Living on a teacher’s salary we are always looking for ways to save money and cut corners in our bills. However there are a few things that we do not scrimp on.
1. Our Kids Education.
2. Our vehicles.
3. Paying extra on our bills when possible.
Now I’m not saying we spend oodles of money without thinking about it, but I am willing to invest in certain things. In these areas we still look to save as much money as possible, but we are willing to pay what is necessary within reasonable means because it is important to us. We see these things as a good investment and worth the quality of what we pay for them.
Our Kids Education
This is the biggest area that we do not scrimp on- and are firm about that decision. You only get one chance to provide your child the best education possible growing up- and we take advantage of that. That does NOT mean we spending thousands of dollars on educational material.
That does NOT mean we will send our children to posh overpriced schools. And it does NOT mean that we will spend hundreds of dollars on the newest “educational” toy. Was it DOES mean however that after careful consideration we are willing to invest in certain things that we feel is appropriate for our family/children at the time.
For example, every year we buy an annual pass to one amusement location- this year it is the zoo (last year was the science museum). We will consider investing in a few classes throughout the year for my son to attend for extracurricular activity that has some value to it. Occasionally we will buy an educational toy/product and I do not balk at the price. (we have just ordered Melissa & Doug’s See N Spell)
There is much debate on whether or not to buy a brand new car or buy a used car. We have personally never owned brand new cars- and probably never will. BUT we are willing to invest a certain amount of money to ensure that we will have a good quality vehicle for our family. Our first 2 cars we bought were both junkers and we knew it.
We were trying to scrimp on the front end and buy a cheap car, but it ended up costing us in the long run- we sold them both in under 2 years from purchase. We decided then to invest in buying a good used car from a quality dealership. Both of our vehicles have last longer than any of our friends/family and they both now have over 100K miles on them with only normal wear/tear. If you do your homework and are careful you can find a good used car.
We have family members that buy their cars brand new and they’ve had 2 lemons now. We saved $15,000+ and still have our good-running cars. In fact the first time we purchased our first “good” car we loved it on the spot- but waited an entire month before buying it. We knew if it was their a month later it was the right car for us.
Paying Extra on Bills
One key to our financial survival at this point living on a teachers salary, is to pay extra money on bills when we can. We have no debt and pay our bills in full by the end of every month. But when we have a little extra money every month (it could be only $10!) I will put that money down towards a bill to be used as a credit later.
For example, out water bill runs about $15/month. So starting at the next school year every month I pay $20 a month no matter if the bill is less or not. We then receive credit on next month’s bill, and by the summer- when our finances are tightest- I have so much credit built up that I do not need to pay my water bill in the summer. All it took was diligently placing an extra $5 a month on my account.
Every year we usually have a tremendous amount of medical bills that we pay monthly balances on (no interest). And every year when we receive our tax return we place at least $1000 on our medical bills. This year I had a total balance of $1600- and we just paid that in full. Now I can use that extra money saved every month for other bills or savings.
I also highly suggest placing as much extra money as possible on your mortgage if you have one. I won’t go into this because you can easily search about it online- but it will greatly benefit you in the long run!
How We Do It
One way that we offset costs for our children’s education is by religiously taking money out of our tax returns EVERY year for them and we put it in a special savings account. We NEVER use it to pay bills. In fact we never take any money out for any reason unless we have paid for an educational expense. We try to cover educational expenses out of our monthly budget and what we can’t handle paying will come out of this fund.
For vehicles, we take a set amount of our tax return every year for house repairs (which include vehicle repairs). My husband does most of our vehicle repairs himself that he has learned to do along the way. If we are in desperate need of saving money to pay for car repair/purchase to save every penny we can get our hands on. That means saving electricity, skipping grocery shopping for a week, hosting a yard sale, selling things online, etc. Wherever we can possibly get money from we try.
I mentioned paying extra money on medical bills from our tax return (do you see a pattern here?!). Our tax return every year is used almost 100% for anticipated bills. This is how we pay for our car insurance, children’s education, medical bills, Christmas presents, savings, house/car repair, and more.
BUT some people don’t have that option. There are several other things that we do to save money. If our property taxes decrease, our mortgage payment goes down. Instead of paying the lesser amount, we continue paying the higher amount and apply the balance towards our principal.
Look for alternatives. We do not have cable (or any TV for that matter!) until we just signed up for a month free trial at Netflix. We’re going to continue our subscription for Netflix. It’s $10/month and we will get DVD’s to rent in the mail for no extra cost, as well as TV programs & movies on our computers & our Wii.
If you don’t have a Wii you can buy a special box that will stream the feed to your TV. We also do not have cell phones. We bought a “pay as you go” phone to keep in the car in case of emergency. No monthly fees or contracts.