Chasing Paper

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Unfortunately, adoption is expensive.  Most routes to adopt a child are exorbitant.  Then once the adoption is complete, you still have many unexpected costs-- especially if your child has special needs: medical bills, medications, therapy, etc.  And if you’re like me, sometimes working outside of the house and handling all of the chaos going on at home just isn’t possible, so you also have to factor in less income.

In the past six months, our family has had to dramatically change the way that we spend, for several different reasons.  I have been working on simplifying my life in many areas, and fortunately, that does end up saving a bit of money.  We cut way back on eating out when we adopted Charlie.  We do eat out occasionally, but we broke the habit of doing it every week.  At first, it was too overwhelming for all of us, and then we just got used to eating at home, and most of us prefer it that way.

I have found the following ways can really add up when you look at them over a month’s time.  (I did not include cutting cable because I think most people know that is an easy way to save a lot of money.)  Nothing earth-shattering, but just a few tricks that you may not know about or have considered, that will really add up.

1.     Grocery shop at Aldi.  Shopping is not a really a pleasure here, but once you get used to their prices, you’ll never want to shop at Publix again.

2.     Plan out meals for the week and stick to your grocery list.  This takes about 15 minutes a week of planning per week for me.  I also have a menu list of about 20 items, so when I don’t feel creative, I just check the list and ask my family what they would like me to cook that week. 

3.     Plan Target trips for once a month, buy everything else at Dollar Tree.  Target is robbing people blind-- everyday.  Resist!  I have been keeping a list in my phone and went today.  I hadn’t been in weeks and weeks and I spent $65.  I used to go at least once a week and spent more than that almost every time.

4.     Date Night In once a week and go out nice once a month.  You deserve to eat a nice meal that someone else made every now and then, and you need quality time with your spouse.  This does not need to cost $500 per month.

5.     Buy as much of your Costco list online as you can (shipping is free).  Not everything you want can be shipped, but we all know that the amount of money that we spend at Costco would be cut in half if we went there half as much.

6.     Ask for movie tickets and restaurant cards as gifts instead of more stuff.  If we’re honest, most of us have more than enough stuff, trinkets and gadgets.  I did get a few fun things this Christmas, but had enough movie passes to pay for movies all the way through Oscar Season.  Woot! 

7.     Try a shopping fast and/or write down every purchase other than groceries for 2 weeks. Revealing, sobering, embarrassing are a few words that come to mind regarding this little experiment.

8.     Cut back on kids’ activities.  They are sneakily expensive and your kids really don’t need to be so busy.  With more free time, they can be creative and will learn to entertain themselves more.

9.     Buy store brand as much as possible.  I have been doing this for years and I really can’t tell the difference in hardly anything. 

10.   Stop shopping for a pick-me-up.  Go for a walk instead. 

If you really need to go to IKEA or TJ Maxx to get something specific, go through your house quickly before you head out the door.  Assess the amount of stuff (or clutter) you already have and take a mental picture.  Visualize that picture while you’re waiting in line on your way to check out.

Saving money takes discipline but creates margin for you to be able to do the things for and with your family that really matter.