July 22, 2020
Since starting my business as a Layton Utah wedding photographer, things have always been tight. Within a few months of each other, we were expecting our first baby and my husband changed his major in college to aviation. We were both students. And both of us worked a few hours a week at close to minimum wage jobs. Aviation is and expensive degree and having a baby isn’t cheap either haha! I started my business as a Layton Utah wedding photographer to try to help make ends meet while still being able to be home with our baby girl. Over the past 4 years, we’ve had to learn how to make due with less. A LOT less. So here are my top 10 budget hacks that have really helped us over the past few years! Enjoy!
Okay. This one may seem self explanatory but when we ACTUALLY started using a budget it helped a TON. I used to want to be able to budget everything in advance for the entire year. But life just doesn’t work that way! Each month I make a budget using the BEST app from Dave Ramsey called Every Dollar. At the start of the month, I enter in what we made the previous month and make our budget from that. Throughout the month we enter our transactions, and at the beginning of the next month I go back through our statement and make sure we didn’t miss entering anything before I make the next budget. Biggest game changer right here. We also use the app Acorns so that we can just round up all our entries. It makes things much simpler!
We’ve bought TONS of things used. Our stroller, a lot of my camera gear, my laptop, our car. We love KSL classifieds, the classifieds pages on Facebook, Poshmark, or the D.I. for this.
We got this beastly stroller for more than half it’s regular price by buying it used and we LOVE it.
We had to learn to be creative doing free things. Picnics with our kids, hiking, doing a date night where we make our own Coldstone-style ice cream, using gift cards we were given to go out to eat, finding free deals or events in town, giving each other homemade gifts, you name it. There are still so many fun things that you can do without much if you get your creativity going!
One of our date nights! We did a bake off where we had to make something using Ritz crackers, pumpkin puree, and cottage cheese haha! My cake was surprisingly so good. 😆
We found a free swim class in town for our daughter and she loved it!
We use our credit card just like a debit card. We pay it off in full every month so we never carry a balance on it. The perk of this is that we still get all the rewards a credit card has to offer. In the past 3 months, we got over $75 just in credit card rewards! We have a Discover card and we love it! If you think you can treat it like a debit card and never carry a balance then I highly recommend this because then you basically get free cash! When things were tight, it was so nice to have this extra cash to use as fun money to go out to dinner or go on a little trip somewhere or buy a new shirt.
For a long time I couldn’t afford a nanny or babysitter of any kind. If we wanted to go on a date or if I wanted to get some work done, I couldn’t pay someone for that. So, I traded! I would trade babysitting or offer to make dinner or exchange services for a session. Maybe you could even trade clothes and shoes with a friend or family member! Think about what you have to offer and trade services and things when money is tight!
I even taught my mom a few photography things and then had her take our newborns because we couldn’t afford a photographer! And she nailed it!
We borrow a lot from our parents. We don’t have legit camping gear, so we borrow it. I borrowed a laptop for a while until I could afford my own. We borrowed our friend’s hiking baby carrier. If you know someone who has something you need and you think they’d be willing to let you borrow it, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Always take super good care of it and be grateful! You don’t need everything right away. Most people are happy to help you out!
Basically all the gear we used for this camping trip with a friend we borrowed!
I plan out our meals every week before I make my grocery list. It took a while to get it down but I hardly ever have to go to the grocery store more than once a week, which helps me not binge buy as much. I also look at what ingredients I need and if there are multiple meals I could make that use them, I do! Then we don’t waste food. To meal plan, I just write down what meals we’re going to have each day and put the ingredients I don’t have on my list! Meal planning definitely helps us spend less on groceries.
We had things we had still from when we were kids and teens and we didn’t use them anymore, so we sold them! We use KSL classifieds to sell stuff all the time. Even if you only get $10 out of something, it’s still $10 in your pocket rather than something you don’t use taking up space. I’m a big believer in Emily Ley’s Simplified Life approach!
I’ve cut my husband’s hair for as long as we’ve been dating pretty much. It’s not my favorite thing and I’m not the best at it, but I can do a good enough job. For one pair of clippers that was $15, we’ve saved TONS of $15 trips to the hairdresser. Now, I would wholeheartedly be all for sending him to the hairdresser when we can afford that. But for now, it works. I cut off my old out-of-style jeans and rolled them up to be shorts. I seriously get compliments on them almost every time I wear them. In our last apartment, I wanted to have a command center, so I made one for less that $5 using posterboard and manilla envelopes. Doing little things to save money and getting creative really does help!
Here’s my command board and our decor! For the command center, we were given the clock for our wedding and already had the dry erase board from our childhood. And I used an old calendar from a previous year and taped a free calendar for the current year onto the months haha! Super ghetto but it worked! I used tiny paper clips and string for the bottom left photo and all frames from either our wedding or the D.I. or Walmart for the bottom right!
We used to feel really embarrassed that we didn’t have a lot of money and sometimes it put us in awkward situations where we were invited to do something we couldn’t afford. So we would do it and then be scrambling later to try and pay for it. Just let people know where you’re at! We’ve told friends we can’t go out to eat but we’d be happy to have them over for dinner instead. Or that we need to go to the theater on Tuesday when it’s $5. People are understanding and more than happy to be sensitive to your situation, but you have to bring them up to speed.
Sometimes it helps me to remember that this time is a blessing. Once someone who is very well off told us that they missed the days when they were poor. Not because they were poor but because life was simpler and they knew their friends were their friends because they loved who they were, not because of money. I’ve learned that my walls don’t have to be filled with gorgeous decor. I don’t have to have the latest rug. My couches can be mismatched. I decorate our home with pictures because they’re so cheap and they mean something to me. I sell stuff I don’t want anymore and am okay with empty spaces in my closets. I don’t enjoy being poor and I never have, but sometimes there is beauty in the simplicity.
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