiny when it comes to our family. There are two adults and three children in our home along with two dogs. Being the sole monetary provider for our family a good amount of stress is added when needing to pay the bills each month. We have all the amenities the typical working “American Dream” should have, and we pay dearly in monthly usage fees which can take a toll on the budgetary wallet. Well, we used to anyway. We look at our monthly money as a business would their Net Operating Income (NOI)

This is one of many of our answers to Drew’s November 3rd, 2010 post “What Does Unmoney Mean?” In his writing he gives reference of inspiration to Lynn Flagstead Hollomon at Family of Movers dot com and the push to add another chapter of minimal living to he and Crystal’s quest for a better life.

  • Communications-We have one of those bundle packages for our communications needs which used to cost us roughly $150.00 per month. Now, before you get all crazy it included our phone, cable (TV), and internet services. Our service provider offers different levels of usage for the cable and internet only while the phone service remains standard and unchangeable. For our TV, we have basic cable with High Definition service minus the movie channels as that is where the largest cost comes in. Besides, that’s what Netflix is for right? Then, there’s the internet service. They have the “high speed internet” for a cool $65.00 per month which is what we had.However, after wanting to slim a few of our monthly obligations, we found that they offer three levels of internet service; $65.00 for the high speed, $37.00 for mid-grade, and $17.00 for the lowest octane on a monthly basis. We asked for the slowest and the lady on the other end flipped the switch right then and there. We tried it and saw a minimal difference in page speed. Uploading and downloading is a bit slower, but nothing drastic. We saved $48.00/month though. That’s definitely worth the speed deficit.

$48.00/NOI Saved

  • Utilities-Our electric and gas utilities offer what they call “the budget plan” which is where they average your annual usage and come up with an acceptable payment each month year round. Basically, we pay $180.00/month for electric year round versus lower amounts during the fall, winter, and spring months then astronomical amounts during the summer. Although we didn’t save any service charges, we freed up some much needed NOI. Water and Sewage services are billed bi-monthly and there is no wiggle room other than curbing the usage thereof.

$40.00/NOI Saved

  • Insurance-We called our auto and home providers to ask if they had better rates or offered any “valued customer” benefits. If they said no, then we ventured elsewhere in search of better rates without losing any benefit of the current plan. We trimmed $35.00/month combined. Keep in mind we have only made one claim and that was during Hurricane Isabel in 2003 at the first home we owned.

$35.00/NOI Saved

  • Auto Loans-Nadine called the creditor and asked for a rate change that wouldn’t affect our credit score. We have purchased multiple vehicles in the past using this specific credit union which Nadine has been a member of since she was a toddler almost. They came back with an offer $125.00/month lower than what we had been paying. We refinanced at an interest rate 1.5 points lower and extended the loan for one year more . While most folks would balk at the idea of refying a vehicle loan, we welcome the opportunity to have a little more to play with each month. Mathematically we figured the interest costs were no higher, just had to pay a year longer. Same money though.

$125.00/NOI Saved

  • Groceries-One of our largest expenses as we were spending in excess of $550.00/month to feed the brood including all paper products and toiletries. We realize we are a growing family and this cost should and will increase as the years pass and our kids grow older. As luck would have it, Nadine is a frugal shopper, so she dug deep to find ways to curb a little more spending of our monthly NOI. There are four grocery stores within one to two miles of our home, three of which we frequent. We clip coupons and take advantage of in store savings as well as the double and triple coupon days. Nadine and I make weekly grocery purchases along with the occasional run to pick up milk, eggs, bread and the rest alike. With these stealth like tactics we have been able to narrow our grocery budget in the range of $350.00-$400.00 per month. Our budget gap closes even narrower during the growing season well through the winter months as we don’t buy any vegetables during this time for the love of the garden. We also preserve all in excess, so these numbers reflect the non-growing season. For the sake of this article I will use the worst case scenario.

$150.00/NOI Saved

Grand Total=$398.00/NOI Saved

As you can clearly see we have really done some cutting of our NOI which allows us to put a little more away each month and pay a little extra to other debts we have and enjoy life a little better. Keep in mind when the growing season is in and we’re harvesting this number increases by an average of $125.00/NOI saved each month which would bring our total NOI to $523.00! SAVED! You too can try these practices. All you need is a little time and a phone. Call your companies now and ask for lower rates and service packages.

The most important item saved is time. Time away from my job equals time with my family which is atop my current strives in life. I don’t have to work as much overtime to pay bills. I do work a little extra here and there to pay for a certain items we need for our home projects and such. Being a shift worker alone means time away from my family. One day this will change. One day……..

Tune in next Tuesday February 1, 2011 for my “Scaling Back the Lawn” post.

Do you have a monthly budget regimen that works for you and your family? What kind of obstacles have you overcome to reach your practices? If you have found this article helpful please start or join the conversation by dropping a comment in the Disqus box below. There is no registration needed.

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