The title sounds appealing, doesn’t it? I didn’t pick a misleading title, I really meant it. Most people reading this right now apply and are eligible for this $10,000 raise regardless of how much you make right now. What’s the catch. We’ll it’s not a get rich quick scam. It’s called frugal living.

Several years ago, my wife found a blog series about finding 100 ways to save $100 in a year. If you could find 100, then your annual savings would literally be $10,000. Some people live very frugally, but most people have a lot of fluff in their budget… even if they don’t make a lot of money. After paying gobs of cash for a baby and being back down to one car, we’re very motivated to hit some savings goals… by Christmas. We’re setting a goal to save $5000 by the end of the year. We’re off to a bit of a late start and there are several things that we started a few years ago and we’re already reaping the rewards from the savings.

Let me be clear, I’m not talking about taking on an extra job or making more money. I’m just talking about not spending as much money. Some of it has a cost, usually to comfort or extra time. I don’t have loads of spare time as it is, but hitting the savings goal seems worth it to me, plus it’s something Sara and I get to do together. So, below is the list.

I’ll write some follow-up posts with more details of what we’re doing specifically in the coming days. My wife typed out this list and I tweaked… so if it sounds like an odd thing for me to say (like having cute napkins) it wasn’t me.

Oh, last thing. Here’s how we actually plan to save where we dont’ just see the money get lost in the budget. Once we determine an item that we’re going to save (like moving our Netflix subscription from $19.00 a month to $9, we’ll adjust our entertainment budget by $10 and increase our monthly savings transfer by $10. So, every way that we determine to save, we immediately adjust our savings transfers so that the savings is actually being moved into an account. In areas like electrical/water savings, we can see our actual expenses versus our budget and transfer the surplus manually after we pay the bill. Okay, here’s the list. I hope that some of these things inspire you. If you end up saving $10,000 this year, feel free to send me an iTunes or Amazon giftcard to support my app and kindle habit. 🙂

  1. Utilities – Time our showers (5 minutes is probably enough)
  2. Utilities – Our HOA informed us after the drought last year that we’d need to replant our grass. (Thank you HOA. We did know that. Something about the brown dirt where we once had grass was a clue.) Buffalo Grass is a grass native to this area that only requires watering every 30-45 days even in drought. Yes, please!
  3. Utilities – Turn down the temperature on the hot water heater (not sure we can go much lower actually).
  4. Utilities – Look into a blanket designed to insulate hot water heaters. See if it’s worth it.
  5. Utilities – Agree upon an acceptable amount of water for Titus’ bath and use the smaller bathtub consistently rather than the master bath garden tub… or even just going to 3-4 minute showers most days of the week.
  6. Utilities – Look into faucet aerators (apparently a very cheap device that mixes air with water to create great pressure but reduce water usage).
  7. Utilities – Plug all our electronics into power strips and turn them off when not in use.
  8. Utilities – Unplug all cell phone chargers when not in use.
  9. Utilities – Unplug all small appliances when not in use.
  10. Utilities – Stop charging phones and computers overnight.
  11. Utilities – Read fridge/freezer manuals to see if we can run them any warmer and still maintain appropriate food safety.
  12. Utilities – Select a temperature that is our max for air and heat. Make dressing warmer/cooler the first action rather than adjusting the thermostat.
  13. Utilities – Use the stove, broiler and crockpot more often than the oven, particularly in the summer.
  14. Utilities – In the winter, open the oven door after cooking to help heat the house.
  15. Utilities- Make sure all of us (Titus included) turn off lights in rooms we are not in.
  16. Utilities – I often stays up late at night and falls asleep with his computer and lights on. Set a phone timer to wake me up every night to go to bed and turn off lights/computer.
  17. Utilities – Check the utility company. If certain hours of the day are cheaper, run laundry, etc. during those hours.
  18. Utilities – Check the trash company. How much is the discount for a smaller city bin? Be vigilant about recycling and composting to fit trash into a smaller bin.
  19. Utilities – IDEAS FOR OTHERS – get a thermostat timer to adjust temperature while you’re at work. (Should pay for itself in first year and after that… it’s all profit)
  20. Utilities – IDEAS FOR OTHERS – get a hot water heater timer to adjust the temperature while at work. Not sure this works for gas heaters (Should pay for itself in first year and after that… it’s all profit).
  21. Utilities – Have electronic free nights somewhat regularly. Burn candles. Be romantic. 😉
  22. Utilities – Learn to pay attention to sunrise/sunset. Plan bedtime accordingly to maximize natural light.
  23. Phone – DID THIS ALREADY – cancel our home phone
  24. Phone – Review our phone plans/needs. Downgrade appropriately. I’ve heard that you can negotiate rates… be assertive on this.
  25. TV – DID THIS ALREADY – cancel cable/satellite
  26. Netflix… go to streaming only.
  27. Internet – Review our internet plan. Make sure it’s the best plan for us. I was recently told that you can negotiate this.
  28. Insurance – Review our car and homeowners insurance plans to make sure we are not paying for benefits we don’t need.
  29. Insurance – Look at paying for the full year at once. Cheaper with many companies to do this.
  30. Insurance – DID THIS ALREADY – Health insurance is thankfully through work and is already a high deductible/HSA plan.
  31. Insurance – DO THIS ALREADY – Compare health bills with Explanation of Benefits from insurance companies. I was overcharged at least $300 last year.
  32. Insurance – Save up a little money and move the car to a higher deductible plan.
  33. Infant Care – Switch to cloth diapers
  34. Infant Care – Make our own potty pail (this will make sense to those who cloth diaper)
  35. Infant Care – Ask a friend for her recipe for homemade cloth diapering detergent.
  36. Infant Care – DOING THIS ALREADY – Make our own baby food
  37. Gas – Group errands according to vicinity
  38. Gas – Check tire air pressure regularly to meet recommended level for maximum gas mileage
  39. Gas – Be aware of cheapest prices (If you pre-buy gas at walmart or some places on a giftcard, you can save money)
  40. Gas – Apparently driving slowly helps with gas mileage
  41. Clothes – Learn to at least look at secondhand clothes for the kids. Don’t know enough about this to know if it’s really cheaper than shopping clearance sales which is my current method.
  42. Groceries – Eat vegetarian at breakfast, lunch, and dinner several nights a week.
  43. Groceries – Experiment with making our own bread. Certainly healthier. Cheaper and delicious? Worth the time investment? I don’t know…
  44. Groceries – Use cloth napkins more often to cut out paper napkins. Bonus – they’re cuter.
  45. Groceries – Learn to make my own household cleaners and detergents.
  46. Groceries – Portion control.
  47. Groceries – Don’t eat after 8 at night. (Good for weight loss too!)
  48. Groceries – Only drink water. (Ummm…yes…I am kicking that Dr Pepper habit. So not Fun!)
  49. Groceries – DO THIS ALREADY – Watch meat sales. Meat sales rotate through a cycle every 6-8 weeks, so I buy in bulk when what we like is on sale.
  50. Groceries – DO THIS ALREADY – Watch produce sales. Learn to know what is a good price per pound and buy only what’s on sale. Bonus – usually what’s on sale is what’s in season, so it tastes better.
  51. Groceries – DO THIS ALREADY – use meat as a “condiment”. Meat in chili or on a homemade pizza goes much farther than a pot roast.
  52. Groceries – DO THIS ALREADY – Make a meal plan.
  53. Groceries – DO THIS ALREADY – Learn to make simple dishes. A side of steamed broccoli is cheaper than a broccoli casserole. Bonus – it’s healthier too.
  54. Groceries – DO THIS ALREADY – Look in the pantry, fridge and freezer first to get ideas for the meal plan. Then look at the sales ads. Full-priced items can be the few remaining items to fill in the gaps. Websites that let you search recipes by ingredients can help with this.
  55. Groceries – DO THIS ALREADY – Cut the junk. Junk food is not filling, so you have to buy more food to feel full.
  56. Groceries – DO THIS ALREADY – Kiss cereal goodbye. For the price per pound, you can buy steak on sale. Just sayin’. Use grits, bulk oatmeal or bake muffins (which can be made in bulk and frozen) instead.
  57. Groceries – DO THIS ALREADY – cut down on paper towels by using old rags/towels for cleaning
  58. Groceries – DO THIS ALREADY – eat protein at every meal and don’t be afraid of healthy fats. Both help cut down on food cravings so we eat less food.
  59. Groceries – DO THIS ALREADY – Run a zero-waste kitchen. If you want ideas for this, ask my wife. I’ve learned so much about this the past few years.
  60. Groceries – Every 6-8 weeks, don’t go to the grocery store… just scrounge out of the freezer/pantry
  61. Entertainment – Slash this budget significantly. Really – just say no.
  62. Entertainment – Learn to have people over more often, rather than eat out.
  63. Entertainment – Use the library for books and DVDs. I already mostly do this, but we can be stricter for sure.
  64. Entertainment – Pay more attention to the free hiking trails, free city festivals, free museum days. Those are more fun than restaurants/movies anyways.
  65. Entertainment – Trade babysitting with friends for date nights.
  66. Haircuts – A friend offered to cut our hair. Take her up on it.
  67. Haircuts – If you normally get your haircut once a month, push back to every 5 or 6 weeks.
  68. Other – Cancel the gym membership. There is this thing called a trail. I should run on it.
  69. Other – DO THIS ALREADY. Use a written budget. Thanks Mom, Dad, Dr. Rinne Martin at ORU and Dave Ramsey for teaching me this!
  70. Other – DO THIS ALREADY USUALLY. Spend mostly with cash to not overspend.
  71. Other – Spending cash only has a psychological affect on us… you tend to spend less.
  72. Mortgage – Last year we refinanced our mortgage to 3.5% on a 15 year note. This didn’t free up any cash for us, but it’s saving us a TON of money over the life of the loan. Refinancing can be a good idea for some people.